Direct Review Of Zine Deck Playing Cards 

What Is Zine Deck Playing Cards?

Taking inspiration from the photocopied flyers and zines of the ’80s and ’90s, the Zine Deck playing cards by ShyBrainsGetNowt is a one-of-a-kind deck. Each component was printed, cut, pasted, and then scanned to create a raw, textured deck with a unique aesthetic.

The concept for the project arose when Kelv, the creative force behind ShyBrainsGetNowt, was tasked with designing a new deck of playing cards at work. This project led him to dive deep into the world of contemporary card design, exploring various crowd-funded card decks.

Kelv recalls, “All of them seemed so majestic and sophisticated, with minimalist concepts and precise execution. It just didn’t resonate with my punk rock vibe!” This prompted him to create a deck that embraced a more DIY, grunge-inspired style.

Zine Deck Playing Cards Review 3

Kelv had been dabbling with cut-and-paste Xerox art for some time, but it wasn’t until the first lockdown that this interest truly blossomed.

He explains, “I saw a chance to create something more tactile and unique compared to the cards I was making at work – something that would stand as a playful contrast to the polished decks I’d seen online. It gave my cutting and pasting a sense of purpose and a reason to bring my sixteen-year-old laser printer out of retirement!”

In a previous venture, Kelv was the driving force behind Hundred Million LTD, a company that successfully crowd-funded the Sugar Skull Spoon in 2013. The company also launched the CMYK Playing Card deck, with each suit representing a different CMYK print color, and the numbered cards showing varying percentages of ink.

This experience with designing a deck of cards and working with manufacturers made the process less daunting for Kelv, making it an easy decision to aim for mass production of his latest creation.

How Were Zine Deck Playing Cards Designed?

“The design process was the most fun part,” says Kelv, the designer behind the unique deck. For him, it was crucial to preserve the traditional elements of a classic playing card deck – like which Jacks have one eye visible, what weapons are held by each suit, and how the King of Hearts appears to be stabbing himself. Kelv began with a blank deck of white cards and drew inspiration from recurring themes on his Instagram, such as ghosts, flamingos, skulls, and bugs.

Zine Deck Playing Cards Review 2

To bring his vision to life, he started by designing the court cards for each suit, opting for a playful and whimsical style that contrasts with the more “serious” decks on the market.

Once the court cards were complete, he moved on to the number cards, creating and illustrating the entire deck before printing it. The printed cards were then meticulously cut out with a scalpel and pasted back together, adding a tactile, hand-crafted touch.

Next, the cards were scanned at a high resolution of 600dpi. Throughout this process, Kelv would sometimes rip the cards, scribble on them, or even manipulate them while scanning to create a warped effect.

No digital effects or Photoshop tricks were used—every tear, scribble, and scanner distortion was authentic. The only exception was flipping the black color to neon pink for the red suits. This analog approach resulted in a deck with a raw, tactile aesthetic that stands out from the typical digital designs.

After fulfilling the crowd-funded rewards during the summer, Kelv now has a limited stock from the first print run available in his Etsy store. He plans to extend his subversive style and grunge-inspired approach to other products, including tarot cards, board games, ceramics, and beyond.

If you also have good design inspiration, come and create your own playing cards with WJPC!