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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Christian Byard of Relativity Cards


Mutineer is a pirate-themed deck currently seeking funds on Kickstarter. The fully custom deck is designed by Christian Byard of Relativity Cards. According to the campaign page,
Mutineer playing cards are a souvenir-style, walrus-and-carpenter-esque look at piracy with an unhealthy helping of dehydration hallucination.
The card back prominently features the Jolly Roger and the face cards feature illustrations of all different ships and items of the Pirate Era, from the cannons, hooks to the Kraken and Man-o-War. The familiar yet strange courts feature these items on one-half of the royals. 


A few days ago, we had a chat with Christian about his design background, inspiration, and design process behind the fascinating Mutineer Playing Cards.

For those of us who don’t know, can you tell us about yourself and how did Relativity Cards came to be?
As a developer at a tiny design firm, I wear a lot of hats. Video work, copyediting, print management, production design--if there's something that needs doing, I'm probably doing it. I like the continual learning that comes with diving into the required discipline of the moment, even if it means I rarely do development! Ellusionist is to blame for my interest cards, reigniting that childhood fascination with magic and cultivating a love for custom cards. 

I was there when Jackson Robinson came onto the scene, and I ate it up! Fast forward a number of years I'd rather not think about (although I can at least take comfort that Jackson Robinson is older than me... hooray?) and a couple of decks, in a really weird way, made me decide to start designing: OPC's Peelers v2 and Tavern on the Green. Something about the simplicity of the one and the complexity of the other, plus some specifics of the design (like those half-gold pips that I still can't get over) gave me ideas for a really stupid deck project. But one that I wholeheartedly wanted to execute on! I knew that if I was going to make this effort, though, I didn't want my first deck to be a joke. So I started working in other directions. My first vector was the decision that the world needed more orange playing cards. That was the genesis of Singularity, spurred by the EHT Collaboration's First Image of a Black Hole. Galactic Paradise, a collaboration with Tanner James, followed, and now here we are. 


Can you describe the Mutineer Playing Cards and why you’re passionate about it?
Mutineer playing cards are a souvenir-style, walrus-and-carpenter-esque look at piracy with an unhealthy helping of dehydration hallucination. They are familiar and strange, unglamorous and fascinating. They are exactly what they say on the tin, and so much more... and so much less. For the expectations of some, they will be off-putting. That's not the intent of the design, though, rather there is an invitation to maybe not take things so seriously. Look at that card back! I've heard a bit of feedback that it's too goofy, it should be a real pirate flag. You may not believe me but I do value consistency in design. So goofy it must be. I don't think I could have made a serious pirate deck anyway, and there are enough of those already! The piracy theme has been begging some kitsch if you ask me.

Walk us through the process you took to design the deck. How did you come out with the idea?
It began as a joke, and that's the sorry truth! I saw certain decks out there, popular souvenir decks, with public domain flags for backs. And, well, with a setup like that, what else was I to do? A different flag, a rhyming name, pointed erosion of piracy's romanticism, and here we are. It would have ended there, but I showed it to people who saw beyond the joke. They made me make it real. 


What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
It was definitely tying dehydration hallucinations into the theme. I wanted to customize the courts of the deck non-traditionally and semi-haphazardly. "Really bad pirates running out of water" gave me the license to get surreal. It gave the "why" I needed and allowed me to solidify the whole design with more purpose.

With so many playing card projects competing for funding, why should potential backers choose your deck?
Back what you enjoy! If you like the look of the thing, come aboard! And maybe you just want a really good-feeling custom USPCC deck for $7 that you won't feel bad if your trash! Also, I do have some special editions involving silver design elements since silver is a lifesaver for water purification. 


What’s next? Can we expect more deck designs in the future?
New versions of Galactic Paradise are coming hopefully this summer, some typography decks I'm really excited about will be next year, and at some point, I may find the courage to release the third version of Singularity. I self-funded the second, so nobody seems to really know it exists (or they don't care, in which case I suppose its days are numbered!) I will say that I had a spark of an idea yesterday for a second edition of Mutineer, so I opened up my design folders and added the 28th deck. Will I do them all? No way! But some have promise, and maybe even that first deck that started it all will come to life someday...

Finally, what are your favorite playing cards?
Stockholm17's House of the Rising Spade: Cartomancer. I also love Art & Machine and anything done by Playing Arts. Decks that confound and delight during table games use find their way to the top of my list. 


Thank you for your time Christian. If you like what you've read here and want to support Mutineer Playing Cards, you can find it on Kickstarter Here!


The deck will be printed by the United States Playing Card Company on Premium casino stock, linen finish. Pledge starts at $7 on Kickstarter for a standard deck. 3 different editions are on offer: Standard, Thirst, and Shiny Buoy (gilded).

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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Christian Byard of Relativity Cards Reviewed by Ivan on 3/24/2021 Rating: 5

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