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Topic: Review: Bold Playing Cards (Elettra Deganello)
Message: Posted by: EndersGame (Aug 4, 2021 08:59AM)
[b]BOLD PLAYING CARDS[/b] (STD and Deluxe)

Elettra Deganello is an Italian freelance visual designer and illustrator who was only introduced to custom playing cards in 2017. But it didn't take her long to make an impression. Her first successful projects were for the Passione Playing Cards label: Pinocchio (2018) and Florentia (2020), and were both artistic designs. You may have also seen her work in the stunning Blue Jay Dentistry deck, the second installment of the popular Meadowlark Playing Cards series.

The Bold deck represents her first solo project, and is intended to be a more practical design that is well suited to card games or card magic. It is available in two main styles, starting with the [b][url=https://murphysmagic.com/product.aspx?id=67896]Bold STD deck[/url][/b].


This project arose from a desire to reinterpret the traditional court cards in a modern and sharp way. Ellatra's experience with typography as well as with graphic design is immediately evident from the striking design of the tuck box, with a period emphasizing the title [i]Bold[/i]. Further emphasis is provided by the stylistic use of circular negative space created by a series of parallel black and white lines. Despite the use of the two colours black and red only, the overall impact of the design is impressive and - dare we say it - bold.

The hallmark of a good back design is that it has an instantly recognizable main shape, combined with details that reward close observation. The design of the card backs here features both elements, and draws inspiration from the classic Bicycle rider-back. The symmetrical design is deliberately intended to mimic some of the elements of the classic design we're all familiar with, while the central circle is an abstract design that represents a wheel with spokes and even pedals. The two larger circles feature a pattern that consists of exclamation points, borrowing from typography for a sharp and emphatic look. Meanwhile red circles add some background colour, while thick black lines and corner pieces serve as a striking backdrop. Ellattra has set herself the goal of creating "an elegantly decorated but still clean, modern, and dynamic deck", and this back design accomplishes that very well.


The court cards will look immediately familiar, and so they should, because they are rooted in the signature design of standard Bicycle court cards. But they have been reinterpreted in line with Ellattra's vision for a more modern and sharp look. As a result, what we see here are solid lines that produce sturdy figures offering a more robust and mature appearance. If you look closely you'll also discover typographic symbols within the designs, with commas and arabesques used for the eyes, brackets for the lips, and question marks for the mustaches.

Despite the elements of novelty and the fresh look, it's very evident that the Bold deck is a homage to tradition, and descends from our classic court cards. This ensures that these cards remain very playable and functional, making them ideal for use in card games, and even in card magic.

The Aces further champion the cause of typography, each featuring a single over-sized pip along with a unique typographic symbol. As you'd expect, the Ace of Spades gets extra love, and features a design that reprises the clever use of negative space that we first saw on the tuck box. Meanwhile asterisks adorn the corner of the Jokers, which feature a light-hearted Jester for the main artwork.


The [b][url=https://murphysmagic.com/product.aspx?id=67897]Bold Deluxe deck[/url][/b] is a close companion to the Bold STD deck, and this is immediately obvious from the tuck box. But instead of a Pantone print on white paper, the tuck box of the Deluxe deck has premium black textured paper, and utilizes gold and red foils with embossing for more glamour.

It's a very visible upgrade, and the addition of a custom seal adds a further look of luxury. The end result is a shiny visual treat, that also offers a tactile feel courtesy of the embossing and foil.


Some colour changes have been adopted to the playing cards themselves, particularly the back design. While the Standard deck relies on a simple black and red colour scheme on a plain white background, the Deluxe deck ramps up the feel of sophistication and style by using bronze metallic ink, along with some circular splashes of vibrant red on a jet black background. The metallic ink didn't have quite as much shine as I was hoping, especially besides the bling of the tuck box. Even so, the use of a bronze colour on the card backs instantly changes the overall impression of the back design, and emphasizes different aspects, making the Standard deck look almost anaemic in comparison. At the same time the use of white borders ensures practicality and usability.

I also prefer the look of the court cards in the Deluxe deck. Like the Standard deck, they use a simple colour scheme of black, red, yellow, and bronze, which is now further amplified with a background panel in a matching bronze. The Deluxe deck was advertised as having metallic gold ink on the faces instead of the brown on the standard deck, but I can't see any difference between the two when I compare them. To me it looks like both decks use an identical bronze or brown colour that doesn't have any real metallic shine. Even so, in the case of the Deluxe deck this does work particularly well in combination with the style used for the card backs, and on the court cards.


The pips of the number cards have also had a touch of bronze added, with each pip given a bronze coloured outline, to provide a more regal look. While the design of the pips in both decks is somewhat traditional, it does depart slightly from standard playing cards by offering more refined and delicate shapes, and a colour scheme that has more of an orange feel than the traditional red.

For the rest the two decks are quite similar in terms of design. Both come with two extra cards, one being a double backer, and the other being an amusing face created entirely from typographical symbols. The Bold decks are printed by the United States Playing Card Company on their classic Retail (Bicycle) stock, so the handling and performance is just the same as you'd expect from a traditional rider-back. And while much of the design does offer ever-present hints of our traditional rider-back friends, it's obvious that this is a fresh design that helps bring these classic elements into the 21st century.