Kickstarter: 7 Questions with the Gentleman Wake of the Parlour Playing Cards

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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with the Gentleman Wake of the Parlour Playing Cards

The Parlour Playing Cards is a collaboration between Lorenzo Gaggioti of Stockholm17 and the Gentleman Wake currently funding on Kickstarter. Already 200% funded, these exquisite deck playing cards are inspired by the age-old and admired decks. The deck features fully custom card backs, Ace of Spades, jokers and improved semi-custom court cards meticulously crafted by Lorenzo. For more on the design inspiration, check out our first look article.

Before the Kickstarter campaign, we managed to have a quick chat with the Gentleman Wake about the inspiration and the design evolution of the deck, collaboration with Lorenzo and getting notable guests in his cool Kickstarter video.

For those of us who don’t know, tell us a little about yourself and how did The Gentleman Wake come about? 
Ah, starting with an existential self-examination? Haha. Well, I guess the easy answer is that I'm a Content Creator and Youtuber with a channel dedicated to high-quality content for the playing cards enthusiast. At the risk of dating myself, lol, I'm a 20 year veteran of filmmaking and television and a life-long collector of different things which kind of explains my dual entry point into the world of playing cards video content--since I'm not a magician or cardist in the traditional sense. I now own about a thousand decks of cards. Basically, I'm a 14-year-old in the body of a man! haha.

My real name is Omar, but of course, the Youtube channel, which I run with the help of my very talented and beautiful wife Liza Quin, is called The Gentleman Wake. The idea behind the name is really about conveying a sense of what a visitor to the channel can expect. Refined well-thought-out opinions. Elegant presentation. We take a lot of pride in producing content that is well-researched and presented in as dignified a way as possible, even when delivering criticism--which I always try to keep constructive. And I think also we're not above poking fun at ourselves--not taking it too seriously either.

The Parlour will be your first playing card deck. How did you end up collaborating with Stockhom17?
Well, that's a bit of a long story that requires a bit of set-up. In the very early days of the TGW channel, I was mostly interested in making up for my lack of knowledge and skill with cards by throwing an absurd amount of production value at my videos! I drew on the many years of videography, editing and photography experience to create videos that, I hoped, looked and sounded different than any other playing cards content being created on YouTube. Often, videos would take me 20 hours to complete, and I think thanks to that unconventional approach, I was lucky enough to make -- I wouldn't even call them waves -- more like ripples. I caught the attention of some notable designers and playing cards producers--who I think are always on the hunt for new avenues to spread their reach (as they should). During those early days, I was looking for any way I could to further cement myself, and I figure exclusive previews of prototype decks/Kickstarter campaigns was the best way to do it. After all, it would be hard to compete for attention with other more established reviewers if I was reviewing decks that were being reviewed by everyone else.

At some point during my collection building days, I, of course, landed on the work of Lorenzo Gaggiotti, better known as Stockholm17, and I was instantly drawn to them. Soon after, I finally got in contact with him--can't say I really remember how. Probably because I followed him on Instagram where I probably harassed him to get his attention. Haha. After introducing myself and showing him some of my videos to date I think he got very excited about the prospect of my helping him produce the Kickstarter video for his then-upcoming House of the Rising Spade project. We worked out a barter deal where he would send me the prototype HotRS deck so I could preview it for the Youtube audience and he could use the footage I captured for his campaign video. As a result, I gained a little bit of needed credibility in the community--for being a place where aficionados of playing cards could expect to find new information and I think, well I hope, that he came away surprised and pleased with the quality of the images and videography that I provided him.

It was some time afterward when I started to think about making and producing a deck of cards myself--something I always knew I wanted to do-- that I approached him just to get some logistical questions answered. Since I had his email, and because I knew he'd worked with Caroline Ravn on the Ravn decks I asked what that kind of arrangement, between designer and entertainer, looked like. We got to talking and very soon after that agreed to work on a deck together. In that respect, I got very very lucky. I swung for the fences in going after an artist of Lorenzo's caliber and even though--in this metaphor--I had my eyes closed, I hit a home run.

Can you describe the Parlour? and why you are passionate about it?
In the days leading up to the creation of the channel, I knew that there was a certain aesthetic that I wanted the channel and by extension the brand to have. For instance, I wanted the space I shot my videos in to be classic and inspired by the vintage elements that are often associated with playing cards. That led to the creation of the Gentleman's study--which is really just our living room. The Victorian-inspired decor and museum-like quality was something I really wanted. We filled the space with curiosities and trinkets, artwork that inspired me, and small pop-cultural details. At the end of the day, I basically wanted to live and work in Sherlock Holmes' apartment.

Whatever our first deck was going to be, I wanted it to reinforce those motifs and design choices. And what better way to do that then to create a deck that was emblematic of the space that the channel inhabits? So we knew we wanted the deck to have elements of that space peppered into its design. We also knew we wanted a deck that would appeal to the different sectors of viewers that were starting to visit the channel; Collectors, Magicians, Players of card games and even Cardists, although historically the cardistry world gravitates towards more simplistic and colorful designs.

The inspiration in the "Study" gave way to the name "The Parlour"--which of course is another name for a fancy room where discussion happens. The TDLR version is that the Parlour deck is a representation of what the Gentleman Wake brand is. And because the brand is also, to an extension, really a large part of me, it's a little deeper than that even.

What role did you play in the art direction and how much time did you spend working on the deck?
When you are working with an artist of Lorenzo's caliber you really don't want to stifle or overbear too much. He's gotten to a very successful point in his career and let's be honest, he didn't really NEED me. In fact, I was extremely grateful to have such an experienced and well-versed mentor when it came to producing a deck of cards, let alone running a successful Kickstarter project. But, ultimately, the deck was going to be the first physical product to represent the TGW name, and because of that, I was certainly interested in being a huge motivator and I was deeply invested, both emotionally and artistically, in the process. Being a creative director in the world of television for years was also something I couldn't inherently turn off. My wife will surely tell you that I have a strong vision when it comes to creative endeavors. So the original inspiration came from photographs of my living room and it just so happens that this aligned very well with Lorenzo's aesthetic and where he was in his creative life so to speak. In fact, that synergy--that we were both interested in the same kind of deck--is ultimately what led to it actually happening.

Could you walk us through your “Creative” process? Do you or Lorenzo have a routine when designing the deck or individual card over the past few months?
At the onset I gave Lorenzo some early parameters; I wanted a classic feel. Something that could sit on a table next to a Tally-Ho Circle back or a Bicycle Rider back while still feeling modern. I wanted the deck to be magician and gameplay friendly yet feature the details and customization that I knew collectors would appreciate. Over time other ideas surfaced. For instance, the deck is printed to be off-white--eggshell really. This gives it a vintage vibe without resorting to weathering. It still looks very much new in the hand. That's an idea I had inspired by Dan & Dave's vintage plaid deck.

But ultimately Lorenzo is the true designer of this project. He's the one that designed that spectacular spade monogram. My only real feedback on that was 'oh bleep, that's amazing!" Haha. And really I tried to get out of his way as much as possible. Having said that he's a consummate pro and collaborator and made me feel very much a part of the process sharing every single design variation he had and allowing me agency to pick which versions to continue working and elaborating on. At one point the idea came up to include the unique implements and trinkets on the individual court cards. He asked me to make him a list of who had what and then he went from there. Sending WIP shots and being very open to my ideas. And of course, I had my knit-picky moments too which more often than not he would relent on. But I certainly picked my battles--as I'm sure he did--to arrive at something that I think we are both extremely proud of. True collaboration in every sense.

The Kickstarter video is probably one of the best we’ve seen on a playing card campaign. For those who are wondering, how did you get Dan Buck, Alex Pandrea, Andrei Jikh, and Asad Chaudhry featured in your video?
Firstly, thanks so much for the amazing compliment! Hearing those kinds of things obviously never gets old but when you are in the trenches, grinding until 4am to make sure those kinds of things look the way they need to, you kind of forget what's its like to see it for the first time. I'm a filmmaker first and foremost, and I knew that I wouldn't have been satisfied with a run of the mill video. I wanted everything to be absolutely top notch. I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of video I wanted to make--what kind of message was important to deliver. And ultimately if I have one bit of advice, having had a long career in promo advertising, its lead with feeling. The details are nice. The specifics are great. But those rarely get people in the door so-to-speak.

Regarding the amazing guests, I had, just like everything else during this process I wanted the best. Although I practice my cardistry and magic skills daily I'm still very much a noob and I knew early on that my skills weren't going to cut it to really show off the design Lorenzo had worked so hard to realize. So if I'm gonna go after talented folks to appear and endorse the deck I was going to go for top-shelf people! I was extremely lucky enough to get the attention of those amazing and talented folks and arranged a big trip to the west coast of the USA to meet and collaborate with them--not just for the deck but for content creation as well. And even if this campaign fails to gain the funding or come to fruition at all, I will still be completely grateful and happy to have built some great on-going relationships with those gentlemen you listed.

Finally, what are your favorite playing cards?
Oh man, we could be here all day. Anything by Lorenzo of course. Anything from Jackson Robinson. I'm a huge fan of the decks of Kevin Cantrell. Uusi is another outfit that is just killing it with amazing decks. But really I have the utmost respect for anyone who puts their creative souls on the line to create. Opinions and tastes are subjective of course!

Thanks, Omar and all the best! If you want to support the Parlour playing cards, you can find it on Kickstarter here! Pledge starts at $16.

Two colorways are on offer during the campaign, deep navy blue and rich wine red! The Parlour Playing Cards deck will be printed by Cartamundi on crushed paper stock using their proprietary B9 true linen finish.

Kickstarter: 7 Questions with the Gentleman Wake of the Parlour Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 4/15/2019 Rating: 5

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