Sarah Ferone's Cocktail Hour Playing Cards

Supporting our community is a personal mission, and we think many of you feel it too. By cheering on our peers, it links us to the people that are doing the scary (and exciting) things and lets us feel a small part of their story and victory. It makes us want to do those things ourselves. Those moments - vicarious or our own, are magic. I'm thrilled to cheer on Sarah Ferone today, who just launched a Kickstarter campaign for her beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully designed playing cards. When she shared her day as an illustrator for our #ArtistTakeoverCOTFA series on Instagram, it was fascinating to get a sneak peek into the design development process for this project.

Sarah is a friend and I hope this project gets funded! If this project and Sarah's story resonate with you, feel free to share this and help spread the word. Whatever happens, congratulations on a huge accomplishment, Sarah. This is phenomenal.


Tell us about this project! How did it evolve from the inkling of an idea to now a Kickstarter campaign?

Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Ferone and I’m an illustrator based in Philly. I’ve been working on a new project that launched May 18th on Kickstarter for my custom illustrated playing cards. They’re called Cocktail Hour and offer a playful twist on the classic deck. There’s a charming set of unique characters on the court cards, with each one representing a different classic cocktail. It was important to me to also bring my style to the cards, break down that vector look and use hand drawn brushwork and textures to breath a little warmth into them!

The idea for doing anything on Kickstarter definitely did not happen overnight. Years ago, I was helping a good friend with her own Kickstarter campaign for a documentary film called Living Quechua. She asked me if I was interested in launching one some day. At the time, my mind went blank, having no clue what I could even do. It felt huge and daunting. But the idea was planted and it was just waiting for the right time to wake up.


What did the process look like to research and figure out how to do this? What type of challenges did you face? What have you learned through this experience?

Kickstarter and sites like it have been around for a few years, so now there are tons of resources out there to help you create a project – from helping tell your story, to creating a video, to promoting your project – it’s a well-trodden path.

Beyond the campaign, there were all the big questions to figure out, like printing and shipping. Honestly, researching this project felt like going down a rabbit hole. It was exciting to learn about the top playing card manufacturers, the history of card design, what makes for functional design, and the most important – how to avoid design flaws that help cheaters. :)


Taking on a project of this scale has definitely pushed me to be more patient. In the world of editorial illustration, deadlines are tight and your work is usually published within a couple months. This is a marathon. I began this project back in September, and I’m estimating for it to arrive in December or early January.

But even taking a step back. I’m the most happy when quietly working away in my home studio tucked away from the world. I’ve had my nose in the details for so long, that I’ll get these flashes of panic about putting myself into the public eye and thinking silly things like  – What if they hate the project? What if this campaign fails? What if I’ve overlooked some key budget line item? What if the cards are thrown off the ship on route to the fulfillment center and sink to the bottom of the Pacific? Stupid, I know. When I was younger, this kind of stuff crippled me. Now I try to nip those thoughts in the bud because I should be confident with all the planning and preparation that I’ve done!


Why playing cards? Why is this project so important to you?

A goal that I constantly work towards as an illustrator is being intentional about what I choose to put out into the world, either as a product that I would use or enjoy, or a story I feel strongly about. And that’s the place where these playing cards were born from.

Plus, playing cards has been a family tradition for generations! We play a version of rummy whenever we get together. My grandma taught my mom and aunt. They taught my sister, cousin and I. And now my nieces are learning the game. I just have so many good memories playing cards that it feels really close to my heart.


What do you hope to accomplish with this project? What are the goals for touching the lives of the people who will help fund and purchase this beautiful collection?

I love the idea that these cards could bring people together, especially these days when being glued to a screen is the norm. I hope these cards inspire a future game night, and even an appreciation for a beautiful art object you can hold in your hands.

But I really can’t wait to bring these home to use during our rummy games!


Just for fun, can you recommend a card game and associated cocktail pairing? :) Also, what's your favorite card game? I personally love a particular version of Canasta our family plays.

Well, I love rummy, of course! And we tend to drink margaritas during our game, so from experience I can tell you that pairs quite well. :)


What are some of your favorite places to get a cocktail in Philly?

Philadelphia has some great places to get cocktails! A favorite for the classics is the Olde Bar (in – where other than – Old City) with its rich interior that pays homage to its historical roots as a cocktail and oyster bar (though I don’t eat them). And my new favorite place to go would be Martha, a new one in my neighborhood of Fishtown. They have some fresh and inventive cocktail offerings, and a few cocktails on tap which is fun. Plus, they have a fireplace going in the winter, and that just pretty much puts the cherry on top.


Keep in touch with Sarah and her amazing project here:

All photos courtesy of Sarah Ferone