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Art Design Illustration

Shantell Martin Designs Two Decks of Playing Cards with Her Signature Black-and-White Drawings

May 4, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images via Theory11

The Whitney Museum and luxury playing-card company Theory11 are teaming up on a series of artist-designed decks, and their first edition deals in British artist Shantell Martin (previously). Titled “LINE,” the same combination of Martin’s signature patchwork drawings and affirmational messages inscribe the dual deck, which is available in both a black and a white version. The line drawings are mostly monochromatic with the exception of bursts of color on the joker and face cards, which feature mirrored characters encircled by words like “wisdom” and “joy.”

Each deck is printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable inks and starch laminates, and the cards are canvas textured and blind embossed. Both the black and white versions launched yesterday and are available from Theory11 and the Whitney Shop. You also might enjoy UNO’s sold-out collaboration with Nina Chanel Abney and this revolutionary deck from Studio LO. (via Artnet)

 

 

 



Design History

A Sleek Deck of Cards by Studio LO Honors 12 Black Figures Who've Revolutionized History

April 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Studio LO, shared with permission

Kansas City, Missouri-based designer Kearra Johnson of Studio LO describes her standard 54-card deck as anything but traditional: it’s revolutionary. On one side of each playing card is a raised fist, a symbol that’s synonymous with the fight against oppression around the globe. But on the K, Q, and J of all four suits are portraits of ground-breaking Black icons who have profoundly impacted history, from Michelle Obama and Thurgood Marshall to Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. “I wanted to go with the powerful figures we’ve all learned about growing up,” Johnson tells Colossal. “The ones who drove change, and the ones who we are familiar with, but also ones who aren’t as traditional as others. Those features range from Oprah Winfrey to the man with the dream, MLK Jr.”

The concept for the Revolution Card Deck was born out of a class project while the now 22-year-old designer was a student at the University of Missouri. She created a few physical decks after a professor asked to purchase some as gifts, a request that spurred Johnson to print more. Since the project was featured on both CNN and NPR, she’s sold hundreds of decks, which will remain a fixture of Studio LO’s inventory and are now available in the Colossal Shop. You also can follow Johnson’s activism-focused designs on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Design

Play a Game of UNO with Nina Chanel Abney's New Deck Featuring Her Bold, Energetic Style

December 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Mattel, shared with permission

Artist Nina Chanel Abney revitalizes the classic game of UNO with her distinct fragmented figures and bold blocks of color in a new collaboration with Mattel. Straying from the minimal, numbered cards, lively portraits and mirrored personas emblazon the transformed deck. Just like her larger body of work, Abney’s design is brimming with energy and captures the wildly chaotic experience of modern life.

“I wanted the cards to have personality,” Abney shares. “UNO can be such an emotional game, I thought it would be fun to create cards that could speak for themselves and elicit even more of a response from the players than they already are.”

Currently living in New York, the Chicago-born artist is just the third creator involved in the UNO Artiste Series, which launched in 2019 and previously featured the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. In addition to the deck’s aesthetic transformation, Abney also altered the game’s tenets with the addition of a WILD NO. “If someone plays either a Draw 2 or Wild Draw 4 card on you, lay down this card to force them to have to draw the cards instead,” the artist writes on Instagram.

As part of the collaboration, the toy company also will be making a donation to Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

A Massive Compendium of Tarot Cards Explores 600 Years of the Divine Decks

August 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

By Mina Mond, Wild Men Tarot, 2014, France. All images © Taschen, shared with permission

Compiling more than 500 cards, a new book sequences an incredibly diverse array of metaphysical decks from medieval to modern times. Tarot is arranged in order from the Major to the Minor Arcana and examines the meaning behind the varied illustrations, considering who created them and when. From a whimsical, black-and-white rendering of The Lovers by Madison Ross to French occultist Jean-Baptise Alliette’s pastel series, the compendium explores the collaborations between mystics and artists that have been happening for centuries. Many of the pieces included in the 520-page book are being shown outside their respective decks for the first time.

Tarot, which you can purchase on Tashcen’s site, is the debut tome in the publisher’s ongoing Library of Esoterica series. You also might enjoy paging through Salvador Dalí’s surreal deck.

 

Madison Ross, The Lovers, 2019, Canada

From Visconti-Sforza, Yale Deck, mid-15th century, Italy

Elisabetta Trevisan, Crystal Tarot, 1994, Italy

By Jean-Baptise Alliette, France

By Olivia M. Healy, The Fool, 2019, England

By Jean-Baptise Alliette, Etteilla, France

By Minka Sicklinger, Bryn McKay, Eve Bradford, Strength, United States

From Visconti-Sforza, Yale Deck, mid-15th century, Italy

 

 



Illustration

Illustrated Florals Adorn A Gold-Wrapped Tarot Deck Infused with Botanic History

May 14, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Beehive Books

By pairing a classic tarot deck with stunning botanical illustrations, Kevin Jay Stanton merges the spiritual practice with the historical mythology behind plants and flowers. “Their archetypal symbols have mystical, philosophical, and psychological implications that allow us to understand our past, our future, and ourselves,” the illustrator said in a Kickstarter explainer. “But even older than that is the symbolism we’ve always assigned to the plants that grow around us.”

Lined with gold foil, the 78-card deck is replete with acrylic and ink renderings on a dark backdrop. While the Major Arcana features lone specimens, the Minor Arcana details botanical compositions with suit-specific objects like coins or cups. Every court card is adorned with royal notations.

Stanton’s pairings of The Queen of Swords and red oleander, The Devil and nightshade, and The High Priestess and elderflower each expand the potential readings. “Divination is the process of finding meaning in symbols or patterns, and similarly, the act of reading tarot is finding patterns, meaning, and visions in the symbols,” he said. “A larger picture is created when a story is formed from how one card interacts with the next, as a bouquet is created from the harmony between many flowers.”

To pick up your own set, three editions—the Herbalist, Dark Alchemist, and Enchanter—are available for pre-order through Beehive Books. Stay up-to-date with Stanton’s mythical projects on Instagram. And if you’re interested in another entrance into the divine, check out Salvador Dalí’s deck.

 

 

 



Illustration

Play a Game of Pandemic-Themed Lotería and Draw Soap, a Zoom Call, and Takeout

April 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Rafael Gonzales Jr.

In Pandemic Lotería, drawing “La Cabrona” actually might be key to winning the game. San Antonio-based artist Rafael Gonzales Jr. has been sharing his COVID-19-themed cards on Instagram that are based on the Mexican card game Lotería, which functions similarly to bingo. The deck features the realities of quarantined life, from a stockpile of toilet paper to continual Zoom calls to a lone bottle of hand sanitizer. Each now ubiquitous image is paired with a humorous name like “La Quaran15” for a barrel of butter and “La Starbucks” underneath a home coffee maker. The artist’s light-hearted work is available as prints and t-shirts through his online shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)