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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

The Enchanted Journey

Cards from the delightful Enchanted Journey playing-cards by Karen Curran of Australia.

Karen Curran on the cards…

back The Enchanted Journey by Karen Curran
The Enchanted Journey by Karen Curran queen of hearts king of clubs

Cards from the delightful new Enchanted Journey playing-cards, based on an original story by artist Karen Curran of Australia. "… baby unicorns gently tussled each other as a larger unicorn kept careful watch… fairies danced on toadstools… an elf chatted shyly to a fairy…"

Karen says: "The artwork for my deck was created by me … Initially pencil sketches, then watercolour, scanned then manipulated and added to in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Each card file was finalised in Adobe Illustrator 10. I created 54 EPS and PDF files for SNP Sprint - Ausgold, who finally printed and manufactured them from my artwork. Spicers wouldn't look at me. Nor would some other companies. I searched playing card companies literally all over the world for three years before someone was willing to look at my work. I don't believe they thought I was serious. The manager of Ausgold, Ben Lee, asked me to show him a sample (which I did) before he phoned and said he was willing to guide me through the correct process and print the cards with my artwork. He also explained to me the significance of the Ace of Spades - hence it became my logo. Ausgold sent me the film proofs to check, I signed them off then waited for the first run delivery. Ausgold and I both worked on the plastic case together - I wanted something different, explained what I envisaged, and Ausgold decided it was worth going ahead with as they would use the same case for some of their premium designs too. Ben and I traded notes and styles and he finalised the case. However, my cards are the very first worldwide to use this particular case. I printed 4000 decks. It has been a very expensive exercise for me, but I believe it's worth it and will be in the end. I would love to be financial enough to make at least 5 more deck designs right now and hope to do so some day. This is something I wanted to do since childhood (I was born in 1956) - I remember playing with cards on my bed each night, Solitaire, before reading and going to sleep. My new venture with Enchanted Journey is very important to me, as my design services Unicorn Graphics will eventually be taken over by others much younger than me, and besides, I really want to create my own product and go in a different direction. At present I also have the prototype for a matching board game, and getting that off the ground is even harder than the cards. But I am constantly testing, and looking for solutions that I can afford to get in small quantities to begin with…"

Decks are 52 cards + 2 jokers, full-colour backs, size: 63mm x 89mm in a sturdy case. There is a splendid ace of spades and the cards are professionally manufactured in Australia, with appealing colours and a smooth finish.  The cards are part of a set of gifts including coasters, bookplates, playing cards and a key ring.

All items can be ordered online directly from the artist's website.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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