Deck of Oaks

Deck of Oaks large

by Emma Powell

“I wanted to do something that was locally organized and gave back to the community,” says Raleigh graphic designer Ladye Jane Vickers. The result is the Deck of Oaks, a set of playing cards created to raise money for three local nonprofit organizations.

Each card features the work of a different Raleigh artist, including Bob Rankin, Sarah Powers, Pete Sack, and Shaun Richards. Each artist either selected or was assigned a particular playing card to design, then created and donated the work. They used all kinds of techniques: spray paint, pen and ink, pastels, photography, typography, and collage.

The cards are true to both Raleigh and the artists who created them. Matt Tomasulo’s six of diamonds, for instance, showcases his popular Walk Raleigh signs.  A monkey merged with the Raleigh skyline is graphic designer Shane Smith’s four of clubs. Mixed media artist Megan Sullivan’s 10 of hearts features an acorn surrounded by 10 hearts.

“I told everyone they could do whatever they wanted,” says Vickers, 36, who shares her unique name with several female relatives. The former curator of the City of Raleigh Museum, she has traveled the world with her job at Broadreach, a Raleigh-based educational program, and with a Kenya-based nongovernmental organization. She tapped into her network of friends and associates here to get the cards launched because she says she wanted to do something for her own community.

She put up her own money and asked Busy Bee Cafe and Trophy Brewing Co. to join her. Together they paid to print the decks, which sell for $15. Every penny goes to one of three local charities, chosen by the buyer: Second Chance Pet Adoptions, where Vickers adopted her own cat; Helping Hand Mission, a nonreligious agency that fights poverty; or Toxic Free NC, which fights pesticide pollution in North Carolina.

Vickers says she was “shocked” that she was able to raise more than $3,000 in the first day selling the decks at the Boylan Heights Art Walk in December. They are now available at Tasty Beverage Co. on West Davie Street and at Oak City Cycling on Franklin Street, which Vickers credits for helping her sell through her first print run of 300 decks.

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