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52+Joker Club Deck (2021)

52+Joker Club Deck (2021)

Every year, the 52+Joker Club commemorates its annual convention with a special release exclusively for its esteemed members. Established in 1985 in the USA, this club has drawn collectors and card enthusiasts from around the globe over the years. More recently, they’ve made it a tradition to mark the occasion with a custom-designed deck, printed in limited edition.

In 2021, I had the privilege of designing the 52+Joker Club Deck in collaboration with Expert Playing Card Co. (EPCC). I had the opportunity to work closely with Bill Kalush, the owner of the company, who generously allowed me to let my creative imagination run wild without any constraints. This project, in particular, put a special focus on the tuckbox, which boasts a remarkably unique design compared to the standard ones.

For the playing cards themselves, I seized the chance to craft my very own set of proprietary standard court cards. As a playing card designer, I felt it was time to create a fresh set while preserving the traditional aesthetics. Although I had previously worked on improving specific design elements for projects like the Ravn series and Parlour, this endeavor allowed me to craft a new set of court cards from the ground up. These court cards are designed to evoke the timeless appeal of the classic French figures in a two-way design, featuring rich colors and neat outlines. These iconic figures are commonly found in decks printed by USPCC, including Bicycle, Bee, and Tally-Ho. Similar variations exist in Europe, but none have achieved the widespread popularity of Bicycle cards.

The process of creating these court cards began as an enjoyable endeavor but grew increasingly tedious when it came time to finalize the graphics. I aimed to ensure flexibility for future variants, where colors could be swapped effortlessly without the need for manual recoloring of every element. 

When it came to conceptualizing the tuckbox design, I sketched my ideas on paper during a vacation. My vision was to create a sense of depth that surpassed the ordinary, achieved through two cutouts, embossing, and debossing techniques.

The initial sketches presented a design that posed challenges in terms of practical execution, as the dieline blades could not reach such intricate details. While laser-cutting was a potential option, I had concerns about unsightly burn marks along the paper’s edges. Since I aimed to avoid the use of ink, I ultimately chose a simpler, yet still elegant, design that could be realized without extensive experimentation and potential risks. Time constraints played a significant role in this decision, as I had a strict deadline to meet for this project.

The deck boasts gold cold-foil application on both sides. This feature is ideal for playing cards as it doesn’t leave any impressions on the other side of the card. It exhibits a brilliant shine, much like regular foil, but with the thinness of ink.

When approaching the back design, I took into account this feature, along with the ability to print on top of it. The jester on the moon became the central motif of the back design. The moon’s distinctive shape is highly visible and serves as the primary, defining element of the entire back design. For this reason, I opted to fill it with gold, in keeping with the original 52+Joker logo. 

999 numbered decks manufactured by Expert Playing Card Co.
Additional 500 unnumbered units produced due to high request

Winner of the P52 Deck of the Year 2021 award (DOTY 2021)


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