One such person is Tarot reader, blogger, teacher, and artist Steven Bright. Hailing from the U.K., Steven is the driving force behind Tiferet Tarot, offering readings, courses, workshops, his blog, as well as sneak peaks at his own Tarot deck designs.
As I am always thrilled to hear about newly created decks, I recently had Steven tell me a little about not only his own Tarot practice, but what he's been working on and creating in way of his very own Tarot deck.
For starters, where are you from? Where are you now? How did you get there?
I am from the UK. I currently live in Kent but I am initially from London. I left London when I was about 17 and since then, I have returned to live there twice - once on a whim and then to study about ten years later. Even though I still enjoy the city, I prefer where I am now. The house I live in looks out onto woods and has beautiful views.
What's your artistic background?
I was interested in art and drawing from a young age. Both of my parents are artistic, so it was encouraged. Even though the desire to create never really left me, I began to move in a different direction after my initial studies. It wasn't until later in life that I took my creativity seriously again and applied to study art at college when I was nearing 30. I enjoyed the experience so much that I then earned a place at a university in London, where I studied Fashion Design for three years. As well as learning to pattern-cut and make clothing, I also illustrated my designs. I specialised in menswear and after graduating, worked as a designer for the high street.
As well as illustrating, I still sew. Over the last few years, I have sold many handmade dresses, bags and accessories. I also teach art-based projects in schools around Kent on occasion as well - ranging from Graphic Design to therapeutic collage.
What lead you into the Tarot? Is it something you've always done or were you called to it later in life?
My introduction to tarot was far from mystical or exciting. I actually bought my first tarot deck in a supermarket while doing my weekly shopping. It was a basic set (by Jonathan Dee and Shirley Barker), but it was enough to wet my appetite and send me off in search of a more personal set of tarot cards. The deck I really began my tarot studies with and used exclusively for two years was The Rohrig. I began my journey prior to having the internet so muddled through with the little white book and my intuition. I wasn't sure if I was doing it right but I have many magical memories from that period in the late 90s, when I would read for friends in my little North London flat.
Tell me about this Tarot deck. How did you come up with the concept?
I had tried to create a tarot deck on a number of occasions, but quit many times. Eventually, I completed The Fragments of an Illusion Tarot two years ago. As a collage project, using hundreds of sourced images, I realised that I could complete 78 cards. It had previously seemed so daunting. When I began my current blog, a friend and I discussed how I might illustrate my articles. I had already been blogging daily for seven years, using cards from mass-market decks, but was always concerned about copyright infringement. My friend suggested that I illustrate the cards on my blog myself. I had a silhouette-themed image which I'd designed and tucked away in a file some years back. With a little tweaking, it became the first card completed for this deck.
Does it follow the standard Waite tradition or did you work to develop your own?
Because some of my work these days involves teaching tarot, I wanted to create a deck which is simplistic. However, I didn't want the images to lack depth. From the beginning, I knew that it would follow RWS tradition and that the suits would be colour-coded. There are twists here and there, but generally, it sits within the Waite camp. As with many tarot designers, I wanted to pour my own experience and understanding from the past seventeen years of tarot into the seventy-eight images.
What was the process of creating the deck like?
As with the Fragments of an Illusion Tarot, much of the source material for this deck was found online. I used photographs of regular people to copy. In some cases, I photographed people or buildings or objects myself. From then on, my drawn silhouettes were placed into worlds I created. I used Adobe Illustrator to draw the entire deck. I reshaped and framed those illustrations in Photoshop. I started off with the cards I felt immediately connected to, finding the suits far easier than the Majors. Because I wanted this deck to have a modern feel, the Majors were more difficult to bring up to date.
What does the deck have that makes it a different, must for readers?
Even though the cards are simplistic, I think that they have a lot of emotion wrapped up within them. The reason I used silhouettes was because any reader can relate to the people they find there. Sometimes, a face in a deck can put someone off or a court character may not look how a reader had hoped they might. In this deck, a reader can project themselves and others onto many of the silhouetted figures . This makes the set multi-cultural and, in each reading, we may see someone or something different than in our last. This reminds me of why the International Icon Tarot was once very popular.
These days, a lot of decks contain close-ups of the tarot characters in their cards. In some of mine (such as The Hermit, Strength and The Fool) I view the characters from a distance. Using those as examples, it illustrates how intense the jump of The Fool is and how far away from society The Hermit needs to be to find real understanding on his journey.
What do you hope for the future of this deck?
I never expected this deck to move away from my blog. It was only when people started commenting on it and asking if it could be bought that I considered it becoming a physical set. I love to write so it would be a dream to write a companion book. Of course, this doesn't always work. There are many times where a fresh mind can add clarity and fresh perspective to a project. It would be nice to explain the meaning behind the process of some cards (such as my using Karen Berg from The Kabbalah Centre as my Hierophant) but the real aim is for people to use the cards as a mirror for their own life or the lives of their clients. I have not considered all of my options yet but ultimately, it would be amazing if a publisher wished to print this deck.
What are some of your favourite decks?
As I have grown older, I buy less decks. With age (I am 42), my buying is more considered and I have a better idea of what works for me. Many times, I will choose a deck I can read well rather than one where I am knocked out by the artwork. These days, I like uncluttered decks, which give me space and time to reflect in a reading. I like to be able to get an overview of a big spread in a professional sitting and initially form an idea of what is in front of me. Although attractive, I find busy decks more difficult to do this with as there is so much detail in each card. Even though I have spent time over the years working with Thoth and Marseille-style decks, I prefer the RWS system and usually look for sets which echo that.
For client readings, I previously used the Original Rider Waite but in recent months, I have formed a bond with Llewellyn's Classic Tarot and The Druidcraft. Away from a professional setting, some of my previous favourites have been The Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot, the Da Vinci Tarot (Matthews), and The Favole.
Any advice for aspiring tarot artists?
The hardest thing about something like this is getting started. I never thought I would be able to commit to seventy-eight cards initially. Start small and set realistic goals. In a way, this is the same advice I would give to a new tarot student. Often, we can race into something and burn out just as quickly. If a card isn’t working, come back to it later. On reaching the end of the project, I had to go back and re-do some of my earlier illustrations. Your own tarot deck is a world you have created and can step into with ease, so the process and difficulties its creation presents really are worth it in the end!
With seventeen years of experience, Steven is a seasoned tarot reader.
As well as writing about the subject online daily, he has read professionally for a number of years. Steven has returning clients, who he reads for in person and online. He is also regularly booked for parties, where he can read for up to ten people in an evening.
He is currently taking his knowledge and experience with the tarot into teaching and private-mentoring, helping to guide others on their own path towards understanding with the cards. He is in the process of creating his tarot deck and will be seeking publication.
Steven lives in Kent with his family.
If you wish to contact him, drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website, Twitter, and Instagram.