79° San Marcos
The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State duo creates San Marcos-themed playing cards

Creighton+Coyne+%28left%29+and+Luke+Merchant+sell+their+San+Marcos-themed+playing+cards+at+the+San+Marcos+Farmers+Market%2C+Saturday%2C+Aug.+27+2022%2C+on+The+Square.

Creighton Coyne (left) and Luke Merchant sell their San Marcos-themed playing cards at the San Marcos Farmers Market, Saturday, Aug. 27 2022, on The Square.

After a year of late-night phone calls, hours of editing and several photoshoots, Luke Merchant and Creighton Coyne have made it possible for locals to hold San Marcos in the palm of their hands with their new San Marcos-themed playing cards.
Each of the 54 playing cards represents a different local place, animal or symbol. With cards for things like The Square, Summer in the Park and Herbert’s Taco Hut, the San Marcos-themed deck brings together students, locals and visitors alike to share stories and get to know the town on another level.
Merchant, a history senior, got the idea for the deck last summer in June 2021, and he quickly reached out to Coyne, a business and management alumnus who holds San Marcos as close to his heart as he does, to join him in creating the deck.
Originally, they thought the task was going to be much easier than they planned it to be, but after a year of hard work, they released their product to the public on July 24.
“Playing cards are sort of this perfect medium for having a lot of different things on each card. There’s 54 potential little opportunities for having either art or just somebody’s favorite thing,” Merchant said. “I think it’s sort of a way to engage with it too. You know, everybody’s gonna be looking at it, everybody’s gonna be interacting with it, so we thought that to have people’s favorite places and the experiences that they have in a town would be a good way for people to connect over those things.”
Coyne and Merchant met at Wonder World Cave and Adventure Park where they worked together for two years prior to becoming business partners. When Merchant mentioned the card idea to Coyne, they started bouncing ideas back and forth to begin the process of creating the themed deck.
Merchant has lived in San Marcos his whole life and saw the cards as something he had to commemorate to the city itself for all the love and memories that it has given to him.
Although Coyne has only lived in San Marcos since his freshman year at Texas State, he also has fond memories of family visits to San Marcos since his brother and dad also attended Texas State.
Their love for the city made the selection of the 54 spots in San Marcos tough. They didn’t want to exclude popular San Marcos spots but knew they couldn’t include them all. They began their selection by matching cards to places and figuring out what cards would be assigned to certain values and suits.
“I was stressed pretty intensely on what places to have and what places to not have, Merchant said. “We were trying to please everybody because there are so many different people in San Marcos who experienced the town through different lenses, and we wanted to have places that can make the college kid happy where the places that he goes is being represented but also those local spots”
Merchant said he felt an immense obligation to represent certain aspects of San Marcos since he grew up in the city. Pieces of his childhood can be seen in a couple of cards such as the four of hearts card that shows his parents eating at their favorite date spot, Italian Garden, and the three of hearts card which displays a picture of Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, a museum that his grandmother and human rights activist, Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, founded.
Coyne and Merchant paid extreme attention to detail to create each individual card, making sure that each picture was true to its spot. From waiting for a cloudy day to take photos for Wake The Dead Coffee House to adding additional hearts to surround Valentino’s, they made sure every card had a piece of San Marcos within them. Even the outside of the box is creatively designed with a hand of cards of the San Marcos zip code 78666.
“It’s a lot of just like finding that point that can like capture everything. You know what I mean? It’s like you only have one angle one shot to get the whole experience of a place just by looking at it,” Coyne said.
The artwork on the back of the cards was done by San Marcos artist Rene Perez. Perez’s wife was Merchant’s 8th-grade teacher, and one of her favorite students. Still having contact with them both, Merchant reached out to Perez to create artwork for the back of each playing card.
“Yeah, they’ve [Merchant and Coyne] been great. And just watching this whole process with them with the way they’ve been, you know, just working in and talking to people and they’re just they put in so much work into it,” Perez said. “I’m really happy for them and really honored to be part of it.”
Perez’s artwork features many symbols of San Marcos that are pictured near the start of the river. Some symbols that can be found include a rattlesnake for the San Marcos High School Rattlers, a bobcat for Texas State, a mermaid and Ralph the Swimming Pig from the old Aquarena Springs water park.
The San Marcos playing cards can be purchased at the local farmers market held on The Square every Saturday, and are also sold at some local business locations like Jo’s Café, The Wake of The Dead Coffee House and Alvin Ord’s. They are hoping to also extend their sales to the campus bookstore and Wonder World Cave and Adventure Park.
Now that the product has been released, Coyne and Merchant have loved the reaction that they have gotten so far from the playing cards. They have already been successful in completing their goal to create an interactive and engaging product that gets people talking about their memories in San Marcos.
“I love seeing it like whenever someone sees a card and then they just like immediately to start like telling this funny story or something that happened to them,” Coyne said.
For more information on the San Marcos playing cards, visit www.smtxplayingcards.com or @smtxplayingcards on Instagram.

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