San Francisco Card Deck

Branding, Cards, Design, Illustration, Packaging, Places, Print, Uncategorized

This year, my client gift was a custom deck of playing cards featuring landmarks from San Francisco, a fun personal tribute to the city I love and that so many also love to love.

I am no stranger to designing cards, having created a custom deck of poker cards for a charity poker tournament, as well as two card-based games for Google (Data Center Manager and Launch & Iterate). I love games, and also love designing for them, so deciding on a poker deck as a client gift seemed like the perfect pair.

I started back in the summer, thinking how to organize the face cards. There are a variety of options, such as by neighborhood, or by personalities (techie, hippie, by park, etc. I decided on buildings and landmarks because they had a pretty decent correlation by category for each set of 4 face cards and also had a certain amount of historical and intrinsic value to the people of San Francisco. But, as no option was perfect for capturing every aspect of the city’s culture, heritage and history, some icons didn’t make it, such as Dolores Park, AT&T Park, or the Presidio, to name a few that got cut from the long list.

What I did include were 3 categories of landmarks for each set of face cards.


SF Card Deck KingsKings were represented by famous tall buildings or towers: Sutro, TransAmerica, Coit and the Ferry Building clock tower. I think I chose them as Kings purely based on height.


SF Card Deck QueensQueens were some of the beloved bridges that are either in or connect to San Francisco: Bay Bridge both east and western spans, Golden Gate, and the slightly less famous but delightful bridge in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Perhaps I chose them for queens because they hold some of the real power in the city, as far as connecting us to our neighbors.


SF Card Deck JacksJacks comprised of other famous tourist attractions including the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square, Alcatraz Island, Lombard Street, and the Palace of Fine Arts, which coincidentally happened to celebrate its 100th birthday this year.

SF Card Deck 2Of course, the real character of the cards lies in the Joker, whom I aptly chose our dear Emperor Norton to fill the role of. It seemed all too appropriate. (Don’t know who he is? Check out the wikipedia page).

SF Card Deck 3

The final consideration for the cards was the color palette, which is very limited. These colors are the ones I’ve chosen for my personal branding, but it’s not a huge coincidence that the cadmium red (not quite international orange, but certainly in the spirit) and sea green are in play for this San Francisco-based designer.

SF Card Deck 1

Want a deck of your own? Email me, and I can mail you a pack ($20+shipping). While supplies last.

SF Card Deck 4

Change of Address & Personal Branding Project

Branding, Design, Illustration, New Piece, Print

Anita Branding 2

I worked on a personal branding project for a client who made a move from Seattle to Monterey. I worked up a change of address card showing the move from “the Space Needle to the Cypress Needles” and worked in an illustration of one of my favorite trees here in California, the Monterey Cypress, using a California Craftsman style, with the warm earth tones, art nouveau inspired curves, and outlined shapes. I wanted the overall shape of the tree to parody the shape of the space needle, as I had originally thought a 2 sided mailer would look neat if they lined up, but changed the plan when I decided to make it a postcard instead of a stuffed mailer. The shapes are still similar, but I relaxed the curves of the tree which I think worked out much better in the long run. Print

Knowing my client loves the color cobalt blue, I worked that in to the overall branding, including envelopes, which I think will really pop when compared to other mail. I included a design for a regular natural colored envelope as well, matching the paper used for the letterhead, and printed a blue bordered version of her branding directly on the envelope.

Anita Branding 1