This all began just before 1980 when I was interested in a project that my friend Dunbar Aitkens was working on called The Glass Plate Game. One of the components of The Glass Plate Game is a collection of cards with pictures on them. These unique images were created specifically for the game. I had some new ideas about using picture cards when I looked at them. Eventually, in 1980, I decided to try my own hand at a new business.
It began with the story deck. What if the cards could be used as springboards for making up a story, right on the spot? Each image has a meaning, do we all see the same thing when we look at the same card?
What makes a group of images a set or deck? Why do they belong together and other cards do not? Could any cards be put together?
What if the same cards were used to invent many different stories?
What is the meaning of a picture? What kinds of things can be created with these pictures? I like the idea of a graphic novel that has become loosened and now can be arranged in different ways. Does the sequence change the meaning of any of the pictures? Can whole different novels be developed with these pictures?
I tried to imagine different ways of using picture cards. I came up with all kinds of ideas. I explained my idea to my friend Lorraine Tong and she sparked some new ones herself. So we created a set of six decks and tried to market them. The cards were printed on inexpensive stiff paper, not ordinary typing paper but index card stock. All the art was simple lines, except for an experiment with using pressed leaves to make the images. She draws much better than I do, she came up with the Story Deck and the Poetry Deck. I tried my hand at several others, the People Deck, the Mosaic Puzzle Deck and the Leaves Deck.
These are the original decks in the set of six decks that were developed in 1980.
The sixth deck is blank and is for you to create your own original idea cards.
Story Deck: pictures from a fairy tale invented for this purpose, so its not based on any existing tale. This deck is titled A Found Story. There can be more story decks with different titles.
Poetry Deck: no pictures, just words, put them in your order or discover them randomly. This set of words, phrases and incomplete phrases is titled The Heart Escapes.
People Deck: these people live in an imaginary village and many stories can come from them individually and together, small groups, pairs, or large groups. This deck has been titled Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker.
Mosaic Puzzle Deck: no words, just abstract shapes. None of them interlock so there is only whimsy to determine how they might possibly fit together.
Leaves of the Pacific Northwest Deck (at one time called The Collector Deck): the original concept is very simple, a set of related images, all of one theme. A simple collection. I like the leaf shapes, there are reasons for each shape. They all came from a place near Olympia (Washington) called Priest Point Park. I collected the plant samples, I pressed them under heavy books and let them dry out, then I laminated them onto cards and used the photocopy process to create the artwork for the cards.
Originally I had ideas about using these cards for games. That created unnecessary problems and complications, games have winners and losers. This is an art form, it has nothing to do with winning and loosing. The basic idea is that each picture card represents ideas and a collection of cards has even more potential to offer, and that collective potential can be explored and developed. I enjoy just looking at the pictures and not trying to do something with them.
Anyone can make a picture, this is not a new idea. What is new are your ideas!