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3 Questions with Jesie Newsome of Stairways Playing Cards


Stairways Playing Cards are designed by graphic designer Jesie Newsome, who started collecting playing cards from thrift stores and antique shops when he was 13. Jessie told Kardify,

At the time, and until I was 16 or 17, I didn't know there was this huge community of people with the same interests as me. Nor did I know anything about Cardistry. The first deck I picked up was Momento Mori and fell in love with the community. 



After more than 3 years of trial and error, Jess launched Stairways Playing Cards on Kickstarter. The deck is heavily inspired by the work of Roger Penrose and M.C. Escher featuring the optical illusion- Infinite Stairs. The deck is semi-custom with custom back, impossible aces, and standard recolored court cards in cotton candy pink and cotton candy blue, consistent with the overall color palette of the deck.


Last week, we had a quick chat with Jesie about the inspiration behind Stairways Playing Cards, support from the community, and his favorite flourish and deck.



What is your inspiration behind the Stairways Playing Cards How did you come up with the idea?

I wanted to make my own deck of cards and I tried various designs over the last 2 years. Nothing stuck and nothing was definite. They say all the best Ideas come from laziness and when you least expect it. I was sitting at my desk playing 'Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare', when I had an idea for an illusion that seemed one way but was actually 2 ways. So I looked up the famous drawing of M.C. Escher and started work on my design, "The Infinite Staircase." And as of writing this on November 12th, 2020, I have had 8 revisions over the last 7 months. All revisions made are all credited to the people of Reddit. Without their support on the first sketch, these cards would not exist. However, for the first 2 months, I still didn't have any colors in mind. 



I stayed in grayscale for a long time and eventually it popped into my head. Cotton Candy. Bright Pink and Bright Blue. I made a recent color change in my last revision, the final one. When I got my USPCC Paperwork I didn't realize the colors had to be Pantone, so I went and found my newer brighter colors that truly 'pop' out. So much so that I can't fix the exposure in my cardistry showoff video. The biggest change and the one that solidifies my cards as 'Real' Cards, is the changes to all 52 faces. 



I wanted the cards main focus to be on the backs, so the fronts are all the same. An impossible hexagon and the card info on it. I scrapped that with my last revision to just use Daniel Schneiders 'Standard Redrawn Faces'. I color changed everything and I personally love the courts. The only custom cards now are the Aces; which are all Impossible shapes of their respective suites, the 2 of Hearts; which is specialized for my girlfriend who was extremely supportive through everything, and the jokers; which are impossible staircases. 


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?

First off, thank you for actually noticing me, that truly is a big step for me and a small accomplishment. This community built this deck, not me. Every revision I made until the most recent, was based on others feedback on Reddit. From colors, to sizes, to faces, to small little detail oriented things. I couldn't do anything without support from everyone. They have given me a chance, be it a small one, to possibly be able to make a career with something that genuinely brings me joy. 



I've had shoutouts which boosted my popularity to my cards and I talk to all these cool people. Yesterday (11/11) I filmed my first cardistry video and got to hang out with a really cool and good cardist. That wouldn't have happened if not for the community. Much love to every single supporter. The fans to my mom and to my girlfriend and friends who were supportive of everything and every change. I can't tell you how much I appreciate everyone! No matter the outcome on Kickstarter!


Finally, what are your favorite flourish and playing card decks? 

I love crazy-weird-not-boring designs. I started with Chris Ramsay's Momento Mori; and from there got loads of cool decks such as; SoCal Playing Cards, Fontaine x Babylon, Kubics v2, all the Orbits, and I especially love the superfly series. Love to OPC and their great decks as well. I want to be like them someday! Every deck is special though and every deck is good. If I could list them all I would. 



My favorite flourishes are definitely fans as you can see the true beauty in a card when you fan them. (My Favorite move however is Lava.)


If you liked what you read here and would like to support Stairways Playing Cards, head to Kickstarter here! Pledge starts at $16 and the deck will be printed by the United States Playing Card Company on Premium Bee stock.

3 Questions with Jesie Newsome of Stairways Playing Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 11/21/2020 Rating: 5

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