Unique Playing Card Decks to Inspire Your Creativity

Okay, so maybe playing cards are a bit of an unexpected collector’s item… but it also kinda makes sense! I love stamps, too, in the same way I love playing cards–they’re cool little art samples that happen to have a function, too.

I’m pretty new to this playing card-collecting world, so here’s a handy FAQ that covers the basics. There’s a lot of fun in just owning these cards, but there’s also such thing as a Franken Deck (see here for an example) which takes each individual card from a different deck! So… you have to have encountered 54 decks over time to collect a Franken Deck. It’s a fun challenge to make a pretty one and/or stick to a theme across the deck.

You’ll probably need examples to get inspired, huh? No worries! I’ve got plenty of those. 🙂

Though these playing cards are definitely fancy, I’m not really a true snob about them (yet!). So none of these decks are terribly expensive. I honestly acquire most of mine from random trips to Walgreens. They have Bicycle playing cards, for some reason. But anyway, let’s get into it!

Art of Play Harmony Collection

Photo of The Harmony Collection's Air deck of playing cards from Art of Play

Art of Play has some reallllyyy cool, artistic decks of playing cards. They’re a little bit more expensive relative to some of the more common ones I’m going to list here, but this deck isn’t ridiculously expensive–it’s $15 at the time of writing.

This Harmony collection is all about the creatures of the land, air, space, and sea. It has super intricate and colorful illustrations that make me happy. And if you’re going to collect something a bit odd like playing cards, they should make you happy, right?

I think my favorite here is the Air deck but seriously. These are little works of art!

Bicycle Aviary

Photo of Bicycle playing cards with an aviary theme, showing both sides of example cards

These Bicycle cards are so cute! I’m not gonna lie; I bought these and have them sitting in front of me right now. I mean, they’re $5, from one of the most reputable playing card brands, and yet are still unique.

I think what makes them extra special is not only does the back have a neat bird theme in a Scandanavian folk sort of style, but the front of the cards have stylized details to match. So the hearts or diamonds or whatever the suit also has matching decorations. I love that. These aren’t plain Jane playing cards!

Gent Supply Day of the Dead

Photo of Gent Supply's Day of the Dead monochromatic black playing cards fanned out

Gent Supply’s Day of the Dead cards are monochromatic black and cool as hell. If you know what the Dia de los Muertos aesthetic is like, take that but picture it shiny black on a smooth black card.

For example, the court cards feature skeletons decked out in royal attire, so on and so forth. This may not be the most practical deck in terms of immediate recognition of your cards, but man does the aesthetic appeal make up for it.

Skyline Chess

Some example playing cards from Skyline Chess's architectural art playing card decks

These are architectural art playing cards! The style is minimalistic line art that captures just the right amount of detail on famous landmark buildings in four options of major cities (London, Paris, New York, and San Francisco).

I don’t even know how people come up with these ideas. Imagine pulling up to the kids’ table to play a round of Go Fish with this sleekly designed deck. Your little cousin would definitely say “whoa.”

Flexible Gradients Blue

Flexible gradient playing cards fanned out to show range of blues

This deck is a little bit different from the others–it’s intended more so for playing card magic tricks than for collecting. But there’s no reason not to admire how satisfying it is to fan out the backs and see a gradient, you know?

I will say that this deck is probably not as interesting to add as a component of a Franken Deck because the beauty lies in the deck as a whole. But then again, for $5, just collecting it for the sake of its looking cool will not lead you to financial ruin.

So there you have it, folks! Have I convinced you that playing cards are a surprising venue for creative inspo, whether you collect them or not? I hope so! Art is everywhere. Sometimes you can even play solitaire with it.

Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you soon!


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