‘Playing with a Full Deck’ is a unique project  which has the distinction of also being the largest collection of original art collaborations  created upon playing cards. It was launched in June of 2010 by Liz Cohn, as an experiment in freeform collaboration between collage and mixed media artists by mail. The guidelines are that a playing card must be used as a canvas and that Liz Cohn must be one of the collaborating artists on each card. The resulting collection boasts over 243 participating artists and more than 2051 playing cards. 

         Playing cards were chosen as the canvas because they are a small and sturdy surface, which readily accepts most mediums and cards, are mailed easily and fairly inexpensively.  It helped that Liz inherited 128 full decks of playing cards from her father-in-law’s private collection, right at the moment when she was thinking about how to reach out and connect with other artists.

        Reaching interested willing collaborators was facilitated via social media websites, such as Flickr, DeviantArt and Facebook. And then the word spread from artist to artist.

         The cards begin with the first artist’s alterations in any medium, and are then mailed to each successive collaborator for their artistic  interpretations. Artists have freedom to add to or subtract elements upon the card using any medium.  The goal is to make the composition feel like a balanced and completed work regardless of  style presented to the artists. Some cards are solely by Liz Cohn, most cards average two collaborators, and many more cards circumnavigate the globe having up to five contributing artists.

         Collaborating presents a variety of challenges for artists, one of which is letting go of vision or control: no single contributor can determine the end result of the playing card they work on. In a sense, the card has a life of its own. Most participating artists report that this collaboration has been an exciting project from which they gained inspiration for their own work or learned about their comfort around the concept of a shared project.

         Browse the finished cards at LizCohnArtStudio or gallery6pdx.com  and look under the tabs ‘Playing Card Collaborations’,  ‘More Playing Card Collaborations’ and ‘Playing Cards by Liz Cohn’.


All about ‘Playing with a Full Deck’