About this project
Welcome and Thank You for visiting my Kickstarter page for a brand new deck of playing cards I've created called the Whispering Imps™.
The Story: My fascination with playing cards began over 15 years ago as a young magician. I discovered there was more than just Bicycle Rider Back playing cards, and since then I’ve collected and studied hundreds of designs, styles and brands. In early 2012, I decided to design and develop a deck of my own.With your help and the Kickstarter community, this can be achieved.
My goal is to create something that preserves the art and history of magic into a deck of beautifully hand-crafted playing cards. I designed this deck to be something magicians, playing card enthusiasts, collectors and the art community can appreciate.
What would this deck be? One word immediately came to mind--Imps.
Imps are tiny mythological beings that were often seen as mischievous and playful rather than evil or harmful and are commonly associated with magicians.
The Cards: The idea behind the Whispering Imps™ Playing Cards is to combine two very iconic brands, Harry Kellar’s Whispering Imps and the Bicycle Rider Backs, into one classic and elegant deck (see "History" below).
I spent months working with illustrator Mark Stutzman on many concepts, designs and sketches. Late last year I flew from Los Angeles to his studio in Maryland to meet with him, see his process and finalize the concept and overall design.
BACK: The back design is intricate and detailed and will be a printed on Bicycle stock with an Embossed Magic finish using Pantone color inks.
You'll notice the design (in red) below is near complete. Once the artwork is completely finished, it will become vectorized on a computer. This process is very labor-intensive, and I wanted it to be the very last thing we do before sending it to print. I welcome any thoughts or ideas that you, as a backer of this project, can contribute to the development of the back design.
FACES: I've been fortunate enough to obtain original artwork from face cards found in the early 1900's. This older artwork fits well with the history and design of the Whispering Imps™ playing cards.
ACE OF SPADES: This deck will feature a custom "Imp"-themed Ace of Spades. I've included the concept below.
JOKERS: "Imps" will be used to replace the jokers, and are completely custom. I've included the concept below.
GAFFED CARD: Additionally, a gaff card will be included and is designed for many secret card reveals. (image of gaffed back and face to be revealed soon)
AD CARD: One card will feature the Kellar "Whispering Imps" poster, complete with the story behind the Whispering Imps™ playing cards.
TUCK BOX: Much thought has gone into the design of the tuck box. It's intended to look clean, simple and mysterious while keeping the "secrets" of the Whispering Imps locked inside. The tuck box will be fashioned from Intense Black Premium Vellum paper and does not contain any printed inks; the text, design & logo is created entirely from Red Hot Stamped Foil.
The Artist: I called up my friend and illustrator Mark Stutzman to discuss the project. He agreed the Imp theme would make for a beautiful deck of playing cards, and so we began exploring different concepts. Mark’s talent is rare; he’s a true artist, and I couldn't be more grateful to be working with him on this project. Everything from his initial sketches, to the final design, is all drawn by hand. Every detail, scratch, tick, and line is meticulously created with pen and ink on paper.
Mark’s artwork has appeared on the covers of Stephen King novels, Mad Magazine, Billboard Magazine, Broadway posters, The New Yorker and most famously the “Elvis Presley” Postage Stamp for the U.S. Postal Service. Also, Mark is no stranger to designing playing cards. His work includes: the David Blaine “Split Spades” & “White Lions” Series and recently Lawrence Sullivan’s “Legend” Playing Cards.
Mark and I first met about 6 years ago when he painted a poster for my two-man show "The Adult Circus" (see below). This poster (18" x 24") is available as a reward along with a deck of Whispering Imps™ for a pledge of $25 or more.
The History & Inspiration: In 1894, "America's Greatest Magician" Harry Kellar released a poster with the now famous Whispering Imps. It featured Kellar in a profile portrait with two little red Imps, one peeking over his shoulder and the other whispering secrets into his ear. By this time, Kellar was already famous—so famous in fact that he merely needed his name and his portrait to sell out theaters across the globe. To this day, this is the poster most often imitated by magicians. Kellar made Imps the symbol of magic, mystery, and secrets.
That same year (1894) the leading manufacturer of playing cards, Russell, Morgan & Co. (creator of Bicycle playing cards), merged with other playing card manufacturers to became The United States Playing Card Company (USPCC). Since then, the USPCC has been the leading playing card company in the world.
Bonus Pledge Package Items:
Risks and challenges
I've worked very hard to make this project run as efficiently as possible. Over the past few months, I've developed a solid relationship with the team at The United States Playing Card Company in addition to meeting with friends in the magic and playing card community who have had success in designing and developing playing cards.
Once the project is successfully funded, I will oversee every aspect of the printing and distribution. At the moment, I am only a one man operation, but with the help of some close friends, I will be able to ship your rewards in a timely manner.
If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me via Kickstarter. Customer satisfaction is extremely important to me as YOU are the reason this project can become a success.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
In order to allow for International backers of this project to receive their rewards, I've had to take average international shipping rates for each pledge tier and apply them as a flat rate. Kickstarter does not (at the moment) allow for specific international shipping rates to be applied to each backer separately.
The First Edition of the Whispering Imps™ were originally designed to serve as both a functional deck of playing cards inspired by a magician for the magician in addition to having been produced with high quality materials and artwork that collectors and enthusiasts can appreciate.
To have the deck practical for magicians, the face cards could not look fake, gaffed or gimmicked in any way. Any sign of a rigged deck to a spectator could ruin the effect and/or the credibility of the performer. With this in mind, I couldn't hide Imps throughout the faces of the deck.
Yes, I am planning to release an art deck that features the Imps throughout the back and face of each card in the future.
The "Special Edition" is a very limited edition deck of Whispering Imps. The cards get a brand new tuck box crafted from high quality Starfire Red Vellum Paper with Red Embossed Foil Imps. The natural beauty of the embossed paper will be used to replicate the intricate Card Back Design on the back of the tuck box and the Whispering Imps™ Logo on the front. Finally, the star pattern from the back design will be printed with black ink on the inside of the box.
Only 1500 will be available.
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