Janet: Hi Tim! First off, why did you create a Tarot deck?
Tim: To be honest, I didn’t start with the intention of creating a tarot deck. I love symbolism and as I was working on various ideas related to that, I stumbled upon another artist’s attempts at a Tarot. Well, I really didn’t care for what I saw, especially the version of The Moon, and I started thinking, “How would I do that? What would MY version of The Moon look like?” So, I started with that one card, I made a decent enough stab at it, and that was going to be it. When I showed it to several of my friends, the feedback was amazing. So much encouragement and positive feedback really spurred me on to try a few more. At most, I had planned to maybe just do the Major Arcana. By the time I had seven or so finished, I was hooked. This was exactly the kind of symbolism project I was interested in and I was really enjoying the work. The combination of research, learning the tarot systems and then trying to distill it all into a visual medium was a fantastic challenge.
Janet: Is that you as the King of Cups? In addition, I noticed the Scorpio symbol on the bottom left of all the cards. Does this mean you’re a Scorp?
Tim: That is indeed me on the King of Cups, though I’m not a Scorpio. (I’m Pisces)
I wasn’t going to put myself in there, but so many of friends pressured me into it that I couldn’t resist. Why the King of Cups? Well, my wife is the model on the Queen of Cups, so it just seemed fitting that I should make myself King. (And on a more insightful note, I think my description of the card in the text is pretty reflective of my personality.)
As for the Scorpio marking on the cards, that’s more attributed to visual aesthetic than anything else. As part of the background I included a snippet from a chart featuring all of the astrology symbols, and it just so happened that the Scorpio mark “looked right” in that particular space. Though if you look at the bottom right hand corner you will see the Pisces symbol (and a bit of the letter “P”) though it’s a little more obfuscated.
Janet: I suspected the Queen of Cups was your wife because of the dedication in the booklet. A Pisces...well, I was close: a water sign! I find this interesting because when I reviewed the Archeon deck, I mentioned that I felt water signs would "get" this deck most easily. It just has a watery feel to it.
What are your reasons for making Pentacles masculine and Wands feminine?
Tim: This could be an entire essay, but in brief: With Pentacles being associated so closely with money, it just didn’t seem very feminine to me. Especially today, the old stereotype of the woman who spends her man’s money just seems ridiculous. These days money is a powerful corruptor, controlled by corporations, governments, evil CEOs and the like. It’s brutal, savage and forceful the way it changes the world, in essence… masculine.
With Wands, lets just say it… the Wands are all about sex. And it has been argued that because of their shape, they must be masculine, but beyond that, when you look at it closer, Wands are not forceful, brutish or aggressive. They are about comfort, magic, fertility, and passion and when you wrap your head around all of these ideas, you can see that it’s clearly a much more feminine perspective.
Tim: I have four that are really the standouts for me, though if I had to settle on just one, I’d pick the High Priestess. Its just such a positive card and I think she’s beautiful and insightful and just exemplifies the aesthetics I tried to bring to the whole deck. The other cards I really like are:
Death – I just think this is a really classical looking Death, reminds me of Albrecht Durer’s work, and its one of the best-looking cards I think I created for the set. It looks even better in a print size than it does on the actual card.
Emperor – This one has a lot of personal significance. First of all, it’s the 4th card, 4 is my favorite number, and I was born on the 4th of March). It has a raven on it, which is a personal favorite, the Native American is a slight reference to my heritage, and the symbolic bird in a circle is an homage to my father (and me). His favorite comic book when he was a kid was The BlackHawk Squadron, and the squadron members all wore a big logo on their uniform similar to that, while I’m a big comic book fan myself and Hawkman is one of my favorites and he wears a similar logo.
Seven of Swords – One of my favorite Native American Stories is the tale “Raven Steals the Sun and the Moon” so this card is kind of an illustration of that theme.
Janet: What was the most challenging card to create and why?
Tim: The World. I had this idea: I wanted a white tree that extended from the earth to the heavens… and I just couldn’t make it work. In the end, I decided to go in a different direction, and it worked out for the best.
Janet: Can you share a bit about your artistic process?
Tim: My process is kind of a mix of a lot of things: It does start with photography as its base, and then goes through a lot of digital manipulation, using Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter and other software. Basically, I build a sort of collage in Photoshop to get my composition right and then start digitally painting over that base, altering, manipulating and adjusting as I go.
Here’s a brief bit from an old interview I did with Redesign Magazine that might shed a little more light on the development of my style:
My style evolved out of a hatred for most photo manipulation. I swear every time I see another black and white “Goth” girl poorly slapped into some cathedral background image it makes me weep. There is such a limitless potential to what can be done with photo manipulation and so few people get beyond that first step. I have always said that what I try to do is take the Photoshop out of my images. The kind of photo manipulation that you see so commonly on the web has nearly become a cliché and because of that, I think when people see those images they are no longer able to see them as art, but just as a “Photoshopped” image. It’s a case where the process overshadows the message. When you look at a work art, your first reaction should be about the work and what it evokes in you, not about how it was constructed. Because of that, I spend a lot of time working on my images, consciously trying to bring a deeper, richer look to the image that really makes you question whether it is a photo manipulation or not.
(To read the rest of Tim's interview with Redesign Magazine, click here.) Janet: What is the highest compliment someone can pay you? That someone can pay the Archeon Tarot? Tim: I don’t know, I’m kind of modest and compliments always make me uncomfortable, so I’d just be happy if people find enjoyment in whatever purpose they attribute to the Archeon Tarot. No matter if its readings, or just collecting it because they enjoy the art, if in some small way the Archeon Tarot inspires people to just enjoy the moment...nothing could be better than that.
Janet: What's next on your artistic plate?
Tim: There are a few things currently in the early stages of development, but nothing I want to shed light on at the moment. Meanwhile, I’ve just been enjoying refining my techniques while working on single images, a few book covers, and other miscellaneous projects. And of course, there is the companion book for the Archeon Tarot, which needs to be addressed soon…
Janet: You'll be writing a companion book, then? Any idea when it will be completed or published?
Tim: There’s a lot of requests for a companion book, so I’m starting feel like it might be worthwhile… but I haven’t started anything yet, and I’m determined that if/when I do it won’t be anything like typical companion books…
Janet: I really appreciate you taking the time for this interview, Tim. And thanks for creating such a great deck. I received some amazing readings from it and it's re-energized my interest in Tarot. Even my husband gave me an incredible reading with it (and he’s not even a Tarot reader!).
Tim: Glad to hear the deck has been working well for you, I’ve heard from a lot of people that its kind of “scary accurate” and that it really tells it like it is… which I think is great!
(To read Janet's review of the Archeon Tarot and to see 9 card images, click here.)
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