Christopher has graciously offered one commenter the chance to win a copy of Adam McClean’s ltd edition Major Arcana of the Son Tarot. To win, leave a comment or question for Christopher. And if you mention this contest on your own blog, you will get a 2nd entry. Just leave the link in a comment so I know you did this. And congratulations to the winner of the Kay Stopforth Quantum Tarot reading from last week. Garnet, you are the lucky winner!
Please note that the images in this post are not exclusively from the Quantum Tarot. In order of appearance, 8 of Cups (Quantum Tarot), The World (unnamed deck), Fool (unnamed deck), Queen of Swords (unnamed deck), Bountiful (The Son Tarot) and The Mystic (The Son Tarot). I think you will agree that Christopher is a fabulous artist.
As an artist and illustrator I get to work on a wide variety of assignments. Some are fun, some are wonderful and others can be a downright drudge. Once in a while however, projects come along that you know instantly you have to work on them. The Quantum Tarot was one such project.
I first met Kay Stopforth at a meeting of Tarot enthusiasts from the Aeclectic Tarot Forum. I’d had a passion for tarot since the 1980’s but I’d only recently become involved in communicating my interest with others online. I’d certainly never met up with other tarot enthusiasts. I didn’t know what to expect but the first person I met was Kay – a striking, flame haired woman with a gentle elegance that complements her fiery creativity and sharp intellect. We had much in common. By this stage I had already created one tarot deck and I was working on my second. Kay had created the Universe Cards and the accompanying book, already published by Thorsons Element.
The afternoon was a great success. I still maintain regular contact with many of the people I met that day and the meetings continued on a regular basis. It was at our second meeting that Kay tentatively approached me with a new project she had in mind. She wanted to take the concepts of astronomy and quantum physics and fashion them into a tarot deck, using Hubble Space Telescope images as the primary source material. Using these spectacular photos as a point of departure, the idea was to create space themed fantasy art around basic tarot archetypes. Each card would draw parallels with scientific theory or the ancient myths behind the planets and the constellations. She really needn’t have asked whether or not I was interested. I knew I had to give this one a go.
Artistic collaborations can be incredibly difficult and often fail due to conflicts of interest or a clash of egos. I had pulled out of a collaborative project myself when it became obvious my partner had hidden agendas and was using my efforts for their own gain. Likewise, Kay had similar reservations so we arranged a preliminary work session to establish whether or not we could work together. We also needed to know whether the project itself was a viable concept.
We agreed that if our day’s trial collaboration wasn’t a success we could part with no hard feelings. In the event, we just gelled within five minutes and achieved a huge amount during that first meeting. We finalised the first versions of two Major Arcana – The Fool and Death. Kay set to work on developing her ideas further and soon after we began working together for either two or three days a week. I created the artwork on the computer under Kay’s direction and we completed the first draft of the deck over a three month period.
Despite our compatibility as work partners, neither of us would say this was an easy process. There were days when we both felt so drained by the end of the afternoon we didn’t even want to speak that much. Some afternoons were hilarious, particularly when we would get into a row over artistic differences of opinion. I can be notoriously stubborn and likewise, Kay doesn’t give in until the image on screen fits exactly to her ideas. We coined the term “Quantum Git” for each other accordingly.
What I learned from this whole process is that a genuine and successful partnership doesn’t hinge on there being no conflict; rather it depends on an ability to flow through conflict arising from the creative process. Working with Kay on the Quantum Tarot has been such a process.
One of the reasons why this project was so compelling was the sheer beauty of our source material, images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Quantum Cards used various Hubble photographs for their foundations. We then layered and collaged other images into them via Photoshop, adding a variety of special effects along the way. In some ways it seems almost sacrilegious to tamper with images that are already so breathtaking and fantastic. Some may disagree with me on this but the bulk of the fun came from introducing elements of earthy fantasy and folklore into such otherworldly scenes. The Moon is a personal favourite in this respect. Our starting point was a glorious photo of the Eagle Nebula yet the completed image with its lunar orb and gently undulating ocean waters inhabits the world of dreams as well as the world of science.
The saddest thing about creating the images was the moment when the deck reached completion. This may seem strange but for my part, the whole process was a voyage of discovery and each card brought its own special revelations. Kay’s concept is so original, I knew each completed image would say something unique to supplement our traditional conceptions of the cards. The standout card for me was the Eight of Cups. Much of the iconography we employed is pure Pamela Coleman Smith but when we completed the card, I remember standing back from the screen and thinking, “I never dreamed the Eight of Cups could look like that.”
On a more general level, how could I say no to such a project? After all, working with Kay gave me the excuse to work on yet another deck. The difference between then and now is I know I no longer need an excuse. Since completing the Quantum Tarot, I’ve done two further decks and a Lenormand oracle. I’m halfway through a set of rune cards and I’ve just begun work on my sixth tarot deck, although I don’t have a title for this one as yet. The Tarot is an age old system and I’m beginning to realise that it’s power to inspire me is almost limitless.
Don’t forget! Christopher has graciously offered one commenter the chance to win a copy of Adam McClean’s ltd edition Major Arcana of the Son Tarot. To win, leave a comment or question for Christopher. And if you mention this contest on your own blog, you will get a 2nd entry. Just leave the link in a comment so I know you did this.