Card Decks Portfolio

Bright Idea Deck

Mark McElroy
Written by Mark McElroy

Generate infinite ideas with this 78-card brainstorming deck.

Project Info
Contribution: Concept, Script
Year: 2005
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications

Need an idea? Draw a card.

That was the premise of The Bright Idea Deck, a pack of 78 cards featuring evocative keywords and symbolic illustrations. By relating the words and pictures the cards to the questions on their minds, users could generate long lists of insights, options, and solutions.

Corporate scenes featuring a multicultural cast of characters and a distinctly 80’s vibe made the deck fun to use, and it found a small cult following among corporate trainers and psychologists.

This was my first time to conceive and script a card deck. In the process, I learned a lot about collaboration. As I completed detailed descriptions for each card, the editor would email them to Eric Hotz, a Canadian artist I’ve never met. Eric would reply with sketches, which I’d have an opportunity to provide feedback on before Eric completed the final art.

The project also taught me a great deal about the publishing industry, including an eyebrow-raising discovery: authors get paid (a lot!) less than graphic artists for work like this because, as my editor admitted, “Writers will work for a lot less than artists will.” As a result, I think more holistically about projects, contracts, and details than I did earlier in my career.

Out of print, but still has an enthusiastic following, so copies continue to surface on The cards are packaged with a companion book: Creative Brainstorming with the Bright Idea Deck.

About the author

Mark McElroy

Mark McElroy

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