Playing Cards

I've always been pretty fascinated by playing cards. Unfortunately, I have the memory capacity of a moderately stupid goldfish, which prevents me from retaining any card games I'm taught for longer than around twenty minutes.

As a format, however, playing cards are pretty enticing to me — combining illustration, sequence, typography and even ancient traditions. When I've come across 'artistic' playing cards before, I've generally been underwhelmed (with a few notable exceptions). I often feel that designers miss a trick by failing to respect the traditions present in playing cards — beautiful, characterful illustration of people, with an almost editorial necessity for layout. All too often, these decks of cards are simply a way of presenting 52 unmatched illustrations in a small format.

Anyways, all this pondering led me to try and develop my own set — with a view to having a short run printed if they came out well! Unfortunately, I barely made it past the initial sketches — I lost the urge a bit on receiving the first few print quotes. These are the best-developed of the ideas — a couple of suits' worth of face cards, each in a different style.


The Clubs were created using a totally illustative style — sketched out on paper, scanned, and tidied up. They were also based on clubland styles — hence the King/Bouncer, for instance.

The Jack of Clubs The Queen of Clubs The King of Clubs Tha Ace of Clubs


These ideas for the Heart face cards were mostly based on fashion photography. The King is, of course, Brian Blessed. Who else could it be?

The Jack of Hearts The Queen of Hearts The King of Hearts

Hopefully, I'll return to these in time — I think they could have been okay given a few weeks work.


  1. thickybritton

    I forgot about Brian Blessed, they still look ace.


    I came across these while looking for reference playing cards, to create the set for a mobile video game. An awesome bit of illustration.

    You're right about the format too. Playing cards (and the Tarot cards I guess they derive from) make for interesting constraints on work, which can often result in something wonderful.

  3. Very cool cards! I am a collector of cards, and think you should make a downloadable file of digital images that way people pay, and you don't need to print.... What do you think?

  4. Hello, I'm from Brazil and I found out about your designs in Pinterest and I'm interested to have your Ace of Clubs tattoed. I want to know if this is OK to you and if I need some kind of permission.

    My e-mail is:

    Thanks in advance

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