I have had the chance to talk with one of the kindest people dedicated (among other things) to playing cards design. They are Peter Dunham and Linnea Gits, the two parts of the whole thing: Uusi, a talented couple of designers with a lot of things to show and a long experience on design.
Talking to them, I had the chance to know more things about their new Kickstarter campaign on October 1st. Hope you enjoy the interview:
- Max – Hello Linnea, Hello Peter, thanks for answering some questions for Max Playing Cards’ readers
- Uusi – Hi Max!
- Max – Tell me a little bit about you and how did you begin designing playing cards.
- Uusi – Peter and I are both artists working in the field of design. Peter went to school for art and has a BFA in Fine Art. I went to school for journalism, but drifted into art (go figure) and ended up doing an apprenticeship with Peter. That’s how we met and later we ended up moving from making art to focusing more on graphic & product design -mainly because we needed to pay our bills! ha. We started our own design studio, Uusi, 3 years ago. Peter has collected cards as inspirational imagery at the studio for quite some time and at some point we just thought it would be fun to make a deck of our own.
- Max – What are the main differences between designing playing cards and whatever else?
- Uusi – We like “whatever else” – so funny! What we enjoy about playing cards is that there is this awesome history and tradition behind them. We really loved researching that history – it is incredibly important to us to know where something came from before we can take it somewhere new. The best designs continue a conversation with their tradition – not copy it or disregard it. We also love that playing cards have such a passionate collector base – much like the art world or the design world. It is a lot of fun and a challenge to design for such a discerning community. And I don’t mean discerning in a snobbish sense – just that the card collectors, magicians, players and flourishers really care about the details, but they’re not uptight – if they love something they are fearless about it!
- Max – Have you got any other interests on cards beyond your job as designers (collectors, magicians, manipulators, players, …)?
- Uusi – We are really enjoying learning more about all these communities. We didn’t have much knowledge on them before we started designing our decks – we mainly just researched the history of cards – not the people who collected them. A bit of an oversight to put it mildly. But since launching the Blue Bloods, we have met so many cool people from all these different areas in the card world and its been a blast. Everyone we’ve met has been very supportive and generous with their knowledge.
- Max – Your Blue Blood deck was a real success on KickStarter. You received more than two times your starting funding. How do you decide to start the Blue Blood project and how do you analyze that success?
- Uusi – We were just a little over 200% funded – which was wonderful. 300% would have been great too 🙂 I think the thing almost everyone was responding to with Blue Blood was our use of handmade art – not computer graphics – in the deck illustrations. I love graphic design, but sometimes it is nice to see an artist’s hand in the work. A hand drawn line has a much deeper feel to it – it’s a little imperfect, which is more natural and your eye takes it in differently. I think this market was a little hungry for that.
- Max – Please, tell me, in your opinion, the best and the worst about creating a deck of cards and launching it through KickStarter
- Uusi – The best part of Kickstarter is that you meet people from all over the world that you can share your passion with and that is AWESOME. The worst part…I really hate the paperwork. And packing all those decks in a short amount of time is pretty intense.
- Max – Having in mind the raising number of playing cards companies recently funded, how do you assess your situation into the “market”?
- Uusi – I think we have a pretty unique style that is resonating with the card community and hopefully we continue to make work that is relevant to them.
- Max – How many people are involved now in Uusi?
- Uusi – Peter and I are the only designers at Uusi, but we often work with other artists and designers on projects. We haven’t done that yet with our playing cards, but we might do a collaboration with a few of our favorite artists & designers whom we’ve worked with on other things. Would be a lot of fun.
- Max – Now, tell me something about your new deck, Bohemia. Is there any relation between Bohemia and Blue Blood?
- Uusi – Both decks have been hand drawn, but they were inspired by different things. Bohemia was inspired by a mix of street art and the Baroque style. Our studio is right off the train tracks and we see some incredible graffiti go by on the trains. I don’t like or promote vandalism to people’s property -“tagging” – but for some reason it doesn’t feel like that on trains. Hobo’s have been marking trains since the early 1900’s! But I’ve seen some painting on the trains that stop outside our window that flat-out blew away most of the contemporary painting I see today. So we just wanted to employ this spontaneous, lush and colorful expression in our own way in this new deck. Blue Blood was much tighter in its artwork – it was inspired by old bank notes and engraving techniques – very detail oriented. And the portraits were very much a play on Renaissance style painting mixed with Japanese & Chinese prints.
- Max – Please, give me the basic Bohemia features: stock, finish, number of decks produced, any limited edition or related item?
- Uusi – We are printing the Bohemia deck with USPC. It will have an Air Cushion finish and the tuck box will have a linen finish on it giving it a little bit of texture – sort of like a fine canvas – which we thought was cool. We have some amazing items that our exclusive to this KS project and are in very limited supply. Peter made a card display box that is gorgeous – can’t wait for you to see it! And some other very cool surprises. And like Blue Blood, this will also be a limited edition deck.
- Max – Finally, give me some privileged info about Bohemia, something special your future backers would love to know about.
- Uusi –We just did! Ha. But let’s see…I guess the thing we are most happy about with this deck are the pip cards. We love the courts and it is so much fun to make them, but this time around we really wanted to make the pips as cool as the court cards. I think because of this the Bohemia deck feels incredibly complete.
- Max – Thank you so much again for your kindness. I am sure your project will be as succesfull (more indedd) as the Blue Blood and, of course, count on me in your backers group.
- Uusi – Thanks, Max!! Always a pleasure to hear from you and have your support.
Waiting anxiously for the release of this deck, let’s help to make it happen! Good luck! Keep conected to the news at Uusi.