Is solitaire your style, or are you up for a frisky game of strip poker?

Er, that’s not an invitation. But it is one way you can use the awesome new custom illustrated playing cards featuring 52 detailed sketches of unique Bend landmarks.

The playing card created with Aaron’s sketch of Deschutes Brewery.
Aaron Trotter sketches the Deschutes Brewery pub.

You can also skip the games and just enjoy the cards for what they are – one of the coolest collections of Bend art you could ever hope to hold.

Several months ago, Visit Bend solicited the talents of renowned sketch artist, Aaron Trotter. Aaron is well known for his pen-and-ink sketch work, but it’s his playing cards that put him on the map – literally. Aaron has created decks of playing cards for Portland, Astoria, Seattle, Vancouver BC, San Francisco, and Paris.

Bend, however, was Aaron’s first custom deck, and I was lucky enough to follow him around one chilly morning to watch the master at work. The process was fascinating.

Aaron is a stickler for sketching everything on-location – no working from photos. As he stood near the footbridge over Mirror Pond in Bend’s Drake Park, I watched as he used a ballpoint pen to capture the details of the ducks paddling around in frigid water.

Aaron Trotter sketches the footbridge in Drake Park.

Though he normally takes the sketches home to Portland to finish, we found a nearby bench so he could demonstrate the inking process. His tools include his grandfather’s quill pen, a fountain pen his aunt bought in Paris in 1910, and a generous supply of Higgins ink.

On average, he told me each sketch takes 20-30 minutes for drawing, and another hour to hour-and-a-half for inking. Tally up the number of playing cards in a deck, and you know this project was no simple undertaking.

The Mirror Pond scene I mentioned (the eight of diamonds, in case you’re wondering) is one of 52 scenes appearing on the backs of these super cool playing cards. Other landmarks include breweries, mountains, historic buildings, local art, recreation sites, and Mt. Bachelor. The latter appears on the cover of the box, since the Visit Bend team decided that’s one of the most recognizable Bend landmarks of all.

Aaron Trotter inks his sketch of the footbridge in Drake Park.

Want to get your hands on a deck of cards? You can pick them up at the Bend Visitor Center for $20, or online at You’ll also see them at the Portland Saturday Market. Vendors interested in selling the cards can contact Visit Bend directly about wholesale pricing.

If you’re interested in winning a deck, just leave a comment sharing your favorite card game. We’ll draw a winner on Tuesday, April 24.

Happy playing!

 Photography by Craig Zagurski

23 responses to “Visit Bend offers custom illustrated playing cards with 52 sketches of Bend landmarks. Read on to win a set!”

  1. Our favorite family game to play is war. 🙂 If I don’t win, please save me a deck of cards, the next time I come to Bend, I’ll make sure to stop by and buy some!

  2. It’s a deadlocked tie between Texas Hold ‘ Em with increasingly inebriated Hermanos and a differently heated and multi-deck game of Garbage with highly competitive people who appreciate that playing cards can — and should sometimes be a contact sport.

  3. It’s a deadlocked tie between Texas Hold ‘ Em with increasingly inebriated Hermanos and a differently heated and multi-deck game of Garbage with highly competitive people who appreciate that playing cards can — and should — sometimes be a contact sport.

  4. These are so great! I’m really excited to see the whole deck. My favorite card game has to be spades. I recently moved to Bend from Dallas, Texas. Before I headed cross country I played one last hand with my best friend and her husband for old times sake over a couple pitchers of Margaritas. Many fond memories of that night!!

  5. Egyptian Rat Screw! Also known as Slap or Egyptian War or a bunch of other things. The one where you slap and collect related cards.

  6. What a perfect compliment to all of the Deschutes paraphanalia at our cabin. Long nights of Texas Hold Em await!

  7. I’m all in, Texas Hold ‘Em with a bunch of great friends and good local brew. You can’t beat it. I’d even invite Tim…hmmm… wonder if he’d join us. If you are playing with people under the age of 12, a good game of Go Fish will go a long way too.

  8. Gin rummy is my game and would love to play it gazing at these cards. Hope I can keep my mind on the game while looking at the cards!
    Tish Ooi

  9. Dang, yes! I am so in! Although I’m afraid I’m not that experienced with cards…. more of a Egyptian Ratscrew kinda girl…

  10. Gin Rummy…those cards are works of art…I’ll be searching them out on our first visit to Bend next month.

  11. Euchre, Hearts, or Sheepshead. Something that keeps you on your toes and paying attention. Cribbage is good time as well! Hope I win! Looking forward to a trip in July!

  12. Hope I’m not to late to weigh in…Blackjack is always fun. I’ll just have to get a few more sets of cards to make the deck complete!

  13. Drumroll, please…..

    And our winner is Nikki Ogle. Congratulations, Nikki! We’ve sent you an email regarding your victory, but feel free to touch base at tawna at visitbend dot com. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!


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