When you sit down to play a card game with your average deck of cards, you may not pay attention to the artwork that’s printed upon each piece. After all, such images are probably familiar to you by now. Then again, you may be concentrating on the game itself, on your opponents, on having a great time with friends.
With artist Kimberly Hall‘s creations, it’s almost impossible for one to focus on anything other than her illustrated deck. Each of her 52 cards are not filled with your typical kings, queens, and iconic symbols. Instead, Hall has given each work of playing card art its own unique personality. Every card tells a story, one that makes a card game as creative as it is fun. Essentially, the artist’s playing cards are both pretty and practical. You definitely won’t want to put them away in a drawer after you’re done using them because they 152% belong on a mantlepiece.
To get to know the woman behind these expressive cards, we had the opportunity to interview Kimberly about her inspirations, her daily drawing practice, and about the Norwegian history behind her studio name…
HelloGiggles (HG): Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Kimberly Hall (KH): Well, I’m an artist and illustrator and I run a print and pattern design studio called Nottene with my partner Justin Hardison. I have had a circuitous path through many artistic and design disciplines to get here, from photography, graphic design, crafts, textiles, accessory and fashion design. I love to make things and I like to draw. It took me a long time to realize that my drawing was valid, though. I always thought it was a way to get to some other final product, but now I have decided it’s the thing that means the most to me. We’re based in Philadelphia where we have an old row house that I love to paint and wallpaper!
HG: What does “Nottene” mean and why did you choose this name for your studio?
KH: Nottene is a Norwegian word that means nuts. My mother’s family emigrated from Norway in the early 20th century, so I thought it would be fun to honor that side of my family. I chose it when I started my first blog way back in 2002, when I didn’t have a real purpose other than exploring the internet. And it has stuck since then!
HG: Your playing cards are just plain awesome. What made you want to design an entire deck?
KH: Aw, thanks!! I’d always wanted to design a deck of cards, but it seemed so overwhelming! A friend of mine mentioned she wanted to learn more card games and was going to blog about one every week for a whole year, so she would learn 52 games, and I realized that 52 weeks is just the right number to design all 52 cards in a deck, so ta da! I drew a card each week for the whole year, last year. Once they were finished, I really wanted to produce them so we did a Kickstarter to raise the money, and in the process got to know a whole bunch of new people. The support and love in doing a Kickstarter was just amazing.
HG: Who or what inspires you?
KH: I usually list a Maira Kalman quote about how a painting is actually truer than a photograph and it’s one of my big inspirations, but I also find myself inspired by the change of seasons and the way things keep on rolling by… The passage of time is so fascinating.