Tark mees taskus

Graphic design and illustrations for an estonian-language word game

Meelis Looveer is one of the most prolific game designers in Estonia, and in 2013 he invited me to cooperate with him on a card game. We did some preliminary work on the game, he pitched it around and eventually decided to self-publish. In 2014 I worked on the second iteration of the design concept, and the drawings as well.

What is the design concept?

In Estonian folklore there is a story about a good-hearted guy who rescues a cursed sage. In thanks, the sage travels in his pocket for a while, helping him marry a princess and eventually become a king. Meelis liked the association of wisdom + pockets and I looked for ways to visualize it.

The game is boxed in an inexpensive tuck box, because it needed to be cheap. I kept the top and bottom white, so inevitable scuffs would be somewhat less visible. Orange was chosen because it's bright and contrasty enough on shelves.

Box frontBox back

The white border pattern is from the island of Muhu, where my ancestral roots lie. Orange is also common for men's hats and vests there.

Rules cards next to box and deck

The blue background used for the letter side of cards is a complementary colour that worked well with the watercolour texture.

Grid of card backs

Initially I tried to illustrate the Wise Guy as someone who is actually miniscule, but the time constraints forced me to abandon this in favour of clear and evocative art. Also note that illustrations don't have a background because for cost reasons the cards were not printed full-bleed.

Grid of card fronts

International versions

According to Boardgamegeek, Meelis also translated the game into Russian and it was also picked up and released in Germany and Poland. Alas, the German version went with their own wacky aesthetic.

Grid of card fronts


I used the fantastic typefaces Tode ja Oigus by Andres Aarik, and Quiroga Serif Pro by Fernando Díaz.

I want to thank Meelis Looveer for this opportunity, it was a great project to work on. Also huge thanks to everybody who has bought and played the game 😎.