Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Creating a Tarot Deck--Getting Started

I need to stop verbally wanking it and actually put something of substance in this blog--if I'm going to be all serious n' stuff. Until that day comes, you're going to have to hear about my road to Tarot Deck Creation....

Creative processes are frequently likened to birthing a child. Jorge and I call Tarot of the Boroughs our "Elephant Baby" being as it's been in creative utero for over two years. Almost three, in fact, if you count the span of time I spent kicking the idea around in my head.

I don't remember when I had the "Wouldn't it be great if I made a fucking Tarot deck?" thoughts began. Probably when I was doing a lot of readings for individuals and parties in New York--just before the crash came and my corporate party jobs vanished. People often like to know what specific cards mean and I would try to find contemporary correlations.

"See this guy?" I'd say, holding up the King of Coins. "This dude sitting on a throne surrounded by coins and fruit and stuff--that's your boss." I started seeing the Coin Court cards as CEOS and office workers, the Wands' Court as artists. Cup characters seemed pretty obvious--they were all of us falling in and out of love. I hadn't a clue where to start with the Swords.

I'm going to tell you one secret of the Creative Universe: It's not about you--it's about the project. Art is the vehicle for the Divine to speak through us, and It will shout out Its message to whoever can hear it. So if you have an idea for a book, a painting, an installation, a performance piece--whatever project is lurking around in your mind, I guarantee you that 700 other people out there are thinking up the same thing. The Gods will shout out what They want to see in the world, and will come by to help along anyone who is planning on getting it out there. I'd had this happen with several of my 10,000 failed attempts at writing novels and screenplays. If the Urban Tarot deck was in my consciousness, it was surely in the consciousness of others, too.

(Brace yourself for cliche....)

When I was in traveling in Ireland, where lots of good inspiration comes from (see? cliche....), I turned to a friend and asked if she felt like working on a Tarot deck with me. It seemed like it was a good time to go ahead and do it. She agreed! This was good. My friend was a very talented visual artist and I can't draw worth shit. But I had good ideas and I could run around taking pictures of the things I wanted drawn and could send them to her. She would draw the cards and I would find someone who would publish us. Hooray! We'd make a million dollars in no time.

When I returned to New York, I got started right away. Except for one problem: I didn't own a camera.

This was when I wrangled Jorge on board. We'd been friends in the Artstar scene of New York for awhile, and he'd attended a few rituals and meditations that my old Coven led. He was also interested in learning to read Tarot. Seeing as he had a camera and was quite photogenic, I asked if he'd be willing to lend me a point and shoot, and if he wanted to pose for me as "The Fool," which we later re-named, "The Seeker."

Jorge did not own a dinky point and shoot camera, but a super-nice camera with a strap and a big lens. Although he would have been nice enough to lend me the camera, I know my clumsy limits. Plus, he was curious about the project and offered to take all of the pictures.

Check out this G-Crack exchange! This is where it ALLLLLLL began, folks.....

4:09 PM George: hey. no I am actually non busy actually

me: Cool!
I was wondering two things....
one, if you had a digital camera I could borrow (not one of your really nice ones, something simple) and two, would you be willing to pose in a photo for me?
Clothed. I won't make you get nude with the weather this cold. :)

4:13 PM George: lol, Well I actually only have one camera. I could maybe take the pictures for you. Oh and sure I pose for you.

me: Cool!!!! I couldn't pay you, though....I'll buy you beer!

4:14 PM George: Sure I'll do it for some beer.

me: My friend and I are working on designing a tarot deck. She is drawing the cards from photos of real people. I would love for you to be The Fool (that's a good thing--not a bad thing.) The Fool is the first card in the tarot. He's young and optimistic and starting a journey. He's only called The Fool because he has yet to attain knowledge--not because he's foolish or a dumbass. You look young and have a natural optimism that shines through. I would love to photograph you in a train station with a large backpack--as though you were coming to NY for the first time.

4:18 PM George: alright, well that sounds like me, I still have a lot to learn. I have a plain black backpack about medium sized. Train station, maybe one of the above ground stations? Or were you thinking of a more Grand Central cross roads.

me: Grand Central, yes
Some photos of you in the center of the terminal, and some getting off a train.
To see which one works better.

4:20 PM George: alright thats sounds like a good idea. For the getting off the train perhaps above ground station, more light is what I am thinking. Oh and let me know about any other photos you need taken for the rest of the project. At the moment still waiting to see if I get rehired, not sure if the people in my department will still be there.

4:23 PM me: are AWESOME...

4:24 PM There are 78 cards in total, but we're only concentrating on 4-5 at the moment. We already have photos for two, so we'll need to work on pulling a couple more before the New Year.

4:25 PM What are your plans for Sunday?

4:26 PM George: Sunday is open for me all day. Alright, sounds like you guys are working on a cool project.

There were many days when Jorge deeply regretted this decision.

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