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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial review: The Art of Play - A paradise for lovers of playing cards (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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BEAUTIFUL PLAYING CARDS

Let me warn you in advance. You're going to read some gushing enthusiasm in this review. That's pretty normal for me, and here's why. To begin with, I'm a pretty upbeat person. But more importantly, I only review things that I'm very enthusiastic and positive about. So naturally, that enthusiasm will show up in how I write my reviews. Because of the time and effort that goes into making one of my pictorial reviews, I'm not usually going to waste my time with something that I'm lukewarm about, or that I think is merely mediocre. I am going to write about stuff that I'm excited about. And right now I'm really excited about The Art of Play.

Now anyone who has read my reviews previously will know that I have a real fondness for traditional card games, and also for card magic. With that dual interest, I love playing cards. I always have. But just lately I've come to love them more than ever. Because recently I've discovered that the beautiful world of playing cards is much bigger than I ever thought, and there are some amazingly talented designers and quality publishers who are producing some stunning looking cards. I have a bunch of them already. But now, thanks to Art of Play, I have a bunch more. This is an addictive and dangerous hobby! Let me introduce you to Art of Play, but enter at your own risk!

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THE ART OF PLAY

As far as a source for creative playing cards goes, you won't really find many better places online than Art of Play (artofplay.com). I've recently been scouring the internet to research some of the places you can get beautiful playing cards. There are lots of small publishers that have done a small handful of Kickstarters. There are also individual designers who have produced a quality deck or two or three. And there are the larger well-known companies like Ellusionist and Theory 11 that produce a bigger range of custom decks. But as beautiful as their decks are, the focus of publishers like Ellusionist and Theory tends to be on decks that are intentionally designed not to look too different from a normal deck, but just add small touches to make it look more classy. Typically they put a lot of work into making a custom and attractive tuck box, unique card backs, an impressive looking and unique Ace of Spades and court cards, and a sophisticated joker. But aside from that the majority of the cards look fairly plain and ordinary. These are decks that look very professional, are typically of a high quality with good handling, but still look relatively normal - presumably so that they won't distract too much from a game you're playing or the magic you are performing.

But then, there is Art of Play. When I first discovered the Art of Play website, I was blown away. Here I was on the hunt for beautiful custom decks, and after finding some gold here and there in isolated places, I felt I'd struck the mother lode! "Designer Playing Cards, Puzzles and Amusements", boasted the main page. I clicked the "Playing Cards" link, and found myself on a page that declared "A collection of the absolute finest playing cards in the world. Featuring hand-painted works of art, award-winning design and luxury packaging." Taunting me below this, was a full page of 30 stunning looking decks of creative playing cards! But wait a moment, not just one page. I clicked "Next". A second page of 30 more stunning looking decks appeared! "Next". A third page! You can see where this is going. Five pages! Around 130 different decks in total!

Now I'd seen some of these decks for sale separately in other places. But this was the one-stop-shop that seemed to have all these treasures in one place. Plus countless treasures I had never seen before, and never imagined in a deck of cards. Go check it out - you'll soon find yourself lost in the pages for the individual decks, where they have galleries that show you sample cards from each deck. There's some really beautiful stuff here! Just wow!

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DAN AND DAVE BUCK

So what is Art of Play? As it turns out, Art of Play is a subsidiary of Dan and Dave Industries. Dan and Dave?! Wait, I've heard of these guys before! They run the website dananddave.com, a lifestyle brand for magicians, where I'd previously come across a much smaller selection of these decks. But also, when researching for an article about cardistry, I had learned that these guys are actually twin brothers, Dan and Dave Buck. Age 32. Magicians (link). And cardists. That's to say, not only are they accomplished magicians, but they are also at the front lines of the fast-growing and rapidly-developing art of cardistry, which is the performance art of card flourishing, which you might describe as "juggling with playing cards".

You can read more about cardistry here, and you can see Dan and Dave featured in a stunning cardistry video right here. They put together a series of instructional videos called "The Dan and Dave System" (2004) and later "The Trilogy" (2007), which has had a huge impact in growing the art of cardistry, and arguably no single teaching tool has had more impact on cardistry than this video series. Dan and Dave also appeared in the film "Now You See It" (2013), where their most notable card flourishes were performed by them, and then edited to switch in the main character and magician. They were also the co-organizers of the world's first cardistry conventions, which have been held annually since 2014; it's the Dan & Dave brand that also manages the Cardistry Convention's official website cardistry-con.org. So they have been and continue to be a massive influence in the world of cardistry.

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So these are the guys who run the website Art of Play. These guys love playing cards, and they know about playing, and they know about art. Over at dananddave.com they describe themselves as follows:
"Masters of sleight of hand and pioneers of cardistry, Dan and Dave manifests their lifestyle of wonder, prestige, and fashion. From a curated collection to bespoke offerings, our brand focuses on a timeless aesthetic for the young at heart and wealthy in mind."

But at their website Art of Play they have even bigger ambitions beyond their own brand. I'll quote from the mission statement there, because it's best said in their own words:
"We travel the world in search of objects designed to dazzle the eyes and fascinate the mind. From luxurious playing cards to ingenious puzzles and stimulating amusements— each beautiful item in our collection holds a whisper of mystery, brimming with potential for surprise and delight. Founded in 2013 as a subsidiary of Dan and Dave Industries, Inc., Art of Play has developed into one of the world's leading sources for designer playing cards and accessories. In addition to curating curiosities from around the globe, we collaborate with award-winning designers and brands to create original products."

Welcome to Paradise. Welcome to Art of Play. This is where you'll find original products of their own creation, as well as what they consider to be some of the very best playing cards and other curiosities from around the world. I was hooked. So what I'm going to do in this review, is show you a selection of some of the decks they carry. Obviously I'm not going to run through all 130+ playing cards in their online catalogue. But I'll just show you some of the decks that I now own myself, and which I have first-hand experience with, and give you an overview/review of a sample of them. In part I'll make use of some of their own great photos, which do a great job of showing how stunning these cards and decks are. But what you see here is what you get, and perhaps showing you some visuals will whet your appetite to acquire a beautiful custom deck of playing cards for yourself. I should warn you: just like buying games, collecting playing cards can be addictive!

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They have a full range of stunning decks, and I've posted separate reviews of these elsewhere:

ARTISTIC DECKS

Review: Memento Mori Playing Cards, and The Ultimate deck

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PLAYFUL DECKS

Review: Odd Bods, and Flourish Playing Cards

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AFRICAN DECKS

Review: Jungle Deck, and Lost Wax Playing Cards

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ELEGANT DECKS

Review: MAKERS Deck, Sons of Liberty, and Vintage Plaids

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DELUXE DECKS

Review: Dan & Dave Private Reserve Deck, and DKNG Gaming Set

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CONCLUSIONS

I don't really need to say a whole lot at this point, because the pictures speak for themselves, and you can come to your own conclusions about what you see! But here are a few thoughts:

Variety: Art of Play has an amazing variety of decks of cards - around 130 by my count. They carry a range of the usual suspects like Bicycle decks, as well as the more classy and popular decks by Theory 11, and their own home-grown Art of Play range and Dan & Dave range. There's definitely something here for everyone - you just need to look!

Creativity: Some of the decks here are just amazing in the creativity they exhibit. The Odd Bods deck and the Memento Mori decks are good examples, at least of the decks that I personally own. But there are countless others here, just waiting to be discovered.

Luxury: Even the more "ordinary" decks listed in the Art of Play catalogue are luxurious. I've used words like elegance and classy many times in this review - that's because these decks really fit that description, and are indeed well suited for gentry. Clearly Dan and Dave don't settle for second best, but only want to carry the most outstanding and high quality decks. Obviously this comes as a cost, because if you are going to get luxury, it won't be at dollar store prices. But the "discerning buyer" is almost certain to find something to his liking here.

Quality: The craftsmanship of these higher end decks is outstanding. I never thought I'd rave about the high quality of a deck of playing cards, but some of the ones I've shown above in this review are truly remarkable.

Exclusivity: While many lines of playing cards are carried in their stock-list, they also carry a number of exclusives, particularly their own range of decks, that you can't easily find elsewhere.

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RECOMMENDATION

So is Art of Play (artofplay.com) something you need to check out? That depends on whether or not you're on the lookout for a deck of playing cards. If you are, and if you're in the market for something creative, unique, unusual, memorable, and hard to find or duplicate, it's hard to think of a better place to look. Whether you're looking for that one-of-a-kind high end deck for your own enjoyment, or a gift for another person, Art of Play has something that will suit.

But even if you're not a prospective buyer, you'll enjoy just browsing through the galleries, exploring some of the amazing decks available, and checking out some of the cards. What I've shown you in this review is only scratching the surface of what they have available at Art of Play, and only reflects the collection of playing cards that I own myself or have first-hand experience with. Congratulations to Dan & Dave Buck with their growing success, as they continue to add new notches in their belt of achievements, which already includes magic and cardistry, and now with Art of Play adds creativity and entrepreneurship. I'm already looking forward to see what they come up with next!

To see more, head here: artofplay.com

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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==
EndersGame
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Reviewer EndersGame
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Profile of EndersGame
Here are two short video clips that feature Dan and Dave Buck, and show some fantastic examples of cardistry.

The first video is called "Avant Card" and was produced by DTS. The soundtrack will best be appreciated with headphones/earbuds, because this video was mixed/delivered in fully-immersive DTS Headphone:X technology.



The second video is called "The Art of Cardistry", and is a feature produced by Cool Hunting Video.



They're great to watch, and will give you a good idea of Dan and Dave's skills, and how impressive and entertaining cardistry can be. Enjoy!
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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==
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