It all started with a guy… and a mustache

Jay Fletcher playing card image

It all started with a guy… and a mustache

Our conversation with Jay Fletcher, a logo, brand and playing card designer

Did you notice we got a new look this year? We thought we looked good before but it was time for an upgrade. And now? Now we look damn fine! 

When it came time for our new ‘do, we wanted something as iconic as Mr. Playing Card himself. And we knew just the person to call.

Jay Fletcher is a graphic designer in Charleston, SC whose brand identity work is top-notch but he also has carved himself a niche with playing card design, making him the perfect designer to tackle Mr. Playing Card’s rebrand.

I spoke with Jay recently to get an inside scoop on designing playing cards, his creative process and our rebrand. 

Jay Fletcher playing card image

It was a Pandora’s box. I didn’t start out with an interest in playing cards, but I do now.

Jay got his start in playing card design when he was working with a restaurant in Charleston, 10 years ago. He was designing the full package – the logo, menu, signage, coasters, etc. The owner of the restaurant had a cool idea to do a deck of cards. 

“He had this idea of a speakeasy type of thing where you couldn’t buy the playing cards, but if you spent over a certain amount of money there, you’d get them as a prize.”

So Jay set off to design a deck of cards for the first time. He was connected to others in the playing card world who helped get the cards produced, which brought in more design business for Jay. It opened the door for him.

I needed to make them my way.

The first couple of decks Jay did, he tried to make them look like what he thought playing cards should look like but it didn’t feel right. 

“I’d get to the finish line and think, man I don’t know. I had struggled through it and it took me a while to figure out that I just needed to do them my way.”

Jay’s playing card designs now are simple, bold and his own style. 

Jay Fletcher playing card image

Designing a playing card always starts with the client’s look and feel. 

“95% of the battle is wrapping your head around their vibe. Is it modern, is it masculine, is it vintage?”

With the vibe nailed down, he can get to work creating the cards around those parameters, starting with the back of the card. This is where the high-level design questions are set, like the style, color palette, thickness of lines, etc. The design of the rest of the cards and the tuck box fall into line after that. 

They are made to be played with. They are made to have fun with. If you make them funky and cool, they will be enjoyed.

While there are some people that just collect playing cards, most buy cards to use them. So functionality is key according to Jay. The numbers need to be in the right spot and easy to read quickly.

“I wouldn’t want to design something really cool and then someone goes to play poker with it and it’s annoying to play with. It would defeat the whole purpose.

His favorite thing about designing playing cards? Knowing that they will get played. 

Jay Fletcher playing card image

If there was ever a project that was in my wheelhouse, it was this one.

Jay is entrenched in the playing card design world, but the bulk of his work is logo design and brand ideation. Working with Mr. Playing Card on our rebrand was a no brainer. 

“I didn’t feel like I needed to do a ton of research before I got going. I could just start.

For Jay, it started with a guy.

Mr. Playing Card is some kind of guy. A mustache design is a good starting point. And who’s the ultimate playing card guy? It’s a king. So it was an obvious direction.

Jay presented a few different great options. The winning look was also an obvious direction. 

His secret for approaching branding work like ours? Make it simple and make it iconic. And then implement it really consistently.

“That’s the rocket science secret to good branding. You can do good work, but then you have to use it the right way.”

You can find Jay Fletcher on his website, Jay Fletcher Design.

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