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Philosophy Playing Cards Design: Looking for Feedback

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 40yrs • M •
martinpulido is new to Captain Cynic and has less than 15 posts. New members have certain restrictions and must fill in CAPTCHAs to use various parts of the site.
Philosophy Playing Cards Design: Looking for Feedback
Hello, everyone! I am new to the forums here, so I will start with a brief introduction. My name is Martin Pulido, and I am philosophy graduate who also happens to love card games (as well as board games). Card games not only illustrate philosophical ideas (War=Determinism), but many are also great practice in extrapolating what you don't know through what you do know from both cards played, cards in one's hand, and studying the decisions and faces of one's fellow players. I have recently wanted to get back into drawing and design, and so I created a project for myself: to create a deck of western philosophy themed playing cards that would be (1) aesthetically pleasing, (2) thought provoking, and (3) functional. An ambitious goal, but I think the decks could be lots of fun for philosophy and playing card enthusiasts, and to play with a group of friends.

Through much deliberation, I determined to organize the suits according to philosophical time periods: spades (ancient and medieval philosophers), diamonds (modern philosophers: 16th-18th c.), clubs (contemporary analytic philosophers: 19th - 21st c.), and hearts (contemporary continental philosophers: 19th - 21st c.). Each card suit also has a unique card face background, highlighting ideas taught by philosophers in the specified time period. These backgrounds are gray or a faint red on white depending on the suit, and I hope help in suit identification. I prefer the white backgrounds/borders as they limit damage from scuffing (or so I believe; maybe I am wrong?).

Each card contains a personally hand-drawn and then vectorized and digitally finished portrait of an important philosopher. I tried to find a famous depiction (if not the most famous) of the philosopher, regardless of the medium (sculpture, drawing, painting, photo, etc.) and then redraw it to have a more consistent look across the cards. Many design decisions were tough: I looked up in biographies to discover the hair color of many philosophers, but with ancient philosophers, I just had to arbitrarily decide. I also had to make decisions on clothing.

Since each card, versus just the royal court face cards, portrayed a specific philosopher, my initial design does not include pips. However, I have some alternatives that do include them, so your feedback would be appreciated. I recognize that for some not having pips will be a downer. 12-16 philosophers, however, didn't seem to cut it for the deck, so I had to make a call, which ended up being a lot more work for me! Maybe it was a bad decision.

The next step was to make the cards "thought provoking." I concluded to include a quote from each philosopher that wasn't loaded with jargon, so it could be understood by the layman. I also tried not to pick quotes that were (a) cliche, (b) made funny trite statements but said little philosophically, (c) made little sense out of context (Nietzsche's "God is dead" for instance), (d) ridiculed the philosopher by making his ideas appear impossible to understand (Heidegger's statement "The nothing itself nothings" is often used in this respect), or (e) were too religious (this deck is about philosophy, not theology or religious dogmas). On (e), I have no aversion to religion; I am a practicing Christian myself, so don't get the wrong idea. Anyway, getting the right quotes required lots of reading, careful selection, and revision.

Anyway, samples of the art are available at uttercerebration dot... blogspot dot... comm, since I am allowed to use BCC code to show images; dumb. That should give you some idea of the style of the cards I have gone for and substantiate what I claimed about the design above.

For the tuckbox, I chose to recreate a section of Raphael's famous School of Athens piece. I kept Plato and Aristotle at the forefront of the piece, but replaced the figures around them in Raphael's version with philosophers from later eras (Bertrand Russell, Immanuel Kant, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Friedrich Nietzsche, etc.). I think the piece turned out quite nice, but the artist is usually biased! As for the backs, the tuckbox shows how I have created a vertical symmetrical back based on the famous flammarion engraving of a man grasping the universe as it is in its reality instead of in its appearance (or at least this is one interpretation of how the engraving has been used). I think it has turned out nicely too.

So on to my feedback questions:

(1) What do you think of the overall design? Do I succeed at making the deck aesthetically pleasing, thought provoking, and functional? While I had to make definite trade offs between those different goals, is it overall satisfactory? What suggestions would you make that align with those goals?

(2) Would any of you be interested in a deck if I tried to create a kickstarter project? What would be a fair price range for a deck (the low range being what you would be enthusiastic about and the high range being what you would still think is fair)? I don't want to start such a project if there isn't the interest! Lol.

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Philosophy Playing Cards Design: Looking for Feedback
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