Senior creates ‘Hamlet’-themed card deck

March 8, 2017 — by Leena Elzeiny and David Fan

At first, senior Steve Lai had the idea to create a single playing card as a gift to his junior year English teacher Suzanne Herzman.

While thinking about what book to base the card on, he began to conceive of card designs for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” specifically of the jester Yorick. The project evolved into hours of design for an entire 52-card deck called Yorick that he eventually gave to Herzman.

“I loved this nerdfest of a gift because it brought together so many aspects of our sixth-period English 11 Honors class last year,” Herzman said.

Each card has the same back design, which consists of two skulls with flowers behind a black background. Lai said he went with this design “to convey the beauty, death and mystery behind the life of the jester.”

The ace and joker both have custom face designs. Lai said the aces have a pile of dirt with a shovel in it, showing the jester's burial, and the joker is a jester's hat oozing out black substance, symbolizing the death of the jester. The other cards have the same face designs as a normal deck of cards.

Now, Lai has started to design more decks of playing cards aside from Yorick. He has always enjoyed drawing during his spare time and had a fascination with magic and cards too.

For the Yorick deck, he said it took him around five hours to create the designs for all the cards. He drew each design using a piece of paper and a pen. Usually, he was able to draw the face design in one or two sittings. Then he scanned it into his computer and added details to the designs on his editing software.

Once he finished the design of the cards, Lai sent them  to a manufacturer, and within a week, the cards were completed.

So far, he has made just the one deck of cards, the Yorick set, and is working on another one.

Lai started a Kickstarter campaign to create more copies of his Yorick deck, but he decided to end it recently because he did not reach his goal of $5,000, falling roughly $4,000 short. His backers came from a variety of different places, from the United States to Chile to Australia.

Despite his success in creating these cards, he’s not sure what lies ahead with it.

For now, he plans to major in mechanical engineering or industrial design in college and hopes to continue his card-making project.

“Regardless of the success, I have learned a lot from the whole process,” Lai said. “It will definitely benefit me in the future with business and marketing.”