It is hard to believe that two months have passed since Dear Universe Tarot has been completed and that it started well over a year ago. The idea of creating a tarot deck was a passion project I had considered creating later down the road in life, but became more and more realistic as a few of my friends had brought it up as an idea for my senior thesis. I had just finished my junior year and was beginning to think about what themes and medias I wanted to explore as my final thesis work. At the time, I had a fairly strong tarot practice where I would read for myself, a few friends, and in my spare time read about the history of tarot. My tarot practice opened many paths that lead me to redefine what spirituality means to me, introduce me to other practices within Paganism, Wiccan, Shamanism and later on spark interest in studying other practices such as palmistry, and tea reading.
As the summer of 2016 passed, tarot cards, their history, and this power through ritual started to kept coming back to me. My studies and conversations with other tarot readers brought me to a common saying that the ultimate way of connecting with a tarot deck was to create your own. So, my spare time became filled with studying, sketching, and designing a tarot deck that meant something to me. Of course being the over achiever that I am I couldn't just leave it at a drawn tarot deck. I decided to take it a step further and not only sketch the cards but silkscreen them as well.
The funny start of Dear Universe was that it was intended to be a realistic deck. After a trip to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine I was absolutely inspired by the art of Andrew Wyeth; especially when I came across a replica of his piece Witching Hour. It captured a mystical feeling I fell in love with, but after about a month of roadblocks and uninspired sketches it lead me back to my roots in abstraction where I drew inspiration from Keith Haring, Sister Corita Kent, and the Bauhaus movement.
Dear Universe Tarot was first born as a hand drawn deck using micron pens and prisma color makers. During this stage of creation I knew I wanted to create imagery that was unassuming in nature and allowing for anybody to come to the deck and feel welcome, and comfortable seeking guidance. As in most of my works the themes of acceptance, sexuality, mortality, history, and identity made their own special appearances in some of the cards.
I found myself creating certain cards with ease, such as 20 Gate or the Four of Lines, feeling a direct and personal connection where as others I relied on my knowledge of past tarot decks.
Once the sketch work and the themes had been fleshed out it was all down hill from there. Most of my final year was spent creating digital negatives that would become the main for the silk-screening process and spending long nights at the North Adams Makers' Mill printing with my good friend and gracious assistant Rebecca McBrien.
I found beauty in the repetition silk-screening, as I had done with my letterpress practice throughout the four years of my undergraduate career, and quickly realized the connections of my spiritual practices and my artist practice. By the end of the project I had an edition of 44 tarot decks (78 cards per deck or 3,432 card) that were displayed as a part of a group thesis show Insight at Gallery 51 in North Adams, Massachusetts May 2017.
The name itself comes from a saying that I tend to use in rough times or when I am really hoping for something to happen in my favor. I say, "Throw it out there to the Universe." give it over to the powers that be and send the problem or hope with well wishes. There was a lot of throwing it out there to the Universe with this project and I started to think of my hopes as letters to the Universe and the project became Dear Universe Tarot.
Creating my own tarot deck was an important experience for me in what it meant to be a practicing artist. It taught me not all projects will go as planned, it is important to have backup plans and emergency plans to those backups, knowing when you need to step away for the day, and the magical feelings of knowing you accomplished what felt impossible.
For more information and images of Dear Universe click here.
If you are interested in purchasing a deck they are for sale through my Etsy