I'm Andy Swartz, a freelance artist and illustrator. My style of artwork is typified by dream-like, faintly creepy and macabre fantasy wildlife, and more recently, landscapes. I am a mostly self-taught artist, inspired by scientific illustration, folklore and myths, and personal experiences while traveling the US for fine art fairs and conventions. I sell my work online and in a handful of galleries and shops, and you can view more of my work at skullgarden.net or on Instagram. I'm also the creator of The Wooden Tarot, one of the first indie tarot decks funded by Kickstarter in 2013.
I've taken a break from illustration projects for the past year, focusing solely on my "own" artwork and traveling across the country for 19 different art fairs and conventions. In that time I've had the great privilege to visit a few of our National Parks and wilderness areas, such as Arches, Zion, Great Sand Dunes, and Death Valley National Parks, the Mojave National Preserve, and a few others. These landscapes are so vastly different from my native Southeastern region, and I was completely blown away and fascinated with these harsh and arid climates and new color palettes and started incorporating these elements into my new artwork.
The idea for The Pathfinder Oracle Deck came to me while hiking in the desert, thinking about how some folks do tarot or card readings by also incorporating upside down cards as a reverse meaning.... and how it would be interesting to use all four sides of a square card as four separate, but related meanings of the card. Inspired by my own adventures, I decided to create The Pathfinder Oracle, a sort of compass and guide utilizing the four corners of a card as four different meanings. This has been quite challenging to create, and will likely be even more challenging to learn, but that's all of the fun of a new adventure!
This deck is also inspired in part by the Roman diety Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, doorways and gates, and transitions and duality, hence the double faces of the animals and symmetrical theme of the deck.
The Pathfinder Oracle Deck is an entirely new and innovative way to do card readings, and the aim is to help guide the reader to think outside of the box and step away from rigid black and white thinking. Rather than focus on endless layers of crowded symbolism that requires months of memorization and research, I chose to distill the subjects into their most basic and powerful forms to help you help yourself. This deck is for bold individuals and dirt wizards who like to get straight to the point and who aren't afraid of getting their claws dirty or sand in their shoes.
There will be a booklet included with the deck that details the POSTIVE, NEGATIVE, ACTIVE, and PASSIVE meanings of the cards. Each card will take on a slightly different, but similar meaning depending on which corner is facing up in a reading. This is what makes The Pathfinder Oracle unique (and uniquely challenging) from other existing tarot and oracle decks. It's inspired by the four cardinal directions of a compass, incorporates the multiplicity of meanings that the subjects of the cards represent, and how there is not always a right direction to go. The booklet will be down to earth, cogent, and cut straight to the heart of the cards with minimal pomp and frivolity.
Throughout the duration of this Kickstarter campaign I'll be posting updates on how the cards can be read non-linearly in readings, and how "postive" and "negative" are not necessarily always good or bad depending on the perspective of the reader, the nature of the question asked, and the context of the card itself.
The Pathfinder Oracle will be 3.5 x 3.5" inches square, 48 cards, with a total of 192 meanings throughout the deck, and will have a full color custom tuckbox. The Pathfinder Oracle Deck will be open edition, with the first 500 decks printed using the funds raised during this Kickstarter campaign.
The art for this deck is a bit different than the art for the other three decks I've done. I believe that it's important for artists to constantly challenge and change themselves based on their interests and life experiences. Since this deck is all about new beginnings, I've taken a slightly different approach to the creation of the deck.
Like the The Wooden Tarot, The Earthbound Oracle, and The Seeker's Lenormand, I start off with a pencil drawing onto a simple wooden panel (this time I'm using maple instead of birch). Then I apply a mixture of clear gesso, matte medium, and acrylic modeling paste and swirl the mixture around with a flat brush to create a textured, spiraling surface.
I then use thinned out acrylic paints and colored pencils to create a highly textured look that's somewhat similar to pencil rubbings that creates a kinetic, swirling effect to static, unmoving subjects. The color palette is heavily inspired by the American Southwest and palettes from psychedelic illustrated book covers from the 60s and 70s, such as covers from Frank Herbert's Dune, a series I listen to frequently while driving the thousands of miles it takes to get to these locations. Check out The Pathfinder Oracle Mixtape playlist on Spotify.
Here are a few of the cards that I've finished so far. The card templates are loosely inspired by the alchemical symbol of the Philosopher's Stone and the phases of the moon. There will be two secret cards that you won't see until you receive the deck!
Stretch goals are one of my favorite things about running a Kickstarter project. They add a ton of new stuff to the initial project idea thanks to all of the backers who help push the project past its initial funding goal.
$10,800: RIGID BOXES and LINEN CARD STOCK UPGRADES.
If funding reaches $10,800, then the tuck boxes will be replaced by rigid, two piece, matte boxes, and the 300gsm card stock will be replaced by 310gsm black core linen playing card stock. This card stock is thicker and has a textured surface that will resemble the original art, and the boxes will be sturdier and make sense design-wise for a deck that's diamond shaped, since you won't have to open the box from the side. The guidebook will be able to fit neatly inside, too.
$ 12,960: 22x22" SPREADCLOTHS
If funding reaches $12,960, then 22x22" blue on black cotton screen printed spreadcloths will be added to every pledge that receives a copy of the deck as a reward. Pledges for multiple decks will receive as many cloths. The design is inspired by Metatron's Cube, the phases of the moon, and the seven celestial bodies with the center being the alchemical symbol for both the Sun and element of gold. My assistant Jon created the art for this cloth, and he did a fantastic job.
$26,000: EXCLUSIVE MINI DECKS!
If funding reaches $26,000, I'll add these tiny and adorable 2" mini decks to every pledge that receives a copy of the deck. The mini decks will have a regular tuck box. Pledges for multiple decks will receive as many mini decks and the minis will be a Kickstarter exclusive! They're great for teaching your cats how to read oracle cards, though your success with that may vary.
Shipping costs are added when you select your pledge tier and choose your country of residence. Please note that I have no control over shipping costs and the rates added are exactly what it costs to send the deck to you.
Kickstarter is an amazingly powerful tool that puts the power of creative projects back into the hands of creators and their backers. As the creator of eight previous successful projects, I know that crowdfunding is the single best way to fund the creation of indie decks without the influence of outside sources. It would be impossible for me to foot the bill for creating a deck by myself, which is why I use Kickstarter as a platform for raising the funds while giving backers a discount and extra stuff on the final product for helping me complete it.
Kickstarter is an all or nothing funding platform for potential projects. If we do not reach the initial funding goal of $6480, then the project does not come to fruition and no money is lost from the backers. If we do reach the funding goal, then the project proceeds and is completed by me, and in a few months you'll have your newly minted deck. I've created three other card decks this way: The Wooden Tarot, The Earthbound Oracle, and The Seeker's Lenormand, and each deck was completed and shipped on time, so I have quite a lot of experience in this area.
This has become the most personal project I've ever undertaken and thank you for taking the time to read through this Kickstarter campaign. I hope that the ideas, concepts, and art that I've presented also resonate with you and inspire you to help the creation of this deck. Over the past six years of self publishing various card decks I've had the honor of meeting a lot of you and hearing your stories and personal journeys with the decks, for which you will always have my eternal respect and gratitude. Thank you for sharing this journey with me, and I hope to create something that will help guide you on your new adventures into this great, magnificent world of ours.
Risks and challenges
This isn't the largest Kickstarter I've ever run, but it has required the most planning, development, and coordination with various printers. I feel confident in my ability to publish another deck and fulfill rewards on time. The biggest challenge is getting the decks out by August since the spring and early summer are my busiest months for art festivals and conventions.
I always make sure to realistically account for shipping costs and the additional costs for stretch goals. I've shipped over 15,000 items worldwide from my online shops and previous Kickstarters and now have an assistant, so we're no strangers to large shipping volumes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)