For those of us with the guts to create our own damn stories, life is ours for the making.
Fuelled by relentless passion and a rebel heart, we craft bold and beautiful, high-quality playing cards for magicians, mechanics, cardists and connoisseurs.
Armed with a life-long obsession for magic and playing cards with decades devoted to design, we see more than just cards. We see a canvas. We tell our own stories through our art and create what we wish existed to share it with those who love it like us. Like you.
Founded by British designer Lee McKenzie and brought to life by a passionate army of supporters the world over, we strive to break the molds with our art; Hell-bent on our mission to inspire you to carve your own mark on the world with yours.
Hooked at 11 years old, the allure of secret societies, the mysterious world of magic and doing the impossible was irresistible for a young Lee with a curious imagination.
With an affinity for playing cards and being fascinated with the psychology of deception, he spent years practicing sleight-of-hand. From using ugly, poorly-made cards that frayed and split to his first deck of beautiful, incredible-quality "Tally-Ho’s", gifted with the message, "these are what real card magicians use". It was a strangely profound moment he'd never forget. They became iconic, having a huge impact on his card-handling confidence and helping to do what he loved, better.
From then on, whenever he'd see a well designed, high-quality deck, he knew he was in good company. A mark of kinship, they represented an uncommon bond and a shared passion with others like him.
Among other creative pursuits, his passion for art and design flourished in later years. Inspired by the curious, seductive and cinematic worlds of movies, music and photography, Lee devoted decades to honing his professional craft as a graphic and motion designer.
With a love of visual story-telling, Lee was most drawn to making art that both pleased the eye and invoked a feeling or experience; creating visually-striking and attractive work that invited you in to tell it's story.
Convinced there was more to life than following the typical path most people seemed to, a year after meeting his Australian girlfriend in 2007 Lee decided to quit his job and sell whatever he could as they set off to see the world together. With no return in sight, little funds and even less of a plan, the fear of never taking that chance seemed a much scarier way of living.
With a new thirst for adventure and the freedom to try and make his own way with his art, Lee pursued a lofty dream to fuse his life-long passions for graphic design and playing cards. A trial-by-fire journey and a long-shot goal, which unexpectedly led him to a remote freelance career proudly designing what became world-acclaimed playing cards for cutting-edge, online magic-titan, Ellusionist.com.
4 years, 5 decks, 15 countries and countless memories later. From near poverty to paradise and back, living day-to-day for months on a remote Thai island, to boot-strapping and travel-hacking adventures across continents and oceans, never knowing where the next dollar would come from. Lee strived to make ends meet with his art, but still hungered to design his own cards.
Suffering the tragic loss of his Granddad in 2013, his perspective shifted drastically. He decided it was now or never. Lee quit freelancing to devote his every next moment and the last of his resources on designing his own deck, called Empire. Dedicated to his Granddad's memory and thanks to almost 1000 supporters around the world, the Empire playing cards became a humbling Kickstarter success. The risk paid off and Kings & Crooks was born.
More than just a name, Kings & Crooks is a symbol. A mindset born from those who dare to do what makes them feel alive, because sometimes, playing it safe is the riskiest thing we can do.
To the ones who answer when rebellion calls.
The wild cards who won't be tamed and curious adventurers seeking a road less travelled. You bet on yourself and create your own luck. You play by your own rules and live to tell your own stories.
We live to do the incredible with our art, so you can do the impossible with yours.
For those who dare to rattle the cage. Whether you work in the light or play in the shade, it’s time to make your mark.
Welcome to Kings & Crooks.