I’m thrilled to say that after reading my review on their ‘Back to the Asylum’ playing card deck, which is being funded on Kickstarter right now, designer Milan Colovic and Roman Kotiv from NoirArts very kindly agreed to do an interview with me. To those of you who don’t know the full story, you can click here for more details, and to read my review. To those of you who are familiar with the original story, please enjoy…… :)
ICollectPlayingCards.com: Hello there Roman and Milan, thank you for agreeing to answer a couple of questions for my website – I really appreciate it :)
First of all, many congratulations on a successful funding campaign with still (at this point) 12 days to go! Milan, this must put your mind at rest regarding any ill feeling that you may have thought original backers were harbouring, so well done, you must be really happy and relieved.
I don’t want to dwell on the whole debacle of 2012, so I’ll get it out of the way first, you deserve to be allowed to get on with and enjoy this new project….. so I’ll crack on…..
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ICPC: What is the situation with the original Asylum drawings? I’ve read that Ed Nash may or may not still have the original artwork, but then again, I’ve read that Milan managed to get his art back.
Milan: First of all Jyl, I wish to thank you for this opportunity. I’m very grateful that you committed some of your precious time to our project.
Twelve original hand drawn sketches of court cards, which were intended as rewards for backers, were sent to Altius Management headquarters. Very soon after their arrival, Ed Nash severed all contact with me. As far as I know, those sketches are still there. So are some custom made portraits for certain backers, and signed collectible gift cards.
However, the cards are printed from digitally edited files, and I still have those in my possession. Ed Nash’s license has expired, so from a legal point of view, he doesn’t have the authority to publish them. Although, breaking the law is not a strange hobby to him, so I won’t be surprised if he did try to take advantage from it, once again.
ICPC : Roman, obviously as a designer and as an already successful Kickstarter creator yourself, you knew you could make a success of this project. Were you a backer of the first Asylum campaign? And how soon afterwards did you decide to approach Milan?
Roman: Thank you Jyl for your interest in this project. I was not a backer of the original Asylum project just because I hadn’t seen it. When I found this project as funded, I was definitely sure that I must have this deck in my collection (I’m a collector of playing cards too). I had sent several questions about the possibility of ordering this deck for my collection to the project creator (Ed Nash) via KickStarter messages, but got no response at all. 1 year later when I had started working on my own projects, I came back to Asylum and found that the project was fraudulent… During the Defunctorum campaign we got an idea to release the Asylum deck and asked our friend Max from MaxPlayingCards to contact Milan about the possibility of working together.
ICPC: ‘Once bitten twice shy’ – Roman, how did you manage to persuade Milan to work with you and to once again hand over his artwork?
Roman: If I’m going to be honest – I don’t know. I explained to Milan all the aspects of our cooperation, showed him my good intentions and so we began our discussions. We have signed a contract so both of us have no way to escape.
ICPC: Milan, how quickly did you place your trust in Roman to deliver the goods for you this time?
Milan: Well, the best recommendation for Roman is that I heard of him from a very trusted friend. It’s your fellow blogger Max – from Max Playing Cards.
As you said, it’s pretty hard to restore trust in potential business partners, after all that happened. But, a good and reliable contract is the base for building a reliable partnership. The trust will be earned through time.
ICPC: Milan, I’m sure there were times you felt you’d end up in an asylum yourself when the first campaign went so badly wrong. How did you manage to keep your sanity over the past few years?
Milan: Well, drawing was my therapy… I’m very lucky in that my hobby is my profession, also. Working on new projects calmed me down. I must admit that I had a lot of support from most of the backers. As soon as my premonitions regarding the scam were confirmed as quite accurate, I reached some supporters and (indirectly through them) publicity. My honesty turned out to be a good step, backers appreciate it, and I succeeded in revealing the real deceiver.
ICPC: To you both – What could (and should) Kickstarter have done to help recompense for the let down of the first project?
Milan: To be honest – no too much. But their working policy is quite clear, when these matters are questioned. Kickstarter declares itself just as an instrument of mediation between project creators and backers. And they are pretty transparent and clear regarding that. I can’t blame them. At least, I’m thankful that KickStarter administrators didn’t have any problems with reviving the campaign, considering reputation of the first project. It’s a bad reputation for them, too.
Roman: I agree with Milan. I cannot distinguish any significant help from KickStarter team. Even our letter with explanations and several thoughts about how we can help scammed backers – remained unanswered.
ICPC: Milan, I’ve had a look at some of your other designs and I must say you have a way of translating your inner thoughts into some dark characters – even in your Fairy Tale themed designs, which I like a lot :) Is there an angry inner child lurking somewhere…?
Milan: People who know me personally, would probably have sweet laughs regards that ascertainment. I must admit that my humor is quite morbid sometimes, but I’m by no means a “dark person”. Just the opposite, actually. I like to describe some of my pieces as “morbidly cute”. Have you checked the “family tree” artwork? Or “tooth fairy”? Yup, they have some gory elements, but they’re adorably cute, aren’t they? :) I like to call it “Burtonesque” style. The way Tim Burton is doing it – dark but sweet.
I’m observing it as my way of representing some dark matters in a humorous manner. To lighten the dark.
ICPC: I’m a huge Tim Burton fan myself, so I get where you’re coming from there, and I can actually see that in your work :) You also like doing caricatures, suggesting a fun side. Have you a favourite style – what gives you more pleasure to draw?
Milan: Well, both styles have their own glamour. It depends on the mood, clients, project needs. Personally, the most authentic style of mine is some fusion between those two. I don’t like to draw people strictly proportional. I like to accent their specific features through exaggeration. But, not to distort it enormously like in caricatures.
ICPC: Was the decision to not go with the USPCC Bicycle brand this time round based on costs? Or is it simply because NoirArts has it’s own in-house printing facilities? What would you say to those who have questioned any possible ‘quality’ issues?
Milan: Well, yes and no. The USPCC Bicycle brand is definitely a certification of quality in itself, without question. But, does the quality justify the costs? Probably not. A great portion of production costs go just on the placing of the “Bicycle” logo on the decks. Not on the cost of paper and ink. I know that people are quite skeptical toward new firms, but there are some great alternatives on the market. Printing cards is not quantum physics, it strictly depends on the superiority of the printing machines, facilities, and material. A firm who owns those, can produce equally good cards. There’s no “secret ingredient” except for the brand, itself.
Regards the quality of Roman’s previous deck projects – well, I rely mostly on the backers’ reviews. And those were quite good.
ICPC: Roman, not only have you got quite a few successful Kickstarter projects under your belt, you are also a prolific backer of playing card projects. Do you have a Top 5 of decks you’ve acquired through KickStarter? And don’t include your own…!! :)
Roman: Ha-ha, you’ve found that I’m a crazy playing cards collector:) I’ve been collecting cards since 2007… And there was no KickStarter at that time, so all decks had to be bought via different sources all over the internet, for instance ebay or local shops. Now that we have KickStarter I can get exclusive decks before they became available for everyone, even more, I can help playing cards creators to make their dreams come true (I know this definitely as I create my own cards too). Most of my favorites, hmmm… I think that one of them is a souvenir deck from Alcatraz, it was the first deck in my collection. Also I like Karnival, set of Artifice cards, Federal 52 by Jackson Robinson. And I have some exclusive decks that are difficult to buy because they were made locally and are not available to purchase online. My own decks are not amongst my favorites because each time I take a look on them I’m finding things that I could do better, so they can’t be my favorite decks.
ICPC: Milan, do you have any impending playing card designs we should keep an eye on KickStarter for, and do you and Roman intend to work together again in the future?
Milan: This cooperation between myself and Roman, I’m looking at as an experiment. This definitely won’t be my last cards design project, but would I continue to work with Noir Arts, depending strictly on the success of this cooperation, and sharing the visions for future ones. Only time will tell…
Yes, even during the first campaign, I had some different card designs in development phase. But, it was pretty important to me to see this story through to the end first.
ICPC: Well then, I’ll wait with anticipation to see what else you come up with – exciting times ahead :)
ICPC: The ‘Asylum Inmate’ deck is a special limited edition available in recognition to all those who backed the original Asylum project, but were then let down. This is a really great idea, and I’m sure those backers appreciate the gesture, but would there by any chance be any extra of those decks just lying around that you would maybe consider possibly signing and sending to, oh I don’t know, say someone who wrote a really cool review about the Back to the Asylum deck….? :) (hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!) :D
Milan: Well, Jyl, I will try to answer you in same discretely manipulative manner as you asked ;) A lot of people have been asking would this be available for those who aren’t “survivors of Asylum”. I’m grateful for all the support we are receiving from so many new people, but I feel we are obligated to the original backers to stay consistent in our initial determination. What would be so special in our “special offer” if we made it available for everyone? At the moment, the campaign funding has braked a little bit and we are going a little slow. But Roman and I are in negotiations about some new special goodies for the backers, right now. And if we succeed to provide finances for those, you can count on some Asylum specialties for yourself as a gift. It would be my pleasure…
ICPC: I confess I was being a tad greedy, but thought I’d chance my arm anyway :) – you’ve passed the test :D Seriously though, I completely understand your position and I’m very happy for the original backers that you are sticking to your guns on that. I reckon that you have, throughout this whole new campaign, definitely instilled such faith in your backers that can only be described as a credit to you both. Well done on a very successful campaign :) I can’t wait until the next one!!!
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All my most heartfelt thanks to Milan Colovic and Roman Kotiv for taking the time to answer these questions, even though they are extremely busy with this project right now, as well as their other commitments.
In all seriousness, many of you have commented about this deck and the artwork, and also shown an interest in collecting playing cards – why not make this the very first deck in your new collection?
Have you any comments or questions about this interview? I’d love to hear them, so please just type away to your hearts content in the box below and I’ll get right back to you. Thanks :)