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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Art of Play reintroduces Bruce Lee Playing Cards

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee Playing Cards

San Diego playing card/puzzles/games supplier Art of Play is just out with its new Bruce Lee Playing Cards commemorative deck, featuring 52 quotes from the immortal martial artist, actor and philosopher.

A Bruce Lee Family Store exclusive, the deck is printed by the U.S. Playing Card Company on their trademark crushed stock. Each of the cards has a quote honoring Lee’s philosophical teachings, and is backed by the black-and-yellow Chinese dragon design inspired by Lee’s track suit. One of his most famous quotes, “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own,” adorns the back of the satin-finish tuck box package, which is printed inside and out.

The new Lee cards set is actually the second issued by Art of Play, which teamed up with Bruce Lee Enterprises in 2013 to produce an initial set that quickly sold out. This second edition has been updated with new quotes and a new box design.

“We were driving through Los Angeles six years ago and noticed Bruce Lee Enterprises’ offices,” says Dan Buck, who co-founded Art of Play with twin brother Dave in 2013—though it originally focused on card magic and other magical amusements for the home, along with the art of cardistry, or card flourishing.

“We went in one day and [Lee’s daughter and head of Bruce Lee Enterprises] Shannon was sitting there, and we showed her cardistry and gave her our story, and she was fascinated with the idea of a Bruce Lee deck with his quotes. The rest of her team thought it was cool, and we put something together fairly quickly to pitch to them and came out with it in time for Bruce’s 73rd birthday [he was born November 27, 1940] and it sold out pretty fast. We’ve been wanting to print out another edition ever since, and this year we had the time.”

Lee, of course, is “a cultural icon,” affirms Buck.

“Everyone knows the Bruce Lee name,” he says, “and being in the business of cards and collaborating with unique brands and artists, it seemed like an opportunity to leverage it to a market catering beyond our niche: We come from the magic world and a huge part of the business is magicians and playing cards, and at the time we were stuck in the niche of the magic world and wanted to break out to a more mainstream audience. Now we’re in a huge market beyond just magicians.”

As luck if not magic would have it, Bruce Lee Enterprises had exactly 52 different Lee quotes already chosen, “so it’s like it was meant to be,” said Buck of including the quotes on the cards. He noted that Bruce Lee Enterprises receives a royalty from card sales, which goes to the nonprofit Bruce Lee Foundation in funding numerous educational and social initiatives corresponding to Lee’s focus on self-expression and improvement.

Art for Play, meanwhile, donates one percent of its revenues to furthering global reforestation.

Bruce Lee Playing Cards cardistry



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