7 Questions with Jonathon Lamarque of Meadowlark Playing Cards

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7 Questions with Jonathon Lamarque of Meadowlark Playing Cards

A new deck of playing cards seeking funds on Kickstarter by Meadowlark Pharmacy is aiming to bring this gorgeous deck to life! Meadowlark playing cards sport a yellow/black/white colorway featuring fully custom artwork by Russell Gray (Behance: @russellgray).

The overall design of the deck has a retro yet modern feel throughout. From the mirrored card backs to the court cards, Ace of Spade, and cute Jokers. The deck is packaged in an eye-catching tuck box, copper foil, embossed and capped with a beautiful seal. Everything ties together very well!

Last weekend, we had a quick chat with Jonathon Lamarque, co-founder of Meadowlark Pharmacy about Meadowlark Pharmacy, inspiration and design process behind the Meadowlark Pharmacy deck.

For those of us who don’t know, tell us a little about Meadowlark Pharmacy?
Two years ago my friend/business partner/next-door neighbor, Lindsay, and I started an Independent Pharmacy in a small Nebraskan town named Hickman. The state bird of Nebraska is the Western Meadowlark, which is the inspiration for our name. Our goal has been to keep our community healthy and happy. In order to achieve the latter, we tell jokes, share stories, and do VERY simple cards tricks.

Can you describe the Meadowlark playing cards and why you’re passionate about it? 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?
While looking up card tricks to perform for our customers, I found myself falling down many YouTube rabbit holes. Sometimes they were deck reviews. Other times, cardistry. The more that I watched, the more that I fell in love with cards. Although I cannot perform any moves, I can still appreciate the time and dedication all cardists and magicians commit to their craft.

About a year into growing the pharmacy business, Lindsay said “we should totally make our own deck!” (I am sure that this is how most of the projects on Kickstarter begin). We had no clue what the theme of the deck should even be. We brainstormed for quite some time and after many failed attempts, we pretty much abandoned the idea. One day we were filling prescriptions as normal and Lindsay said: “what about a pharmacy deck?” We started to laugh because it was so obvious and literally in front of our faces the entire time! Ace Fulton, Jerry’s Nugget, Gemini, … All of these were specific places for casinos, but could it work for a pharmacy?!

At this point, we had the idea. A very basic concept. Next, we needed to figure out a style. We wanted a retro feel in hopes of capturing the timeless feel of pharmacy, however, we wanted it to feel modern as well. Essentially we wanted two polar opposite feels to coexist and feel cohesive. The next step, and probably the most difficult, was to find an illustrator talented enough to capture this. I reached out to a few people with results varying from no response to simply “no.” After a few months of searching, I stumbled across an artist on Behance named Russ Gray. His portfolio was extremely impressive and I tossed out a Hail Mary email. I did not expect to receive a response and if I did, I did not think that he would be interested at all. To my surprise, I received a response and we chatted back and forth a bit. He actually loved the idea and although he had never illustrated a deck before, he was excited about the challenge. From a sketch he sent after our first brainstorming session, I knew he was more than capable of creating the very thing that seemed so impossible only a few months earlier.

After nearly a year of revisions, both small and large, we finally came up with our final product. The initial deck has morphed throughout the process, being refined little by little, and it is fun to go back to some of the earlier renditions and see just how far we have come. I cannot say that I was never discouraged, or that I didn’t think of scrapping the entire project, but now that I see what became of the simple idea I am so proud and honored to have worked with all the wonderful people that helped along the way. Huge thank you to Giovanni Meroni and Brendan Hong for helping with ideas and insight throughout the entire process!

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
Honestly working with Russ has felt like one brilliant breakthrough after the next. With every adjustment and new idea, my mouth drops and I realize how talented he is. This entire process has been so humbling and fulfilling.

We first noticed the deck on Instagram. What do you think of the playing card community in terms of the feedback and support that you’ve been getting so far?
Personally in my life, I have avoided social media. I had a myspace account that I hardly used BACK in the day, and refused to start a Facebook, Twitter,… I actually wasn’t going to open an Instagram account, but I met an awesome individual named John Warren while I was attending Cardistry Con in Oregon. He told me that if I am going to create a deck and have it on Kickstarter, I needed to start an account.

If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be on Instagram and would have missed out on some wonderful connections! Ever since I opened the account, I was greeted with open arms. Everyone has been so inviting and encouraging. I have made some life-long friends, and now that the Kickstarter campaign is full swing, I continue to make even more! There have been illustrators/geniuses such as Lotrek (Oath Playing Cards) and Elettra (Passione Team) who have given me so much insight and helped me see illustrations in a whole new way. Mike (Invocation Playing cards) and Shashin (Masuta Design) have spent hours and hours helping me with ideas for add-ons, design modifications, advertising, and countless other things. I cannot thank them enough for their friendship and invaluable knowledge. Henry (Socal Playing cards) and Steve (Wounded Corners) have helped promote my campaign without hesitation. And this is only a few! I could go on and on, but instead, I will just say a HUGE thank you to everyone in the community for their support and kind words of encouragement.

What’s next? Are you planning to release more playing card decks in the future?
I really hope to! We don’t have solidified plans for a future deck, but I have thought about a few paths to go down: Meadowlark tarot deck (Lindsay loves tarot cards, so I think she will push for this option), a modification of back design/colorway of the current version (there are a few color combinations that I NEED to have, so I might push for this option), or maybe go with a completely different bird and theme (Oriole Academy of the Architecture?!?!). Again, no clear plan but we have tossed around some ideas. For now, however, we are doing our best to make it through our current Kickstarter campaign.

What are your favorite playing cards?
Wow, this is a VERY difficult one… okay in no particular order:
+ Thirdway: Delirium (But the Italia Divina looks AMAZING)
+ Lotrek: Arabesque
+ Stockholm: Room 17 (with Requiem as a close second)
+ Brendan Hong: The Hive Deck
+ Jackson Robinson: The Federal 52 Silver Certificate (with the Nutcracker being a very close second)
+ This is going to sound weird but the Gold Seal (Richard Turner) Bicycle deck… it’s Bee stock, traditional cut, and perfect for learning magic and cardistry because it’s only $5!!!!
+ Dan & Dave: Voltige (Flourish taking second place)
+ Theory 11: Gold Artisan
+ Riffle Shuffle: Skateboard
+ Passione Team: Pinocchio (I can’t wait for their new deck that’s hitting Kickstarter this month!)
+ UUSI: Brut
I could keep going but I have taken up too much time as it is!

Finally, anything else to add?
To Kardify: Thank you SO much! I am honored for this opportunity. You are doing a fantastic job! If it weren’t for you, I would have missed out on a countless number of playing cards (my heart likes you more than my wallet does).
To everyone: You have all been so supportive and kind! To those out there struggling, just remember: when times get tough, it just means that you level’d up! (meaning: you are doing better than you may realize). I hope that you all stay safe and healthy!

Thank you for your time Jon and congratulations on hitting the funding goal quickly on Kickstarter.

Printed by United States Playing Card Company on trademark thin stock. Pledge starts from $15 for a single deck and there are multiple stretched goals waiting to be unlocked including the custom half-brick box and the Deluxe Edition deck! Check it out on the Kickstarter campaign page here!

7 Questions with Jonathon Lamarque of Meadowlark Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 4/10/2020 Rating: 5

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