Playing with ideas…

 A few years back (in 2007 to be precise) I embarked on a little side project called Card-i-catures.  The premise was simple – there are 52 weeks in a year, and 52 cards in a standard deck. As such, I drew a caricature per week of a celebrity, politician or similar figure that had appeared in that week’s news, and posted them here on my blog. The four suits were loosely grouped to represent figures from British politics (Hearts), World affairs (Spades), Entertainment (Diamonds) and, er, Miscellaneous (Clubs).

It was partly an exercise in drawing and blogging, and partly an attempt at making a sellable product. Whilst I certainly succeeded on the first point, having produced the full deck (plus a Joker), I failed on the second point, despite a number of attempts. The plan was to sell a printed deck of the finished set of caricatures (and possibly other printed material, such as posters or mugs), but I was unable to find a cost-effective way of producing and distributing the product. A number of people contacted me with the aim of purchasing a deck, so I believe there is a market; indeed, a printer did contact me about producing the deck commercially (about which I’ll say more later). There are a number of companies that produce print-on-demand playing cards (or similar products) but they are mostly limited by having a minimum order (often around 500 decks), being rather expensive and being based overseas – usually the USA, making importing even more expensive.

However, I learned a lot from the project and over the intervening years, I’ve considered re-starting it a few times, but haven’t quite got round to it. This year, however, a couple of things have come to my attention that might make this project a ‘goer’. Firstly, the realisation that the graphics software I use to draw my cartoons – Manga Studio EX – has a two-point symmetry ‘ruler’, which would make the two-headed nature of the cards significantly easier to draw (and a feature I wish I had spotted sooner). Secondly, (who I already use for my business cards) have added playing-card-like ’rounded corners’ to the range of services they offer. Now, the new round-cornered cards come in packs of 50, wherein lies the another problem, that this is two (four with jokers) cards short.

The other issue was raised by my potential commercial printers I mentioned earlier – that these would sell better if they were out in time for Christmas… which, of course, if I was working on making a topical 2012 deck (starting in January) wouldn’t be practical.

Then I got to thinking… perhaps these two limitations (a 50 card deck and the need to be available before Christmas) could be used to each other’s advantage. Theoretically, by the end of November I could have drawn 50 cards (48 weeks + 2 Jokers) and get these printed  and to the customer before Christmas (and therefore something to put under the Christmas tree), with the proviso that the outstanding four cards will be supplied early in the New Year.

Would you buy a deck of 2012 celebrity playing cards? Would you mind if the remaining cards arrived after Christmas, or would you prefer them all to arrive together? How much would you pay for a deck? Using this model I can’t see them coming at much under £25 per pack, including VAT, delivery and a modest profit for myself. Of course, with enough advance orders, this may bring the price down, but I’d need a ball-park idea of numbers. I’d be going for a bit of a redesign on the previous deck – and possibly a different set of suits. Any suggestions – it’s the Olympics in 2012, so there should be a fair few sporting figures in the news (for a couple of weeks at least), so I could assign a suit to ‘Sport’. Or an all current affairs deck – ‘Government’ and ‘Opposition’ etc. Or ‘Music’ and ‘Films’ (say). Other ideas include abandoning the standard playing card idea and going for a different set entirely – would you prefer Happy Families or Top Trumps? Could I fund the project differently through a crowdsourcing site like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo?

So… what do you think? Is this a goer? Please add your comments and thoughts below…

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9 comments on “Playing with ideas…”

    • Alex Reply

      Yeah (although I suspect the name is copyrighted), it could work well. Perhaps as more of a rolling thing (it doesn’t have the 52 weeks = 52 cards appeal). What would be the categories for the Celeb version? Popularity – Infamy – Height..?

  1. Daz Reply

    I think it’s an excellent idea and I’d probably pay the 25 quid. Having said that I’m not sure you’d generally get that from people and at that sort of price point you’re not likely to sell a large run.

    I can see the thinking about the last cards but I think it would be strange waiting for the last ones. That is likely to put people off.

    • Alex Reply

      That bothers me too… the only ways around the Christmas/year end issue I can think of is to either (i) start the blog/idea towards the end of the year (say, October), so it’s all finished well before Christmas or (ii) guess who’s going to be in the news for the last month or two of the year and draw them in advance… neither of which really appeals.

  2. AyreGuitar Reply

    I’ve recently had some good cards done by – whilst they’re based overseas, they’re prices are pretty good and they often do special offer codes to get free shipping and discounts. Mine were large size (3.5×5.75″) but they also do standard poker size and quality is very good. They do 54 card decks with box for $7.99+shipping for a single deck. Use code JOY at checkout for free shipping.

    Good luck with your cards!

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