- What was your Gateway Deck?
Rider Waite 35 years back in college, Richard and I would both play with his witchy girlfriend at the time who had one.
- What are the pieces of you that you’ve imprinted in your cards and/or book?
The World card is a self portrait of Nicholas, I feel the Ace of Swords is Richards self portrait. The guidebook author Sarah Falkner is very much The Madame Lulu card.
- If your friends were tarot cards, who would they be?
My friend the artist Melora Kuhn is the empress in our deck. It is based on a photo I shot of her and fits well. My old intern Chilean artist Julio Mosso is very much The Fool card.
- What about that deck made you want to stick with tarot?
The Mystery. It dealt with archetypes but was also storytelling. Both of which we do in our work naturally
- Do you still read with/have that deck?
I have a really nice modern more accurate Rider Waite that is so much prettier than the old ones of our college years, the hideous yellow is much more a golden peachy tan color and everything consequently is more harmonious color wise. So that deck we use for readings.
- What is your favorite or most learned from deck or deck you’re most drawn to?
I recently acquired an amazing original hand printed from woodblocks and hand stenciled Besançon Tarot from around 1805. Only one card is missing, it’s incredible to hold and use something that should be in a museum. It really connects me to the origins of tarot.
- What prompted you to create your own deck?
A desire to make a deck like I’ve been looking for, something that bridges the art world and the history of tarot decks pre 1835, that connects to our current issues of climate change, that doesn’t take itself too seriously and yet is deeply connected to a whole vocabulary of symbolic references going back to ancient times. Most modern decks I find unbearable from an artistic perspective, but I’ve been collecting reproductions of historic decks for years that excite me to no end, so we thought it was time to stop criticizing modern decks and put our own deck out there to add to the dialogue
- What is your favorite thing about your creation?
The empty space. It represents water and the rising seas and yet it is the one thing we didn’t draw.
- Where do you go for inspiration?
So many places in art history, 19th century carnival costume sketches from New Orleans , the neo-classical tarot decks, some of the female lesser-known surrealists, 17th century opera costume sketches by Inigo Jones, Ancient Roman votive statues…
- Tell us about your favorite card, please.
The Heirophant, based on a Roman-era cult bronze statue called the Hand of Sabazios, turned into a costumed figure on an island with the tools of each of the suits on the ground in front of him. It just hits all my sweet spots at once.
- What deck is at the top of your wishlist?
I’d love an original early 19th century engraved deck, to go with the woodblock one we have. I love sensing others have used a deck over the years, it turns it into more a time travel device somehow.
- If a Deck granting Magic Being appeared at your door, what is the deck (real or imagined) you’d ask them for?
We both think the artist Marcel Dzama could make an amazing contemporary deck, so I hope he hears some spirits in the night whispering to him to do so.
- How did your Gateway Deck influence your tarot preferences and reading style?
Having scenes for the pip cards really helps them be more memorable for us so we went for that approach.
- What is the most difficult card in your deck, and what is the most difficult card for you to read for yourself?
The 8 of wands, it’s just so weird. The Knave of swords, as its got these Trump references in it and it pulls up all my anxieties.
- Which card do you most identify with?
The Fool for me. I suspect Richard is the Hermit.
- Where do your interests lie outside of tarot?
We are fine artists first and tarot obsessive second, so too many different things. History, ecology, natural history, costume design, theatrical design, art history, garden design, travel, Tibetan Buddhism, Roman religion, spirits of places, the French Revolution, fighting fascism in America, rare plants, french film.
- What is your favorite part of the creation process?
The research. I could troll art books and Pinterest forever, but integrating that research with the visionary experience of laying back and meditating on each card before conceiving it and keeping it magical is the hard part.
- What are things you’d like us to know about upcoming works?
We are working on a reissue with many improvements on our very popular Eisbergfreistadt Poker Deck, we will do a Kickstarter for that in the new year.
- What are some misconceptions or illusions you think people have about creators’ lives?
That we have some special powers. We just work really hard and care a lot.
You can find out more about Nicholas , his co-creator Richard Selesnick, and the Carnival At The End Of The World Tarot at their website, http://kahnselesnick.biz/