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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Hot off the Press! » » Pictorial Review: VIZAGO deck (Abolina Art) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

EndersGame
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INTRODUCING ABOLINA ART

Annette Abolins has nine lives. Actually she doesn't. And nor does her cat. But she certainly does have a remarkable artistic talent. And while that artistic brilliance was already beginning to show in her Nine Lives decks of playing cards, it especially shines in her current project: VIZAGO playing cards (link).

Now I'm always on the lookout for new and great looking decks of playing cards, and when I came across the new VIZAGO deck that is currently being funded on Kickstarter, I knew that I'd struck gold. I was completely blown away by what I saw, and I hope you will be too when I show you what it looks like! Artist, illustrator, and designer Annette Abolins has always loved creating faces in her pottery and other work. Vizago is Esperanto for "faces", and in this project she's applied this concept of faces to playing cards - with absolutely stunning results!

So who is Annette? She's a professional artist, and Abolina Art is her professional brand. She has both Australian and Latvian roots, with Sweden being her home for part of her childhood, and Australia's east coast being her current place of residence. With a wide range of talents, including art that uses both traditional and digital media, Annette has the benefit of both formal art training (fine arts and design in Sweden, and National Art School in Australia) as well as extensive professional experience. The result is that she produces high quality work which is frequently exhibited.

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Her work and skills are very diverse, and include web design projects - her own website is beautifully done! Commercially she does graphic design and logo design, and she's also done many beautiful pen and ink drawings, as well as paintings on canvas and screen. She also actively runs a blog where she shares different aspects of her creative process. Annette also creates a range of jewellery, including beautiful stoneware pendants. Clearly she is a multi-talented individual! You can see her full bio here.

But naturally it is her work in illustrating and designing playing cards that will be of particular interest to us who enjoy playing cards, because of the potential to use these for playing a variety of traditional card games, card magic or cardistry, or even to give away as gifts. Prior to the VIZAGO project, Annette has produced three decks of cards. The first of these is the Nine Lives Tarot deck, which has full art illustrations. Additionally she has published two companion decks of Nine Lives playing cards (bridge-size and poker-size). But it is especially her newest project, VIZAGO Playing Cards, that caught my eye, and which I'll be covering in this article.

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VIZAGO DECKS

This is a project that really excites me! The VIZAGO deck project currently on Kickstarter consists of two decks. VIZAGO Lumina is a deck with a red card back, while VIZAGO Lumino is a matching deck with a blue card back, and will be printed if the stretch goal is reached.

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VIZAGO means "face" in Esperanto, hence the name of the project. Annette is fascinated by faces, and loves drawing and painting them in all shapes and forms.

Here are some examples of her clay work, where she enjoys making a range of whimsical faces on bowls, mugs, jugs and teapots.

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So why not bring these colourful characters to life on playing cards? Genius!

Annette's creative process began with the court cards, with some ink drawings as an initial concept.

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From here something wonderful developed. Here's the red Lumina deck, with its gorgeous card back. All the Hearts feature a distinctive red colour.

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Each suit has its own flavour and colour, the the Diamonds having more of a green focus.

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The Aces all have faces incorporated into the oversized pips. As Annette says:

"I had a lot of fun with VIZAGO's four Aces! Continuing the theme of faces, each Ace is dressed in colours matching its suit's court (and number cards), with the large symbol acting as a frame for the artwork portrayed within."

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But what I really love about this deck is how this concept has been applied to the number cards as well, so that these pips also have the face design inside them. The idea here, in Annette's words, is "bringing the classic pip (or suit symbol) together with a face in profile, to create a symmetrical flow – where the detail in the faces is balanced against the solid colour of the pip shape."

The direction these faces have is very deliberate, as Annette explains: "Spades look forward - towards sight & wisdom; Diamonds look back - overseeing home & stability;Clubs look forward - initiating innovation & action; Hearts look back - harbouring love & emotional connection." Using a half pip for this produced the best results.

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The theme colour for the Spades is blue.

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The Clubs feature purple, and also a touch of yellow.

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Here's an uncut sheet, which gives an overview of the entire deck.

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I especially like the fact that there is a real sense of unity within each suit, which is a result of each suit focusing on a single colour, as well as the fact that it's not just the court cards that have faces, but also that the pips in the Aces and the number cards incorporate them.

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Here's the card-back of the blue Lumino deck. It has a different colour palette on the card-back, but the face cards are otherwise the same.

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Rounding out the package for both decks are a couple of cheerful and playful jokers.

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These decks will be printed by Legends Playing Cards in their Classic finish, which is possibly my favourite finish of all the ones they print.


CONCLUSIONS

Artistry: I hope others will agree with me that the artwork we see here is something truly unique and special. And while I appreciate what Annette has done with her Nine Lives decks, it's really the VIZAGO deck that I'm really wowed by! These faces and designs are the work of a true artist, and it really shows.

Creativity: I really enjoyed reading an illustrated article on Annette's blog here where she looked back on the illustration process for her new deck, starting with ink drawings, and ending up with colourful cards. She's not only a good artist, but also does a lovely job of sharing insights about how this deck came about, and the skills required to produce the artwork.

Style: I particularly love the bold lines and radiant colours of the VIZAGO deck, with its very stylish design. Annette summarizes it well when she says: "Distinct palettes for each royal domain bring the court houses together, while giving their personalities room to shine bright. The clear indices are well suited to play and there is a subtle nod to familiar (standard) court faces in the direction each court character is gazing."

Quality: I'm also glad that Annette's printer of choice is Legends Playing Card Company. I've previously reviewed several of their decks, and the different finishes they offer (see my review here), and really appreciate their commitment to quality, which in my opinion rivals and arguably even exceeds the quality produces by United States Playing Card Company. While the Master finish is their most durable finish, it does have somewhat of an usual feel that can take some time to get used to, and so I'm glad that Annette has opted for the Classic finish for the VIZAGO deck. This handles quite similarly to USPCC produced decks, including an embossed finish, but has a higher quality and durability.

Review of Nine Lives decks: Head here to see my review of the Nine Lives decks on The Magic Café: link

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Recommendation

Are these playing cards by Annette Abolins for you? Some people will certainly find the Nine Lives decks of interest, but let's be honest, the real artistic achievement here is the VIZAGO deck, which is absolutely stunning! These cards have so much charm and character, and an immediately striking visual impact. It's very different from any other deck that I've ever seen, and yet it works because the deck as a whole has an internal consistency of style.

I'm glad to see a true artist applying her skills to the world of playing cards, and am very excited to see her current project become a reality. I look forward to see what Annette Abolins has in store for us next - congratulations Annette!

Want to learn more?
Abolina Art: www.abolinaart.com.au
Nine Lives: www.ninelivestarot.com.au
VIZAGO Kickstarter: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1932537931/vizago-playing-cards

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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.

"Instead of attempting to learn a great number of tricks, concentrate upon a few good tricks and master them so that their technique and their presentation is so excellent that those who see them will want to see them again." -Expert Card Technique
EndersGame
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This project still has 21 days to go, but has now crossed the half-way mark to being funded.

I really love the look of the VIZAGO deck, and am hoping it will be successful. To grab yourself a copy, get your pledge in while you can!

Disclaimer: I have no connection with the designer or with this project, aside from the fact that I just love the look of these playing cards.
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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.

"Instead of attempting to learn a great number of tricks, concentrate upon a few good tricks and master them so that their technique and their presentation is so excellent that those who see them will want to see them again." -Expert Card Technique
EndersGame
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Reviewer EndersGame
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This project has just been relaunched with a much smaller target for funding:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/193......relaunch

There's a terrific early bird price of US$11 per deck, including US shipping.
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BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame

====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of decks of playing cards <====
====>Click here to see all my pictorial reviews of card & board games <====

Want me to write a review of your playing cards? Please contact me via Private Message.

"Instead of attempting to learn a great number of tricks, concentrate upon a few good tricks and master them so that their technique and their presentation is so excellent that those who see them will want to see them again." -Expert Card Technique
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