Ever since I started selling prints, I have been on the lookout for another medium for my Chicago illustrations. While t-shirts seemed like a logical next step, I have been financially burnt by them in the past. Plus, I think there are already some great people selling Chicago shirts right now so I felt it was best to avoid it. Stickers always look great but I think they work better as a give away. At that point, I was left with putting my work on coffee mugs or other types of items and that seemed overly forced. When I got the idea for doing playing cards, it just made sense. Playing card illustration is not new but I had an approach that I thought could work.
I wanted it to appeal to people who play cards a lot. Since the goal was to have them made, the final cards are printed on 310gsm linen card stock which is casino quality. I did not want these to be seen as a deck of novelty playing cards. Furthermore, I wanted the deck to have a similar look to the classic Bicycle playing card deck. The idea was to have the look and feel be similar to playing with a “regular” deck of cards. I have great admiration for people who completely redesign playing cards. However, I liked the idea of taking a recognizable design and giving it a Chicago twist. Let’s start with the back:
While the general look is similar to the Bicycle design, it is filled with Chicago icons and landmarks. And while I am not a big fan of just putting the Chicago flag stars on everything, it made a lot of sense with this illustration. Now, the face cards:
These were tricky. I only had 12 people to choose and it was challenging to get it just right. In most cases, certain famous Chicagoans were left off because of someone they were tied to that was just a bit more important in my eyes. Michelle Obama left off because of Barack Obama. The second Daley left off because of his father. Walter Payton left off because of Ditka. You could have even made a case for George Halas here as well. I wish I could have included a famous White Sox player. Harry Caray became the great compromise because he did call games for the White Sox even though he is more famously known on the North side. One side note, I was a little disappointed there were not more recognizable and famous women to include. I’m guessing most folks will recognize Oprah while Jane Byrne, Chaka Khan and Jane Addams will get puzzled looks. And finally, the box:
This is probably my favorite part of the whole deck. I could have just gotten them shrink wrapped or put in a plain white box, but I wanted something to bring it all together. I was glad I could customize the box and the seal for the top of the box. I am calling this deck Version One in case I make revisions in the future. I only have 250 of these decks for purchase. However, it will not be limited edition. If you are interested in ordering a deck, just click here.