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Dealing artistic aces

Posted in:
Interviews, by Mark White
December 1, 2017

The Playing Arts project featured 55 artists and caught the imagination of the digital world. Curator Vlad Korzinin is commissioning a third set – so how did the idea begin?

Vlad Korzinin humbly describes himself as “just a designer who loves art.” A co-owner on the Digital Abstracts online blog since 2006, Vlad began the Playing Arts project just two years ago.

The idea behind it was simple but ambitious: assemble a team of designers from around the world, give them complete freedom and assign each one a playing card to build a unique and wildly creative set of cards.

The project caught the attention of the internet and garnered respect from social- media fans and top art bloggers. A third set of cards is currently in the works. So what’s the secret to Vlad’s success?

How did you get into design?

I started off as a web designer and got into graphic design ten years ago. I joined Digital Abstracts magazine, which is an online web design and digital art blog, set up by my friend Andreas Shabelnikov. I joined Digital Abstracts a bit later but became their co-owner, and I still update the blog from time to time. But for years, we featured loads of cool work from great artists on the site. They inspired me a lot, and I always wanted to collaborate with these artists.

So how did the idea of creating a deck of cards come to you?

Very spontaneously! It came to my friend while we were on vacation in Thailand, and we were eager to test it immediately. The next day, I contacted artists to hear their thoughts on the project and find out whether or not they’d be interested in becoming a part of it.

Who were the first people you contacted and were they excited?

First I contacted my favourite artists, designers and friends; people like Anton Repponen, Sara Blake, Andreas Preis and Joshua Davis. Their feedback was so positive and inspired us to move forward with Playing Arts, and we’ve invited them back to other projects that we’ve worked on. We found artists for other cards quickly after getting the first few, contacting people such as Brosmind, Hello Monday, Your Majesty, 2Advanced Studios, Michael Cina and James White. Others soon agreed, and we had enough artists to create a whole set. We tentatively called it the Creative Cards project, and everyone started work on their cards. There are still artists out there, though, who I’d like to work with; I still want Stefan Sagmeister to join the project, but he’s so busy. He keeps politely refusing because of his commitments to personal projects. I’ll write to you again soon, Stefan!

When did you first have the feeling that this project would be a massive success?

When we first published final artwork on the website and received amazing feedback. People loved it: the project was featured by design blogs and magazines, and I was really taken aback by the overwhelming support on social media. The first edition of Playing Arts was launched on Kickstarter and funded within the first few days. More than 1,000 backers supported the project, and I think that’s because we give the artists absolute freedom in terms of design. The final artworks are always a big surprise. Everyone has a different favourite.

You created a second edition a year later. Did you approach this sequel differently?

Since the first project, I’ve learned everything about cards and how to launch a project. I experimented with formats and materials, and tried different materials for the cards. We had the same concept though, and just contacted more of our favourite artists from around the world to contribute.

Was it easier or just as difficult the second time around?

All I will say is that it’s not an easy job to unite 55 creative individuals from all over the world on a single project and in a limited timeframe, but the result speaks for itself! It is a real pleasure working with them though, and we are really thankful that they all found time to join the project.

Is a third set on the horizon?

Yes, we’re commissioning a third set! We are now in the process of preparing something huge and will officially announce the project a bit later this year. Meanwhile, we invite all artists to submit their profile without any hesitation on our site (http://playingarts.com/submit). The third set will be slightly different. We will change the rules a bit and it is going to be so fun – watch this space!