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A deck of hand-drawn art playing cards inspired by world cultures and wildlife. Printed by Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC)
A deck of hand-drawn art playing cards inspired by world cultures and wildlife. Printed by Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC)
345 backers pledged ¥1,627,094 to help bring this project to life.
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Culturae Animalis - art playing cards

¥1,627,094

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  • You lucky dogs! All you poker players, card sharks, slight-of-hand specialists, and generally those down on their luck - I've good news. You've already got my eternal gratitude and the motivation and support for me to be able to make this project feasible and hopefully for future projects to come! But now you're in luck! All backers will receive good luck, for free! I have done extensive research and found that there is luck of the draw, which is lucky because I can draw, and with each stroke of luck - my pen, if used correctly, will create lucky streaks. But this isn't just my luck, so I will gladly share it with you. What's more, luck being a lady (and me not) it seems out of my hands, so I'll have to leave it to the fates and hope for some blind luck. Therefore, I will draw a dog - with my eyes closed, and everyone will be fantastically lucky for it, obviously. 
  • These are dog days. Our campaign will help to some extent with the work of WWF in tackling the fires of the Amazon. Now is the time for projects like this - that use art and the power of creativity to make a difference around the world!
  •  All backers will receive my eternal gratitude, for free. ;) This will now bring us to fully funding the project since upgrading printers to the world-class EPCC. If the project is fully funded then I will have minimal initial investment required. For the cardists and collectors this means that this project becomes more financially viable and will ensure the possibility of future projects along the same vein. I want to bring more stunning playing card designs to you - don't you? And for the carers, if we can reach this goal and cover all costs then we will be able to immediately start helping the abandoned animals of Japan! With the upgrade we have been able to reach a wider audience, and help more, so now's the time to make every deck of cards count!
  • 40 seedlings for forests in Tanzania! While discussion for replanting schemes in Japan continue, let's make this project support itself. The paper used in this campaign is through FSC certified forestry, but lets leave this planet better than it was when we started! Through WWF I will help use this art project to regrow our forests.
  • The gorgeous and chic tuck box SpotUV will be further upgraded to stunningly tactile embossing. With a world-top printing company using their best stock, with gold foil and embossing, this tuck will rival any and proudly display itself on your shelves.
  • I will adopt a Mountain Gorilla. Through the World Wildlife Fund I will adopt a mountain gorilla, of which there are only about 1,004 left in the wild! I want my son to grow up with these gorgeous animals still roaming our beautiful planet - don't you? I will then split a banana with our new friend and help it write a heartfelt thank you to you all, as best it can with its big ol' hands.
  • Upgraded printing to Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC), a world class printer that specialises in custom and creative design projects. This brings these gorgeous designs to you in the highest possible quality and allows us to help more abandoned animals through post-crowdfunding retail options!
  •  All decks will include an additional Fool card to the two joker cards, for free. The fool card will incorporate my logo (not yet appearing on the face side of any cards) and Culturae Animalis the lobster, our adopted mascot! 
  • Children and fools tell the truth! I will ask my 10 month old son (who can't speak yet) 3 questions to be decided by you in our update discussions! Will you seek the meaning of life, or next week's game score so you can place your bets? I will post the results on my instagram page (www.instagram.com/jack_brutus_penny) and give you a run-down here!
  • A custom-printed seal (most likely based on my Clocktown logo) will be added to each deck, making them even more gorgeous, giving more texture and more uniqueness to Culturae Animalis, for no extra charge.
  •  I will adopt a lobster. That's right, I will adopt a lobster through the National Lobster Hatchery and name it Culturae Animalis (the cultural Animal). It will be raised in a hatchery and released back into the wild to support lobster populations.
  •  All backers will receive a gorgeous hand-coloured high-resolution digital art copy of the Seven of Diamonds. This is totally free and for all backers, old and new.
  • A new reward tier of the Seven of Diamonds for a medium-poster-size print made by a small family-run printer on gorgeous Japanese washi paper with gold flecks. (See its progress further down the page).
  •  All backers will receive a beautiful, textured washi paper sticker dappled with gold and silver.

More stretch goals are in process and even more still in discussion - including ways to make the deck itself even more exquisite and to bring you more for your support!

So please stay involved and active in our update discussions, share the campaign and encourage your friends and family to join in support, not only for the Culturae Animalis art playing cards, but also for the environment and the animals that we can help with this, our, project! 

Tuck-box Concept Design (not the final product) - Tuck-box design being created in collaboration with backers!
Tuck-box Concept Design (not the final product) - Tuck-box design being created in collaboration with backers!

My name is Jack Brutus Penny and I’m a nonsense writer, illustrator and English teacher from England, living in Japan. Founder of the publication house JBPPublishing and writer of various works including The Riddle Me Collection and In Truth Stories, I find hoopla in the playful nature of words and whimsy in their imaginative illustrating.

I am pleased to introduce my latest project - Culturae Animalis

Culturae Animalis (the cultural animal/animal culture) is a deck of highly detailed, hand-drawn, luxury art playing cards. It is a deck of stunning art playing cards with a beautiful message of cultural respect and environmental and animal protection. The illustration work alone took over six months, with every card, including pip cards, having its own unique design, and each set of suit court cards being one continuous panoramic scene.

Most of my written and illustrated work revolves around themes of nature, wildlife and identity, and this project is no different. Each suit depicts one animal type and one culture. 

Let's begin with the diamonds - where my animal illustration series all started. The diamond suit is a detailed portrayal of cats based on traditional and renowned Japanese ukiyoe (woodblock prints). Focused around Edo period Japan, subjects include geisha preparing their makeup and famous or legendary samurai in battle.

Some pieces are entirely original in design while others are reimaginings based on famous historical works such as those by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

The next suit was inspired by my interest in the medieval through renaissance and Tudor period fashion and architecture of England and around Europe. From knights to musketeers and courtly ladies in waiting to courtly jesters, this suit captures heraldry and enchantment.

To create the compositions I often play with collaging elements of source materials, such the ideas created here with the Bayeux Tapestry (notice they also have rabbit ears).

This suit is a new edition to my illustrated world and I’m delighted with how it turned out. Inspired by middle eastern nomadic Arabic tribes and into the Islamic nations, coupled with the subject of the uncaged bird, it allowed me to explore new textures and pattern-work.  

Inspirational source material was researched from many areas, from lithographs of Kurdish soldiers to this Byzantine fresca in St Lucas.


The final suit is represented by the indigenous tribes of the world, from Australian aboriginals to Native American Indians. This series allowed me to explore the rightful place of human culture within the animal kingdom, before we, perhaps arrogantly, separated ourselves. I have great respect for the spirituality and connectedness most aboriginal tribes live by and hope I brought a measure of allurement to this suit.

Inspirations were also taken from old photographic images, such as here depicting the sense of a necessity of alertness that we used to share with animals of the wild (from an antique postcard - source unknown).

• A full deck of luxury art playing cards

• 52 Cards + 2 Jokers all with unique hand-drawn illustrations, most to the edge of the card

• Poker Size (3.5" X 2.5")

• Black core (highest quality card core) 330 gsm heavy paper with linen texture (to reduce surface contact for an easier shuffle) and with a gloss finish

• Gold gilded edges

• Environmentally friendly and wildlife friendly dedicated approach (see below) including special soy ink and use of 100% paper material (of which 85% is recycled)

• Custom anti-scratch matte tuck case with hand-drawn artwork and spot gloss (spot UV) details

• Reaching the initial funding goal will ensure a print run of 1000 decks

•  Through stretch goals to be announced as the project progresses, and through reward tiers, expect additional unique hand-drawn cards, an additional two piece luxury container box, and more


A limited print run of thirty (30) uncut sheets. Twenty-five (25) uncut sheets will be available on Kickstarter, while I will keep five (5) artist proof copies for quality comparison and then gallery and personal display purposes.

The uncut sheet layout hasn't been confirmed by the printer yet, but they will hopefully be printed on both sides and feature the intricate Culturae Animalis design. Uncut sheets are perfect for framing. The sheets measure 25.9" x 21.5" and hold a maximum of 56 cards. 

Image doesn't represent final product (I created this for those unclear on what an uncut sheet is - the card order and layout depends on the printer)
Image doesn't represent final product (I created this for those unclear on what an uncut sheet is - the card order and layout depends on the printer)

Kickstarter doesn’t allow more than one pledge category per supporter so if you wish to receive a beautiful limited edition uncut sheet in addition to your selected other reward tier, then please either 1) Add ¥7499 to your order amount (¥5500 for the uncut print, ¥1999 for international shipping (originally ¥2000, ¥1 discount allows me to distinguish this add-on more clearly), or 2) Make a separate pledge with your partner's account (ask them first).

The Seven of Diamonds 

The Seven of Diamonds is an optional reward/add-on of a hand-coloured copy of the card printed on traditional Japanese washi paper. The coloured piece is currently in production and I will update here as it develops.

(35 hours of work)
(35 hours of work)

I strive to produce written, illustrated and crafted pieces all of the highest qualities, all hand-made and produced where possible through local communities and collaborations with independent artists. In addition, where possible all my work is produced through environmentally friendly and wildlife friendly means. You can see more details on this on my website

Printers in my area unfortunately couldn’t meet my demands and so I have (with a stretch goal upgrade in printing) outsourced production to Expert Playing Card Company, a world leader in custom, creative playing card designs. With them I have sourced paper from FSC certified sustainable forestry processes and soy bean based ink. I also repurpose production materials where possible and use bubble wrap derived from sugarcane for shipping purposes from my location in Japan.

Photo taken from www.putiputi.co.jp (Copyright© Kawakami Sangyo Co.,ltd.)
Photo taken from www.putiputi.co.jp (Copyright© Kawakami Sangyo Co.,ltd.)

As well as trying to reduce our footprint, I also want to negate it in the future. I intend to begin a local scheme for tree replanting and am in discussion on the subject here in Japan. 

In addition to these efforts, though all Kickstarter funding will be used to publish the project as outlined, a portion of all Culturae Animalis art playing cards profit following the Kickstarter campaign will be donated to a local animal charity. 

In 2014, Japan received a D out of possible grades A, B, C, D, E, F, G on World Animal Protection's Animal Protection Index. It is common for animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits and birds to be sold as pets in stores for prices of up to and over ¥300,000 (about $2,800). They are treated as a luxury 'commodity' and kept on display in a grid of small glass viewing cases. According to ARK's founder, around 90% of all pets in Japan are bought from these shops. Yet shelters receive approximately 200 animals a day, and ultimately gas 80% of them. For comparison, Japan culled (2011-2014) 88% of cats in shelters, and 82% of dogs. In the same period China culled 30% and 40% respectively, and the UK culled 6% and 21% respectively (data collected from PETA, RSPCA and government provided statistics). What's more, the culled animals in Japan don't receive the more humane intravenous anaesthetics but are sealed in chambers and gassed with inhalants.

ARK was founded in 1990 to help safely catch, care for and foster or rehome displaced pets, as well as educate people and organisations on proper animal care practices and ethics. In 1995 ARK took in 600 animals displaced by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake despite still being a growing charity. With shelters in Osaka and Hyogo Prefecture, ARK is currently home to about 300 cats and dogs, and more than 7000 have been rescued and rehomed since ARK opened.

I will donate a portion (in discussion with ARK and dependent on sales amounts) of all my profit to ARK, because I truly believe that no human is any different or more deserving of proper treatment than any other animal, because we forget that we are part of this animal kingdom, and because simply writing these words have brought tears to my eyes, honestly.

The main back design for the cards represents the four animal suits, and my logo, hidden in a brilliant thick forest. It is a symbolic message of the mysterious nature of my work, but also a commentary on the need for wildlife to hide from humanity in order to thrive, and the fact that in truth, we are all part of the same ecosystem.

Finally, I selected to base my work on four very different historical cultures with the intent of highlighting beauty from all around the world, and the message that we should respect and appreciate the different and the unfamiliar. 

I want my work to make this world a better place, to use creativity to bring charm and wonder, whilst also acting as a role model for respectful and sustainable practices. 

I also work on an open-door basis, so if you have any questions, requests or collaborative suggestions please don’t hesitate to contact me through my Instagram, Facebook, or website contact page.


All of your support, however big or small, will help bring this project to life. So if you like what you see and would like to get involved then you can back it, tell all of your friends and family to get their own deck/s, and share!

Help spread the word via the social media buttons at the top of the page, and post to your social media pages.

Follow me and my projects and keep up to date with my stories on Instagram, and delve into my website to read some beautiful nonsense.


Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that helps bring creative projects to life. Kickstarter is a place where you can help support a project like this and in return you are offered a series of rewards depending on your pledge. Once you've chosen what type of reward you would like to receive, Kickstarter will ask you to register in order to record your pledge. They will safely set up your payment but you will ONLY be billed at the end of the campaign IF this project reaches its funding goal. Remember, if the project isn't fully funded during this Kickstarter campaign, you won't be charged a penny (and, unfortunately, the decks won't be published). You can always go back and change or cancel your reward level before the campaign ends.

With the funding goal achieved, I will be able to take the idea to production and get this beautifully hand-drawn deck to all of you out there. Let's help this gorgeous project and it's positive messages come to life. Thank you!

Risks and challenges

This project reflects years of experience and passion in hand-crafted design, as well as over six months of dedicated work. I will apply all my knowledge learnt across a variety of projects undertaken to make sure that this project is completed gracefully. Unexpected delays or complications can occur during the manufacturing of the decks, which may result in a delay in fulfilment or necessary modifications to deck specifications or designs. In addition, shipping fees have been calculated for the products carefully, and should arrive within one week of shipping for reward tiers up to three (3) decks. For higher reward tiers shipping should be completed within two weeks, though all estimates are subject to weather conditions and other logistical issues that cannot be planned for. Finally, steps have been taken to cover all shipping costs from shipping fees applied, however, depending on the country and customs agent's whim, VAT or import taxes may be applied that I cannot account for or take responsibility for. All steps will be taken to produce and distribute the pieces as quickly, smoothly, and as closely to what has been described above as possible.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge ¥2,000 or more About US$ 19

    Culturae Animalis - Single deck

    One (1) deck of Culturae Animalis art playing cards

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    Pledge ¥3,800 or more About US$ 35

    Culturae Animalis - Double pack

    Two (2) decks of Culturae Animalis art playing cards
    - Save ¥200

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    Pledge ¥5,000 or more About US$ 47

    The Seven of Diamonds

    A large (approximately 30cmx42cm /11.5"x16.5") hand-coloured print of the seven of diamonds. Cast by a local Japanese family-run printer, this colourful, medium poster sized work will be produced on traditional Japanese washi paper with gorgeous gold flecks.

    - Free shipping to anywhere in the world
    - Add ¥4999 (¥1 discount) to your existing pledge to receive this as an add-on along with your other rewards!

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    Pledge ¥5,500 or more About US$ 51

    Culturae Animalis - Triple pack

    Three (3) decks of Culturae Animalis art playing cards
    - Save ¥500

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    Pledge ¥5,500 or more About US$ 51

    Limited Edition Uncut Sheet

    One limited edition uncut sheet of Culturae Animalis art playing cards

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    Limited 14 backers
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    Pledge ¥10,500 or more About US$ 97

    Culturae Animalis - Half brick

    Six (6) decks of Culturae Animalis art playing cards
    - Save ¥1500

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge ¥20,000 or more About US$ 185

    Culturae Animalis - Brick

    Twelve (12) decks of Culturae Animalis art playing cards
    - Save ¥4000

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    Pledge ¥35,000 or more About US$ 323

    Culturae Animalis - The Albert Pack

    Albert was my first cat, and he was a gorgeous deaf albino.
    - A half brick of six (6) decks
    - A Seven of Diamonds colour print (stamped with my signature seal)
    - A pair of handmade earrings made from white Japanese clay with my logo hand-drawn and decal burnt onto them. The clay took 6 months to knead, cut, bake and set. (Only 3 made so far)

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    Pledge ¥35,000 or more About US$ 323

    Culturae Animalis - The D'artagna Pack

    D'artagnan is my current, jet black and wily, outgoing cat.
    - A half brick of six (6) decks
    - A Seven of Diamonds colour print (stamped with my signature seal)
    - A pair of handmade cufflinks made from white Japanese clay with my logo hand-drawn and decal burnt onto them. The clay took 6 months to knead, cut, bake and set. (Only 15 ever made)

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    Pledge ¥35,000 or more About US$ 323

    Culturae Animalis - The Dave Pack

    Fat Dave is my current, withered black and overweight, recluse cat.
    - A baker's half brick of seven (7) decks
    - A Seven of Diamonds colour print (smudged with my signature seal and food stain)
    - A pair of handmade cufflinks made from white Japanese clay with a Japanese and English town house hand-drawn and decal burnt onto them. The clay took 6 months to knead, cut, bake and set. (Only 50 ever made)

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    Pledge ¥100,000 or more About US$ 921

    Culturae Animalis - Daemon pack

    One (1) deck of Culturae Animalis art playing cards
    - Includes a unique display card that I will design, illustrate and publish with the animal/pet of your choice, based on the culture/historical period of your choice. I will only print one of these cards ever, making your deck a one of a kind.

    One (1) Ultra Limited Edition Uncut Sheet
    - You receive one of my own five (artist proof) uncut sheets, numbered and stamped with my personal seal.

    One (1) Cultural Experiment
    - I will repeat a word of your choice every day to my 10-month-old son, in any language, unbeknownst to my wife, until he says his first words. Assuming three gloriously dastardly backers, we can then all revel in the scene of my wife hearing 'cabbage', 'poopsickle' and 'lily-liver’d' before he says 'mummy'. I will keep you informed and post the results on social media. (No obscene words or racial or sexual slur. I won't teach my son to belittle others for any amount of money, not unless it's also adorable).

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    Pledge ¥100,000 or more About US$ 921

    Culturae Animalis - Angel pack

    One (1) deck of Culturae Animalis art playing cards
    - A unique card that I will design, illustrate and publish with the animal/pet of your choice, based on the culture/historical period of your choice will be included and published in every deck of Culturae Animalis cards, immortalised for the world to enjoy.

    One (1) Ultra Limited Edition Uncut Sheet
    - You receive the first of my own five (artist proof) uncut sheets, numbered (#1) and stamped with my personal seal.

    0ne (1) Animal will have you as their Guardian Angel
    - Through WWF I will adopt an endangered Amur Leopard. There are only 90 left in the wild, so it'll be a job finding it to tell it the good news. We will then talk of many things, of mountain peaks - and balls of strings, and I will help it compose a quite thorough poem that will leave you so lost for words that you will need to ask for directions.

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  13. Reward no longer available

    Pledge ¥50,000 or more About US$ 461

    Culturae Animalis - Master pack

    - One brick of twelve (12) decks
    - One Extra-Limited Edition Uncut Print (one of my own 5 proof copies)
    - One Seven of Diamonds hand-coloured print on washi paper
    - One copy of my published book of nonsense short stories, In Truth Stories
    - One copy of my published book of riddles, A Stone's Throw

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Funding period

- (30 days)