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What would happen if, after thousands of years, moths evolved cryptic patterns to mimic human-made art? Perhaps this playing card deck!
What would happen if, after thousands of years, moths evolved cryptic patterns to mimic human-made materials? Perhaps this playing card deck! Thanks to 250 wonderful backers, this deck has come to life!
What would happen if, after thousands of years, moths evolved cryptic patterns to mimic human-made materials? Perhaps this playing card deck! Thanks to 250 wonderful backers, this deck has come to life!
250 backers pledged £9,432 to help bring this project to life.

About

Cryptic Cards: A Curiously Camouflaged Playing Card Deck project video thumbnail
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Cryptic Cards: A Curiously Camouflaged Playing Card Deck

£9,432

250


Cryptic Cards

[Please note: Thank you *so much* for all your support! Because this project is so successfully funded;

  • A 66 card deck with a foil-embellished box has been added to rewards
  • The gilt-edged decks will now have foil-embellished boxes
  • The standard deck is now made from a slightly thicker playing card board (340um)
  • Each deck (regular, gilt-edged, 66-card deck) will now have its own box design

Any further changes will be to upgrade these 3 decks as much as is possible/practical.]

What would happen if, after thousands of years of evolution, moths developed cryptic patterns to camouflage themselves on human-made materials? Cryptic Cards is a year long project in which artist Immy Smith is painting moths camouflaged into playing card designs as one answer to this question! The paintings are nearing completion, and this Kickstarter will turn the Cryptic Card designs into a real deck of playing cards in homage to the beautiful and intriguing patterns of cryptic camouflage that have evolved in moths. (HD version of the story video here)

Some of the completed Cryptic Cards designs
Some of the completed Cryptic Cards designs

I’m Immy Smith, and I’m an interdisciplinary artist. I’m really interested in crypsis – that’s the ability of animals (and some plants) to avoid detection thanks to camouflage, mimicry, and other evolutionary strategies. Moths have evolved patterns that blend in with many natural backgrounds, including bark, lichen, and dead leaves. I started to wonder whether in thousands of years, we’ll find them hiding on human-made objects; on advertising posters, newspapers, or discarded packets. 

Cryptic(ket) moth paintings
Cryptic(ket) moth paintings

I painted moths camouflaged on printed pages, tickets… and playing cards! I shared moths I’d painted on playing cards via social media. Before long the idea of making the Cryptic Cards deck emerged. Since May 2015 I’ve painted one design a week, and friends on Twitter and Tumblr have helped choose which cards and moths I painted each week. Timelapse videos of the cards being painted have also been shared via YouTube. You can find out more about the project right from its beginnings here, and using the hashtag #CrypticCards on Twitter and Tumblr.

Images have been hand-painted in acryl gouache on Bristol card, using a standard poker playing card template. The designs are then digitised and overlaid onto printer's templates to ensure they fit both physically and aesthetically onto each card. High-resolution images will be used to produce a soft-cover A5 booklet containing the card designs. The painting of the 56 designs (52 cards, 2 jokers, back of card design, & custom tuck box) is now 75% complete, so I'm starting the crowdfunding to bring the deck to life! 

Some of the completed Cryptic Cards designs
Some of the completed Cryptic Cards designs

The budget for this project reflects the cost of all printing and shipping for a minimum of 100 decks of cards and 75 artwork booklets. Other reward products will be printed 'on demand' and the cost is reflected in each reward. If more than the target amount is raised, more decks will be produced, to a maximum of 750 decks of cards, and 250 artwork booklets (limited edition). 

Studio work to complete the deck
Studio work to complete the deck

Several test prints on both print-quality paper and real playing cards have been carried out, in an iterative process of ensuring painted designs look their best reproduced on printed cards. I'm satisfied that, working with the printer, we have a great quality product. Studio work continues to paint the final few designs, with completion planned for early June 2016. I'm confident that the project will be completed, and produce beautiful playing cards.

It’s time to bring the Cryptic Cards to life. Help me to make this unique deck of beautiful playing cards a reality! 

A design for the back of the cards
A design for the back of the cards

Risks and challenges

The printer who will produce the card decks was identified early on in the project, and we have tested the printing on art prints and real playing cards. A further print test will be carried out before the final print run commences. The printer for the soft-cover booklets has also been chosen and samples examined. Both printers are based local to me (in the UK) with an eye on supporting small businesses, ensuring quality, and reducing project 'art miles'. This also makes it easier to contact the printers in person and tackle any problems occurring during printing.

I believe in making art affordable and accessible to all. I've aimed to tier the products in this project to as wide a range of budgets as possible. I've taken measures with the help of the printers to ensure we can deliver a high quality deck, including agreeing quality control and replacement of any items containing print errors. Hand-painted high value items will be produced using the same paints as the card designs to ensure consistency, and shipped with insurance.

The paintings for the deck are still being completed, and in setting the delivery date for the decks, I have taken into account possible delays in my painting schedule due to any unforeseen circumstances - ill-health, accident, or a painting being eaten by one of my cats for example. The paintings are due to be completed at the beginning of June, and completion of printing is expected in July. Setting a ship date for printed materials of August, and for hand-painted high value rewards of September, allows me a time margin for tackling any issues in completing the artwork, and any problems emerging in the final test print of the deck and booklet, which will be carried out as soon as the painting is complete. With 42 of 56 designs completed, 75% of the artwork is ready, so I'm as confident as I can be that the project will be completed on time. In the event of any huge problem with print quality, or really unexpected disaster happening at the point of print (e.g. the printer's workshop being destroyed by a meteorite) I have identified two alternative printers, and tested printing with each of them. My preferred printers are nice though and obviously I'm hoping nothing bad does happen!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $7

    Cryptic Postcards - 2 full colour postcards, featuring Cryptic Cards designs - 1 court card (a jack, queen, or king), and 1 number design. Also a note of thanks for supporting the project!

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $13

    Cryptic Postcards - 4 full colour postcards, featuring Cryptic Cards designs - 1 court card (a jack, queen, or king), 1 ace, and 2 other number designs, and a note of thanks for supporting the project!

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £12 or more About $16

    The Cryptic Cards Deck

    1 beautiful deck of Cryptic Cards. The cards are poker size (63mm x 88mm), printed in full colour, with custom back-of-card design, and custom tuck box. Comes complete with 2 jokers, double-back card, and blank-faced card. The cards are printed on black-core playing card board (which ensures no show-through), and have a smooth finish to capture the fine detail of the artworks. Each deck comes with a note of thanks from the artist.

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £15 or more About $20

    Cryptic Cards Limited Edition Artwork Booklet

    If you love the Cryptic Cards artwork, and prefer to enjoy its lepidopteran loveliness in book form, then this is the reward for you! A soft-cover A5 60 page booklet featuring every design from the Cryptic Cards deck, with a full page for each of the cards. The pages are silk-finish, full colour, and perfect bound. A limited edition of 250, each booklet will be signed and numbered.

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About $26

    Cryptic Cards double-decker!

    2 beautiful decks of Cryptic Cards, as described in reward 3. Also comes with an A6 mini-print and a note of thanks from the artist.

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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  6. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £25 or more About $33

    Cryptic Cards deck & limited edition booklet + A6 mini-print

    The Cryptic Cards deck (reward 3), PLUS a limited edition artwork booklet featuring a full page for each of the card designs (reward 4), and 1 A6 mini-print featuring one of the card designs.

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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    Reward no longer available 11 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About $33

    Cryptic Cards deck & limited edition booklet, plus A6 mini-print

    The Cryptic Cards deck (reward 3), PLUS a limited edition artwork booklet featuring a full page for each of the card designs (reward 4), and 1 A6 mini-print featuring one of the card designs.

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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    Limited 13 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £30 or more About $39

    Cryptic Cards Triple-decker!

    3 beautiful decks of Cryptic Cards, as described in reward 3. Also comes with 3 Cryptic Cards postcards, and a note of thanks from the artist.

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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    Limited 11 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £35 or more About $46

    Cryptic Cards limited edition 66-card deck

    A special limited edition of 50 of the Cryptic Cards deck, with 10 additional cards. The additions will include;
    - 2 new jokers featuring moths that mimic other insects
    - A twist on the broken Ace of Hearts, with a moth caterpillar taking a bite!
    - 2 double-sided cards
    - A geometer moth twist on the 11 of diamonds
    - 3 split cards (vertical/horizontal/diagonal)
    - 1 'royal reveal' moth card
    This edition is on 340um card, in standard poker size, full colour, in its own specially designed custom tuck box. Each deck comes with a note of thanks from the artist, and a signed & numbered certificate of authenticity.

    If this Kickstarter continues to do well, further embellishments will be added to this deck, and detailed in the updates section.

    Please contact me if you wish to add this to your existing pledge, so I can mark as 'Sold out' at an appropriate point!

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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    Limited 31 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £40 or more About $53

    Cryptic Cards Postcard Bundle; 1 deck + 20 postcards

    1 deck of Cryptic Cards, and 20 postcards featuring card designs to share with friends (if you want to!) The postcard designs will include the mystery cards (designs that haven't been shared during the project - you'll be one of the first people to see them!)

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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  11. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £45 or more About $59

    Cryptic Cards limited edition gold gilt-edged luxe deck

    A beautifully luxurious edition of the Cryptic Cards deck, with gold gilt edging in a thicker card (340um) which still maintains playability. This gilt-edged version of the deck is a limited edition of 25, in standard poker size, full colour, in a custom tuck box. Each deck comes with a note of thanks from the artist, and a signed & numbered certificate of authenticity.

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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    Reward no longer available 15 backers
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge £55 or more About $72

    Cryptic Cards Deck, Booklet, & Special Full Deck Poster

    Cryptic Cards deck (reward 3), limited edition artwork booklet (reward 4), and a special semi-gloss poster. The poster depicts every card face from the deck. Designed to fit hanging on most room doors (42cm x 84cm), this poster will look just as good on a wall!

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge £57 or more About $75

    Cryptic Cards Half-brick

    6 beautiful decks of Cryptic Cards, as described in reward 3. Also comes with 4 Cryptic Cards postcards to share with friends (if you want to, that is) and a note of thanks from the artist.

    Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.

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    Limited 1 backer
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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $131

    Cryptic Cards limited edition gold gilt-edged luxe deck + artwork booklet + limited edition print

    A beautifully luxurious limited edition of the Cryptic Cards deck, with gold gilt edging (reward 9), and the limited edition artwork booklet (reward 4). Additionally, a limited edition (of 10) art print, 40cm x 50cm, in archival inks and paper, depicting four of the mystery card designs (Ace of Spades, Queen of Hearts, King of Clubs, 8 of Diamonds). Each print is signed and numbered, and comes with a certificate of authenticity, and a handwritten postcard of thanks from the artist. Ships tracked/signed for.

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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge £105 or more About $138

    Cryptic Cards Brick

    12 beautiful decks of Cryptic Cards, as described in reward 3. Also comes with 6 Cryptic Cards postcards to share with friends (if you want to, that is) and a note of thanks from the artist.

    - Please add £2 (UK) or £5 (rest of world) if you require tracked/signed for delivery.
    - If you are outside the UK and wish to insure shipping to the full value, please add £5 for tracked shipping, and £2.50 for insurance.

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  16. Select this reward

    Pledge £150 or more About $197

    Cryptic Cards Custom Limited Edition Print Set

    A deck of Cryptic Cards (reward 3), a limited edition artwork booklet (reward 4), and a set of 4 art prints (archival quality inks and paper, size 30x40cm) of the card designs of your choice, made specially for this reward! Prints will be a limited edition of 10 each, and are signed and numbered. The artist will contact you via Kickstarter for you to choose your preferred card designs. You will also receive a handwritten Cryptic Cards postcard of thanks from the artist, and a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity. This reward ships tracked/signed for.

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  17. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About $328

    Original Cryptic Cards

    An original Cryptic Cards painting, 1 deck of Cryptic Cards (reward 3), a limited edition artwork booklet (reward 4), and a handwritten Cryptic Cards postcard from the artist. For this reward, you will receive one of the original hand-painted gouache paintings on Bristol card of the Cryptic Card designs, from which the cards in the deck were made. Artwork comes ready to frame in a custom-made mount (frame not included). The artist will contact you via Kickstarter detailing the available designs, which will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis. A signed certificate of authenticity will be provided. This reward ships tracked/signed for.

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  18. Select this reward

    Pledge £500 or more About $657

    Original Cryptic Moths Commissions

    A unique and original artwork, with 10+ large moths painted on archival cotton paper, the Cryptic Cards deck (reward 3), the artwork booklet (reward 4), and a handwritten postcard of thanks, featuring one of the card designs. This reward is an original and unique composition. The Cryptic Cards designs are painted by the card template being taped to a thick archival cotton backing paper sheet, which can be seen in the Cryptic Cards videos on the youtube channel. For this reward a backing paper sheet will be divided in two, and each half painted with a minimum of 10 large moths. The moths will be camouflaged in cryptic style against the markings on the backing paper, which were made by mixing paint and wiping brushes during the card painting process. This lends the works an abstract background; the perfect foil for exquisitely detailed moth paintings. Each backing sheet is approx. A1 size, thus each half is approx. A2. The paintings will be made in high quality acryl gouache, and the paper is Fabriano Artistico archival cotton paper. A signed certificate of authenticity will be provided. Ships tracked/signed for.

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  19. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,313

    GIANT Original Cryptic Moths Commission

    A unique and original artwork, with 20+ large moths hand-painted on archival cotton paper, a Cryptic Cards deck (reward 3), an artwork booklet (reward 4), and a handwritten postcard of thanks, featuring one of the card designs. This reward is an original and unique composition; one complete archival cotton backing paper (approx A1 size) as seen in the Cryptic Cards videos on the youtube channel, will be painted with a minimum of 20 large moths. The moths will be camouflaged in cryptic style against the markings on the backing paper, which were made by mixing paint and wiping brushes during the card painting process. This lends the work an abstract background; the perfect foil for exquisitely detailed moth paintings. The painting will be made in high quality gouache on Fabriano Artistico archival cotton paper. A signed certificate of authenticity will be provided. This reward ships tracked/signed for, with insurance.

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Funding period

- (30 days)