Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Andrew Dodds of Diffractor Playing Cards

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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Andrew Dodds of Diffractor Playing Cards

Currently funding on Kickstarter, the London Diffractor Playing Cards is a mesmerizing deck by VXD International in collaboration with Lance T Miller, Vrijdag Premium Printing and Cartamundi. This is the second edition in Diffractor city series, which will comprise of 10 cities, to be released one edition per year. What makes this deck series so unique is the patented transparent holographic on the face cards and the eye-catching luxurious metal cases.

Diffractor Playing Cards incorporate transparent holographic that are normally only seen on security and identity documents, such as passport or driver's license. The technology allows an additional layer of eye-catching custom holographic artwork over and above the standard playing card ink artwork, via carefully aligned and detailed transparent holographic foils, stamped with heat and pressure into the card front and back faces. With that, four new detailed artworks have been designed for the transparent holographic that are stamped into all the pips in this London edition.

Last week, we had a chat with Andrew Dodds, co-founder of VXD International, about his design background, inspiration and design process behind the Diffractor Playing Cards series.

For those of us who don’t know, can you tell us about yourself and how did VXD International come to be?
My name’s Andrew Dodds and I’m the co-founder of VXD International and the inventor of ‘Diffractor’ playing cards. Prior to founding the company, I worked for 17 years professionally as a bridge design engineer in the UK, having graduated from Sheffield University in the UK with a Masters Degree in Structural Engineering and Architecture.

The concept, which led to the eventual foundation of VXD International came about in 2009, while sat on an airplane. Across the airplane aisle, I was watching someone play Solitaire on their laptop and thought ‘why are playing cards always so bland’. Bearing in mind, I wasn’t aware of the (relatively fledgling) custom playing cards industry at this point, so I’m not taking anything away from the designers who were pushing the boundaries back then. I had grown up collecting sports trading cards (Michael Jordan cards specifically) in Germany, so I knew a thing or two about flashy cards already. A few weeks later I was sat in a restaurant, under some bright lighting on our table, with my then-girlfriend and she passed me her new UK Driving License to ask me a question about it. It had new transparent holographics built into the card, over the personal information and pictures. Seeing those detailed transparent holographics and how they can basically float above the existing printed part of an ID, I instantly thought that seemed like something new. That was the light-bulb moment for the business and eventually led to the development of Diffractor playing cards and the foundation of VXD International.

I am a co-founder of the business, with my brother’s best friend at school, a Dutch national named Joris van Wees (who also happened to collect basketball trading cards back in the day). He was always a very creative person and we complement each other very well, with our mix of creative and technical skills.

Can you describe the London Diffractor deck and why you’re passionate about it?
The ‘London Diffractor’ deck is the second in a series of 10 decks that we have planned. Once per year, for 10 years, we will release an edition of the ‘Diffractor City Series’. Last year that began, with the ‘Vegas Diffractor’ edition and this year (currently) we have the London Diffractor edition released to the public. I’m passionate about it for a many reasons, including the amount of time we have taken to bring this new playing card technology to market and incredible efforts that have required, the fact that London / the UK is a place close to my heart, the fact that this product has come about due to my invention, etc.

Walk us through the process you took to design the deck. How did you come out with the idea and how did you get to this finished product?
Firstly we plan a timetable to make sure we deliver the last city edition to our loyal backers before we launch the next. We’ll always do that. Leading up to launch, we design for approx. 9 months or so. It starts with a concept, which comes from Joris and myself and then we communicate this to Lance. Lance and I then set out a timetable for the design work and set up weekly design progress meetings, done via Skype, so we can steer the artwork together. In the meantime, I am working with our factories on the technical details of how we actually get the ideas we are having manufactured. That involves me traveling quite a lot to Holland, where our specialist printer, ‘Vrijdag Premium Printing’ is located and to China, where we manufacture our metal cases. We’ve recently also formed a partnership with Cartamundi, who sort and cello-wrap the decks for us and also produce our tuck boxes. That all culminates in deliveries to our warehouse in Germany, from where we fulfill our backers worldwide.

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
Absolutely no doubt, the biggest breakthrough driving each deck was and will always be the invention of the tech itself.

How did you and Lance Miller end up collaborating together?
Joris and I were not originally playing card designers, but when the idea came about for Diffractor playing cards, we of course set about researching playing card history and design. We were looking at examples of playing card backs that we liked online and came across a card drawn by Lance Miller (his business card it was, in fact) and we used it for inspiration for many months/years, referring to it always as the ‘Miller Card’. This was around 2011/12/13 before we had even got the patent granted for the technology. After another 3 or 4 years of trying to find a factory that was willing to take a chance in the development and printing of the first deck (the ‘Vertex Deck’) and the production of that deck (designed by Joris and I), we reached out to Lance (via Instagram I think) and asked him if he’d like to collaborate with us on the first edition of the planned city series, which gave rise to the Vegas Diffractor.

With so many playing card projects competing for funding, why should potential backers choose your deck?
We value our customers tremendously. I spend a lot of time speaking to anyone who contacts me, no matter what the query, wish or criticism. We clearly offer something truly unique as well, as is evident from the patent that was granted to us.

Finally, what are your favorite playing cards?
Lotrek’s playing cards. Golden Oath – it has to be.

Thank you for your time Andrew and all the best! At the time of writing, the London Diffractors are only 67% funded with 21 days to go. If you like what you've read here and want to support Andrew you can find it on Kickstarter Here!

The London Diffractors Playing Cards will be available in two editions: Emerald and Ice Blue. Pledge starts at $29 and the decks will be printed by Cartamundi. Don't miss out! Add flair to your collection, game nights, magic routines, or cardistry!

Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Andrew Dodds of Diffractor Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 9/23/2019 Rating: 5

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