Card by Pete Sack

Long gone are the days of mere black and red, stiff kings and queens and jokers, hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds on white card stock with a blue and white backing. Games of poker with the guys or Go Fish with the wee ones have received a makeover, courtesy of 54 Raleigh artists.

These artistic playing cards, called the Deck of Oaks, are the brainchild of graphic designer and Ladye Jane Vickers.

The idea came to her while lying in bed one night. Less than 24 hours later she had 30 artists committed to the project.

“I left it really open to everyone,” she says of the art. “They could either tie the artwork to Raleigh or to the card itself.”

The first batch debuted in December and sold out quickly. The second printing is in stores now.

Vickers, who designed the three of diamonds and the backs of the cards, said the artists were not picky when it came to their assigned card, though the ace of spades and queen of hearts were frequently requested. The artists worked in media varying from fabrics to watercolors to a Lego sculpture.

“It’s a little slice of Raleigh in a box,” Vickers says. “It does a great job of capturing the creativity of this community.”

Pete Sack chose to depict the “suicide king,” the king of hearts, for his contribution. “I wanted to make a play off that but make it less violent,” he says. So instead of a sword going through his head, Sack painted red flowers.

The uniqueness of the project is what drew him to it. “Everybody has an experience with cards, it’s such a universal item,” he says. “But it has such a unique spin on it with a hint of Raleigh tied into it.”

All of the proceeds go to three local nonprofits. The first batch supported Second Chance Pet Adoptions, ToxicFree NC and Helping Hand Mission. Current purchases go toward InterFaith Food Shuttle, The Broadreach Foundation and NC Conservation Network.

Vickers is toying with the idea of producing another series of playing cards with a different theme, perhaps photography. Many people are clamoring to be a part of the project, she says.

You can purchase a Deck for $15 at Tasty Beverage Co. and Deco Raleigh as well as online.

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