Creator Interview with Yolanda Acree

We always appreciate it when a deck creator can give us a moment of their time and their perspective on tarot. Yolanda Acree is the creator of the Black Rebirth tarot. One of our favorite things about our tarot community is the way we inspire each other to create and find our own vision. Find out about Yolanda’s inspirations and how this deck came to be.

IDR: Do you prefer tarot, oracle, or other divination methods?
YA: Tarot is my preferred divination method right now, but I’ve tried i-Ching, coin divination, and using slips of paper with yes/no on them (is there a name for this?). I’m open to exploring other methods also.

IDR: What was your Gateway Deck?
YA: I guess Black Rebirth (BR) would be my Gateway Deck. I had never owned a deck prior to that, but before I was inspired to create BR, I had ordered Dust II Onyx (DIIO) by Courtney Alexander as my intended Gateway Deck.

IDR: What about that deck made you want to stick with tarot?
YA: Black Rebirth was a work of creative self expression and it felt like an extension of me. I’m also a visual learner so connecting with the images helped encourage my intuitive skills

IDR: How did your Gateway Deck influence your tarot preferences and reading style?
YA: When I saw DIIO the first time, I understood the importance of seeing yourself in the cards and that understanding influenced the imagery I used to create BR. I’m still developing my reading style, but both decks taught me to acknowledge my ancestors and spirit guides to assist in reading.

IDR: Do you still read with/have that deck?
YA: Yes, I will have both of them forever unless I’m called to pass them along.

IDR: What are the pieces of you that you’ve imprinted in your cards and/or book?
YA: My creative simplicity. I have been a minimalist for over 6 years now and that shows up in my work and this deck. How can I invoke a feeling or impart meaning in the simplest way? Each collage consists of two images, the archetype and the background. When I first wrote the deck booklet, each description was fairly substantial, but I quickly realized it would not fit in the standard 8-page booklet template. I had to refine the descriptions a couple of times so they would fit comfortably and still provide the core meaning of each card.

IDR: Your deck heavily features editorial fashion photography, was this intentional?
YA: No and yes. No, because I simply picked images I was drawn too from fashion and home decor magazines and this process occurred over the course of a year or so. I started collecting them before I even knew what they would be used for. Yes, because I’ve always loved the art of fashion photography, so subconsciously and intentionally, I chose these images. I also love that more black models are featured in traditional fashion magazines now. When I was kid, they were sparse.

IDR: Do you feel like the fashion photography adds something to your deck? If so, what?
YA: It definitely added diversity. The models featured in the images represent the many facets of black womanhood.

IDR: If your friends were tarot cards, who would they be?
YA: They would be The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Hermit, Justice, Death, Temperance, The Tower, The Moon, and the Sun.

IDR: What is your favorite/most learned from/most drawn to deck?
YA: As I stated earlier, BR was my first deck so it has helped me begin to develop a reading style and draw on my creative intuitiveness. It’s always going to be special to me because I created it. I’ve had DIIO for a couple of weeks now and it’s already a favorite too. I think it is teaching me a lot about connecting to my ancestors, healing, and trusting my intuition.

IDR: What prompted you to create your own deck/book?
YA: It was Spirit-led and inspired by Courtney Alexander’s DIIO. I had been collecting these images for a minute without a plan for them. Then I saw DIIO and was blown away. I was in the midst of a spiritual awakening in 2018 and felt the need to create something to help me explore my intuition. So with that combination, I finally knew what to do with all the images. I knew it would be several months before I received DIIO, so BR was a primer for me to begin understanding tarot. I also learn by doing and love diy, so going through the whole process of creating the deck was instructive.

IDR: How did you find the creation process?
YA: It was fairly simple. I know Spirit was guiding me. It only took a couple of weeks to create the collages. I recreated two of them out of the 22 cards. I researched options for having the cards printed and Make Playing Cards, made the process simple. I created two versions and the second/final version, completed in December 2018  is what I use now. It all took about 5 months.

IDR: What is your favorite thing about your creation?
YA: It’s beauty, simplicity, and how they inspire me everyday. I have the collages hung on my bedroom wall and I’m always looking to them for inspiration.

IDR: What is your favorite part of the creation process?
YA: The process of creating is the most powerful, seeing the art transformed into the deck.

IDR: The Black Rebirth Tarot is a majors only deck. Do you prefer to work with majors only?
YA: I don’t prefer majors only. BR is a majors deck because that is what I had the capacity to create, and while learning tarot, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself in trying to understand all 78 cards in the traditional deck. Now that I feel comfortable with the major arcana, I am exploring the minor arcana with DIIO.

IDR: Where do you go for inspiration?
YA: Into my dreams, books, and nature. For the past year, I’ve been documenting my dreams consistently. I’ve always been a vivid and lucid dreamer, but I would only remember the most impactful ones, now I have access to months worth of dreams. I keep a journal next to my bed. I love to read and it helps me make connections between the information I consume consciously and subconsciously. Finally, nature is a place of solace. When I need a break, I go for a walk by the river. I observe the plants living and the water flowing. It’s a form of meditation.

IDR: Tell us about your favorite card from your deck please.
YA: The High Priestess. She’s the ancestor who is guiding me. She reminds me that who I am and what I know reaches back to the beginning of time.

IDR: What deck is at the top of your wishlist?
YA: Gullah Geechee Wisdom Cards by Natalie Daise.

IDR: If a Deck granting Magic Being appeared at your door, what is the deck you’d ask them for?
YA: AfroTarot by Jessi Jumanji. I think Manzel’s Tarot by Manzel Bowman is also stunning.

IDR: What is the most difficult card in your deck, and what is the most difficult card for you to read for yourself?
YA: The Wheel of Fortune is probably difficult for others to read because the imagery is probably the least traditional. I think Strength is my most difficult card to read. I struggle with what it asks of me as someone who has been identified as “strong”.

IDR: Which card do you most identify with?
YA: Oh, that’s hard because there is a part of me in each card. The Hermit probably best represents me as a person. I enjoy retreating into myself and I do my best work alone.

IDR: Do you find that tarot pops up in unexpected places?
YA: It definitely shows up in how I view images. Sometimes, I will see a photo and in my head I’m thinking, “oh, they definitely have the Chariot vibe”.

IDR: Where do your interests lie outside of tarot?
YA: I love art so I’ve been exploring different types like crocheting, zine making, and painting, in addition to collage. I’ve gotten into gardening the past couple of years. Also, I read and travel often to feed my mind and need for adventure.

IDR: Is there a possibility for another full tarot deck or an oracle deck?
YA: Yes! I’ve been thinking about an idea for a new deck based on plant wisdom.

IDR: What tips from your minimalist lifestyle could you give to tarot readers and collectors?
YA: I know it’s tempting to collect a lot of decks and these days there are so many options to choose from than ever before. I would suggest that readers and collectors find their core decks, the ones that speak to them best and focus their attention on those, building a strong relationship with the deck. Whenever I buy something, I always have to ask myself why I want it and how it will add value to my life. If I can’t answer the questions satisfactorily, then I know I don’t really need that item. Also, because divination is a spiritual exchange of energy, I think it’s very important to only have decks that emit a strong sense of balance and clarity.

IDR: We want to thank you for spending time with us, and for letting us get to know you better. Is there anything else you want to tell us before we’re done?
YA: Thank you for showing love to me and Black Rebirth. The questions were very thoughtful and I enjoyed answering them. I’m also grateful to have found a new community in tarot. If you’d like to learn more about me, you can visit my sites, yolandavacree.com and blackminimalists.net.

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