Kevin Reylek. One of the driving forces behind Penguin Magic Playing Cards.

(Gaffguy) For those of you who don’t know you, Kevin, can you just give our readers a little background on yourself?

(Kevin) I was born and raised in North Carolina. I got started in magic at age 8 when my grandmother gave me a Mark Wilson instructional VHS tape for Christmas. I went to the North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking where I was a screenwriting major. After college, I moved to New York, which is where I finally decided to merge my interests in magic and filmmaking and began producing magic videos and decks of cards.

(Gaffguy) How did you go about choosing what deck to launch first?

(Kevin) The Honeybee deck was the first deck Penguin came out of the gate with. For years, I had the idea in my head that a Bee-style deck with a Honeycomb back pattern would look fantastic. When I came to Penguin, it was one of a handful of ideas that I knew I wanted to tackle. I’ve known and worked with Randy Butterfield for years, and when I told him about the idea he got really excited. It felt like a great way to do a customized nod to a classic deck and to let the world know that Penguin was entering the deck game in a serious way

(Gaffguy) What is your thought process when deciding on a theme or design of a deck?

(Kevin) It really varies from deck to deck. Sometimes we start with a really well-defined theme and direction with ultra-specific notes and examples. Other times a deck comes to us nearly completed. Sometimes we find an artist who we know is incredible, and we just want to work with them. We see if there’s a particular theme or design element that they want to explore with a deck. Each project really takes on a life and personality of its own. Sometimes they turn out exactly as you originally envision them, sometimes they take twists and turns and the end results is better than we initially imagined.

(Gaffguy) How many decks have been produced by Penguin Magic?

(Kevin) As of the time of this interview, we have released 5 decks: Honeybee, Christmas, White Tally-Ho in Fan and Circle, and Westminster. We have over a dozen more currently in our pipeline with new projects being added all the time.

(Gaffguy) Can you give our readers any insight on future release or collaborations?

(Kevin) Our next release will be a Black edition of the Honeybees, that look absolutely spectacular. We are also working on some great ideas with artists who are unknown in the magic and playing card communities. We also do have a project in the works with the incredible Mark Stutzman, designer of David Blaine’s Split Spades, that we are incredibly excited about.

(Gaffguy) Any advice you’d give to an aspiring deck designer?

(Kevin) Really learn about art, as well as playing cards. Don’t just study the particular style and mediums that interest you – learn about everything. Worry about software LAST. I see a lot of folks ask “What software do I need to make a great deck?” The truth is that software is the least important element of the design. A talented artist can do incredible things with a crayon and a napkin. Nobody asks an architect what brand of hammer he used to build a house.

Learn about the history and conventions are playing cards. Learn what’s traditional, and then you can make better choices about what to keep in sort of a classic manner, and when to flip things on their head.

If you would like to see some of Penguin Magics playing cards please head on over to Penguin Magic 

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