Jennifer: Hello Janet! Thank you for taking the time to interview me about the deck!
Janet: First, let's begin with your big announcement: you've signed a contract with U.S. Games Systems, Inc. to publish your Crystal Visions Tarot. How wonderful! So how do you feel?! Are you heading to Disneyworld? ;o) What is the timeline--any ideas when we'll be able to get our hands on your deck?
Jennifer: I am SO excited about signing on with U.S. Games Systems, Inc. I can’t even describe the feeling! It is sort of like being at Disneyland! :D Those I’ve dealt with to this point have been so wonderful and supportive. With the experience I’ve had so far, and with the company’s stellar reputation, I’m confident they’ll do a great job with the production, marketing and distribution of the deck. As far as the release date, that is sort of dependant upon me, and finishing up the last of the cards. I hope to have the deck completed by the end of February, 2011, and then I should have more of a production timeline.
Janet: Now, let's talk about the name: Crystal Visions Tarot. Why that particular title for your first deck?
Jennifer: Well, as a few people have already guessed, the name was inspired by lyrics from Stevie Nicks, as well as her box set that came out right around the time I was planning the deck. I fell in love with her music in my early teens, and I attribute my growing interest in the spiritual realm to her haunting voice, ethereal nature and poetic lyrics. I also love crystal balls, and knew I’d be incorporating many into the artwork, and although Tarot and scrying are different forms of divination, “Crystal Visions” is sort of a double entendre in that it can also mean clear visions, which I thought was very appropriate to the Tarot.
Janet: On your website, I read this with interest: Originally, she thought she would try and let the ideas flow, painting each image as they came to her. It was a nice thought, but not very practical for such a big project. She decided to change her course of action, and tackle the project from a decisive point of view. When did you realize you were "over your head", as it were, and merely allowing inspiration to take over your paintbrush wouldn't be enough to complete this project?
Jennifer: Soon after I finished the first two paintings. I realized I wasn’t in love with them, and I was unable to move forward with the deck. I waited a while, hoping inspiration would strike, but I was too hung up on not liking the first two paintings that I couldn’t move forward. Painting a deck was something I’d wanted to do since I took an interest in the Tarot in my teens, and on some level I was afraid of messing up, or being disappointed in my deck after its completion. I think that fear was paralyzing me in some ways. It wasn’t until I painted my series of Birthstone Fairies that I realized I needed to change my approach. In painting the series of twelve fairies, I planned them all and sketched them out, so that they would all look cohesive, before painting them. I realized then that planning was what I needed to do with the Tarot, and so I started to research, plan and sketch out the cards. I had most of the cards planned in various stages before picking up a paintbrush.
Janet: I love that you (mostly) paint your deck one suit at a time, with some Major cards interspersed. That makes a lot of sense, especially if you're immersing yourself in a particular energy of a Minor Arcana suit--so you can stay with that unique energy, color palette, symbolism and so on. What Minor Arcana suit seemed the most daunting to envision? To paint? Did you have any life circumstances reflect a particular card or suit you were working on? (I find this sometimes happens with artists!)
Jennifer: Oddly enough, I thought I would have the hardest time painting Swords, yet Swords ended up being the first suit I worked on. I started painting them last year around this time, so it could have been the gray skies and stark trees of winter that lent the inspiration. Cups weren’t as easy as I thought, although I wouldn’t say they were difficult. I think I just had a little hang up because Cups were the two cards I painted in my first deck, and subsequently discarded.
Wands came very easily, once I picked up the paintbrush. It is a more masculine suit, and I paint a lot of feminine characters, so I was a little unsure how the suit would unfold. I am a Sag, though, and respond positively to the reds and oranges I used in the suit’s color palette, so once the paint hit the canvas, I was in my element. Pentacles have been the most challenging, just as I suspected. I’m not sure why—I just had a tough time envisioning where I wanted to go with that suit, and so it’s unfolding itself to me slowly, but I’m getting there.
The two main cards that really reflect my life circumstances would have to be the Knight of Cups and the Blank Card. I always thought of the Knight of Cups as sort of a Prince Charming card, and always associated it with my husband, who, when I met him, was a twenty something, blond, light-eyed Pisces (or the Knight of Cups.) The Blank Card is something that not all are familiar with, but I encountered it early on when I bought my first Hanson-Roberts deck. I actually bought the deck for that image, which was the cover card, and upon getting the deck home, realized it was a Blank Card, or the card of things not yet meant to be revealed. I’ve always loved that card, and always said that I would include one in my own deck one day.
Jennifer: I think I attribute ambition to being both a physical and mental challenge and therefore associate it with Wands and Swords. One thing I find appealing about the suit of Wands is that, to me, it is a more active side of the suit of Cups. Intuition, creativity, and emotions are still very much a part of the suit of Wands as they are Cups, however, Wands lend the fire aspect of, “grabbing the brass ring,” so to speak. Action, focus, struggle and conflict, creativity, and hard work are all important to seeing ambition manifest. I guess, in that sense, Pentacles could also be associated with ambition, however, to me, Pentacles represents a more, “slow and steady wins the race,” sort of way of reaching one’s goals. Not to say that approach isn’t ambitious; I guess it’s just more cautious, and to me ambition is also about taking risks.
Janet: Will the Crystal Visions Tarot have a border around the imagery? Have you created the back design yet?
Jennifer: I have a back design that I just completed. It incorporates symbols from all the suits and is non-directional. I don’t plan on having a border around the images, and hopefully, if the publisher decides to use one, it will be unobtrusive.
Janet: What is your greatest hope for your deck once it reaches publication?
Jennifer: I hope that people will love the imagery—that is always the first step for me in identifying with a deck. I hope that it will read well, and easily for professionals and novices alike. I also hope it gets translated into other languages and stays in print for a very long time.
Janet: What is the greatest compliment someone could give you as an artist? As a person?
Jennifer: The greatest compliment someone could give me as an artist would be to say that they really respond to my work, or a particular work in general. Striking a chord with people on some personal level, or moving them to feel something positive is really such a motivating aspect of being an artist. Of course, you always run the risk of stirring up negative emotions in someone, but I think any sort of reaction to an artwork--the ability to make someone feel--is the greatest thing about any art form. As a person, I really value independence and perseverance, among other things, but these would be two of the greatest compliments someone could give me. I’ve been called unconventional, strong-willed, relentless and stubborn also, but I count those as compliments just the same. :D
Janet: Tell us a bit more about the "personal" Jennifer. Do you paint to music? To silence? What do you like to listen to, to watch, to read? What is a "perfect" day in Jen's world?
Jennifer: My favorite music to paint by is, surprise surprise, Stevie Nicks, or Green Day’s American Idiot. Every song on that CD is great and so I never lose my momentum—it seems to grow with each song. Sometimes, though, I just want to be in my head, so I either paint in silence, usually when I’m fixing an issue, or adding the finishing touches, or turn on the television, basically for a little company and background noise. Perfect days for me seem to vary in the moment, but from an artistic standpoint, I guess a perfect day would be to start painting after my daughter goes to school, make really good progress until around 1:00 or so, take a little nap, and then stay up late painting after my daughter goes to bed. I really enjoy painting at night, but because I have to get up pretty early, I’m unable to stay awake most times unless I have a break in the afternoon.
Janet: What is the most important lesson that you learned last year? What are looking forward to experiencing this year?
Jennifer: The most important lesson I learned is that lots of work, perseverance, and a strong vision along with listening to your inner voice, instinct, or guides, (whatever you’d like to call it), is all essential for anyone facing a goal or a huge project. It’s always so hard to take that first step, but with each effort you gain confidence and the journey gets easier. I learned much more about the Tarot, too, throughout the last year, and in fact, my process was a lot like the Tarot in many ways; I sort of took a Pentacle approach to creating the deck–slow and steady with lots of planning.
I did have to stay focused and motivated, which was a mental challenge, so therefore Swords came into play. I needed to tap into my creativity and vision for the project, and needed to feel passion for what I was creating, which insisted on the suit of Wands. Lastly, I needed to incorporate a bit of myself into the cards in order to make them my own, as well as keep my emotions in check when it came to introducing them to the world at large as well as the publishing industry, hence the suit of Cups. The first cards in the deck began with the Fool, (me jumping in blindly), and hopefully the deck will end with the World. This year, I am looking forward to finishing the deck and holding the actual cards in my hands. I am looking forward to beginning new projects I’ve put on the back burner for a while, as well as starting the initial planning of a possible new deck.
Janet: Thank you so much for your time, Jennifer, and best wishes!
Jennifer: You too, Janet! Thank you!
You can visit Jennifer Galasso's Crystal Visions Tarot website at this link. Follow Jennifer on Twitter here and fan her on Facebook here. Jennifer's main website is Magickal-Art.com (and you can order gorgeous prints and figurines there, too!)