by Emmanuel Josť


"Emmanuel Josť graduated with a degree in Studio Art from Davidson College, where he created prints, drawings and paintings. During his undergraduate years he also started to create papercut artwork. In 2011 his longtime fascination with playing cards prompted him to set up a personal challenge: create one playing card per week.
Using papercutting techniques Emmanuel follows a centuries-old tradition of transforming the suits and pips of a standard deck of playing cards. Through the creation of these decks Emmanuel hopes to present playing cards not a mere objects but as canvases ripe for creativity and a little imagination".
It's the artist statement on his site and on one of the extra cards.

This resulted in the "Curator" deck, which is his first published deck. Emmanuel is currently working on his third deck, titled "My Sawdust", which will be released in 2014. His "Clipped Wings" deck is scheduled to be released later this year.

In his first deck he shows what he means with imagination. The designs are simple but have been given much thought in idea and design. The courts in each suit all refer to an existing animal, object, phrase, term or tale, befitting their name. But to make the kings and queens even easier to recognize, they all wear a crown.

The King of Spades refers to the Frog Prince, such a well-known fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, that it needs no further explanation here. The Queen shows the Queen Bee, the mated queen of the honey bees, who's usually the mother of the complete colony. The Jack shows a Jack-in-the Box, a children's toy that outwardly consists of a box with a crank. Turn the crank and a tune will start, at the end of which there's a surprise: the lid pops open and a figure, usually a clown or jester, pops out of the box.

The King of Hearts is represented by a King Cobra, the world's longest venomous snake. On the chessboard the Queen is much more potent than the King, here nicely illustrated in a checkmate situation on the Queen of Hearts. The Jack in this suit is a lumberjack, a worker in the logging industry. Here dressed in the typical lumberjack shirt.



The aces are more emblematic in design. Here they give access to the pips in each suit by CLICKING the corresponding ace.

On the King of Clubs it's not hard to recognize King Arthur and his sword Excalibur. And the Queen is easy too. It refers to Odette, the princess who was turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse in Swan Lake, the ballet composed by Tchaikovski around 1875. For us -non-Americans- the Jack was a bit harder, but the scene refers to the story of Jack & Jill with their leaky bucket.

The King of Diamonds reigns the animal world, the Lion King. At first we thought that the Queen showed the "Dancing Queen" (ABBA), but when we noticed the sash it became obvious that she's..... a beauty Queen. The Jack was easy. It's a clear reference to the British fairy tale from the early 19th century, Jack and the Beanstalk.

The back shows the scissors, used to create the designs for this deck.
A laughing and a crying clown is not a new concept for the jokers, but here at least we now know the reason why.



Emmanuel Josť has decided not to publish the deck himself, but to do that through the HOPC. So you don't have to approach him for decks, but can order them at:

If you want to have a sneak preview of the artwork for the next two decks, you'll find a nice selection at Emmanuel's website:



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