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?
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.
Arwen 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.
AL: 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?
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?
PV: 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.
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