Tarot Deck/Book Spotlight
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Everyday Witch Tarot and Book
TWPT: Tarot decks are all very interesting these days, quite beautifully illustrated and cover a large variety of subjects but what is the initial impulse in your case that started the ball rolling?
DB: I actually got an email from Barbara Moore at Llewellyn, asking me if I wanted to do the deck! (This hardly ever happens.) I had just done a book called The Witch’s Broom with a cool retro cat/broom/black hat cover, and they’d gotten the idea to do a deck with that sort of theme. I was insanely busy working on both novels and another book for Llewellyn, but how could I say no?
TWPT: You have a series of books with the "everyday" theme so how does you new tarot deck tie in with the concept of your other "everyday" books that you have written so far?
DB: One of the reasons they asked me to come up with the theme for the tarot deck and write the accompanying book was because they liked my general approach, which is both practical and accessible. I know that many modern witches (me included) are busy and torn in many directions, and I try to help them find ways to “walk their talk” as witches and Pagans every day, even if it is only for five minutes at a time. The deck was based on this same concept—I wanted it to be easy to use and understand, and fun, too, even when it was being used for serious matters.
EA: I just wanted to chime in! My husband, Scott, had been in the midst of illustrating a different tarot deck for Llewellyn when I got the offer, so I had an idea of what the work would entail and what I would be in for. I was excited and definitely up for it!
TWPT: When you first started this everyday tarot project did you have at least a framework in mind for how you wanted to the cards to flow?
DB: Since the deck is based on the classic Rider-Waite deck, that part was already predetermined.
TWPT: How did you go about fleshing out the various cards and deciding how your deck would differ from other decks on the market?
EA: It was wonderful to work with Deborah. I've done a lot of work in publishing and it is rare to be able to work one-on-one with the author. Usually the art director or editor handles everything and you never get any communication with the author. So I really appreciated getting to work with her, discuss the cards and imagery, and really collaborate together.
TWPT: How does the process work once you have reached the drawing stage? Do the two of you look at each image as it is being created and talk about changes or tweaks that you want to see made?
EA: All email! Deborah had all of the card information written down for me from the start, so I knew everything I needed to know before beginning. I'm definitely pumped to finally meet Deborah in person though after all this time!
TWPT: Did the two of you ever have different ideas as to how something should be illustrated on a card and what is the process you go through when that happens?
DB: Thankfully, we were usually very much on the same page. Occasionally we had small differences, and then we’d usually email back and forth, and sometimes Elisabeth would do a couple of extra sketches until we’d gotten it figured out.
EA: Yup, we were pretty much in agreement with everything the entire time!
TWPT: Was all of this information in your book in the back of your mind when you first thought about your deck or did it come to the surface as you worked with Elisabeth in designing the cards?
DB: I actually designed the cards myself, on the basic level. That is, I’d send Elisabeth a description of how I envisioned the card to look. Then she’d tweak it. The book and the deck were created at the same time.
TWPT: Was the book designed to be a manual for the deck or a reference book for those aspects of your deck that might need more explanation as people started using it?
DB: The book is definitely a specific guide for this particular deck, card by card, but it also covers some of the basics of doing tarot readings that would work for any deck.
TWPT: Elisabeth, did you have multiple cards in the works during the creation phase or did you work on one card at a time until each one was completed?
EA: There were so many to do that I worked on multiple simultaneously. I worked in suits. I started with Swords, for example, and did all of the sword sketches at once, then sent them all for approval at once, and then worked on all the drawings for them at once, etc.
TWPT: As an artist is drawing for someone else more difficult than drawing what you see in your own mind for yourself?
EA: The most difficult images were the ones with multiple people and cats in them. The tarot card is tall and narrow so trying to fit so much in that space was a challenge sometimes. After reading the descriptions for the 4, 5, and 6 of Wands, I was dreading having to work on them. They actually turned out to be three of my favorites!
DB: And don’t forget the 10 of Pentacles!
TWPT: On a project like this where so much is communicated visually through the illustrations do you feel that you are equal partners in the creation of the deck instead of the feeling that this is Deborah's deck and Elisabeth is "just" the illustrator?
DB: ABSOLUTELY! This was definitely a co-creation. There is no “just” about Elisabeth’s contribution. Without her fabulous art, this would be a completely different deck.
EA: I agree! This is definitely a 50/50 project.
EA: The design team at Llewellyn did a marvelous job with the packaging design so it's very eye-catching! And once people go past the appearance, they will see that it's a fun, happy, new deck with a lot of love put into it.
DB: It’s beautiful, easy to use, and fun! Also, there are lots of cute cats.
TWPT: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about your new tarot deck and what it took to make it come to life. Hoping that this deck marks the beginning of a prosperous 2017 for the two of you.