Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Natalia Silva of the Russian Folk Art Playing Cards

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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Natalia Silva of the Russian Folk Art Playing Cards

Designed by Natalia Silva, the Russian Folk Art Playing Cards is a deck of playing cards inspired by Russian Folklore. These fascinating playing cards features designs inspired by traditional folk art that have always played an intrinsic part of domestic culture across Russia and represents the rooted artistic perceptions, traditions and practices of the citizens.

For example, nature has always been a common theme in Russian Folk Art and that different design elements serve as symbols to protect, bring wealth, health and love. Birds, sun, wild flowers and berries are prominently featured on the face cards, while the court cards are inspired by Matryoshka or Russian Nesting Doll. Cute!

We managed to have a quick chat with Natalia about her design background, the inspiration & design process behind the deck and her thoughts about the growth of crowd-funded playing cards.

Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background? 
I am originally from Russia, Krasnodar, but for the past 6 years I live in USA and absolutely love it. America is my second home now. I have a Masters Degree in Art Direction from Academy of Art University (San Francisco) and Bachelor Degree in Finance from International University in Moscow. Weird combination, I agree, but I absolutely love art and I left my finance career, so I could do what I love the most – Design!

Can you describe the Russian Folk Art Playing Cards and why you are passionate about it?
The original design of the deck are all inspired by folk designs from Russian Heritage and culture. Traditional folk art has always played an intrinsic part of domestic culture across Russia and represents the rooted artistic perceptions, traditions and practices of the citizens.

I wanted to design something new, unique, something that never been created before. I did a research and I believe that here is no other Russian Folk Art deck. Also, since I am originally from Russia, this theme is very inspiring and close to me. My design represents my colorful traditions and culture.

My goal is to create a deck that is playable, unique and valuable. Every card has it's own unique design and element from Russian traditional folklore and the court cards were inspired by Matryoshka or Russian Nesting Doll.

Nature has always been a common theme in Russian Folk Art. In Russia people believe that different design elements serve as symbols to protect them from evil forces, to bring wealth, health and love. The folk art decorated with endless ornaments and floral designs: stylized flowers, leaves, buds, stems and the like. That’s why my deck has so much floral elements and ornaments.

As for the color choice, I am using 3 colors in Russian Folk Art deck – White, Red and Green. I did a lot of research about Russian Folklore and traditional colors. I decided to use red, white and green because these colors in Russian folk art were a representation of the blossoming of the earth, and the blossoming of the creative spirit.

Red is a prominent color in Russian culture and history. The red color represented the beauty. The Russian word for red – “Krasni” was, in the past, also used to describe something beautiful.Red Square, or Krasnaya ploshad, is one of the most famous examples of the red. Red Square, the most important square in Moscow, sits adjacent to the Kremlin.

White is a natural color of wool and linen. People wore white clothes during any period of transformation of their social role. Russian people believed that during any life transition (childhood/teen age, or single/married status) the border between material and spiritual world becomes thin and transparent. The people who must wear white (pure white, without any decoration) were:
- children before age of 7-8
- seniors (after 60)
- brides
- military recruits

Besides, white color was a symbol of motherhood (and of a married woman), in contrast with red - a color of a young girl. 

Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money.

The color green affects us physically and mentally in several different ways. Green is soothing, relaxing, and youthful. Green is a color that helps alleviate anxiety, depression, and nervousness. Green also brings with it a sense of hope, health and renewal, as well as self-control, compassion, and harmony.

I feel that my cards could be an interesting and unique part of collection for card lovers. I've received a lot of messages from my backers who said that they never seen a deck like this before and that they would love to have it for their collection.

When did you first start thinking about using Kickstarter for the project? What made you decide to take the plunge?
This is my first time on kickstarter but I've heard about it long time ago. One of my ex-classmates had used kickstarter for his short film project. He suggested kickstarter.

So far, I like kickstarter, I've met a lot of great people (my backers) here. I believe that kickstarter gives a great opportunity and chance for many talented. Of course, some bad projects out here, but also a huge amount of great, beautiful project on kickstarter.

Talk to us a bit about going from the first draft to the final version. How did you get to this finished product and how did you get feedback?
Inspiration is a tricky thing. It often strikes us when we least expect it, half-asleep, or in the shower, or both. Sometimes, going from the first draft to the final version is nice and easy, but sometimes it is a painful process and it takes days to finish just one card. In my case I continue working on design until I love it and absolutely happy with it.

I believe that feedback and critique are some of the most important ingredients to great design. The first feedback comes from my family and designer friends. Also, I believe that communities and forums are great resources and if you are active in these communities, you will receive great feedback and learn from some of the best artists in the world. It's the best way to get multiple perspectives on your work.

From the project page, what are a few of your favorite reward levels and why?
Oh, I love everything. I tried to create reward levels that could satisfy any type of backer: someone, who just want one deck and someone who wants it all. I have decks, uncut sheets, Half-Bricks in Custom Boxes with Custom Red and Gold Seals, Full-Bricks and T-Shirts.

What are your thoughts about the continuous strong growth of playing card projects on Kickstarter?
The number of playing cards projects is in continuous growth and there are an amazing number of interesting decks out there. I believe that the art form of playing cards will continue to evolve and we will see a lot of highest quality decks in future.

Finally, what are your favourite playing card decks?
I love clean, simple and fun, design, Here are some of my favorites decks: The Science Deck Playing Cards, Delirium Playing Cards, Clipped Wings Playing Cards, Pack of Dogs Playing Cards.

Thanks for your time, Natalia and all the best! At the time of writing, the project is only 76% funded with 7 days to go. If want to support the Russian Folk Art Playing Cards, you can find it on Kickstarter here. 

Pledge starts from $11 and the deck will be printed by the USPCC. There are multiple add-ons available such as uncut sheets, t-shirts and brick boxes.

Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Natalia Silva of the Russian Folk Art Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 11/07/2014 Rating: 5

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