It was an evening of great art for a great cause at the Stack the Deck charity auction at Artifice on Saturday night.
First held in 2009, the event, which benefits the Three Square food bank, returned to showcase 50 unique 5x7 playing cards designed by local artists, many of whom are members of the Las Vegas Tattoo Art Collective.
Some cards featured playful variations on traditional playing card formats; others ventured more outside the box with bold, three-dimensional takes that reinterpreted the card completely.
And some cards simply just had a great story behind them. Here’s a look at some of our favorites and what inspired the artists behind them:
Six of Clubs by Serene Temple
Temple, a local tattoo artist, says her piece was inspired by a lifelong fascination with eyes.
I’ve always been drawn to them in my art. I was trying to be clever with the piece and make it stand out by applying false lashes to cast a shadow and make them pop,” she says. Even with its fine detailing -- note the club-shaped pupils -- the painted piece took Temple only about six hours to complete.
Two of Clubs by Jen Schichi
“It’s a funny story, I ordered a yogurt parfait for breakfast one morning that had blackberries in it, and I realized how similar the shape was to a club,” Schichi says of her inspiration. “On the spot, I just put a berry on ice and began to paint from it.”
Schichi, who owns the tattoo studio the Mermaid’s Tail in Orange, Calif., says she appreciates events like Stack the Deck to be able to showcase her work as a fine artist while juggling her busy schedule as a tattoo artist. She says opportunities to work in other mediums are part of a larger trend spreading throughout the tattoo industry.
“It’s nice because people are getting to see that tattooing isn’t the only thing that we can do, that we’re also very serious about our secondary mediums, so it’s nice to have the sponsorship and organization to just create the art,” she says.
Jack of Spades by J.W. Caldwell
Caldwell’s design may look like the stuff of nightmares, but it’s inspired by a true story.
“I grew up by Palm Springs in the desert, my dad used to make belts and other things out of rattlesnake skins. My brother and I would go out and hunt rattlesnakes with just our high boots on and shovels, which we’d use to chop the head off,” says Caldwell, who works as an art handler and was one of the few non-tattoo artists contributing to Stack the Decks.
“So when I was assigned the jack of spades for the auction, I immediately associated the spade with that shovel. Given that, I knew I just had to include that image in the card.”
Caldwell’s contribution was done in watercolor.
Six of Spades by Aimee Surratt
You wouldn’t know from looking at it, but Surratt, a local tattoo artist, had just three days notice to create the card from design to completion. She says that she intended the work, done in watercolor, to be a more creative and playful take on the devil’s association with the number 6.
“I imagined a girl’s face similar to what you’d see on a playing card and decided to add some unusual horns [alluding to] the devil done in the same style,” she says.
Ten of Hearts by Mike Schwab
Schwab, an artist at Chrome Gypsy Tattoo, got involved with Stack the Deck for its first auction in 2009 as a member of the Las Vegas Tattoo Art Collective.
“I came up with the concept when I pulled the 10 of hearts. I’m a big ‘Wizard of Oz’ fan, so one of the first things I thought was that ‘ten’ sounded kind of like ‘tin,’ and then of course the heart fit perfectly with that,” Schwab says.