Graphic Design Blog Post

Anti-fracking Poster: The Final Product

Here is the printed version of my anti-fracking poster:

Printed Fracking Poster

The purpose of this poster is to increase the general public of the dangers of hydraulic fracturing. It assumes that the audience has a basic knowledge of what fracking is, and attempts to illustrate one particularly nasty danger of the practice—the leaching of poisons into the water supply. After seeing the poster, people should have a greater awareness of the dangers of fracking.

This poster was designed to stand out on crowded walls and bulletin boards. Its dark, ominous colour scheme and unique, charred texture will set it apart from other colourful posters. 

Although the text is also very important, the strongest feature of the poster is a spider-like fracking crack that occupies the centre of it. It will attract people’s attention, and once they come closer to look at the poster they will be able to read the words. The poster is clearly about a negative issue, so the copy is written in a scientific, neutral style, so as not to overwhelm the viewer with the message. 

Another important criterion for the poster is for it to look very professional. It seems that often anti-oil campaigns can look quite amateur, as there is usually not much financial support for them. It is easy to dismiss a message if it is on a cheap-looking poster, so this poster was designed to look professional and to delver the message in a classy way. This was done using the font DIN pro, a neutral but elegant sans serif, and a muted, dark colour palette. There is lots of space around the words and objects, which makes the poster look calm and intentional.

A goal of the poster was also to convey the idea of fracking destroying the earth, but in a symbolic, simplified way. This was achieved by using increasingly darker greys going down the poster to show layers of the earth, and a geometric yet random-ish spider shape for the cracks. There was a thin layer of blue at the top of the poster to represent the drinking water table that fracking destroys. 

All of these elements combine to create a poster that catches people’s attention with its creepy imagery and then delivers the message that hydraulic fracturing poisons water supplies.

Here is the digital version:




Thesis Blog

The Design Deck: The First Cards

After designing the custom suits, and choosing my typography, it is time to start designing the cards themselves. I think that the back of the cards is the most important feature, as it is repeated 54 times (including jokers) compared to each face, which is only seen once.

I decided to go for a very minimalist aesthetic for the deck, and I want the information to shine through without other distractions. Below is the back of The Design Deck. It has the name, the suits, and two containing lines, and nothing else.

Card Backs-15

I also designed 6 of the card faces, to establish the visual language that will be reflected throughout the deck. You can see below that I used the condensed version of DIN font, with my custom suits. I’ve left lots of white space around the edges, to make the cards simple and to clearly show the information shown on each one.

Card Faces-16



Thesis Blog

The Design Deck: Custom Suits

One of the most important features of any deck of playing cards is the appearance of the suits. I thought about using a set of stock suits from the internet. But after a look around, I wasn’t happy with any of the ones I found. Here are a few of the ones I wasn’t happy with:

I went about designing my own in Adobe Illustrator, using the pen tool to create them from scratch. I then looked at them in different situations, and at different sizes, and tweaked until I got what you see below.


I’m quite happy with them I think they are fairly smooth and well-proportioned. I gave all of the corners just a tiny bit of rounding, so they’ll look good when printed, and are easy on the eyes.



Thesis Blog

The Design Deck: Getting it Printed

Having designed a portion of the cards, the next step is deciding on the best way to get them printed.

After some research, I found a few options. One of them is going through the grand-daddy of playing card manufacturing: Bicycle. They make a very high-quality card, and offer total customizability. The issue with Bicycle is that they require a large volume of decks to be made, or else they won’t do it at all. Since I am going to start out producing The Design Deck on a relatively small scale, I had to cross Bicycle off the list.

There are a few other options that I also decided against, due to inferior quality, or quantity required, including Printer Studio, Card Press, and

Once company was a clear winner in my selection process: They deliver a very high-quality product (according to various reviews), are reasonably priced, have options for different card thickness/quality, and allow me to make a limited run of as few decks as I want. I’m looking forward to seeing what the can produce!



Thesis Blog

The Design Deck: What’s in a Name?

After I came up with the idea to design a deck of graphic design playing cards, I needed to come up with a name.
I think that the name needs to be:

  • Short and memorable
  • Indicative of what the product is
  • Unique: it needs to be easily google-able and different from any other product
  • Fun: a little bit of pizazz or alliteration never hurts

Here is a few of the names that I was playing around with. I found most of them to be just a bit boring.

  • Graphic Design Cards
  • The Graphic Design Teaching Deck
  • Designer’s Deck
  • Graphic Design Education Cards

What I eventually settled on is The Design Deck. I think it short and catchy, and expresses what the product is. The alliteration makes it a bit more fun and memorable, and there is nothing else by that name that exists. What do you think, is it a decent name for a deck of graphic design playing cards?

One issue I’m still wrestling with is a subtitle. It would be good to be able to write “The Design Deck: Something something something”. I’ve been thinking about “Graphic design teaching playing cards”, but that is just darn wordy. Maybe “Design education playing cards?”. But that’s not very fun either. I’ll keep thinking on it.



Thesis Blog

The Design Deck: My Idea

I’ve been wanting to design a physical product for some time now. I’ve designed a number of logos, posters, brochures, and even stamps and washroom signs, but I’ve never created something that I can distribute as an independent product that is usable over the long term.

I came up with the idea of designing a deck of playing cards that teaches the user about graphic design. I’m calling it The Design Deck.

I’m very excited about this idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think it is going to be tremendously fun to design. The is a long history of excellent graphic design in playing cards dating back to the 13th century, and the variety of card designs has blossomed in the past couple of decades. There are so many surfaces to work with on a deck of cards, and they have a wonderful dual use of being game devices, and also conducting information.

I did a little research on the market for cards such as the ones I want to make, and it seems there is a great demand. The most similar product out there is a deck of typography playing cards called Graphos, designed by a talented Canadian woman named Michelle Lam. Her cards, as seen below, conduct relevant information about the basics of typography, and are beautifully designed. These aren’t available for purchase right now, because they apparently sold out within a couple of weeks of their release. This seems like a very positive indicator about how much demand for a product like The Design Deck in the design community.
Here is a link to a bit more information about Graphos cards.


There are many other examples of great, modern playing card design that I am finding inspiration in.
Here is a great minimalist deck by Joe Doucet:

And here is a typographic deck by Cristiano Domingos:

Here is a simple and beautiful deck by Best Made Company:

There is lots of inspiration, and a good precedent for established market demand. And my research has also shown that there is no product that is similar to what I am going to make, which is excellent!




A paper-letter animation about the history of fonts and typography.
291 Paper Letters.
2,454 Photographs.
140 hours of work.
Created by Ben Barrett-Forrest
© Forrest Media – 2013