I was fortunate enough to grab some time from Lorenzo Gaggiotti, an amazing artist living in Sweden. I love seeing custom playing cards, and he is one of the absolute best. His cards are known for astounding attention to detail, and are printed by USPCC (Bicycle) as well as EPCC. Some of his well known decks include Requiem, Heretic, and No. 17. Among other things, he is currently working on 2 new decks, including Gemini and Ravn.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your designs?
When we talk about my designs, inspiration comes when I see something that somebody already made/created. Sometimes the work of other artists give me inspiration to start a project or a learning path. It's not copying; it's channeling the energy of a specific piece of art or design. Then I elaborate it, and I release something that has got the same energy, even though the design is totally different. The “wow factor” is an emotion that I want to feel when I finalize my designs.
How long does it take to come up with a design?
A fully custom deck might take up to 4 months if I frequently work on it. But it's not just drawing directly on Photoshop; I do a lot of sketches and studies on paper, and there is a lot of waiting time before I finalize a design. This is because I need to look at the drawings with “fresh eyes”, spot the mistakes and what needs to be changed.
My favorite card deck is Requiem. The individual detail is amazing. What do each of your decks represent?
Thank you, very glad that you like it... Requiem was a special project. They are all different among each other. The theme and the styles are different. Above the theme and the style of the illustrations, there is my will of doing something special, something that tells a story. What I like most is to make people curious and wonder what those drawings, symbols, and Latin texts mean.
When did you realize that you needed to create art?
I do not have a date. I have been drawing since I was able to keep a pencil in my hand. It is something automatic and instinctive that just happens in a spontaneous and natural way.
What kind of creative routines or patterns do you have, if any?
Once I get inspiration or an idea, I start a long period of research before I start drawing. I read and find pictures related to that theme or idea. I collect a lot of material for additional inspiration and I start doing some sketches. Then the design phase comes; it's when I decide how things will be, to keep them consistent among each other. If things do not work, I start over. The final part is making what you see on the cards, but even when I think I am done with the entire design, I let it “rest” for a few weeks. There is a final phase dedicated only to small changes, tweaks and improvements.
What is your favorite morning drink?
Coffee of course.
When do you get your greatest ideas?
My ideas come when I see or observe something that impresses me or makes me curious. It can be something from the internet as something I see in when I am out in town, or on a trip. It can be a theme, a story, an object, or something mysterious I want to know more about. I am attracted by the unknown and the mysterious aura around astrology, alchemy, legends, mythology, sacred geometry, and magic.
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve created?
I think that Heretic Playing Cards is my favorite one.
What artistic medium have you not pursued yet that you would like to pursue?
I just started to learn calligraphy. I've always been into lettering and fonts and I don't know why I waited so long before buying a calligraphy pen and started practicing.
Do you have any good advice to others who wish to produce creative projects and other art?
TIME. It takes time to create something good, interesting and attractive. Even the most expert designer knows that each project has got its own path that takes time and evolution. Rome wasn't built in a day.
Other than that it is important to have developed skills and education. A deck of playing cards – in my case – takes 3 months to be made, but at the same time it already took 15-20 years of hard work and practice.
What artists do you admire?
Putting aside Leonardo Da Vinci, I'll give you a few names from different artistic fields.
Painting: Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939),
Comics: Milo Manara and Masamune Shirow
Illustration: McBess and Blu
Sculpture: Miguel Ortiz Berrocal (1933-2006)
and at least 200 more names
Do you collect anything?
Not really, even though I have about 200 decks of playing cards from Kickstarter!
Where would you like to travel that you haven’t been yet?
Iceland and Japan are on the list.
Make sure to check out Lorenzo's upcoming projects!
by Bryan Sloan, Black Forest Studio