Tarot-views is my series of interviews with fellow Tarot readers, artists, authors, and enthusiasts. These people share my love of Tarot, and here I get to pick their brains and find out what makes their Tarot minds tick!
As a Tarot reader, I am ALWAYS on the lookout for a new deck. I usually enjoy traditional imagery but will every so often discovery a deck that is so beautifully done I just have to share it! Lucky for me then when I dicoverd Beautiful Creatures Tarot by J.r. Rivera and artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith.
With it’s beautiful portraits of doe-eyed, fantastical, cherub-like “creatures”, I just had to find out more about this new and stunningly painted deck from its author J.r. Rivera. Read below to find out what inspired him, how him and the artist collaborated, what advice he holds for any inspiring Tarot deck authors, AND a SNEAK PEAK at the Beautiful Creatures Tarot companion book!
First and foremost, tell me a bit about yourself! Where are you from? Where are you now? How did you get there?
My name is J.r. Rivera and I live in Edinburg, Texas. I’m a Texas native since birth. I’m a social butterfly and love talking to people and making them laugh. I’m a huge lover of the paranormal, occult, and supernatural. I’m a massive horror movie and literary junky, ever since I was 5! Aside from this, I’m an avid Tarot and oracle deck collector and have approximately 300 and some card decks. I love to learn and study languages and I’m bilingual in English and Spanish. I can also speak and write in French, Italian, and some Portuguese which is very useful when wanting to learn more about Tarot in other parts of the world. I’m also an avid dog lover and just admire them. I love the company of a dog and any dog is welcomed in my home and life. I have a Shih Tzu who’ve I raised since we was 12 days old. I also had a Japanese Chin for three years until he crossed over to doggy heaven. I miss him dearly. But as of right now, in regards to the Beautiful Creatures Tarot, I’m where I want to be and couldn’t be any happier.
What lead you to the Tarot? Is it something that you’ve always done or were you called to it?
My fantastic voyage to Tarot emerged at the tender age of thirteen. I’ve always been empathic and possess a bit of medium-ship, so I blended those two gifts with Tarot. What lead me to Tarot was when I experienced my first premonition which was not something that anybody should experience. After telling my mother about it, she had told my grandmother who recommended my mother and father to get me a Tarot deck so I can develop my “gift” and start from there. From that day on, I’ve made Tarot part of my life and I’ve never looked back.
Tell me about Beautiful Creatures Tarot. How did you and the artist come up with the concept? Does it follow the standard RWS interpretations or did you guys work to develop your own?
I own and work with two oracle decks called Oracle of Shadows and Light and Oracle of the Shapeshifters that are illustrated by Jasmine Becket-Griffith. When working with those two oracle decks, I thought and wondered to myself, “Why isn’t there a Tarot deck created with Jasmine’s art work?” I went through Jasmine’s portfolio and saw the numerous amount of illustrations that she had and was in shock! Such beautiful and memorizing artwork. To pass time, I would collect images and associate them with Tarot cards. Eventually I mustered the courage to ask Jasmine if I could create a Tarot deck with her art work, and like a blessing in disguise, she said yes and I was just heartfelt and beside myself.
What’s the collaboration process like between author and artist? Is it a lot of working side by side or doing things separately and seeing where you meet in the middle?
The collaboration between us was very friendly, warm, and understanding which I enjoyed so much. She was and is always so courteous and friendly to work with. And even through e-mail, I felt that, her friendliness. Our collaboration was all computer mediated communication. We communicated and worked together via e-mail. I had to take into consideration that she is a busy person who traveled a lot and had many events to attend, so I had to wait for her to respond back to me, which was perfectly fine. Jasmine and I always met half way when working with the Beautiful Creatures Tarot. For example, when there was an image that I wanted to include in our Tarot deck, I had to ask for her approval because there were productions in works that were going to include her artwork and we did not want for them to overlap.
What does the deck have that makes it a different, must have for readers?
It is truly a warm and beautiful Tarot deck. It is very easy on the eyes and is appropriate for people of all ages and genders. Just because this Tarot deck and Jasmine’s art look very feminine oriented, it does not mean that a man can’t work with it; I would like to break that stereotype. Of course, there has never been a Tarot deck created with Jasmine’s artwork, so this is a first. Readers who will own this Tarot deck will discover such beauty that emanates from the images. They will see and meet fantastic and familiar creatures.
Any other decks in the works?
Yes there is. I’m currently working on a new Tarot deck with a fantastic illustrator. This Tarot deck is far, far, far different from the Beautiful Creatures Tarot. There is no connection between the two because my second Tarot deck takes a whole new different approach and it is something that has not been done before. It will be a marvelous deck to read for a special and particular season which we all love and anticipate every year. My second Tarot deck has always been something that I’ve wanted to do. I would see other Tarot decks out there with the same theme and was never satisfied with them. This Tarot deck tells a little bit of my life, what I like, and what I’ve experienced. And the only reason why I created this Tarot deck is because I wanted to create it, not what others want and expect to be created.
Besides your own, what are some of your favorite decks and why? What are the one or two things a deck MUST have in order for you to want to use it?
First and foremost, I love my first Tarot deck that was given to me. That Tarot deck is a Spanish version and a replica of the Etteilla Tarot. My other favorite decks are of course, the Oracle of Shadows and Light, Oracle of the Shapeshifters, and Les Vampire Oracle. To make me use a deck of cards, it has to do a lot with the art. If I can’t connect with the art, then I can’t read with it. Also, the theme has to be different, something that has not been created. But what really makes me want to use a deck is a deck that is just out there. Something that is alien. When someone is repulsed by dark, gothic, and macabre decks and they complain about it and so on, those are the decks that I go after. So if a deck is dark and haunting, then I’m all for it.
Any advice for aspiring Tarot authors and artists out there?
Yes, for all you aspiring Tarot authors, know what you want to do first. If you are going to create a Tarot/oracle deck, let it be something that you are passionate about. Something that you know by heart and memory. For example, if you grew up as a child hearing tales, collect all of those and work with them. Now, if you want to create something that you are not familiar with, please be sure to do your homework and research your material carefully. Very importantly, know who you want to be published by. There are positive and negative rumors about publishers, and if you are in doubt or concerned, do your research! Look for pros and cons and always look for quality, not quantity. Don’t be a sell out! Don’t create something that people want you to create. You are your own person and you possess your own imagination and creativity. Do what feels right for you, not for anyone else. Be independent and free.
When/where can people buy the deck?
The Beautiful Creatures Tarot is due December 28th of this year and can be pre-order through Schiffer Publishing, so pre-order your copy and be ready to fall in love with these beautiful creatures!