This deck of cards is for the birds—or, at least, about them.

Artist Emmanuel Jose’s latest project, “Clipped Wings,” features a complete set of unique and imaginatively designed playing cards, depicting birds where once there were just kings and queens.

Though not a birder, Jose’s love of birds began at age two, growing up in the Philippines. His parents, he explains, kept myna birds. The birds would say his name every time he walked into the room. More than 25 years later, these are the birds that would provide the inspiration for the “Clipped Wings” deck.

“They were family to me,” he says. “I’ve loved those birds ever since.”

After graduating from Davidson College in North Carolina, Jose worked as a lab technician for a biopharmaceutical company, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he should be making art. He quit his job, and in 2011 he made his first card deck (“Curator”), resigning himself to design a new card every week.

Living in New York, Jose draws and cuts everything by hand. The process can be painstaking, and a single card, two feet tall and roughly 17 inches wide, takes anywhere from one to five days to complete. Jose then uses software to scale them down to the standard dimensions of playing cards.

[gallery:207981|align:left|caption:GALLERY Explore more bird-themed playing cards.] 

Much of artist’s “Clipped Wings” deck comes from his imagination, though many of the cards are inspired by idioms such as “the chicken crossing the road,” or fables like The Crow and the Pitcher. One of Jose’s favorite birds, the secretary bird, can be seen on the four of diamonds. Jose says he appreciates the bird for its height (it can grow to be four feet tall) and its snake-killing abilities.

Jose has shown the “Clipped Wings” originals at several art shows in Raleigh, NC, in addition to a recent show at Bridgewater State University. The cards, Jose says, have been very popular. “People tend to do a lot of double takes.”

The artist is using Kickstarter raise money so that the “Clipped Wings” deck can be manufactured by the U.S. Playing Card Company. 

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