I was first introduced to the Tarot at thirteen and immediately was captivated. I found images like Death riding on his white horse and the High Priestess's robes morphing into rushing water both mysterious and inviting. However, it wasn't until my early twenties, over a decade ago, that I began studying the Tarot in earnest thanks to a well-versed friend. As an artist, I delighted in using images as tools to reflect upon and better understand my life and the world around me. Ever since, I have been longing to make my own deck to share this gift of insight with the world. In college, I tried my hand at making a few cards, but knew it wasn't time; my skill and comprehension was not yet up to the task. Finally, at the end of 2016, when so much felt uncertain for so many people, I was moved to manifest this project into the hands of those that need it. This deck is a tool to shape a more universal conversation and connect to deeper and more personal purposes amidst times of great change.
I’ve earned two degrees in Printmaking: a Bachelor's from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and a Master's from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Using relief printing techniques, my primary media, I will create an original Tarot deck depicting birds of North America (much like most of my work found here), as well as other flora and fauna native to the region. These subjects are important to me because they are both the center of most of my dreams and also because I am deeply inspired by John James Audubon's work as a nature illustrator and conservationist. I strive to imbue the same rigor and dedication seen in Audubon's work to accurately render the featured species of the deck. As much of my artistic inspiration comes directly from my dreams and visions, there will also be an element of animism and archetypal imagery to this project. Overall, I intend to create a balanced deck that many people can connect to by honoring both the weight of intellect and the levity of spirit.
My greatest hope is that this deck survives me and continues to be an advocate for inner growth and mental health within the community reaching far beyond my individual capacity to do so. Past the Kickstarter, I will also donate 10% of the deck's revenue towards funding North American wildlife conservation in Audubon's honor.
*NEW* Box Upgrade and Book:
As we have surpassed the first stretch goal for custom packaging and the fourth stretch goal for a book authored by Rachel Pollack to be enclosed with the deck, I am anxious to reveal a box mock-up for book+deck. I will unfortunately not have a super-slick and professional mock-up from my designer until after the Kickstarter, but I want to share what I have in mind. Please forgive the roughness of this mock-up as I am certainly not an industrial designer, but I think this is just too exciting not to share!
What is Printmaking?:
Printmaking is a method of reproducing an image. I will be using relief printmaking, which is the oldest living form of printing (think: dipping your hand in mud and slapping it on a cave wall). Relief printing is fundamentally a glorified rubber stamp.
Each card begins as a block of linoleum (which makes it a "linocut") that I sand for a smooth finish.
I then sketch the image in pencil, then finalize with a black pen.
All images on the blocks must be drawn as a mirror image of the final product. This means ALL TEXT is initially written backwards!
Once the drawing is complete, I color the linoleum red, which makes seeing my cuts much easier. I then proceed to carve the surface of the block with various carving tools.
The areas I carve will be the "negative" image (the areas that will not get ink), and the areas I leave will be the "positive" image (the areas that will get ink), just like a stamp.
Once the carving is complete, I take the block to the print shop (I print at Open Press in Denver), where I roll an oil-based relief ink over the block, place a sheet of paper on top, and run it under lots of pressure on a printing press.
Once the print is pulled, I allow it to dry for several days. Once dry, I hand color with gouache (an opaque watercolor) and scan the colored print into the computer. I minimally clean the images for digital reproduction, which leaves me with the final images for the deck.
Here are some folks I love and admire who can tell you why my vision of the tarot is a worthwhile thing to back:
"Hey Listen up! I’m gonna spare you the long story about how I met Emi when she was a Grad student up in New York, and cut right to the point. She’s a hard working, self-motivated artist and she could use a bit of your help! When I saw her Thesis Exhibition years ago, I was blown away by the complexity and academic sophistication of her installation. But more than that, it was flat out cool! I was certainly impressed, but even more so, by her willingness to hop in her car and drive across Mississippi to spend an afternoon printing with me in my studio for an hour or two when she could have been kicking back doing nothing on her Christmas Break. I’m always impressed by people that break out of their comfort zone and push themselves to explore. It would have been easy for her to stay in NYC after grad school, or to go back to her family in Mississippi and recharge. Instead, she moved to Colorado and started to carve out a little space for herself there! It is hard enough to keep afloat as a young person in a new city, and it is harder still to be able to maintain your passion and creativity, but Emi has been able to do just that. She’s continued to grow as an artist and is making good work, as you can see for yourself. I hope you can find a way to help support her Kickstarter project. Any effort you make on her behalf will be a well-spent investment that will do more than just help fund a project, but it will also help ensure that Emi will continue to be able to share her creativity with all of us long into the future.”
-Sean Starwars, Printmaker, Laurel, MS
"I think Emi is uniquely gifted with the character and skills to successfully apply herself to the layered challenges of creating a Tarot deck that would reward anyone who found their way to it .... I'm looking forward to seeing the result of her efforts."
-Gary Issacs, Photographer, Denver, CO
"When I first met Emi, she was using relief printing as a way to make 3D installations. Emi is the rare artist who understands the value of knowing a medium’s traditional methods and procedures, but doesn’t allow herself to be penned in by that knowledge. Classically trained and practiced, she always finds ways to inject her own creativity and experimentation.”
-Ravi Zupa, Artist, Denver, CO
"Emi’s mastery of this uncommon medium breathes life into the subjects of her artwork. Movement, motive, and spirit shine through in her expressive depictions of nature and wildlife. Every image is a snapshot of a greater animated tale lived vicariously by the viewer. Emi’s art flawlessly captures each story.”
- Kristen Lightcap, User Experience Designer, Raleigh, NC
"Emi's artwork cuts to the heart of a symbolic and naturalistic depiction of an inner and outer realm, with linework and subject matter depicting both the cuteness of admiring animals/personifying nature and the cacophonous violence of what it means to be alive in the thick of it. Her work points to a real and spiritual way of seeing without compromise."
-Ethan Gould, Artist and Local Weirdo, Brooklyn, NY
"Emi is one of the most passionate, hard-working, and talented artists I have ever met. While I don't know much about the Tarot, I know each card will be a work of art made by Emi's skilled hands. I am excited to own this deck and learn more about this historically rich method of divination. She will get it done and it will be awesome!”
-Jeane Greene, Artist and Illustrator, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
"Emi's work has an otherworldly quality and through her depiction of creatures, she creates stories that fuse the past with the present. Not only is her work hauntingly beautiful to look at, but the painstaking mastery with which she has perfected her printmaking technique parallels that of ancient masters like Albrecht Durer. "
-Dana Barak, Art Director and Artist, Denver, CO
My proposed timeline for 2017:
- February: Kickstarter launch. Carving blocks.
- March: Kickstarter ends. Still carving blocks.
- April: Funding is sent to artist. Carving away.
- May-July: Am I still carving? Oh, yup, still carving these blocks.
- August: ALL BLOCKS CARVED!! Will print all blocks onto paper in a two-to-four day span.
- August-Early October: Hand-coloring every stinkin' image.
- Mid to Late October: All images are scanned and retouched as needed. Images are formatted for the press. Final digital touches are added. Proofs are viewed. Reward goodies begin production.
- November: Cards are printed. If stretch goals are met, super awesome packaging is fabricated and printed! Complete work on reward goodies.
- December: Shipping! All of you lovely people will receive your well-earned rewards!
- January 2018: An art opening in Denver showing all original images for the deck, each for sale! Details to follow.
Breakdown of Cost:
The goal of $7,777 includes:
- $6120 - Digital printing costs
- $360 - Printing ink + paper + four new tools + linoleum
- $400 - Printshop fees
- $688 - Kickstarter fees (Kickstarter takes 5-10% of profits once the project is funded)
- $209 - Shipping rewards
I have created rewards for all levels of contribution, from $5 to $8,500. Here are a few photo examples of some of the rewards:
$10 - Five-Pack of Buttons: Please note each button is unique and the images are hand-selected by the artist from actual prints from the blocks. This image is an example and will not be exactly what you receive.
$25- Canvas Tote Bag - Kickstarter Exclusive!: You can chose any image from the deck to be printed onto a cotton tote bag. Color choices will be determined at a later date, but will likely be Natural, Black, or Red. This image is a mock-up and may differ from the final product, but I can guarantee the image and the bag will be high quality. I will be making the edition of these bags limited to those that pledge to the Kickstarter!
$28 Tarot T-Shirt: You can chose any image from the deck to be printed directly onto a t-shirt. Color choices to be determined at a later date, but will likely be Grey, Black, Brown, or Red. This image is a mock-up and may differ from the final product, but I can guarantee the image and the shirt will be high quality. I will likely use the Unisex Poly-Cotton Short Sleeve Tee from BELLA+CANVAS, which is pictured in the example below. These will be super soft, high-quality, and comfy tees!
$36 Set of 4 Pint Glasses
Four 16 oz pint glasses are now unlocked and available! They feature The Star, The Fool, Strength, and The Hermit.
Please note that this image is a mock-up and may differ slightly from the final product.
$48 Tarot Hoodies
We've also unlocked pullover hoodies! These will also be Bella+Canvas brand and be very high quality and comfortable.
Hand-Colored Vesus Uncolored Prints: You have a choice between hand-colored and uncolored print rewards, which are at two different price points. Hand-colored prints are colored individually by the artist. Here is an example of the difference between the two rewards:
Addons have been requested by a number of you, and I am happy to report they are now available! There is no minimum pledge amount for addons. Addon away :)
What are Addons?: Addons are a way to add more stuff to your pledge without changing your pledge tier or having to make an entirely new pledge.
How do I apply an addon to my existing pledge?:
1) At the top of the screen underneath numbers of backers/pledge total/days to go, there is a blue button that says "Manage Your Pledge." Click the button.
2) Increase your pledge in the Pledge Amount box by the total of the addons you would like to purchase. Addons will be the same price of the rewards. For example, if you pledged $10 for a set of buttons but decide you want the deck to go with it, you will change your pledge amount from $10 to $55 to reflect the cost of the deck you have added on. A list of prices for the US and a list of international prices are below this explanation. DO NOT change your tier of pledge, only change the amount.
3) Once the campaign ends, I will send a survey out to all backers which asks you how you would like the addon money to be assigned.
What are the Prices for Domestic vs International Pledge Addons?:
- Postcard: + $5 (this is both within and outside of the US)
- Button Pack: + $10 for US, + $13 for international
- Single Pint Glass: +$20 (shipping added!) for US, +$22 for international
- Tote Bag: + $25 for US, + $35 for international
- T-Shirt: + $28 for US, + $38 for international
- Pint Glass Set: +$46 (shipping added!) for US, +$61 for international
- Deck: + $45 for US, + $55 for international
- Hoodies: +$48 for US, +$68 for international
- Uncolored Print: + $60 for US, + $75 for international
- Tarot Reading: +$65 for both US and international
- Deck+Print: +$100 for US, +$115 for international
- Colored Print: + $120 for US, + $135 for international
- Studio Tour + Deck: +$150 for US and international
- Fundle Trundle Bundle: + $170 for US, + $185 for international
- Trundle Bundle Deluxle: + $250 for US, + $270 for international
- Relief Lessons with The Artist + Deck: +$350 for US and international
- Print Collection + Deck: +$4,000 for US and international
- Hand-Colored Print Collection + Deck: +$8,500 for US and international
...and here's a calculator!
We have reached all stretch goals!
#1: Custom Packaging
#2: Pint Glasses
#3: Deluxe Hoodies
#4: An Enclosed Guidebook Authored by Rachel Pollack
#5: More Decks
Thank you everyone!
Risks and challenges
Carving blocks is time-consuming and physically demanding. Barring a physical injury, if one card can be carved within two-three days, all 78 should be carved by July or August. Printing all blocks will be possible within two or three days. Two cards per day can be hand-colored and scanning all of them and formatting will take three-five days. Ideally, everything can be completed and ready to send to the digital printers by October at the latest. This would leave enough time to do all pledge goodies and have them shipped by early December.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)