It is such a gift to meet a kindred spirit. When I first saw Cheryl Fair’s Chariot card for her forthcoming Magical Realism Tarot I was intrigued. Pamela Steele of the Wizard’s Pets Tarot mentioned in a deck creators forum about this series of posts on crowdfunding, and that was how I met Cheryl. Thanks Pamela for all your great networking! Cheryl’s Chariot image has a wild, potent energy to it, and at the same time it is lush and incredibly beautiful. Those sort of juxtapositions really draw me in, and when Cheryl and I started messaging back and forth I learned why I was so attracted to her work. This post is part one of two. Cheryl is on the verge of launching her crowdfunding campaign in early October to release the deck, and I love it when I can speak to folks before they begin the process, and then after it’s complete to hear how the experience impacted them.
Who Makes Decks?
I always wonder what group of characteristics come together in people who are deck creators. Creating your own deck is an enormous amount of work, and I always wish to know more about these passionately crazy folks who are birthing new divination tools. Cheryl has a wonderful and eclectic background in the arts and divination, offering her all of the skills she needed to bring her own visions to life. She grew up in a family where her mother and grandmother gave reading with normal playing cards, and those early influences affected her deeply. She sees everything as enchanted, and living in magic is the norm, not the exception. I feel the same way, and I believe that is one of the gifts divination tool creators offer, inspiring others to trust, listen, and follow Spirit to bring more mystical projects to life.
In one of our email conversations Cheryl says:
“To me metaphysics are just part of life. I was always taught to accept them as what IS. The spiritual world is not separate from life, and for me it is as real as any other part of life. I think that’s why the whole magical realism concept works for me as an artist and as the designer of a tarot deck. My reality IS magical. There is the surface of our everyday lives, that everyone can see all the time, and then there are other things going on that people can sense but don’t necessarily see. I like my images to give people permission to acknowledge the undercurrents in their world. Everything is connected and that’s why people can feel that undercurrent, if they pay attention.
I like to keep my images “real” looking enough so they don’t become completely fantasy, but not strictly documentation either. So when a person does a reading the cards are helping to bring the subconscious undercurrents to the visible realm of consciousness. The tools that we use, whether cards, or numerology, astrology, palmistry, religion or tea leaf reading; anything that we ascribe meaning to can help us see what we need to see.”
Cheryl began reading cards at eighteen, and has been a professional astrologer for over twenty years. Along with her deep immersion in metaphysics, she has also been a life-long artist, with a BA in visual art. She has been a film and video producer, managed and promoted bands, and been a photographer for decades. The imagery in the Magical Realism Tarot came directly from her rich community of fellow artists, and the models in the photos are actors, dancers, musicians, tattoo artists, painters, photographers, burlesque performers, comedians and craftspeople. Cheryl says,
“Most of the models provided their own costuming and put a considerable amount of thought and effort into their role. These are more than just “pretty faces,” they are creative people who “get it” and collaborated with (me), to create archetypal images.”
This is part of why this deck is so magnetic. Each artist brings their own deeply honed creative presence to the process and that gives the cards a very authentic energy. These are people who already live between the worlds, and they are simply stepping into embodying the archetypes of the Tarot. It is like Julia Hesse’s Living Tarot performances, it brings Tarot’s power into the here and now. (And we will be experiencing this at Tarotcon Dallas in October, come play).
Cheryl is currently completing the write-up for her Kickstarter campaign, and we had some discussions about how she wanted to approach the process. She is choosing Kickstarter because she feels it has a stronger reputation than Indiegogo, and she also appreciates their all-or-nothing model of funding so that if she does not reach her goal she is not responsible for delivering something she cannot afford. With her background in art and film, managing and promoting bands, having owned her own metaphysical store, being technologically savvy, having a large community of fellow artists to promote the deck, and being a great lover of divination, she is well positioned to make the campaign work. Her main concern has been setting the financial goal. With all of the Kickstarter and money broker fees, along with shipping costs (*see Doug Thornsjo’s update below about the true costs of shipping for his recently fulfilled Tarot of the Zirkus Mågi campaign) you want to make sure that you can actually afford to do this.
Ace in the Hole
Another ace in the hole she has for a potentially successful campaign is that the decks are already ordered. She borrowed the 50% down payment from a friend, so there are no concerns for people pledging to the campaign that their orders will not be fulfilled. She wanted to make sure they were ready for the winter holidays, and with the three-month lead time she needed to move ahead. There will be different deck options for the campaign, with a simple shrink-wrapped version, and then some limited-edition options, and the booklet is nearly completed.
Marketing wise she is also looking at doing public performances with some of the artists in the deck combined with art shows of the prints themselves. This is such a great way to get more promotion and draw people into the project. And each of the artists in the deck are potential ambassadors for anything Cheryl does with the cards because they are co-creators of the project. In my research on crowdfunding, some of the campaigns that have done the best have many people invested in the product, so from a social media and networking perspective your outreach grows exponentially with the more people who will truly champion it.
And you can be very direct with the people you feels are your core community in requesting support. Ask them to share it and offer them resources to do that, with photos, quotes, reviews and write-ups so it is really easy to do. You can make an Ambassadors Resources page on your website or blog with all of this information. And let them know that direct contact through emails and person to person sharing is the most successful way campaigns are funded. Have them share it on their Facebook pages with personalized testimonials added about why they love the project. It can blow you away how generous some people can be for promoting work they love. Give people this opportunity to help. And trust that it is a gift to offer your sacred creations to the people who are hungry for them. Let the tribe support you.
Why I love It
I am really excited about this deck, and as Cheryl and I spoke on the phone about the project I got why I am so drawn to it. I mentioned to her how much I loved the color palette in her work, and when she explained why her work looks the way it does, I knew why we were creative kin. Having worked for years in film, and actual film, not digital, her eye is attuned to softer, more saturated imagery. Straight photography is too sharp she said, so she has to keep degenerating the images so people look more diffused and beautiful. As Cheryl said about both of our work, “Your images are similar to mine in the way that they are recognizable as a human form yet there’s more going on. It’s nice to meet another photographer who is doing this, someone who alters reality in a photographic image.”
Yes Cheryl, it is nice to meet someone else who is bringing mythical, dreamtime images into our contemporary world. Isn’t it fascinating that we are using earthly technology to reveal the other worlds that are hidden in plain sight. As I have said about my Painted Body imagery, the Spirits let me take pictures between the veils. I see that in your work as well Cheryl, thanks for showing up and sharing your visions, and I can’t wait to use your deck.
Here are two of Cheryl’s experimental videos, one that is directly related to the Tarot, and the other that is very symbolic and Tarot-like. On September 23rd she is releasing a new video, and I will attach it when it is available.
The Sun card:
Dark ambient piece:
The Tarot of the Zirkus Mågi is here!!
Another successful deck campaign has just fulfilled its orders. I just got my deck, and it is even cooler in person! The artwork is so refined and gorgeous while also being really graphically compelling. It’s so fun when something is created that hits such an archetypal note that its feels like it has always existed. That’s how Doug’s style comes across in these cards. The vintage images repurposed with a super-saturated palette is so perfect for his theme. And the charming write-ups still make me grin. We have all been invited into this deeply mysterious world, and his anthropological myth-making around the origins of the deck is priceless. Thanks Doug for all your wonderful work, and I look forward to using this deck over time. I do wish there was a fuller book though.
*Doug just emailed me this perspective on setting your campaign goal:
“Now that I’ve shipped all the Kickstarter orders and have finally got that monkey off my back for good & all, here’s something I learned the hard way that may interest the readers of your crowdfunding series:
Even if you charge extra for the international shipping (as I did), all that money gets added in to the total amount raised for your campaign. So, if you set the goal of your campaign at just the cost of production, or even a little bit more, you are going to be feeling a lot of Pain at the Post Office. Yes, your customers all paid for their postage, but if you just met your production costs, all that money got sucked up in the production, leaving you having to pay that postage out-of-pocket. A cash-flow thing that has the power to really bite you on the backside. Now after having done it twice, I think the Best Practice is to set your financial goal at something like half again as much as what you actually need to produce the product. Because Kickstarter and Amazon lap up 5% off the top, and when they’re done the USPS is waiting with its greedy slavering jaws hanging open…
This is why I put the deck out on sale before I would have liked to, as “post-Kickstarter pre-orders” … as a way of hopefully making enough to actually cover the postage costs, which in my case ran to in excess of $1,500. Owitch!”
The Oracle of Initiation Tarot-sized deck is here!!!
And yet another crowdfunding venture that has delivered on it’s promises. Although my campaign only reached 82% of its $8,888 goal, I still fulfilled all of the new Tarot-sized deck orders. (I chose to do Indiegogo’s flexible funding option where I would receive everything pledged, but simply pay higher fees if my goal was not reached). And people are sending the new deck love letters and photos about how much fun they are having with the Oracle. Only $55 (US shipping included) for the new handheld deck in a blue velvet bag with the almost completed PDF downloadable booklet! And I do suggest trading-up and getting the big 400-page Deluxe book with contributions from cutting-edge visionaries including Mary K. Greer, Marcus Katz, Carrie Paris, Joanna Powell Colbert, Lisa de St. Croix, Luisah Teish and many more. Life is so good. See you in November at Tarotcon in Dallas. Tickets still available!
Order your Tarot-sized Oracle deck here: http://www.oracleofinitiation.com/oracle-cards-store.html
Coming Soon: an interview with Virginia Jester and Chris Hopkins of the successful City Mystic-New York Tarot Kickstarter campaign. We just finished a rich and deep engagement about being artists who ground projects to the earth-plane, the synergy between Virginia and Chris’ visions, how we can really support young people’s emergence, and being bridges between cultures. I can’t wait to share this with you all. More wisdom about making our dreams come true.