Design insights & tutorials.

Let me introduce you to 13 Spade

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13 Spade presentation header by Studio Ace of Spade

Hello dear Zine readers! Jon and Simon here.

Today, we’re taking our editor hats off for a minute or two and putting on our independent artist hats instead. We want to tell you guys about a project of ours that means a lot to us: 13 Spade.

What the heck is 13 Spade?

Designed, coded, developed, and curated by Jon Savage and Simon Birky Hartmann of the design firm Studio Ace of Spade, we are working tirelessly to offer the best ecommerce experience around for our customers and our artists. We believe in the power of design and art, and can’t imagine the world without it.

13 Spade was born one chilly November day in 2010 when we noticed that all of the wonderful art around us was made by relatively unknown artists. After talking with some of these artists, the project gained much support. It slowly started snowballing into a project ten times the size we had imagined.

We’re still working ourselves to the bone to feature more artists, and don’t worry – there’s plenty more unique work on the way. If you know of someone who would like their work to be featured here or someone who would like to help fund the project, head to our contact page.

— From the 13 Spade about page

So, in short, it’s an online store. For our stuff (posters, art prints…), but also for other talented artists and designers.

Why is it different from, let’s say, Society 6?

At first, when we decided to start selling some of the posters that we made and got some positive reviews we thought, “Let’s just put them up on Society 6 or Imagekind and they’ll take care of everything for us.”

Then, we saw how much markup these services were adding on top of the base price of a poster and said, “Not a chance. This isn’t fair.” I mean, an 18″x24″ canvas print through these two websites can cost above $100. And we’re not even talking about framed prints. Since we actually want our people to buy the posters without going broke, we decided to not go that route.

We went on the hunt for a printer. After an extensive search, we found the good folks over at Valley Screen Process in our area (Northern Indiana). These guys used to be specialized in RV printing (and more specifically screen printing: it’s the first time I see screens that are that huge), but when the economy tanked in 2009, they decided it was time to diversify the markets they were working in and started to also do giclée printing.

We met with them, they were interested and supportive of our idea (providing quality printing on the tightest budget in order for us to be able to also print the work of other people). We also got a grant from our alma matter to actually fund the printing and decided it was time to get the site up and running.

We want to empower other artists

So the goal is, once more, to get our stuff out there but not just that. We realized that most of the people we know in our community (local and online) do amazing stuff, but no one knows about it. They don’t have either the time or money or knowledge to get their stuff online (or all of these at the same time). So we decided to open the door to them.

The rest of the story

As we were finding the printer and getting our stuff printed, something else happened: Jeff invited us as one of the featured studios/designers at Weapons of Mass Creation Fest this year.

So we decided to do something crazy: to put together 13 Spade and a refreshed web presence for the Studio at the same time and before the Fest. Which gave us 2 weeks to design and code 2 websites. We did it, since and were live at 2:30 AM on Friday, June 10th. The Fest pre-show was the same day, except four hours away in Cleveland.

We then drove from Goshen, IN to Cleveland OH, to WMC Fest and officially declared 13 Spade open that same day.

Cool story bro, but what are you selling?

The people that follow Simon on Flickr, Behance and Dribble probably saw some most of the pieces that we’re selling. Most of them got a quick touch up for some details though.

Whale and Pine

Whale and Pine

Whale and Pine was an online art gallery and art collection curated by Camilo Bajanaro of Ph7labs. Sadly, it is no longer. Anyway.

Last year, Whale and Pine organized a poster contest to bring more artists in. The contest theme was pretty loose.

This poster was our second submission. Our goal was to embody the Whale and Pine brand as much as possible, while still putting our stamp on it.

— From the Whale and Pine page on 13 Spade

God is Awake

God is Awake

The God is Awake print is an homage.

God is Awake is a musical project from Goshen, IN whose members are friends. Ben, the singer/composer/guitare player of Wilson’s Reservoir and Grant, the engineer/producer behind Electric Angel Studios, teamed up to create this post rock and experimental band.

When they completed their Voire Dire EP, they granted us the privilege to listen to it before anyone else (you can listen to the track An Adder is Hatched, extracted from the said EP, on their facebook page).

Since we were really thankful for this and amazed by the result, we created this little poster as a thank you to them.

— From the God is Awake page on 13 Spade

The right to arm bears

The right to arm bears

The United States of America’s Constitution has 27 amendments. The first 10 of these, the Bill of Rights, include a controversial amendment dubbed the 2nd amendment.

The text of this amendment is as follows:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

— From Wikipedia’s Second Amendment page

This amendment has been the source of many controversies over the years, as some US citizens see any gun control law as an attempt by their government to limit their individual freedoms, enunciated in the Bill of Rights.

Artists and comedians already explored the subject, such as Obey Giant (Shepard Fairey) with his 2nd Amendment Solutions print.

One day at the Studio, someone made that wordplay (I support the right to arm bears!) and we couldn’t help it but start to sketch the thing. Then, as 13 Spade’s grand opening came closer, we decided to go ahead and finish this poster as a special treat for the opening. And I wanted to draw a bear too.

So we looked for an angry bear, drew a lot and here we are!

— From the Right to arm bears page on 13 Spade

Get shit done

Get shit done

Oh boy, this is a delicate one, because some people might get offended (like we care in the first place).

I mean, we all remember these (lame?) motivational from the 80s and 90s that were done with bad stock photography and/or bad illustration and messages, right?

When we moved into the Bricolage in Goshen, IN, we knew the people in this shared workspace were mostly entrepreneurs and small business owners. Think about it as a concentration of like minded people. We also discovered these people to be highly motivated and not afraid by the number of hours you need to put in in order to get or keep their businesses going. Hence the (un)official motto of the place: get shit done.

At first, we did that kind of a joke and as a warm up one day. Then we did a second version, but we felt we were going away from the bold simplicity of the first one.

So here it is, the “new” version of the ultimate motivational poster. Hang it above your desk and go back to work.

Ah also, if you’re offended by that poster, well, we’re deeply sorry for you. Accept our condolences. A cure of George Carlin might help though.

— From the Get shit done product page on 13 Spade



Broadcasting is an 9″x12″ poster done for Signalnoise’s Retro Poster Competition. We chose to go back in time and advertise for what must have been the cutting edge radio station at that point.

This poster and the Air Traveling one were done for a specific occasion: a contest.

Not any contest. It was the Signalnoise Retro Poster Competition.

Since the number of entries was unlimited, we just ended up doing a triptych. We started with Broadcasting, followed by Air Traveling and finishing with Music Collecting.

We realized afterward that the size of the contest entries wasn’t matching the ones we selected for 13 Spade, so we recreated them from scratch (keeping your resources folder of a previous project helps tremendously in that case).

— From the Broadcasting product page on 13 Spade

Air traveling

Air traveling

Air Traveling is an 9″x12″ poster done for Signalnoise’s Retro Poster Competition. We chose to go back in time and advertise for what must have been the cutting edge means of air transportation at that point.

This poster and the Broadcasting one were done for a specific occasion: a contest.

Not any contest. It was the Signalnoise Retro Poster Competition.

Since the number of entries was unlimited, we just ended up doing a triptych. We started with Broadcasting, followed by Air Traveling and finishing with Music Collecting.

We realized afterward that the size of the contest entries wasn’t matching the ones we selected for 13 Spade, so we recreated them from scratch (keeping your resources folder of a previous project helps tremendously in that case).

— From the Air traveling product page on 13 Spade

That was the complete collection of our work on the site.

We also feature some breathtaking photographs from an Ethiopian friend we met through college, Abi Tsigie.

Mother by Abi Tsigie

Jegol Girls by Abi Tsigie

My General by Abi Tsigie

Kristen Szappanos is also a close friend of ours, and she takes beautiful pictures as well.

Then, we also have some hand-made jewelry. The ones that saw us at WMC Fest know what it is, for the others, take a look:

13 Spade - Hand-made earrings

13 Spade - Hand-made earrings

13 Spade - Hand-made earrings

13 Spade - Hand-made earrings

These earrings demonstrate that everyday life objects can be transformed into something absolutely beautiful. Every pair is hand-made with surgical steel clasps to avoid any allergy problems. Multiple brands available.

More info is available on the earring page of the shop.

The fun part: a giveaway

Now, all of this is pretty sweet and nice, but since you took some of your time to read all of this, we wanted to thank you guys by throwing a little giveaway together. The winner will get the print of his/her choice.

Just comment below to be entered. We’ll choose someone randomly on Tuesday, July 26th and announce the winner here.

Now what?

Well, there’s one thing you could do for us. If you like the project and the concept behind it, please talk about it. Share it on facebook, tweet about it, email your friends… And obviously, buy stuff :-) Because this is our first print run, the big posters are printed on canvas. There are 10 of each that were printed. The next run is unlikely to be printed on canvas again. Which makes them a very limited edition.

Also, we’ve been inviting other artists and designers to be guests on the store. We can already tell you that the next invited artist will be [REDACTED]! We’re pretty pumped about that, as you can guess.

13 Spade - Next featured artist teaser

You can find 13 Spade on its dedicated website and on Facebook. We’re likely to mention stuff about it on the Studio‘s twitter handle too. We hope you’re as excited about the project as we are, and we’d love to keep the discussion going. Just give us a shout.

About the Author, Simon H.

Hello. My name is Simon. I'm half of the team at Studio Ace of Spade. But, I'm so much more than that. I'm also a photographer, illustrator, web designer, blogger, husband...I could go on. I communicate through creativity of any kind. We should talk.
Discover More by Simon H.


We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • Maarten Kleyne

    Great read (it was a long one) and insight in what I must say is an incredible concept. Keep rocking it guys and I’m sure it’ll be a huge succes (if it isn’t already).

    • Simon H.

      Thanks for the kind words sir ;-)

  • Ashley McFarland

    I want to win! :) 

  • Anonymous

    Wal-Mart is selling a similar shirt to your Right to Arm Bears.

    • Simon H.

      Damn’, would you have an image to share?

      • Anonymous

        I don’t at the moment. I don’t know if you can find it on their web site or not.

      • Anonymous

        I wish I had my phone last night to take a picture of the shirt.
        What it is, is a bear standing upright holding a gun (shotgun or rifle) with the saying underneath it.

  • Adam Merkison

    Pretty cool little project.

    • Simon H.

      Thanks Adam!

  • Alimayo Arango

    I’m here from  Maartens Kleyne post off of google plus. Interesting stuff. I will be watch you guys.

    • Simon H.

      Thanks Alimayo!

  • Anonymous

    This is a pretty impressive project, incredible in fact. Some might say it’s ridiculously ambitious as there are so many great artists out there, I hope that i will be successful, it’s something that can definitely benefit the design community.
    BTW, a tutorial on some of the texturing above would be great. ;)

    • Simon H.

      Well I guess there’s a pretty good consensus about that texturing tutorial…

  • John Cole

    Cool project…best of luck!

  • thierry de nardin

    Wow! Nice work! It would be great if I could win one one these. Thank you, and good luck to everybody:)

  • Alexander Singleton

    Very cool, definitely going to check you guys out!

  • Maurício Thomsen

    Amazing project and GREAT designs!
    Let us apply too!!

  • Anonymous

    I need that whale and pine print!

  • Brandon Philbrick

    I’d love the Broadcasting poster. I’m gonna try to submit something to this. I love posters above all other print media. All hail the mighty Poster!

    • Simon H.

      We love ‘em submissions.

  •ûx-Môrz/1143384794 Flûx Môrz

    I stumbled upon the 13 Spade Facebook page by accident today whilst looking for something else (I don’t even remember what that was now, haha), but didn’t pay attention, now I’m quite interested! I’m loving the Air Travel poster!

  • Simon H.

    Woaw, thanks for the support and kind words people. Remember to share the post on twitter, like it for facebook… The more the merrier.

    And it’s true that submissions are open at 13 Spade, just give us a shout!

  • Trey Crim

    I recently came across your site through flickr and find the work you guys do to be great. I am actually hoping to submit a few ideas of my own your way in the not too distant future.

    • Simon H.

      Go for it!

  • Jen K

    I can’t wait to see how 13 Spades grows & I look forward to purchasing some prints!

  • Dusty Rhodes

    I just wanted to share my appreciation for your hard work and efforts for such a great concept. As an artist/creative I get very discouraged about my art, mostly because I don’t know the best way to share it. I personally appreciate your ingenuity and gusto involved to make it happen.

    • Simon H.

      Thanks Dusty!

  • Fabe Rnhrt

    digging the get shit done poster

    • Simon H.


  • Simeon Hendrix

    Yep, ya’ll do great work.  Would love to get a print of my choice!!

  • Eric Hilse

    Digging these posters! 

    • Simon H.

      Thanks Eric.

  • Elle White

    It does my heart good to see stuff like this coming from my home town. I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads!

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  • Yasmin Syauki

    I like air traveling poster