Cards did not come by way of someone who does art
and decided to make some cards. They came by
way of a boy named Jean LaBelle. Someone who grew up as the
son of an artist, and as a child, became fascinated
with playing cards, card games, and magic. Still, it
would take a lifetime to come to where he is
a realization of, LaBelle Cards.
At the age
of 6, Jean would marvel at both art and the fun card games that
he would watch being played in his house by his
artist father and friends. Jean went on to study
magic and he grew to greatly appreciate the wonders
and magic of the cards. At the age of 12, he put on
magic shows around his town. Jean went on to work with many forms
of art including graphic arts as well as music.
However, throughout Jean's life, he carried a
continuing dream of creating playing card designs of
father, Will, was a dedicated artist who came from a
family heritage of art. He instilled in Jean a
great appreciation of artistic expression. Yet, when
Jean was but 15 years old, his father died.
This was a difficult time for both Jean and his
brother, Andre, as their mother had also passed away
5 years earlier. The following years then
proved to be troubling and difficult.
However, in the
years before Will's passing, Jean had spent many great
times with his father. During one evening, there was
a strange and unexplainable occurrence. Jean
tells the tale... "One day, when I was at the age of
13, my father and I were looking at an old art
painting which had been painted by my grandfather, who had
died before I was born. While we studied the
painting, something strange occurred. The
painting had been removed from a wall in our living
room and taken into the kitchen to see under a
better lighting. My father was speaking much
of my grandfather and of his ways of painting.
When my father and I returned to replace the
painting... there on the wall, precisely where the
painting had been hanging, was an eerie glow of light.
The light was in the exact size and shape of the
painting and it seemed to have a soft and shadowy movement
within it. My father and I both immediately
saw the light and became suddenly startled.
My father, for a brief moment, raised the painting
up to the light to confirm it's similarity in size
and when he removed it. The light was gone.
We were never able to explain how this could have
occurred and to this day it is a mystery."
Will went on to become deeply interested in the
mysteries of afterlife. He often discussed the
thoughts with Jean...
"My father looked
beyond religion alone and into all areas of the
afterlife mystery including mediums, psychics, and fortune
tellers. He realized the many falsities that existed
in each and all of these areas. Amid it all are many questioned truths which
then entwine with
untruths and together create a vague sense
of mystery. Once my father told me that the
only way he will know for sure is when he himself
passes on. He said that when that time comes,
he will do all that he can to let me know of his
existence. At that time, I told my father how
much this was so similar to the famous magician,
Houdini, who in the 1920's had similarly pondered
such questions and also spoke of the same promise to
his wife, Bess.
Less than 2 years later, my father died. For
so many years, I have wondered about his promise...
but, any answers are mysteriously inconclusive... however certain
moments in my life have given me questions and
wonder to it. And to this day the mystery of
it is always on my mind.
As the years passed... I continued to carry with me
my dreams of creating playing card designs. One day,
some years ago, an Aunt of mine gave me an old
drawing tablet which had belonged to my father in
1947. In it I found incredible drawings. I marveled
at them as each artistic stroke seemed to hold an
awesome emotion. It was at this time that
something came to me... I
realized an inspiration to my first card design...
one which would stem from the many mysteries and magic I
have pondered so many years. I would also use one of
the drawings from my father's old sketch book as a
model... for the most magical card in the deck... the
Ace of Spades."
Jean spent many more years
slowly learning the computer graphic skills which
would carry his hand art into a precise and crisp
line art. This first deck design would be named... The
Mystic. "I wanted the art to have a simple beauty
and not be overdone," says Jean. "I also wanted to
pay tribute to the famous cards designs of
generations and therefore follow certain traditions
in style. Additionally, I wanted the images to have
an elegant but simple beauty. But above all, in each
detail and tiny line... even if it is unseen or subtle... there
a little bit of wonder. A wonder that I know,
certainly exists in all our lives." ~*