I love tattoos. Don’t actually HAVE any of my own. But I love them. I just hate pain… Which is why the Bicycle ‘Club Tattoo’ deck of playing cards is perfect for someone like me. I watch ALL the shows. It started with Miami Ink (love Chris Garver) then LA Ink because Kat Von D left and opened up her own shop – and she does the most amazing black and grey portrait tattoos – and now I can’t get enough of Tattoo Nightmares.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s a TV show based in a tattoo shop in Los Angeles, where the 3 tattoo artists – Jasmine, Big Gus and Tommy – basically cover up old, embarrassing or artistically inept tattoos of its’ customers. It’s not actually a ‘real’ shop, it’s just a front for the show, but the artists are real and the tattoos they cover up are very, VERY real….. When I think back to the different tattoos I’ve wanted over the years but my fear wouldn’t permit me to get, I am soooo relieved that I’m not having to go get cover-ups done because there’d be plenty…. Sylvester the Cat being one of them…. :/ But I digress. Back to the review.
The least ‘Rock n Roll’ name in history…..?
The first Club Tattoo Studio in the US was founded in 1995 by the lead singer of rock band Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, and tattooing industry leaders, Sean & Thora Dowdell. They have since gone on to open a further 5 shops in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Arizona. In 2013 the tattoo chain partnered with Bicycle Playing Cards to produce this deck of cards, with all the designs supplied by Chris Garcia and Joey Hamilton.
Four different suits. Four different tattooing styles.
Each of the four suits, hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades, was designed by a different tattoo artist. We see depicted the styles of skulls, traditional Japanese, Day of The Dead and the proper old-school traditional ‘Hello Sailor’ style tattoos.
Ok, so far so good. I like this concept. There are many, many different types and styles of tattoos out there so these four are a good, solid base on which to build this deck. The colours are amazing (my scans don’t do them justice) and the artwork is just fantastic. As befitting any world-class artist.
What lets this deck down *for me* are the pip cards. Yes, each card has a backdrop – a ‘watermark’ if you like – in the theme of the rest of the suit, but each pip card has the same image. So all the spades are skulls, all the diamonds are Japanese dragons, all the hearts are sailing ships, and all the clubs are Day of The Dead skulls. Given the amount of tattoo artists working in their chain of shops I would have thought that coming up with an extra 36 designs between them wouldn’t have been any big deal. Maybe it’s just me, but when you look at the time, energy and talent put into the face cards it just feels a little like they lost interest with the rest of the deck.
Also, I can’t see this deck being of any interest to cardists, magicians or slight of hand artists. This is because the fronts have thick white borders and the backs are a design of a shield and swords on a solid black background, so fans and shuffles would lack any kind of pizzazz (Lordy, I’ve said pizzazz…..!) As well as that, the cards aren’t at all symmetrical – front OR back – so there isn’t a ‘subtle’ one-way back design, only a ‘glaringly obvious’ one-way back design. Ok, so what about in game play? Well, no. Because the pips and indexes are so far away from the corners you’d need to fan the cards right out just to be able to see what you’ve got in your hand.
Having said all that, these cards are pure quality. They are printed on air-cushioned finish Bicycle card stock and they are extremely smooth to handle and are a pleasure to hold. The designs on the face cards, Jokers and Aces are fantastic (my personal favourites are the ‘Hello Sailor’ style, particularly the Ace; reminds me of the old penny bubble gum you’d get with a free ‘tattoo’…) and the colours are vibrant and pop right out at you. But the deck to me has no real purpose. Kind of like an actual tattoo. You can’t physically DO anything with it. It’s just, well, there. To look at. And to admire. I do love my Club Tattoo deck, and I’d never part with it. I’d never play a hand of cards with it. But I will look at it, and admire it. Maybe, if there’s ever a Club Tattoo II there’d be more artwork over all the cards.
Where to buy your Bicycle Club Tattoo deck:
Do you have any comments or questions about this deck or this review? I’d love to hear them so please use the comments box below, thanks :)