Created by professional magicians who believe the magic industry is a microcosm of the world, Sisterhood Playing Card Company uses custom-designed decks of cards to start essential conversations about issues impacting women.

Are you wondering why you’ve never heard of them before? Don’t worry; you haven’t missed anything!

Who Is Sisterhood Playing Card Company?

For a couple of years, you’ve known me as Rosemary Reid, the Real Deal writer, and professional magician. Now, I am writing to you as the new kid on the custom playing card block. And after watching, listening, and studying, I’ve come prepared to throw an incredible block party. So get ready to scream, shout, and let it all out; nothing like this has ever been done.


It All Started With A Survey

After twenty years in showbiz, the number one question people STILL ask me is, ‘Why aren’t there more women magicians?!’ With hopes of providing a final answer to this burning question, I even created this in-depth piece of work several years ago. Yet, years later, the query remains. To dig deeper, my team and I compiled a list of every person who identifies as a woman magician we could find on Google. Every. Single. One. Before reading on, please venture a guess in your mind as to how many you believe we found.

Have you thought of a number? Good.

What is your reaction knowing that after scouring the internet for several months, our list included 561 women magicians?

Knowing more about where we are seems like the best way to plan a brighter future. So we compiled a survey full of poignant questions across various topics related to the magic industry. Of 561 people, 230 agreed to participate in our groundbreaking survey. Believe it or not, that makes this the largest survey ever conducted in all of magic. Amazing!

After receiving all the responses, we contacted the Senior Insight Manager of the world’s leading broadcast news organization for her expert analysis. And while the numbers confirm many positive experiences, they also lay bare some harsh realities that women magicians – and women as a group in general – face.

Though the findings from our survey could easily fill an entire magazine, I take pride in knowing my audience. Perhaps you’re wondering, ‘What does a survey have to do with a deck of cards?’


Playing Cards As A Vehicle of Information

Once our groundbreaking survey responses were transformed into digestible statistics, sharing this information with everyone was the next step. Magicians must first talk about the culture of our industry to begin creating something different, like a more welcoming space for women to exist. What better way to reach magicians than with playing cards?

Our inaugural SISTERHOOD Deck advertises and promotes the groundbreaking and essential Sisterhood Survey results. Each deck comes with a detailed printed guide that explains all the art choices and shares many statistics we uncovered. Including several new takes on old traditions, this deck promises to spark change throughout both the magic and playing card industries. We use decks of cards as vehicles to empower, support, and educate people worldwide. All of this makes Sisterhood Playing Cards the Real Deal, if I say so myself.

Some of the statistics shared at the Sisterhood Salon held on June 29th, 2022.





The Blue/Silver and Red/Gold designer Ace of hearts. The two colourways get incorporated throughout the accents on all of the
cards, not only the tuck box and the backs.



Like a luxury car, our inaugural SISTERHOOD Deck makes a strong statement. Specially designed court cards, a unique designer ace, and diptych jokers are all printed on premium crushed paper stock. Even the most seasoned card collectors will want to take this deck for a spin. An all-new back design and customcreated pips and indices make this an entirely original piece of work—these unique components working together harness transformative power.


Imagine An Automatic Conversation Starter

The discussion begins when the tuck box comes out. It’s flashy enough to get people talking. Inquiring minds want to know, ‘What’s that you’re holding? It’s beautiful!’

Famed Canadian illustrator Brendan Hong (Hive 1 & 2, Dynasty Playing Cards, etc.) outdid himself with this inside and outside the printed box. Complete with hot-foiling and embossing, the tuck box glints and glimmers with every tilt. So satisfying! Plus, these decks got designed in two colourways, red/gold and blue/silver.

Once the cards come out of the box, you’ll also appreciate Hong’s work on the back design. Combining antique, vintage, and modern graphic elements, it’s broadly appealing to collectors. The colourways don’t stop at the box and backs. All accents are adjusted to match silver or gold. We’ve placed our maker’s mark on the Ace of Hearts. The heart symbol better represents the Sisterhood PCC brand. Considering the millions of designer aces of spades in circulation, perhaps this is a refreshing change? I look forward to seeing the creative uses my fellow magi may find for both a designer Ace of Hearts and a plain Ace of Spades. My research tells me this is only the third time in history (excluding a few modern decks) the Ace of Hearts serves as the official designer ace. I’ve discovered two others; one on a Piatnik & Söhne deck and the other on an Argentinian import from the New York Consolidated Card Company (NYCCC). If any readers have more/ different information, please send it to Rosemary@

The tuck box, back design, and designer ace each contribute to making this deck a conversation piece. Once the dialogue shifts to the unique court cards, our opportunity to create change becomes real.


Essential Court Cards

Conceptualized by yours truly, and brought to life by acclaimed Canadian artist Kaitlynn Copithorne, our twelve custom-created court cards are the engine behind this deck. All twelve portray images of women. These kinds of illustrations have NEVER been seen on playing cards before! Considering how many playing cards exist worldwide, the lack of accurate female representation is astounding.






One side of the printed guide that comes with each SISTERHOOD Deck. It folds down to the actual size of a deck of playing cards.
Importantly, each court card connects to a statistic from our survey, reflecting the 230 magicians who participated.


Though we have just twelve opportunities, we attempt to portray a wide array of female experiences. Our Queens range in age, size, and colour. When viewed sequentially, Hearts to Spades, Spades to Diamonds, and ending with Clubs, the depiction of an archetypal journey through life emerges.

Each court has been given a nickname. Our ‘Kid Magician Queen’ of Hearts, ‘Double Standard Queen’ of Spades, and ‘Elder Queen’ of Clubs, seem to be three crowd favourites. Yet, every card is worth studying. At a glance, you might miss the details on our ‘Survival Queen’, the Jack of Spades. Look at how she holds her keys. It’s a subtle detail many women recognize and understand. Do you?

Are you wondering if you can still play games and perform magic with this unique deck? The answer is YES! We maintain the J, Q, and K indices so that you can use this deck for all card games and magic performances.


Baby’s First Kickstarter Campaign

After nearly two years in the making, the SISTERHOOD Deck Kickstarter launches within the next 60 days.

Discovering first-hand the number of steps and work involved in putting together a (hopefully) successful campaign has been humbling. It takes incredible effort and energy, from scripting and shooting a promo video, to writing copy, to getting names added to the pre-launch page. Launching a Kickstarter campaign, like performing magic, is not as simple as it appears.



By the time this article goes to press, I’ll be fully immersed in ‘Deck Tour’ life. Magicians and collectors are the target audience for this campaign, yet we believe many outside of those circles will be interested in the subject material and the beautiful artwork. Please contact me if you want to include the SISTERHOOD Deck on your podcast or blog! View the SISTERHOOD Kickstarter campaign here.


What’s Next for Sisterhood Playing Card Company?

As time passes and Ontario’s incredibly long Covid-19 shutdowns ease, live performances are back on the books. And I’m grateful. Creative work that also produces an income is essential when you work in the arts full-time. So far, the SISTERHOOD Deck has been a labour of love. I believe in our mission, message, and power in a deck of playing cards. Yet, there’s no way to know what the free market will say.

If all goes according to plan, this initial deck will be the first of many. I’m already dreaming of all the NEW mistakes I can make next time. LOL! I’m also thinking of all the time and energy saved when producing future decks, thanks to the numerous hard lessons learned this time.

As a company, we look forward to bringing impactful, educational, and inspirational messages to life using playing cards as vehicles to communicate essential truths with people around the world. For now, all my focus is on the Deck Tour.

I owe many thanks to the intelligent and candid women featured in the Real Deal column. They’ve graciously offered great advice, tricks, and tips for creating and launching a deck of playing cards. Likewise, without my trusted advisors, Kevin Yu of Riffle Shuffle and El Presidente Lee Asher, this project would not exist without them. Thank you.

If you have a moment, please add your name to the
‘Notify Me on Launch’ list at this link. 

We are Sisterhood Playing Cards, and we are the Real Deal.




A Unique Find

Around 2005, I started going to casinos around Indiana. While there, I would buy a deck or two from the gift shops and use them for poker, blackjack, etc.

In 2008, I started a family and friends poker club. I would always try to come up with something different and fun for everyone. Anything from pregame music, blackjack, let it ride, even a “grab bag” where I would put extra chips in a bag and let everyone take turns for extra chips. Then one day in early 2011, I decided to try to find an “old deck” of cards to use in an upcoming game.

I went on eBay and found a deck by B. P. Grimaud. When I got the deck, I opened it and was amazed that a 100+-year-old deck was in mint condition and it appeared to have never been used! Even the gold edges were 100% intact! I knew I couldn’t use these in a game so I went back to eBay and I found an interesting but well-used deck of Congress playing cards. I had never heard of that brand before, and the cards had an image of the Statue of Liberty surrounded by flags from several nations, including the US. Later I learned this deck had a name, “Liberty”, and dated from 1917. We used this deck a few times.

My dad, Dave (who is the authority on National Card Company and antique card historian in his own right) thought there could be something to these old decks. He started buying a few older decks here and there, at the same time I was slowly collecting them as well. I discovered Facebook groups for collectors sometime in 2016.

52 Plus Joker

I discovered 52 Plus Joker one day in 2017 and decided to join, after my fiancée encouraged me to do so. She thought it would help me meet other collectors and help build my collection. Little did we know what was to come.

Dad and I went to our first club convention, held in Erlanger, KY that same year, albeit just for the day on Saturday, the final day of that convention. We met a few new friends there and bought some nice antique decks. Dad signed up for the club that day and our journey officially began.

Unlocking A Cool Nickname

At the convention in Cleveland in 2018, I had pretty much narrowed my focus to only collecting Congress decks. The artwork featured on these decks were taken from popular artwork of the day. I still collected other antique decks as well, but during this convention I wanted to buy whatever congress decks I could get my hands on. It was during this time I got my first “lacquer back” deck, dated 1885. Lacquer backs are pre-1900 decks with gold or copper colored ink for the image and solid color backs. Very desirable decks and very hard to come by.

During the auction, I had already won a few congress decks and ephemera, and while I was bidding on yet another Congress deck, I heard a woman in the audience whisper “that’s the congress guy”, presumably to the person next to her. To this day, I have no idea who this woman is. I thought to myself “that’s a cool nickname”, and went about my business.

I was already on Instagram for a short time with no real direction on how to stand out. I thought back to the nickname I heard during that auction and it just clicked. That’s how I’m going to make my mark. I changed my Instagram handle and created a Facebook page with the same name. As of today I have over 400 followers on Facebook, over 1,100 on Instagram, and I even have a YouTube channel with over 150 subscribers.


Kevan Seaney

“The Congress Guy” 52 Plus Joker Member and Collector of Congress 606 Playing Cards




The Forgotten History 

Forgotten people have interested me for many years. Looking back I realized it all started in 1968. That was when my Uncle Earl handed me a single sheet of paper with a hand-drawn family tree on it. At that time I didn’t even know who my great-grandparents were. Or even know anything about my family history. As my uncle slowly turned over the role of family historian to me, that tree grew into thousands of forgotten people and their stories. Without having that curiosity about my past, and learning how to research the information these stories would be lost forever.

This research experience came into play when my son, The Congress Guy, asked me to help find the location of the National Playing Card factory in Indianapolis where we live. So, using the address stated in the Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards I started the search using my genealogy skills. As it turned out the address listed was incorrect. After finding the correct location, I realized I had even passed by the old factory during my lifetime quite a few times. Unfortunately, it’s now gone and has been replaced with an apartment complex.

It was then that I went with my son to our first 52+Joker Convention to pass along my discovery to other playing card enthusiasts. At that 2017 convention in Erlanger, I became hooked on playing cards and joined.



But, it was the history that has come to fascinate me. Who were these people that made these interesting items? What was the story behind them and their cards?

My research ended up with me writing stories about these people for the 52+Joker club magazine and then creating websites to share the information with others.



Dave Seaney

Playing Cardiologist

Forgotten People of Playing Cards

Our Congress 606 website




Shuffled Ink had the pleasure of interviewing John August to help encourage others who are thinking about starting a Kickstarter. There are many aspiring entrepreneurs who are thinking of crowdfunding their projects but may feel they lack certain resources. This blog is the perfect article to help those individuals gain more perspective on how to properly prepare themselves for a very intimidating platform. Keep reading to find out how John August was able to launch his own successful Kickstarter.


1. Tell us about yourself and how you arrived at where you are today.

I’m a screenwriter and novelist. I’m lucky to have had twelve movies produced, from GO to BIG FISH to ALADDIN, along with three novels (the ARLO FINCH trilogy). I also host a popular weekly podcast about film and television called Scriptnotes.

On the side, I run a small company that makes software and other things for writers, including the screenwriting app Highland and Writer Emergency Pack.


2. What inspired you to take action on creating the Writer Emergency Pack XL?



We launched the original Writer Emergency Pack in 2014. It became a phenomenon, one of the bigger Kickstarter projects of its time. In the years since we’ve shipped nearly 100,000 decks around the world. 


As much as we love the original, we felt there were aspects we could improve upon. With a bigger card we could consolidate text that was split among multiple cards. That gave us room to double our illustrations and tips. 


We also took a serious look at our box. The original Writer Emergency Pack comes in a standard tuck box, which can wear out from heavy use. Our new two-part box is made of heavy chipboard, designed to last for years. 


Ryan Nelson designed the original Writer Emergency Pack, drawing inspiration from typography. Dustin Bocks refined the design for Writer Emergency Pack XL, bringing in our space theme.


3. Why did you choose & trust Kickstarter as a good platform? Why did you think it would be the right fit?


We had a great experience with our initial foray in Kickstarter back in 2014, but a lot has changed since then. We did our research and considered alternatives, including just launching XL on our own store. 

What brought us back to Kickstarter was the chance to repeat our “get one, give one” campaign. For every deck we send to backers, we’ll be sending one to classrooms. Launching on Kickstarter allows us to scale up to a place where that’s affordable


4. Did you run into any problems that made you question whether to keep pursuing this card deck? 



We printed early prototypes of Writer Emergency Pack XL back in 2018. We knew we had the right basic idea, but as a company we got busy with other things. 

The pandemic got us thinking more about our supply chain and the environmental costs of worldwide shipping. We were already printing in the US, but we researched better packaging and processes to minimize our carbon footprint. We committed to using certified and recycled paper for everything we can.

We ultimately made the tough decision to launch Writer Emergency Pack XL exclusively for the US and Canada. We’ll be shipping directly from the printing facility in Florida.


5. What are your thoughts on the outcome of not only reaching your goal, but passing it?



We’re really happy how the campaign turned out. We set our goal at $10,000, and achieved that the first day. Our final tally of $121,000 is just about what we expected.

Most importantly, we’re excited that this means we’ll be able to get Writer Emergency Packs into even more classrooms through our “get one, give one” model, and help inspire the next generation of creative writers. We are particularly excited because we think the larger pack will be even more accessible to younger writers. 


6. What are your tips for setting a goal right for you?



Do your research and ask hard questions. We wanted to push ourselves with our goal but also make sure we were staying realistic. Our first campaign exceeded all of our expectations, but we knew we couldn’t expect the same performance. In the years since our initial launch, the landscape of Kickstarter campaigns has changed. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t create a goal modeled off the metrics of our first campaign, but instead we chose a goal that would meet our needs in the current moment in order to make this new pack feasible. We spoke with other creators, got quotes from printing facilities, and mapped out all of our costs before we set a target. 


7. How has being a professional writer benefited your campaign?



I wrote weekly blog posts and updates on Kickstarter to let our backers know how we were doing. I’ve had a blog for decades so it’s normal for me to write to a large group of people on the internet. I think because we were communicating regularly with our supporters we were able to reach our stretch mode, like offering a dark mode version of the pack.   

And in terms of our product, as a writer I can speak directly to the problems we’re solving with our packs. I’ve written a trilogy of novels and countless screenplays, but even I sometimes get stuck. I wish I had something like this growing up, but learning these lessons on my own allowed me to translate my writing experience into the prompts for these cards. The motivating principle behind this deck is to rescue writers from that feeling by giving them tools to approach their story problems.


8.What are some tips to share with aspiring entrepreneurs thinking about using Kickstarter?

One of the biggest draws to working with Kickstarter is the community. I’d recommend folks interested in launching their own Kickstarters, to first research, study, and support other campaigns. I became friends with Elan Lee through Kickstarter and have learned so much through watching his campaigns take off on the platform. We got great practical tips from other creators, like Aaron Reed who launched 50 Years of Text Games. Learning from other entrepreneurs helped us prepare for the launch but also set us up for success when it came time to actually make our product. 

Also, your backers are a huge part of your community and your success depends on their support. My advice is to stay engaged and authentic with them. They’ll appreciate honesty over plans you’re unable to deliver.


9. What is the most effective way to get a Kickstarter out to the public? What networking efforts helped you promote the campaign?

Our company makes a lot of products aimed at helping writers. Luckily we had a loyal base of customers who championed the new XL version of the pack. 

We’re also lucky that the original Writer Emergency Pack was beloved by schools and writing organizations. Through our get one, give one, model we’ve become a fixture in many classrooms and creative writing workshops so word of mouth also helped promote our campaign. 


10. What is the most challenging growth phase for you?

After we came up with the idea for the Writer Emergency Pack XL, our team brainstormed ways to improve the original pack. We wanted to add more cards, tools, illustrations, basically more fun to the original. Once we had mock-ups of our designs it was challenging to figure out (and wait until) the best moment to launch because we were eager to bring our packs to the public ASAP. But I’m glad we waited because we found great partnerships in the US and had more time to create the perfect box for our new deck.


11. How has working with Shuffled Ink helped throughout the Kickstarter campaign process?

Shuffled Ink has produced our standard Writer Emergency Packs for the past few years, so we felt confident they could do this bigger deck. We’ve enjoyed the process of working with Matt and his team to figure out what’s possible, from sizes to finishes to little esoteric details. For example, we want to avoid any plastic while still protecting the decks during shipping. We’ve come up with some good solutions together.


We thank John August for taking the time to share his personal experience with Kickstarter along with his amazing tips on how to properly prepare for a successful launch.  Hopefully this article has helped share some insight and give readers the motivation they need to take action on their next project with Kickstarter!


Important Tips For The Readers To Consider When Launching A Kickstarter:

  1. Are you setting a realistic goal?
  2. When do you feel is the right time to launch your Kickstarter? 
  3. Do you plan on networking with others who use the platform?
  4. Will you promote your campaign? Will you keep your audience updated? Do you know what socials will work best for promoting your product on Kickstarter? 



A loving true story from Grandma Margie



Hard work, multiple rejections, continual revisions, creative improvements, and his never-give-up will made my grandson’s invention, “basketball brackets by M.M” a reality.

When my grandson mason was 11, his mother died and he endured such sorrow. I was blessed to be able to help take care of him, a kind, good-hearted child. One day he came home from school, I asked him the usual question, “how was school today?” However, on this day, he didn’t give me the usual 12-year-old, “boring” response. Instead, he said that he made up a game and drew it in his notebook. After he showed it to me I took him to a craft store to help him buy supplies to make his game. We had fun making it and laughed a lot while playing it. It was music to my ears to hear him laugh! 

Then I encouraged him to go online and see if any game companies would be interested in manufacturing his game idea, but he received rejections. Two companies wouldn’t even accept a game description without an agent. Next, we filled out an application to an invention company. Four years later, this company called and said that they just found the application and were interested. I asked Mason if he was interested. He said that he was older now and didn’t want to send them his 12-year-old kid ideas, but would improve the game. He did. So, we connected with this invention company. MISTAKE! They took a lot of my teacher’s retirement money but ended up stopping “procedures” unless I sent more money. We tried another invention company which took less money. I’d do anything for my grandson, but this company didn’t seem like they’d really end up manufacturing the game either, and my savings were dwindling. They ended up rejecting the game, but one of the managers told me that he liked Mason’s game so much that he’d share what the next step should be: to try to find a manufacturing company on our own and eliminate the middleman. We tried places in our home state of Ohio. No luck!


However, Mason wanted to continue! He never wanted to give up even though he faced more disappointments and more work. He just kept thinking up new ideas and new ways to make the game more fun. I was so proud of him! It was Covid times by now, and his school shut down. However, Mason used this difficult time to continue improving his game. Since it was Covid, I’d meet with him at an outdoor park near his house. There he designed a better game board, moving around cut-out paper squares and re-taping them onto a big piece of cardboard until they were just where he wanted them. Also, he wrote 70 game cards: 30 “Assist” cards and 30 “Turnover” cards, and 10 “Heal” cards all with basketball-themed wording. He designed a spinner for concessions and other items for his “Basketball Brackets” game.



What happened next was Heaven sent! We found a game manufacturing company called, Shuffled Ink whose owner, Charles Levin, is an out-of-this-world kind, helpful, caring, honest, and interested man, who agreed to manufacture Mason’s game! Can you even imagine my joy at realizing that my grandson’s creativity and hard work would become a reality?! Charles Levin connected us with his graphic designer, Steve Sherin, who is a talented and also very caring man! He and Mason emailed many times to get the designs, box, game pieces, cards, spinner, directions, basketball and lever, and etc. just right and works of art. They emailed countless times for many months. Steve often complimented Mason on his creative ideas and even on his proofreading skills. (Meanwhile, to save attorney fees, I wrote 21 pages to receive a gov’t patent pending for Mason’s game.)


Throughout this time, another heart-touching thing happened. I was worried that my lapses in communication (due to cancer surgery and radiation treatments) would halt some of this game manufacturing process. So I informed them about my physical condition. Unbelievably, Charles didn’t charge me for many months, and he and Steve kept checking on me, just for my health and not for business or fees. Charles even sent me uplifting emails with happy emojis showing such kindness, and that kindness and honesty throughout his dealings led to trust and encouraged me through my disease. I was so blessed! What business people care more about a person, a client they never even met, than the money payment they were entitled to receive? Charles and Steve cared! Even now, I’m crying as I’m writing this remembering how much their caring helped me during my bad days even during Covid when none of my 4 children were allowed to visit me in the hospital or afterward. I fought my cancer with extra determination especially because after all the sorrow that Mason had already gone through with his mother; I just had to be here for many more years for my creative, loving grandson. So every MRI, every CAT scan, every radiation treatment, every needle in my chest, or every staple shot into my breast was okay as long as that would help me recover for my grandson, and, of course, for my whole family. God is great, and I am doing very well.


Finally, 6 years after Mason first invented his game, it was completed at a company that Shuffled Ink works with across the ocean. One thousand games were put on a ship transported back to the United States, but another glitch! The ship was detained in a long line of ships on the west coast. In addition, the games were detained again by a trucking situation!


Then, another Charles Levin kind gesture! He paid for the transport of over 200 games to my house in Columbus, Ohio, and stored the rest in his shop, free of charge. His generous gestures during my medically and monetarily tough time, helped me not only with bills but also made me realize the goodness given to me through a stranger, a businessman, Charles. I was uplifted to recover! Most importantly, my grandson, Mason, (who is now a freshman majoring in business) has a business role model worthy of emulation. He sees, through Charles, an unselfish example that business is more than just making money, but can be about really helping people along the way!


Joyfully, on the EXACT date of Mason’s 18th birthday after 6 years of trying, rejections, improvements, help from Charles and Steve, and a never-give-up will many games arrived. Approximately 250 games were sent to my home (which I stored under beds, in the basement, on top of cabinets, under tables, and in every room. My house is tastefully decorated in matching brown-box décor.) Shuffled Ink stored the remaining750 games. I asked Charles if he would attend the Game Show Convention in Columbus, Ohio, near my home. I even offered (tried to bribe him) to make him my homemade meatballs and lasagna if he would come to the convention to help sell Mason’s games. Unfortunately, Covid postponed the convention, and Charles could not attend. (Not attending was probably a good thing for Charles because after tasting my authentic Italian cooking, he would have owed me, instead of my owing him for the work done. Ha ha ha)


Mason and I have tried to sell games in Ohio. Family, friends, former coworkers, coaches, and others have purchased games. I’ve set up tables at bazaars and have been given wonderful feedback from buyers, several returning for multiple copies saying that the game is so much fun to play. “March Madness Meets Basketball Monopoly” is the phrase that one return buyer coined for Mason’s game. Players compete to win their teams’ brackets and also travel around the outer game squares earning and losing money which will be needed later for the Championship Game where players use their skills to shoot mini baskets.


My heart smiles with pride that Mason often chooses to give a lot of the money from game sales to charities. He has given the money to World Central Kitchen to help with the refugees in Ukraine, a lot to St. Jude’s Children’s Cancer Hospital, to Special Olympics, and to Feeding America. Sometimes he gives ALL the money from sales that month, saying that they need it more than he does. There’s a true joy in seeing my Gift-From-God-Grandson feel proud of his work and use it to help others.






Shuffled Ink had the pleasure of interviewing Holly Holton for the story behind The Decision Umbrella Deck. The Decision Umbrella Deck contains “52 Powerful Possibility Practices to help you create a life that lights you up!” The deck was created to help improve people’s decision-making process while assisting them on a journey of self-discovery. “The concept behind the title is that all change starts with a decision. Not a try. Not a hope. Not a wish. A decision.





It all started with an Instagram account called @thedecisionumbrella! Holly shared that she always loved personal development and created the Instagram account as a way to organize her thoughts. She began brainstorming ways to bring her idea to the next level, something that you can physically hold. That’s when she got the idea to create her own card deck, “Something that was portable and could go anywhere.”





Inspired by her dream to be a published author, Holly partnered with an artist to create a one-of-a-kind card deck with calming colors. “When I present this card deck to my customers I always feel extremely hopeful for the future. These cards contain complex issues such as mindset shifts, brain science concepts, and subconscious programming. And I feel very proud that through this deck, I have been able to explain these powerful concepts in an easy-to-understand, bite-sized approach.” We are happy to hear about her positive feedback as she stated, “people have said that they appreciate the ‘travel size’ wisdom and that they are extremely motivational and inspirational.” She discussed that “self-discovery” and “a passion to share her knowledge” are what kept her motivated to bring this project to life. The advice she would like to pass down to newbie creators is “Settle on the size of your cards before you finalize your artwork/content! I changed my cards to the 4 x 6 size late in the process because I decided I had more to add!”



Holly’s major goal is to finish her book! She is excited to expand on the ideas in the deck and further share her creativity and insights with the world! Holly hints at another deck that may be in the works. Right now she is offering FREE shipping anywhere in the US through the end of 2022. Enter code SHUFFLEDINK at checkout. The decks are available for purchase online here.



We asked Holly about her experience working with Shuffled ink and here is what she had to say: 

“From day one they have been fantastic to work with. I got personalized attention, they always answer the phone which is amazing. I feel like I was important and the company truly cared about me and my project. Just a truly remarkable experience all around and I cannot recommend Shuffled Ink highly enough! The quality of the paper is phenomenal. They are sturdy enough to be shuffled, but not too thick. Really nice matte finish and just really well done.”


Because we are all familiar with the modern deck of playing cards, a standard deck of Bicycle rider back playing cards seems very “normal” and “traditional” to most of us. But to people of the past, a deck like this is anything but normal! The reality is that playing cards have undergone a radical transformation since their first beginnings several centuries ago. Our modern playing cards evolved into a deck of 52 cards with four suits in red and black and with two Jokers by making a journey that took hundreds of years and involved travelling through many countries. In fact, the most significant elements that shaped today’s deck were produced by the different cultures and countries that playing cards traveled through in order to get to the present day.

In this article, we will survey of the history of playing cards, emphasizing in particular the geographic influences that have determined what modern playing cards look like today. Our whirlwind historical tour will begin in the East, under a cloud of uncertainty about the precise origin of playing cards. But from there we will make our way to Europe, first to Italy and Spain, then east to Germany, back west to France, and across the channel to England. Finally, we will travel over the ocean to the United States, which is where most of our decks are produced today by USPCC in the form that we know them.


External image


The East

The precise origin of playing cards continues to be the subject of debate among scholars, and even the best theories rely more on speculation than proof. There is clear historical evidence that playing cards began to appear in Europe in the late 1300s and early 1400s, but how did they get there? They seem to have come from somewhere in the East, and may have been imported to Europe by gypsies, crusaders, or traders. The common consensus appears to be that an early form of playing cards originated somewhere in Asia, but to be completely honest, we cannot be entirely sure. Paper is fragile and typically does not survive well across the ages, so solid historical evidence is lacking.

Educated guesses have made links to the cards, suits, and icons of 12th century and even older cards in China, India, Korea, Persia, or Egypt, which may have been introduced to Europe by Arabs. Some scholars believe that playing cards were invented in China during the Tang dynasty around the 9th century AD. There does seem to be evidence of some kinds of games involving playing cards (and drinking!) from this time onward, including cards with icons representing coins, which also appear as icons on playing cards later in Western Europe. If correct, it would place the origins of playing cards before 1000AD, and it would see them as originating alongside or even from tile games like dominoes and mahjong. Some have suggested that the playing cards first functioned as “play money” and represented the stakes used for other gambling games, and later became part of the games themselves. Others have proposed connections between playing cards and chess or dice games, but this is again speculative. It is very possible that playing cards made their way from China to Europe via Egypt in the Mamluk period, with decks from that era having goblets (cups), gold coins, swords, and polo-sticks, which represent the main interests of the Mamluk aristocracy, and bear parallels to the four suits seen in Italian playing cards from the 14th century.

But we cannot even be totally sure that playing cards did first appear in the East; and it may even be that the first ancestors of the modern deck of playing cards were first created in Europe after all, as an independent development. So let’s head to Europe, to the earliest confirmed reference to playing cards there, which we find in a Latin manuscript written by a German monk in a Swiss monastery.


External image


Italy and Spain

In the manuscript dated 1377, our German monk friend Johannes from Switzerland mentions the appearance of playing cards and several different card games that could be played with them. In the 1400s playing cards often appear along with dice games in religious sermons as examples of gambling activities that are denounced, and there is clear evidence that a 52 card deck existed and was used in this time. The suit signs in the first European decks of the 14th century were swords, clubs, cups, and coins, and very likely had their origin in Italy, although some connect these with the cups, coins, swords, and polo-sticks found on Egyptian playing cards from the Mamluk period. At any rate these are still the four suits still found in Italian and Spanish playing cards today, and are sometimes referred to as the Latin suits.

The court cards from the late 14th century decks in Italy typically included a mounted king, a seated and crowned queen, plus a knave. The knave is a royal servant, although the character could also represent a “prince”, and would later be called a Jack to avoid confusion with the King. Spanish cards developed somewhat differently, the court cards being a king, knight, and knave, with no queens. The Spanish packs also didn’t have a 10, and with the absence of 8s and 9s in the national Spanish game of ombre, it resulted in a 40 card deck.

The first playing cards in European Italy were hand-painted and beautiful luxury items found only among the upper classes. But as card playing became more popular, and methods were developed to produce them more cheaply, playing cards became more widely available. It was only natural that this new product eventually spread west and north, and the next major development occurred as a result of their reception in Germany, and one historian has described their rapid spread as “an invasion of playing cards”, with soldiers also assisting their movement.


External image




To establish themselves as a card-manufacturing nation in their own right, the Germans introduced their own suits to replace the Italian ones, and these new suits reflected their interest in rural life: acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells; the latter being hawk-bells and a reference to the popular rural pursuit of falconry. The queen was also eliminated from the Italian courts, and these instead consisted of a King and two knaves, an obermann (upper) and untermann (under). Meanwhile the Two replaced the Ace as the highest card, to create a 48 card deck.

Custom decks abounded, and suit symbols used in the novelty playing cards from this era include animals, kitchen utensils, and appliances, from frying pans to printers’ inkpads! The standard German suits of acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells were predominant, however, although in nearby Switzerland it was common to see a variation using flowers instead of leaves, and shields instead of hearts. The Germanic suits are still used in parts of Europe today, and are indebted to this period of history.

But the real contribution of Germany was their methods of printing playing cards. Using techniques of wood-cutting and engraving in wood and copper that were developed as a result of the demand for holy pictures and icons, printers were able to produce playing cards in larger quantities. This led to Germany gaining a dominant role in the playing card trade, even exporting decks to Western Europe, which had produced them in the first place! Eventually the new suit symbols adopted by Germany became even more common throughout Europe than the original Italian ones.

External image




Meanwhile early in the 15th century, the French developed the icons for the four suits that we commonly use today, namely hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs, although they were called coeurs, piques, carreaux, and trefles respectively. It is possible that the clubs (trefles) derive from the acorns and the spades (pikes) from the leaves of the German playing cards, but they may also have been developed independently. The French also preferred a king, queen, and knave as their court cards.

But the real stroke of genius that the French came up with was to divide the four suits into two red and two black, with simplified and clearer symbols. This meant that playing cards could be produced with stencils, a hundred times more quickly than using the traditional techniques of wood-cutting and engraving. With improved processes in manufacturing paper, and the development of better printing processes, including Gutenberg’s printing press (1440), the slower and more costly traditional woodcut techniques previously done by hand were replaced with a much more efficient production. For sheer practical reasons, the Germans lost their earlier dominance in the playing card market, as the French decks and their suits spread all over Europe, giving us the designs as we know them today.

One interesting feature of the French dominance of playing cards in this time is the attention given to court cards. In the late 1500s French manufacturers began giving the court cards names from famous literary epics such as the Bible and other classics. It is from this era that the custom developed of associating specific court cards with famous names, the more well-known and commonly accepted ones for the Kings being King David (Spades), Alexander the Great (Clubs), Charlemagne (Hearts), and Julius Caesar (Diamonds), representing the four empires of Jews, Greeks, Franks, and Romans. Notable characters ascribed to the Queens include the Greek goddess Pallas Athena (Spades), Judith (Hearts), Jacob’s wife Rachel (Diamonds), and Argine (Clubs). The Knaves were commonly designated as La Hire (Hearts), Charlemagne’s knight Ogier (Spades), Hector the hero of Troy (Diamonds), and King Arthur’s knight Lancelot (Clubs).

The common postures, clothing, and accessories that we expect in a modern deck of playing cards today find their roots in characters like these, but we cannot be certain how these details originated, since there was much diversity of clothing, weapons, and accessories depicted in the French decks of this time. But eventually standardization began to happen, and this was accelerated in the 1700s when taxing on playing cards was introduced. With France divided into nine regions for this purpose, manufacturers within each region were ordered to use a standardized design unique to their region. But it was only when playing cards emigrated to England that a common design really began to dominate the playing card industry.


External image



Our journey across the channel actually begins in Belgium, from where massive quantities of cards began to be exported to England, although soldiers from France may also have helped introduce playing cards to England. Due to heavy taxes in France, some influential card makers emigrated to Belgium, and several card factories and workshops began to appear there. Rouen in particular was an important center of the printing trade. Thousands of decks of Belgian made playing cards were exported to countries throughout Europe, including England. In view of this, it is no surprise that English card players have virtually always been using the French designs.

But playing cards did not pass through Europe without the English leaving their stamp on them. To begin with, they opted to use the names hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs to refer to the suits that the French had designated as coeurs, piques, carreaux, and trefles. We do not know why, but they based two of the suit names (spades and clubs) on the names of the Italian deck rather than directly translate the French terms piques (pikes) and trefles (clovers); one possible explanation is the Spanish suits were exported to England before French ones. The word diamond is also somewhat unexpected, given that the English word for carreau (wax-painted tiles used in churches) at the time was lozenge. Whatever the reasons, it is to usage in England that we owe the names that we use for the suits today.

It is also to the English that we owe the place of honour given to the Ace of Spades, which has its roots in taxation laws. The English government passed an Act that cards could not leave the factory until they had proof that the required tax on playing cards had been paid. This initially involved hand stamping the Ace of Spades – probably because it was the top card. But to prevent tax evasion, in 1828 it was decided that from now on the Ace of Spades had to be purchased from the Commissioners for Stamp Duties, and that it had to be specially printed along with the manufacturer’s name and the amount of duty paid. As a result, the Ace of Spades tended to have elaborate designs along with the manufacturer’s name. Only in 1862 were approved manufacturers finally allowed to print their own Ace of Spades, but the fate of the signature Ace of Spades had been decided, and the practice of an ornate Ace with the manufacturer’s name was often continued. As a result, to this day it is the one card in a deck that typically gets special treatment and elaborate designs.

The artwork on English court cards appears to have been largely influenced by designs produced in Rouen, Belgium, which produced large amounts of playing cards for export. They include details such as kings with crowns, flowing robes, beards, and longish hair; queens holding flowers and sceptres; and knaves that are clean-shaven, wearing caps, and holding arrows, feathers or pikes. But whatever variety was present, slowly disappeared as a result of the industrious efforts of Briton Thomas de la Rue, who was able to reduce the prices of playing cards due to increased output and productivity. This mass production he accomplished in the 1860s gave him a position of dominance in the industry, and the smaller manufacturers with their independent designs eventually were swallowed up, leading to the more standardized designs as we know them today. De la Rue’s designs were first modernized by Reynolds in 1840, and then again by Charles Goodall in 1860, and it is this design that effectively still used today. It was also around this time that double-ended court cards became common (to avoid the need to turn the cards, thereby revealing to your opponent that you had court cards in your hand) and the existing full-length designs were adapted to make them double-ended.


External image


United States

The Americans are late companions to our historical journey, because for a long time they simply relied on imports from England to meet the demand for playing cards. Due to the general public’s preference for goods of English origin, some American makers even printed the word “London” on their Ace of Spades, to ensure commercial success! From the earliest days of colonization there are even examples of native Americans making their own decks with original suit symbols and designs, evidently having learned card games from the new inhabitants.

Among American manufacturers, a leading name from the early 1800s is Lewis I. Cohen, who even spent four years in England, and began publishing playing cards in 1832. In 1835 he invented a machine for printing all four colours of the card faces at once, and his successful business eventually became a public company in 1871, under the name the New York Consolidated Card Company. This company was responsible for introducing and popularizing corner indices to the English pack, to make it easier for players to hold and recognize a poker hand by only fanning the cards slightly. Another printing company had already printed decks with indices in 1864 (Saladee’s Patent, printed by Samuel Hart), but it was the Consolidated Card Company that patented this design in 1875. First known as “squeezers”, decks with these indices were not immediately well received. A competing firm, Andrew Dougherty and Company initially began producing “triplicates”, offering an alternative that used miniature card faces on the opposite corners of the cards. But new territory had been won, and indices eventually became standard, and today it is hard to imagine playing cards without them.

One final innovation that we owe to the United States is the addition of the Jokers. The Joker was initially referred to as “the best bower”, which is terminology that originates in the popular trick-taking game of euchre, which was popular in the mid-19th century, and refers to the highest trump card. It is an innovation from around 1860 that designated a trump card that beat both the otherwise highest ranking right bower and left bower. The word euchre may even be an early ancestor of the word “Joker”. A variation of poker around 1875 is the first recorded instance of the Joker being used as a wild card.

Besides these changes, America has not contributed any permanent changes to the standard deck of cards, which by this time already enjoyed a long and storied history, and had become more and more standardized. However the United States has become important in producing playing cards. Besides the above mentioned companies, other well-known names of printers from the late 19th century include Samuel Hart and Co, and Russell and Morgan, the latter eventually becoming today’s industry giant: the United States Playing Card Company. American manufacturers have been printing special purpose packs and highly customized decks of playing cards throughout their history, but the USPCC’s Bicycle, Bee, and Tally Ho brands have become playing card icons of their own. The USPCC has absorbed many other playing card producers over more than a century of dominance, and they are considered an industry leader and printer of choice for many custom decks produced today.


External image


The true history of playing cards is a long and fascinating journey, one that has been enmeshed with many romantic interpretations over time, not all of which have a historical basis. What will the future hold for the fate of the humble playing card, and what will be the lasting contribution of our own era be to the shape and content of a “standard” deck? Only time will tell, but meanwhile you can enjoy a modern deck today, knowing that it has striking similarities with the playing cards of 15th century Europe, and that playing cards have been an integral part of life and leisure across the globe for more than 600 years!


Where to get them: Do you want to pick up some historic looking cards? Start by looking at this contemporary 40 card Spanish deck. Some wonderful and accurate replicas of American decks from the late 19th century have been produced by Home Run Games with USPCC quality cards, and are all available here, including these: Hart’s Saladee’s Patent (1864), Triplicate No. 18 (1876), Mauger Centennial (1876), Murphy Varnish (1883), Tally Ho No 9 (1885). Alternatively, check out the entire range of vintage playing cards.

External image


About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on here.

Survive Now, Cry Later: Christopher Chartier Card’s Story

Survive Now, Cry Later: Christopher Chartier Card’s Story

Shuffled Ink had the pleasure of interviewing Christopher Chartier to discuss the details behind the creation of “Survive” the card game. A four-year-long team project that “started on cut up pieces of note cards, laminated, and then colored with crayon.” The creators of “Survive” wanted to separate themselves from the mainstream design of card games. They worked with an artist to create multiple variations of card boxes that would stand out from the rest for customers to choose from.


Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

When asked if there were any issues they faced during the creation of the “Survive”, Christopher responded, “The hardest part is growing a following. The constant questioning of “did I do enough, am I doing the right things, and are we headed in the right direction”. A common feeling many creators struggle with when releasing their product to the public for the first time. Christopher’s advice for seasoned and newbie card designers is, “Post post post. Get in front of the camera. Develop a posting schedule. Learning from my mistakes.”


Working With Shuffled Ink

When asked why he chose to work with Shuffled Ink, he explained “I chose Shuffled Ink because I wanted to manufacture in the US, not overseas. After narrowing that process down, Lisa was the first to respond. She took the time to go over the process of everything and represented the company really well, and actually seemed interested in our product.” Christopher continues, “You can instantly see how dedicated Shuffled Ink is to delivering the best product possible. We have been so delighted and beyond pleased with how good the quality is when it arrives. The tuck boxes are excellent quality and very durable and the cards have that professional feel you are looking for.”

We are so thankful to hear such kind feedback as we strive for meeting our client’s expectations and want to make sure they feel taken care of every step of the way! If you are looking to create a custom card game click here to get started.

If you are interested in purchasing the “Survive” card game, Visit their website here. They have early bird specials available for a limited time! They also launched a Kickstarter which is currently live and can be viewed here.





Many of the uses of a deck of playing cards are well known to everyone. After all, playing cards have been used for centuries in order to play card games, and perform card magic. But what exactly is this new kid on the block, that goes under the name “cardistry“, is wearing out many an old deck, and is having brand new decks designed especially for its use?

To whet your appetite, if you really do not know anything about cardistry at all, I would suggest that you start by checking out the following four-minute video clip. It already has more than 2 million views due to its popularity, and you will soon understand why when you see the cardistry highlights featured here.  


A New Art Form

Cardistry can best be defined as “the performance art of card flourishing”. It is what happens when you take traditional playing cards to the next level – literally! It is about spinning them, tossing them, cutting them, and otherwise manipulating them – up, down, sideways, and around, and however else you can – in order to create an aesthetically pleasing display.

Cardistry does have a long history, because when card tricks became popular in the 19th century, magicians would often do simple card flourishes as a way of demonstrating their skills, to entertain, or to otherwise enhance a magic performance. It is true that many magicians are good at cardistry and card flourishing, simply because using cards is part of their job, and so they like to play with cards in new and interesting ways. However true cardistry on its own is not magic, and does not involve any magical manipulation or sleight of hand, but is rather a display of skill.

The word “cardistry” is a combination of the words “card” and “artistry”. So it is an activity that is about sheer skill and manual dexterity, in which a performer tries to create a beautiful display through the movement of individual playing cards or an entire deck. Cardistry takes an ordinary object that we are all familiar with – a deck of playing cards – and turns it into an art-form, by doing unfamiliar things with it.

You could describe cardistry as the next step in the evolution of playing cards, because their original purpose for playing games or performing magic has been completely dispensed with. Instead, they are used for a brand new and interesting dexterity game of their own, without the strict rules and boundaries we are used to. And that is how it becomes a performance art, because this activity lends itself to creativity, and forces you to widen your usual perspective on a deck of cards, and do things with it that you previously have never even thought of, and things that you previously did not even think were possible!

Some have referred to cardistry as card juggling, and that is an apt description, because cardistry is much like juggling, but with playing cards. Zach Mueller, who is a big name in this relatively new art-form, describes it as “kinda like yoyo tricks with cards.” Cardistry is about doing things like fanning and cutting cards in a creative way and with a high level of skill, thereby turning it into a performance art. Instead of doing ordinary cuts and shuffles, expert cardists are able to do one-handed cuts, complicated shuffles, turnovers, tosses, and catches, in a way that is a beauty to watch.

Cardistry moves typically have unusual names that reflect their creator, origin, or appearance. There is Kevin Ho’s “Flurf”, “Off the Hook”, and “Racoon”, Joey Burton’s “Skater Cut”, Huron Low’s “Firefly” and “Flicker”, Daren Yeow’s “Rev 2 Twirl”, Bone Ho’s “Anaconda” and “Tornado Deck Split”, Oliver Sogard’s “Friffle”, Dan Buck’s “Vertigo”, and many more. Chris Kenner’s two-handed “Sybil Cut” flourish uses multiple packets of cards, and is a good example of a popular flourish. It is arguably the most well-known and recognized move among cardists, and is a common starting challenge that newbies to the art try to take on. But from there, there are all kinds of advanced maneuvers to learn, some almost being a sub-genre of their own, such as “isolations”.

Here is a spectacular video produced by Kuma Films, which covers the international cardistry convention that was held in Los Angeles last year. It introduces cardistry, includes some stunning footage, and features commentary and moves from some big name cardists:


A Growing Art Form

In the last few years, cardistry has enjoyed a huge boom. What was formerly described as “card flourishing”, and considered to be an activity used as a filler in a magic performance, has now become its own separate art form. Creative and skilled performers are performing moves of increased complexity. And yet anyone can give it a try, because the ingredients are simple: as long as you have a good deck of cards, you are ready to go, you can do it anywhere, and you are limited only by your imagination, creativity, and manual dexterity.

As testimony of how big this new art-form is growing, you will find many performance videos and cardistry tutorials on the internet. Social media and sites like youtube and instagram have really helped popularize and advance the art, because cardists can share their new moves and tutorials and videos with other enthusiasts globally.

There are even international gatherings of top performers, and over the last few years, a Cardistry Con was organized as an international and annual convention for cardistry enthusiasts. The next event is planned for September 2018, and will be held in Hong Kong. Some of the big name attendees from around the world have included Dan and Dave Buck, creators of the biggest selling instructional DVDs on the subject, and a huge influence on the art; Zach Mueller, a viral video sensation, and creator of the popular Fontaine Playing Cards; and The Virts team from Singapore, makers of the Virtuoso deck, the world’s first playing cards optimized for cardistry.

As an indication of cardistry’s popularity and appeal, Zach Mueller’s Hypnotic Cardistry Kid collaboration video by Kuma Films has over two and a half million views. The follow-up California Cardistry video seems destined to crack the one million views mark as well.


An Evolving Art Form

But with time, cardistry has continued to evolve, and with that comes the creation of new toys. Today the playing card market is full of custom decks that particularly lend themselves well to cardistry, and the last few years in particular have seen an explosion of new decks created specifically for this purpose. Since cardistry is all about creating a visual impact, creating a deck of playing cards that have carefully designed aesthetic qualities to maximize their visual appeal when fanning and spreading cards makes obvious sense. It is only a logical progression to create a deck with aesthetics that will visually accent every card flourish, from spins, to cuts, to pivots, to fans. A growing art form needs evolving materials, and that is what cardistry decks are all about.

And there is a steadily growing throng of cardists around the world who are more than ready to support this growing market, by throwing money at projects that produce decks designed specifically for cardistry. As a result, we are seeing some beautiful decks of playing cards being produced, with stunning colour combinations, and striking visual designs. These decks are just a dream to use, and make even a basic flourish like a fan or spread look like a work of art.

One of the best known examples of this is the series of Virtuoso Playing Cards created by The Virts, which is considered to be the world’s first deck of playing cards specifically designed for cardistry. This deck has a real visual appeal when fanned and flourished, and many other cardistry decks followed suit. At the extreme end of this trend are the School of Cardistry decks from the New Deck Order. With these decks, playing cards have arrived a point they have not been before: 52 completely identical cards, front and back, designed purely for cardistry – and so further removed from the original purpose of a deck of traditional playing cards than ever before! But for the most part, cardistry decks still include traditional suits and values on all the cards, although their creativity and new purpose often makes them quite unsuitable for playing a card game or performing magic.


A Filmable Art Form

Not only is cardistry a new art form, and not only are there many wonderful new decks of custom decks available that give it opportunity to really shine, but this new art form also has at its disposal new tools that allow this art form to grow in an unparalleled way. After all, we live in a digital age, and that means that the technology is there for people to produce high quality instructional and educational videos in the comfort of their own home. In addition, the global use of the internet and social media means that it is possible to easily share these videos with the rest of the world.

All this means that at almost any other point of history, this new art form would be consigned to the fate of being unheard of, and at best experimented with by a select few. But in our modern age, cardistry enthusiasts can connect with and learn from each other, and share their expertise. While cardistry is a rewarding hobby even when performed in the privacy of your own home, cardistry will often be at its best when shown on film, with the benefit of slow motion video and accompanied by a suitable soundtrack. The progression and availability of technology means that high level and creative performances of card flourishing can be performed and filmed, and shared via the internet for the rest of us to enjoy and admire.

A fine example is this stunning video from The Virts, which features one of the newer versions of their popular Virtuoso deck, and has already clocked up more than 2 million views.


A Community-driven Art Form

Because social media, shared videos, discussion forums, and other internet tools have played an important in growing cardistry, this also means that this young art form is very community focused. For the most part, the way that cardists connect and share is online. Social media platforms like Instagram and youtube, have played a key role in developing relationships and building friendships among cardists, and these provide ideal mechanisms to exchange ideas and learn from each other. The role of the community in the advancement of cardistry cannot be understated. The internet doesn’t just help bring new cardists into the fold, but more importantly it helps ensure that the art form keeps exploring new territory. Because cardists are constantly coming up with new moves, it is by sharing these novelties that others in the community can then build on these further and take these new ideas in different directions. This ensures the ongoing evolution and maturing of this young art form in healthy and creative new ways.

The fact that the actual number of people who enjoy cardistry in a particular location is usually quite small, makes it all the more important to connect with fellow enthusiasts over the internet. But while learning from videos posted by fellow cardists is one of the most important ways to advance your skills, there is nothing like meeting up and learning from another cardist in person. The annual international convention, Cardistry Con, is one way that physically brings together cardists from around the world. But cardists will often look for informal opportunities to do this and seek them out. So it is not at all uncommon to come across posts on internet forums from cardists who are travelling to another city, and looking to meet up with other cardists that they can “jam” with. Its vibrant community is one of cardistry’s biggest strengths, and almost certainly guarantees that it will continue to grow in years to come. Here is a group shot of all the attendees from the 2016 convention in Berlin, Germany.




An Accessible Art Form

But do not let the highly skilled performances you see of experts dampen your enthusiasm. Cardistry is an art form that remains well within the reach of beginners, because all you need to try it is a good deck of cards. From there you are limited only by your imagination, creativity, and manual dexterity.

Certainly you can buy specialized decks of playing cards that particularly lend themselves well to cardistry. And if you would like to give cardistry a go, definitely consider picking up a deck like the Virtuoso deck, because it will automatically make some of your basic moves look amazing, and make the whole experience far more enjoyable, motivating you to stretch yourself and try new moves.

But technology also means that there is also a wide range of excellent instructional materials that is readily available online. Using this material will give you a head-start in your new cardistry career. Begin by heading to the School of Cardistry channel on youtube, which was started in 2013 by cardistry team New Deck Order. This channel currently has almost 100,000 subscribers, and millions of views. While there is no shortage of cardistry tutorials online, some are very poor quality, and in contrast The School of Cardistry has been professionally produced. It was designed to function as a centralized and structured platform for complete beginners to pick up the wonderful art of cardistry, as its own mission statement describes it: “School of Cardistry is the best free Cardistry resource for absolute beginners. Tutorials for each card flourish are kept short, and include easy-to-follow verbal instructions.

For those new to cardistry, the School of Cardistry is a fantastic place to start, and will give you the ability to start with the basics, and naturally progress to more advanced moves. Their progressive system of learning ensures a systematic approach in which you can build up skills, with the benefit of videos that are short and yet have clear instructions. If you are serious about learning some cardistry, head to the fantastic Resource and Beginner’s Guide that was created by cardistry enthusiasts on Reddit.

So why not try something right now?! If you have never tried anything much more complicated than a shuffle before, why not start by learning a classic beginner-friendly two-handed cut, The Werm, from the very best, the Buck twins themselves:


Want to give cardistry a whirl – literally? Why not treat yourself to a nice cardistry deck from PlayingCardDecks, and give cardistry a go for yourself? The Virtuoso FW17 deck created by The Virts is an ideal place to start, but you will find many other creative and colourful decks that are ideal for cardistry by checking the range at PlayingCardDecks here.

Want to check out some more cardistry videos? Here are a couple of videos that are compilations of short clips posted by cardists around the world on Instagram, and feature some mind-blowing moves: Best Cardistry Compilation 2017 Video #2 and Video #3.


About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on (here)


Shuffled Ink spoke with Calion Winter, creator and artist behind the Barkana Custom Tarot Cards  Dog-Themed Tarot! Each of these fully custom tarot card deck’s 78 cards features a real dog with its own unique story and personality to match the meaning. Learn how this deck filled with heart, personality, and even more fur came to be!

Custom Tarot Cards

Collaboration is Beautiful


Calion’s experience in the art world inspired him to explore the world of tarot.  Capturing the character and personality of 78 unique dogs for this deck seems like a daunting task. However, he didn’t go at it alone, the artist describes the creative process as “beautifully collaborative” 

Calion said: “I started reaching out to folks who followed my art asking if they wanted to commission their own dog to be on a card. Word spread and the cards filled up quickly for the first half (Majors) of the Barkana Custom Tarot Card deck!”

From there, Calion began diving into the creation process. “I then got to work illustrating each card. It was a sketch first, then a painting, then a few digital edits. Once I had all the paintings complete, I designed card borders and got them ready for printing. Each person who had their dog in the deck had the chance to offer feedback in each illustration stage, too.”



Let It All Out


Tarot cards have long been used for storytelling and self-expression. With this special custom tarot deck, each card tells the story of a dog. Calion’s main focus during the creation process was to capture the dog’s personality and likeness.  When asked if any stories, in particular, stood out, Calion shared that the Death card holds a special place in his heart. “It features a retiring service dog, who helped his human for over 9 years. But, retirement was a tough change for them both–as he got lonely at home, and she was struggling without her necessary companion. Yet, through it all, they found more peace and calm, even though it was a bumpy adjustment to that change. I think that really encapsulates what the Death card means.” 


For tarot newbies, pulling the death card might evoke fear, but worry not.  This card can be one of the most positive. In most cases, the death card symbolizes a period of transformation in one’s life and letting go of the past.


You’ll Get Through This with Barkana Custom Tarot Cards


This Barkana custom tarot card deck is deeply personal for many reasons. A driving factor for Calion to create a tarot deck was to give back to a special cause. Calion has overcome his fair share of hardships accompanied by his service dog. The artist lives by the personal mantra “you’ll get through this” Calion shared: “I’ve learned through it that all hardships do pass. I just remind myself new challenges will too, and that I have the resilience to heal from whatever lingering effects the past has left too.” 

Custom Made Tarot Cards

Put Good In, Get Good Out with Custom Made Tarot Cards

Calion hopes this deck does a lot of good. A colorful card deck filled with cute pups is enough to spark joy in its own right. Every card was created from a detailed watercolor illustration over the course of nearly five years.  Additionally, the tarot deck supports an amazing cause. The project also raises awareness and fundraises for service dogs!

Custom Tarot Cards

Calion trusted Shuffled Ink to be a part of this custom tarot card project after hearing great things about our quality and affordability.  “Without Shuffled Ink, I definitely wouldn’t have felt so confident in my art. I’ve had bad printing experiences in the past, so working with Shuffled Ink was extremely refreshing and positive.”


 The Barkana: Dog-Themed Tarot can be purchased here. If you wish to learn more about Calion and the dogs featured in the tarot deck, you can follow along!  The Major Barkana is on Instagram and Facebook