Nine months is a milestone that should not go unnoticed for a Tarot deck like Nine Lives Tarot :) So, to mark this exciting occasion (which only just occurred), this post will look back briefly on the process before and after publication at the end of 2013…
Creating the artwork
The artwork for Nine Lives Tarot evolved from my fascination with the Tarot and my absolute love of drawing and painting. To me, creating this deck, can only be described as a labour of love; 78 individual artworks may seem like a daunting project, yet with Tarot being such a fascinating well to draw inspiration from, the journey itself became the goal – and the treat :)
Publishing Options and Research
Researching publishing options is like diving in at the deep end… Especially, if it is (like it was for me) a first-time project or deck, where it is hard to know which way is best:
- Publishing house – large print runs, wide distribution, long lead time
- Crowd funding – staged funding to assist project completion & meeting targets
- Self-publishing – smaller print runs and/or print on demand, short lead time
I looked at several options before deciding on self-publishing for Nine Lives Tarot. If you are planning to publish, your way may be different – it all depends on what you want and what works best for you in terms of funding, time and future planning.
If you have a large wad of cash in the mattress, there are ways you could use this to get your project published with high volume printing and global distribution. However, if you have less funds available; because you discover that the mice next door have moved in and eaten all your money, or you only dreamt you had it… There are still options to get your project published.
You could submit your work to a Publishing house. If you plan ahead, or if you are happy with a lengthy lead time (sometimes 2 years from submission to publication); a successful submission to a publishing house, such as Llewellyn, US Games or any other publisher with experience in the card and games industry … could lead to your deck being printed, marketed and distributed – and all going well, you receive your % as per your arrangement, with time left to begin work on your next project. It is important though, to do your research, to be realistic, and to read the fine print before submitting (not just: “Wow! 20,000 print run – that’s heaps”), as this can help prevent disappointment down the track.
Also, it is worth mentioning that some publishers (at least in Australia), expect you to do the marketing yourself and may also outsource distribution (so there is a lot to weigh up). That said, there are plenty of fantastic decks who make their way into the world via publishing houses, and who knows… yours may be next :)
Crowd funding has become more popular in recent years, and can be a successful platform to launch and fund creative projects, as long as you are comfortable with sourcing funds to support and complete your project.
Self-publishing has grown in recent years – where print on demand (POD) or small print runs, have become a viable option for many authors/artists. For me, choosing to self-publish, has meant that Nine Lives Tarot can travel the world and meet new friends, at its own pace, while retaining the essence of what this deck is about.
Nine Lives Tarot was officially ‘launched’ at a group exhibition, where in addition to the deck, I had 10 framed prints to display on the wall. Working towards an exhibition is a great way to meet those deadlines… it is also truly inspiring to work with other artists, and something I enjoy doing on a regular basis :) The theme for this exhibition was Ebb and Flow – freely interpreted by the four artists in our group … Water, Emotions, Life and Tarot explored in a variety of mediums.
Every creative project deserves to be celebrated once it is completed … This can be in the form of an exhibition, but it can also be a party with friends, an interview, an online event, or even a quiet reflective moment … The main thing is to take the time to acknowledge what you have achieved, an opportunity where you can give yourself useful feedback before moving on to the next project :)
LWB or the Nine Lives Tarot Guide
Initially, Nine Lives Tarot came with a folded A4 size paper with descriptions for each card printed (front and back). I wrote these descriptions when I had just completed the artwork, so the imagery, meanings and symbols could not have been more fresh in my mind :) It felt right to use the voice of each character (or card) to convey the meaning associated with the cards, as this fits with my way of seeing the Tarot as a tool for subconscious advice and reflection. The descriptive meanings follow the traditional RWS format, with a personal/artistic touch.
In May, the words and small preview images for each card were given a proper home in the shape of a full-colour printed booklet. The new guidebook allows you to turn pages when searching or browsing meanings of the cards, which is a little more ‘user-friendly’ compared to flipping a folded piece of paper around :)
The feedback I have received from people using Nine Lives Tarot has been humbling and honestly made my day on many occasions (thank you). To hear from someone who enjoys using the deck that I so loved making, is quite special, but it also highlights that everyone forms their own meaning and relationship with a deck – out of my hands, Nine Lives Tarot travels the world to create new bonds and stories – just as it should.
Where to Now?
My ‘other life’ in web and graphic design has been really busy these last months, so I haven’t had time left to spare on the ink drawings I began a while back. Time will return, and I look forward to working on them again. In the meantime, I have crocheted a few little bags, perfect size to hold a Tarot deck. Feel free to drop me a line on the contact page if you would like to buy a handmade bag for your deck. Once I have a few more, I might add them to website … they are however, just for fun and something I like doing in between other things, so not planning to make 100s of bags just yet :)