Interview: Patrick Valenza


Please help us welcome Patrick Valenza creator of the Deviant Moon Tarot, the borderless Deviant Moon Tarot and the Deviant Moon book. Interviewed here by Arwen Lynch, he shares thoughts on both versions of the Deviant Moon as well as his Deviant Moon book and his process.

Patrick says, “One of the best parts of creating the deck was “hunting” for specific textures as I respectfully tiptoed around the graveyards of eastern Long Island, N.Y. Background buildings were created with photographs I took from a local abandoned insane asylum. Rotted doors, windows and walls became castles, factories and cities.”

Arwen Lynch: Who or what first interested you in the tarot or in oracle cards?DeviantMoonBorderless_0Fool
Patrick Valenza: I discovered the tarot when I was about eight or nine years old back in 1975. The images fascinated my young mind and I studied them intently. While most of my friends copied drawings of Batman or Superman, I was busy designing the Fool and the Magician along the margins of my schoolwork.

AL: What is your favorite card in the deck?
PV: My favorite cards tend to be the darker ones, such as Death, the Devil and the Tower. My least favorite has always been the Hierophant.

DeviantMoonBorderless_5HierophantArwen Lynch: What was the first deck that truly inspired you?
PV: The first deck that inspired me as a child was the 1JJ Swiss deck as well as the Rider-Waite. When I became a teenager, I discovered images of the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, which inspired me to try and create my own hand-painted deck. The hand-painted deck I made in my adolescence later became the Deviant Moon when I reached middle age.





AL: What card in the Deviant Moon was the most challenge to paint?
PV: The most challenging aspect of the deck was trying to create custom gold coins for the Suit of Coins out of clay, which I then photographed and put into the art. So difficult, in fact, that I scrapped them and changed the suit to Pentacles after I had already submitted all the artwork to U.S. Games Systems for final publication. The coins just ruined the deck, however I may try them again in a future tarot project.


AL: What lessons did you learn along the way?
PV: I learned a great deal of technical skills during the deck’s creation, such as Photoshop and digital photography. Up until the Deviant Moon, I was mainly a draftsman working in colored pencil.

AL: What card was the most challenging to write about for the upcoming companion book?
PV: Writing for the companion book was the most challenging project I ever worked on. I created the artwork for the Deviant Moon subconsciously. Writing about it made me stop and analyze the aftermath of it all. The book took almost three years to write. At times, I would spend days trying to find the right words for a simple paragraph. It was quite an accomplishment for me to finish it and my reward came when I hand delivered it to the good folks at U.S. Games Systems last spring.

DeviantMoonBorderless_2HighPriestessAL: How do you deal with creative block issues? Do you have any suggestions for those reading this?
PV: When I get creative blocks, I get out of my own way and let my unconscious mind take control. This is the part that connects best to my Muse. I just keep working until I get it. I usually figure out an artistic problem when I am waiting on line at a supermarket, driving, in the shower, or doing other mundane things that have nothing to do with my projects.

AL: What has been your greatest joy about the launch of your borderless deck?
PV: The borderless Deviant Moon came out over five years after the original. To me, it seems as if it is an entirely different deck and has its own personality. I am thrilled to see that so many feel the same way.

AL: What surprised you the most about creating your deck?
PV: The greatest surprise was how the deck connected me to so many people around the world. I love to hear from folks who say they were inspired in some way by the Deviant Moon.

AL: Name three people who are personal inspirations in the tarot or oracle world?DeviantMoonBorderless_11Cups
PV: Without question, Stuart Kaplan was my greatest tarot inspiration. When I discovered my first tarot deck as a boy, I was curious to know where these amazing cards came from, so I looked on the back of the box and saw his name. I used to think he was a wizard of same kind!
I also admire Paulina Cassidy for her magical illustrative style, as well as Lisa Hunt for her wonderful artistry and work ethic.

AL: Who are your favorite artists?
PV: My favorite style of art comes from pioneering animators such as Max Fleischer and Winsor McCay. I also admire all the unknown medieval woodblock cutters who created early tarot decks. Other favorites are Joan Miro, Max Ernst and Picasso.

AL: What do you do in your leisure time?
PV: In my leisure time I enjoy working on my creations. Luckily for me, work and play are the same.

AL: What is one piece of advice you would offer someone who wanted to create his or her own deck?
DeviantMoonBorderless_2SwordsPV: My advice would be to love it or leave it. You need to put your entire soul into an undertaking such as this for many, many years without expecting any reward in return. There are a zillion decks out there already. Make yours unique! Give it everything you’ve got!

AL: What does the future look like from your side of the computer?
PV: Right now I am working on three different decks at the same time, as well as a children’s book that I want to finish. The Deviant Moon has a sister deck, which I hope to submit for publication very soon.

Visit Patrick’s Deviant Moon site to learn more about his process and projects.


33 thoughts on “Interview: Patrick Valenza

  1. Deborah

    I feel such a kinship with you, Patrick regarding my early Tarot days. I was at a local department store and spotted the 1jj Swiss Deck. I begged my mom to buy it for me. I was mesmerized by the cards. I felt transformed into another world. I still have that deck and the book to go with it along with a catalog. Thank you for all you do for us Tarot fans, Patrick. I have my decks from you and bottle of “dirt” all together on my shelf 🙂

  2. Robert wyatt

    “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” – it’s also evident in the finished product. I had a feeling there was a Picasso influence in there somewhere – now I know! Can’t wait to see this “sister deck” and give it a try as well. Thank you.

  3. Lemi

    This is such an unusual deck of cards! Normally I wouldn’t like this kind of artwork, but there is just something that draws the eye in. Fascinating to look at! Well done Patrick!

  4. Maria Luisa Salazar

    Hello Patrick, as far as I am concern, I am the only tarot reader with a Deviant Moon Tarot deck here in Lima Peru.
    When my querents see my decks, the #1 choice from all 35 years old and under is a 100% no doubt The Deviant Moon!
    My mission is to make the tarot vanguard here in Lima and you deck is surely making it easy for me.

  5. Storm Blue

    love, love love the boarderless edition… a big want, if only i could justify purchasing two of the same deck. Patrick says here that the boarderless has its own seperate personality.. id love to hold it in my hands and lay down a few cards to feel that for myself.
    I love my premier edition for its personality, nothng dark to me, just a sense of humour.

    1. Amber-Jade

      Oh no, you make me feel insane =D. I actually am. Not really. But alas, I have bought over 5 original Deviant Moon decks, and am now patiently awaiting the arrival of two of the border-less decks. I do however have a deck that I allow others to touch, and my own personal deck, and have passed other decks on to special friends.

      Maybe somewhere in the midst of my insanity you can find justification for two of the same decks.

  6. Lynda H

    I have been so in love with this deck – one of my ‘go-tos’ for sure! Been lusting after the borderless since I first heard about it. Great interview!

  7. Barth Anderson

    This deck has been on my wish list for a while (I’m not really a collector, just a picky card reader). Deviant Moon is whimsical and surreal and I feel a deep kinship with the whimsically surreal. Eager to get my hands on a copy finally.

    I promise I’ll buy a bordered copy if I win a borderless version! 😉

    Thanks for this interview, Arwen. Thanks for creating such a beautiful deck, Patrick.

    Barth Anderson
    Author, The Magician and The Fool (Random House)

  8. Daniel Cureton

    Wonderful interview! I just got more insight into the deck and about the author. I am so caught up with it and trying to learn all the ins and outs of behind the scenes. This deck made me really love tarot and divination and gave me the ability to expand my intuition and help people.

    Daniel Cureton

  9. Kim Dreyer

    Welcome Patrick! Wonderful interview – loved hearing about your creative process and influences. I enjoy both the border and the borderless decks – still have to choose one someday when it comes time to get it, but at the moment the borderless deck appeals to me a little more.

  10. Deirdre

    I’m just starting to branch out from my Rider Waite deck and absolutely love the imagery in your deck, Patrick. I think it evokes up the shadow side for me, which is an aspect of self that I’m very interested in the moment. Adding it to the short list of must-haves! Wonderful interview!

    1. Amber-Jade

      After hundreds of times, flipping through Deviant Moon…. I still find things in the images I haven’t noticed before, and when I read, I read. I love all the tiny details, but so many things pop out later that didn’t before.

      I had a few friends think the deck would be too dark for them, and quickly found, it isn’t really that dark, just appears to be on the surface. It’s truly an amazing piece of art.

  11. Bobbie Jo Drake

    I love this deck so much! The borderless edition is a GREAT idea. I love how it enables the images on the cards to flow together seamlessly when laid side by side. 🙂

  12. Bay Bay

    I love this deck, still my favorite through I’d tried my hand on quite a lot already. I connect easily with this deck like no other. The borderless deck had charmed me from the first time I saw the sneak picture of it, but I haven’t decided to get one or not. I’m worry that my current deck wouldn’t be happy having another looks alike but more charming around. Quite like having twins, I guess X”D

  13. Leslie Davenport

    I see this deck, borderless issue, as a work of art, and would love to take them and mount them on black velvet and hang them in the sitting area of my bedroom. I think that would be spectacular. If I don’t win the deck, so be it, I will buy one! I already have the original edition and I love it.

  14. Stefan Dollak

    Superb interview! Interesting that you mentioned being motivated by the Visconti-Sforza deck: I am an aficionado of historical tarots, and one of the things I found attractive about your Deviant Moon deck was how ‘medieval’ it looked (not only in style, but in composition, gesture, and form). I also like how your distaste for the ‘Hierophant’ card didn’t prevent you from creating an inspired and evocatively grotesque image. Well done!

    By the way, I was at a well-known chain bookstore recently and I noticed a few teenagers holed up in a cozy corner with a laptop, and the Deviant Moon tarot with its spreadsheet. We had a wonderful chat about tarots and reading, and I showed them the pocket decks I carry with me. The Deviant Moon seems to be on its way to winning a new generation of readers!

  15. Amber-Jade

    “PV: Without question, Stuart Kaplan was my greatest tarot inspiration. When I discovered my first tarot deck as a boy, I was curious to know where these amazing cards came from, so I looked on the back of the box and saw his name. I used to think he was a wizard of same kind!”

    ahh Dear Sir!! That is how I feel about you PV!

    Patrick has inspired me in soooooooo many countless ways over the past few years. His art work brings me such happiness. I’m able to connect with it, and have those that I connect so deeply with connect with his art as well. I can’t hardly wait for some recent orders to arrive! I am constantly in awe of his creations. His passion, just!!!!

    I sit on the edge of my seat at times awaiting his next masterpiece post! (they all seem to be)

    I’ve completely become addicted to his art! When asked who my favorite artist of all time is, Patrick’s name is the first out of my mouth, followed by Tim Burton, and for a three pick Robert Frost (didn’t say what sort of artist =D), but seriously. AHHHmazing, doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

    I will forever be thankful for a whisper and a dropped deck (into my hands, out of thin air) in the middle of a Barnes and Noble store in Fairbanks Alaska! <3

  16. Nicki

    Love this deck. It is honestly not my style at all but I feel very drawn to it. Will definitely go check it out.
    I have always wanted to make my own tarot deck. Working on one card at a time right now. It is a very hard process so much respect goes out to you.

  17. Raleigh

    I’ve only started collecting tarot decks but this one is beautiful I hope to someday add it to my collection.

  18. Liza

    Gorgeous deck! Bold colors n design. The longer I read, the more appealing this deck becomes to me. I’m a Cancer Sun and Moon…..the Moon has a very sgrong affinity for me :). I also love the darkly colored decks with the dark backgrounds and backdrops. Will be looking forward to the sister deck!!

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