This is one of the most stunning designs I have seen this year. Terrific, frightening, Asylum brings us a mixed aesthetic of horror films designs for faces and Art-Nouveau design for backs.
NEW! After this article was written, the artist decided to make a subtle change on the card back removing the Asylum logo from it. This will make the deck much more interesting and will make happy many of its fans and backers. I have changed the old design photos for the new ones.
I have talked to Milan C., the artist, and Ed Nash, the manager, to ask about the project and their own feelings about this deck.
They have also provided me with many super hi-resolution images of the talented art given to this deck. Click on any photo to see it in its original size.
I hope you enjoy the images and this interesting tripartite interview:
- Max – Hello Milan, hello Ed, thanks a lot for this interview, especially for my readers and all your current and potential backers. I am really “terrorized” about this deck
- Milan – Hey, Max! We certainly find the fact that we command a horde of evil minions that “terrorize” you flattering. It’s great to know that the deck and artwork have reached an audience.
- Max – Tell me something about you and Altius Management. Is it the first time you work together?
- Milan – Yeah, this is, in fact, our first collaboration. Wading through the wide array of management offers for this project, I was focused primarily on finding someone who shares the same passion for the theme of the deck, and who truly understands the retro-horror fandom. Ed Nash, whose endeavors were so closely tied to the film industry, seemed the right match.
- Ed – When Milan approached me about this project and I first looked at the art, I knew that I had to be a part of it. He is a true talent, and has a gift for understanding both the subject matter as well as the audience. I immediately saw potential for the Asylum brand, even beyond the Kickstarter campaign, and it was, and remains extremely exciting. Plus, Milan has more energy than almost anyone I’ve ever met, and his creative wheels are always turning. It is great to work with someone like that—someone with true passion for their art.
- Milan – It is quite a delicate subject matter and the devotees of this genre of film are keen to find likeminded people, with similar affinities – not someone who has merely scratched the surface of an entire era of cinematic genius for purely commercial purposes. The dedication to genre and obvious care with which this project has been executed, in homage to the great figures of the silver screen, are what sets it apart. A gift – from fanatics to fanatics.
- Max – Why designing playing cards? Is it your first deck? What did you know about cards before beginning this project?
- Milan – Having spent years working in the gaming industry, mainly on card and board game design, I felt drawn to doing something a bit more traditional. Obviously, working on more than 10 card games has given me some insight into the production process, material specifications, and helped me understand some of the technical implications of creating a deck. Working on a basic deck of cards entailed, first and foremost, several months of study into the development history of this gaming tool. Cards posses a dose of traditionalism which gives them their appeal, and which cannot be replicated in the modern games of the gaming industry, no matter how good their design is. Creating a classic deck makes you a part of history; it gives you the impression of being part of something significant. You are given an opportunity to leave your footprint in time, by redesigning an artifact that was once responsible for people losing their heads, titles, wars, lovers… even empires. By choosing to grapple with creating a deck, you yourself become a part of tradition, and of contemporary court intrigue.
- Ed – Plus, from a marketing perspective, custom card decks are popular right now— and what better way to bring incredible art to the market than through a medium that hot and popular!
- Max – What’s the inspiration for this deck and who people is directed to (collectors, magicians, manipulators, players, …)?
- Milan – The inspiration comes from an amalgam of several personal passions: an appreciation for film, a fascination with cards, and the irresistible allure of the Art Nouveau movement, mainly the art of Alphonse Mucha. Although the deck is intended for everyone, we have remained faithful to ourselves and the original inspiration. Pandering to the audience and adapting to other people’s affinities only diminishes the value of art and, more often than not, results in a “watered-down” concept which, in an attempt to be all-around appealing, loses its charm and ends up being quite unattractive. The core concept has not been altered, even at the cost of commercial success. On the other hand, we have strived to make such a strong concept open to everyone. The attractiveness of the artwork will ensure that it finds an audience among a wide variety of people. Due to its respect towards quality, tradition and especially simplicity, we hope that it is equally engaging to players. By paying attention to illusionist norms – the demand for additional cards, the density of the ornamental structures on the back, easy handling, we have also responded to magicians. And, of course, we have provided complete customization, limited circulation and unique rewards for project supporters, thus making the deck pleasing to collectors as well.
- Max – Why did you decide to use Kickstarter for funding this deck?
- Milan – Kickstarter is, more than anything, a market research tool of sorts, and an instrument for acquiring precise feedback about interest and product quality. It is a very direct way of determining what the true value of a project is. In exchange for what you offer – you get direct support, or condemnation.
- Ed – I’ll add that having been involved with Kickstarter projects in the past, it is truly an innovative way to bring creative products to a market that is hungry for them — to a multitude of people that we would have otherwise not have been able to reach so directly. For creative producers, Kickstarter has changed the landscape and the opportunities to mainstream exposure. It is a great thing.
- Max – Please, tell me, in your opinion, the best and the worst about creating a deck of cards and launching it through KickStarter
- Milan – The answer to what the best thing is lies in the previous answer – it is getting a very direct response to the question of the quality of your work. The worst thing is the dose of obsession that overcomes you through communication with people. Dedication to a project requires a readiness to listen to anyone who has come across your cards. It’s hard not to waver, to remain steadfast and true to your original concept and goals, whilst under the pressure of an audience.
- Ed – I agree – The best thing is the ability to gauge demand, almost immediately. The worst thing can be the temptation to listen to everyone and numerous opinions on style and direction… We try to find a middle ground in which the backers have a strong voice in the incentives that we add. And they are extremely creative!!
- Max – Have you noticed Kickstarter has at this moment its biggest historical number of projects dedicated to playing cards? What do you think about this?
- Milan – That is true, but it is also clear that there are various qualitative differences between them. There are a few very strong and well thought out concepts coupled with excellent card design, and these are mainly people who already boast a certain credibility among card designers. The rest are enthusiasts whose work illustrates an underlying orientation towards material gains, with little invested effort. I think that many people have started these kinds of projects whilst aiming for the wrong goal, led only by the commercial success of previous projects. Unfortunately, some truly worthwhile decks will suffer because of this. Still, I am certain that those for whom the deck was primarily intended will be able to recognize true quality and invested effort, in a sea of various projects.
- Ed – Milan and I have discussed this at length… I truly believe that the quality will stand out from the pack… and I think that, in many ways, is happening.
- Max – I think this is the very first time a deck project offers a reward where the backer is the starring of the artwork. Can you explain this to me?
- Milan – Absolutely. What better way to thank your supporters than to offer them the privilege of merging with history, in a way? We all long to feel special. By giving backers the option of being part of the artwork, I am sharing with them an experience I was also privy to whilst creating the deck. I am giving them the chance to become a part of tradition.
- Max – Please, give me the basic Asylum features: stock, finish, number of decks produced, any limited edition or related item?
- Milan – We like to look at Asylum as a developing organic form. Its quality grows with every new backer. The quality of the product will be directly proportional to the number of backers, so we will create the best deck possible, depending on the possibilities provided by the funds we end up with. We are prepared to be economical on our end to preserve high quality, and when working with the USPCC, quality is guaranteed. Of course, there will be lots more limited custom rewards, but they help to grow some of the mystery surrounding Asylum and its campaign, so I would prefer to hold off on revealing those for now. Our main asset is precisely that bit of enigma that goes with Asylum – a non-aggressive campaign that true aficionados will be able to appreciate. The core word tied to Asylum is “custom.” It’s the most customized deck out there. There are no identical cards, no use of templates. Every suit symbol is different and has been given much attention. One thing I can tell you with certainty – we will make every backer feel special…
- Max – Finally, give me some privileged info about Asylum, something special your future backers would love to know about.
- Milan – As Ed alluded to earlier, my goal is not to make this a short-term project, a one-hit-wonder, so to speak. I hope that Asylum Works will come to life and that we will be able to offer the market a vast selection of new quality products in the years to come. By investing in Asylum Playing Cards, you’re investing into the future of entertainment. As for our current project, we are discussing some new rewards that will totally blow our backers’ minds…
- Max – Thank you so much for your time. I know your deck will be a real success. I will back it, of course :)
- Milan – The pleasure is all mine. I can’t wait to throw a couple of decks your way…
- Ed – We couldn’t do it without great supporters and backers like yourself. We appreciate it!
I leave you with a huge image of the cards where you can appreciate the smallest details.