Whether poker or gin rummy, the Ovdiyenko family of Johnstown frequently plays cards together on Friday nights. In the past seven months, though, the tradition has undergone an evolution - since father Chris decided to make a deck of his own.
Whether poker or gin rummy, the Ovdiyenko family of Johnstown frequently plays cards together on Friday nights.
In the past seven months, though, the tradition has undergone an evolution — since father Chris decided to make a deck of his own.
“I appreciate card designs,” said Ovdiyenko, the 38-year-old vice president and creative director of a health-care advertising agency.“So I thought there was something I could bring to it."
His inspiration is traced to a longtime fascination with Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday for honoring departed family and friends.
He chose to mimic the artistic style of 1800s Mexican cartoonist Jose Posada.
To help cover the costs of supplies and the right to use the Bicycle logo on his cards, Ovdiyenko on June 12 turned to the project-funding website Kickstarter.
He made his pitch, showed a sampling of his artwork and gave himself 40 days to raise $15,000.
Forty days later, he has raised more than $57,000 (with donations of $1 to $1,000) from more than 1,400 backers worldwide. (Donors will receive decks of the cards, copies of his art or both.)
Scott Perry of Miami Beach, Fla., gave Ovdiyenko $15 soon after the posting was made because he liked the look of the cards.
“He had a really cool technique using a scratchboard,” said the 35-year-old, a self-employed graphic designer and a playing-card artist with UnCommon Beat.
Perry has seen the Day of the Dead theme on other cards, he said, but not like those of Ovdiyenko.
“His process and the way he went about it, I’ve never seen before.”
That process, Ovdiyenko said, proved labor-intensive.
He did research on Posada, sketched each card design in the Photoshop software program, drew the outlines by hand on black scratchboard, then etched the white parts.
He is almost finished with the deck, which he has dubbed Calaveras (Spanish for “skulls”).
Ovdiyenko plans to use the extra Kickstarter money to create other playing cards as well as customized Day of the Dead coins and T-shirts, and to reimburse himself for the money he spent to create his online store (www.deadonpaper.com).
After they are printed, the Calaveras playing cards will ship in December.
The project has required late-night and weekend work, but his family — wife Adria; son Dylan, 8; and daughter Thaedra, 6 — has kept Ovdiyenko company or made drawings with him at his craft table.
And the card games haven’t stopped.
“We’ll take (family) breaks to play rummy,” Ovdiyenko said. “It’s family time — and even though I’m working, they work with me, too.”