Today on the Biddy Tarot Podcast, I’m talking to the very talented illustrator Eleanor Grosch about the Everyday Tarot deck.
The Everyday Tarot deck is a modern take on the Rider-Waite deck. It’s been designed with the intention of making it approachable, accessible, easy to look at, but at the same time, allows the reader to connect to the ancient wisdom of the Tarot.
In this episode, you’ll not only learn all about our experience creating the deck together, but also learn about Eleanor’s inspiration and process.
- Order your own copy of the Everyday Tarot Deck at Everydaytarot.com
- Learn more about my guest, Eleanor Grosch at Justeleanor.com
Brigit: You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot podcast. This is episode 143, The Making of the Everyday Tarot Deck with illustrator Eleanor Grosch.
Intro: Welcome to the Biddy Tarot podcast, where you’ll learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide. Listen as Brigit and her guest share the very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. Now, here is your host, Brigit Esselmont.
Brigit: Hello and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot podcast. I am extra excited about today’s episode because we get to talk all about the Everyday Tarot deck. I wanted to bring on the illustrator, Eleanor Grosch to talk about not just the experience that we had to together as we created this deck, but also what was going on for her and what inspired her as she was creating the visuals for the Everyday Tarot deck.
Now, Eleanor is an illustrator who lives in St. Petersburg in Florida. She’s known for her simplified playful illustrations and bold colourful design work. She started her business in 2003 making posters for bands. Then she started to create illustrations that were licensed for fashion lines, baby products, and home décor. You’ll hear on the interview, she even created sneakers and shoes for the popular brand Keds. Super exciting.
So, Eleanor was selected as our illustrator for the Everyday Tarot deck. We worked on this deck together over a period of three months – only three months – and what she has created through the visuals of the cards is nothing short of amazing. So, of course, this episode is brought to you by the Everyday Tarot deck. You can find out more over at everydaytarot.com.
So, the Everyday Tarot deck has been designed as a modern take on the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. It has been designed with the intention of making it approachable, accessible, easy to look at, and also at the same time, still connecting with the ancient wisdom of the Tarot. You’ll hear Eleanor talk more about this.
We’ve really incorporated the symbolism from the original Tarot cards and from the more traditional decks and we’ve transformed them in a different way, in a way that is more relatable for the present day. You’ll also notice that in the Everyday Tarot deck there are more women hooray and more women in these more powerful worlds, which is really neat and exciting life. But also we’ve got some great diversity and just some really modern interpretations of the Tarot cards.
So, if you want to check that out, go to everydaytarot.com. The deck is a mini deck. So, it is cute and tiny and fits perfectly in your handbag or backpack and it also comes with an 88-paged mini guidebook. So, I’ve written the meanings for the cards both in the upright and reversed positions so you have that ready on hand to help you interpret the Tarot deck.
So, check it out, everydaytarot.com and you can purchase it through the links on that site. You’ll also find in your favourite bookstores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your local bookstore. If they don’t stock it, please ask them to stock it. So, I hope you love it.
Now, let’s have a chat with Eleanor and let’s hear more about how the Everyday Tarot deck came about. So, welcome Eleanor. I am so excited to have you here on today’s podcast. How’re you doing today?
Eleanor: I’m doing great, Brigit. I’m excited too. This is such a fun opportunity for me.
Brigit: I know. It feels a bit like a flashback because as we’ll go into today, it’s been a little while now since we’ve been working on this deck together. So, it’s nice. It’s a bit like a reunion episode-
Eleanor: It’s true.
Brigit: … for us.
Eleanor: A very good point.
Brigit: So, Eleanor, you’re an amazing illustrator. I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about your story. What led you to becoming an illustrator and also what … Yeah. How have you gotten to this point? Tell us more about your story.
Eleanor: Okay. Well, thank you, Brigit. This is great. It’s a lifelong story. That’s for sure. So, it started as a kid just drawing, drawing, drawing. It was almost a problem because at school all I’d want to do is draw. I wouldn’t pay attention, head in the clouds. Nobody knew what to do with me, but my mom just went with the flow and it led to going into … I went to a version of art school and studied drawing there. I was in my element. I mean, it was just heaven.
After college, nobody really thought I’d do anything related to art. Nobody ever thinks, “Oh, you’re interested in art. You’re definitely going to do that.” So, my mom said, “Well, you’ll figure it out. It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Maybe you can teach or do something like that.” I actually did teach for a little while in Florida and then I also taught illustration up in Philadelphia.
So, teaching is a part of my background, but the way that I became an illustrator was that I was interested in, as we all are, in children’s books as a kid. I loved the drawings and just the especially mythology was always an interest of mine. The drawings that went with that, all the beautiful books just it captured my imagination, and I think it does for most people. Then I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll try to be a children’s book illustrator.” Well, I still haven’t illustrated a children’s book, but here I am-
Brigit: Never say never.
Eleanor: … 13 years later. Yeah. Never say never. Hopefully someday, but I was always interested in drawing animals. I developed a simple sort of graphic style, which I think is something that I know you wanted to bring to the deck, which we’ll get to, but that was my thing. This was in maybe 2005.
I got noticed for doing rock posters for bands, bands traveling locally in Florida. That got me noticed by a magazine and they did a little story. Then Keds shoes, which is a company that’s an American company, I don’t know if you guys have them in Australia. Sneaker-
Eleanor: It’s like a sneaker company.
Brigit: I heard the brand, yeah.
Eleanor: Yeah. So, they did a line of shoes with my illustrations on them as patterns. So, that brought me into like, okay. This is a real thing that I’m actually doing. I still never thought this is going to last. Honestly, Brigit, every year I think okay, this is going to be the last year. There’s no way this can continue, but every year, we tend to figure things out somehow how it goes. It’s like, “Well, I love doing this. Could this actually be real?” And sure enough every year things seem to happen, but I’m always a little skeptical.
Brigit: Yeah. I think it’s inspirational because I know we’ve got many artists in our community. We either have full-time artists, which I think is a rare thing unfortunately.
Eleanor: Yeah. It’s rare.
Brigit: Or we have a lot of closer artists who would love to kind of take on this journey. So, I love that you can take your passion for illustrating and you’ve created a really successful career from it and-
Eleanor: And I’ll say somehow-
Brigit: … it’s great.
Eleanor: … it’s great that it’s been successful. Maybe I’m just afraid. This is a silly thing, but even after years of doing it, I’m still every time, I want to do a great job. So, I’m nervous and I’m filled with anticipation and trepidation and all these things that I think are normal for any creative pursuit, but I have to keep talking myself down. It’s normal. It’s okay. Breathe through it. So, for anybody listening out there who is trying to make it work as well, that is not a feeling that leaves you, unfortunately.
Eleanor: At least for me, I still feel like it’s my first time, every time.
Brigit: That’s awesome. Do you know what, it’s funny because even, I mean, Biddy Tarot’s going amazing. It’s just been in a growth pattern all the time. I still have those crazy thoughts of like, “Oh my gosh, what if it just stopped? What would I do?” Those kinds of thoughts. It’s crazy, right?
Eleanor: Maybe that’s for everyone and maybe especially when there’s so much riding on it. It’s something that you love. It’s your dream. So, it feels like oh, there’s so much riding on that. If you love it, can it be something that sustains itself. I think maybe for both of us, for the moment, we can say yes. So, that’s great.
Brigit: Yeah, yeah. So, tell me how this Tarot deck opportunity became available for you because it’s funny. I feel we kind of were on our two little paths and we met somewhere in the middle. So, I’d love to hear more about where your path came from into this particular project.
Eleanor: Oh man. Brigit, I have to say, I still feel like this was just … It was destiny because this is the kind of project, maybe you don’t know this. I have wanted to do a Tarot deck for many years. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. So, I was thinking of just maybe starting to illustrate Tarot cards on my own just for fun.
I’ll get professional assignments, that’s one thing. That’s how we make money, but I’ll also always be trying to work on something that’s just fun. So, whenever I get a chance, I’ll start to do like I have a section of art prints on my website. Those are really just … That’s a passion project. When people buy them, that’s great, but there that’s my artwork. I need to put it out in the world somehow, so it’s on the shop.
So, for me, what I understand from Susan who’s been working with us, she found my … I think she was looking for someone else. This is what I’ve come to know. She was searching for someone and she’s thinking, “Who was it? It was a Philadelphia artist. I can’t remember the name.” So, she typed Philadelphia artist and at the time I was living in Philadelphia or actually that was last year. Maybe that wasn’t … Nevermind.
Anyway, so she found an article that was written about me and some other Philadelphia artists, which is where I lived for over 10 years. I was first on the list just by chance. She looked at the website and she thought, “Wait a minute, this might work. Hold on. Let’s see if this girl is available.” So, clicked on my site, got in contact and I thought, “How the heck did this one come to me in the universe? This is amazing.”
It showed up in my inbox like okay, the dream project is here. All right. Well, can you do it? And I’m thinking, “I actually can’t believe this is a real opportunity. This is unbelievable. So, I said, “Of course, yes. I’d love to do it. What style are you looking for?” I think right away when I heard what you were looking for, I thought, “Okay. I’m not somebody who is known for human figures as an artist and illustrator, but I’ve been working on that recently has more of an interest.
The timing of this is just almost unbelievable for me that I got to illustrate people over many cards, many different scenarios. It was quite intense, as you remember. I mean, it is quite an intense process but there it is. I mean, that’s how it happened for me.
Brigit: Yeah. It’s crazy, right? So, from my end, I mean my focus was the book. So, I got the book deal and then I said, “Oh, in addition to the book,” this is the publisher Running Press, “In addition to the book, we’d love to make a Tarot deck.” I’m like, “What? A Tarot deck?”
Eleanor: Okay. Yeah.
Brigit: Here is like the pattern that was going in my head. A lot of people have asked me to create a Tarot deck. I’ve always put it off because I’ve spoken to a lot of deck creators and they tell me it takes probably at least a year or two to create a deck. It’s this huge process of diving into the cards and expressing it visually and 78 cards takes so long to create.
Eleanor: It’s crazy. Yeah.
Brigit: I had kind of resisted it. Yeah, I was really resisting it, but then when this opportunity came up to create a deck alongside the book I was like, “Okay, sure. Let’s do it, right.”
Brigit: Then the curious process of finding an illustrator began and I was presented really with you. I was like, “Oh, is this how it works? Okay.” I knew in this whole project, I really had to trust the Universe. I knew this was going to be one of those intuitive processes not a head process. So, had it been more of a head thing, I’d think, “Oh surely I need to go on a search and find some people-
Eleanor: Absolutely. Right.
Brigit: … and whittle it down into the perfect person.” But I was being presented one illustrator, I thought, “Okay, sure. Let’s try that.”
Eleanor: We sound like two crazy people though. Well, it’s so funny. It’s like, “Oh, this is a huge decision. Here’s an option.” “Okay.”
Brigit: I know.
Brigit: But I think again, I like to work quickly so I really had to trust that this was the fastest way for things to happen. Then we started working on a couple of cards and it was all happening through our publisher. So, you would send the card to the publisher and it would come to me. I was ticking the boxes going, “Yes, yes. That’s fine.” Then I went and had lunch with a friend who she is creator of one of my favourite decks, the Lumina Tarot. So, I was meeting with Lauren.
Eleanor: Oh cool. Okay.
Brigit: Lauren was talking to me about her process of creating a deck and how it took two years and they were pretty much in each other’s pockets for this whole entire period. I thought, “Oh my gosh, am I doing it wrong? Shouldn’t I have more contact with the illustrator? I don’t even really know who this person is.” So, I had-
Eleanor: Yeah. Who is this crazy person? Exactly.
Brigit: I had a major freak out and I thought … And also, a lot of the stuff came up for me around well, it’s sort of happening outside of me. I don’t feel like I’m having contribution to this deck and how can I put a name on something that I’m not feeling like I’m fully connected to? It felt in someways inauthentic. So, of course, I consulted my Tarot cards.
Eleanor: Of course.
Brigit: I was like, “What do I do? Do I pull a pin on this project?” I said, “No, not doing it or do I change things around?” And basically the cards said to me, first I needed to get really clear on what my vision was for the deck. So, I was just going along for the ride. Second, I needed to get closer to you. That’s when I said to Running Press, “You know what, we need a meeting. I need to meet with this illustrator. I need to know who Eleanor is.”
Brigit: And I remember that first meeting with the two of us. We were like, I don’t know, little jumping around. We were excited. Then just that whole-
Eleanor: Well yeah, just the energy is good.
Brigit: Yeah, all that energy exchange that just happened and it only needed to be even in half an hour, I think I had so much more faith in the process. I knew that you were excited. You were excited and yeah. It was all-
Eleanor: I was really excited. I could hardly contain it.
Eleanor: That’s right.
Brigit: I’d love to hear from you, what was your process and in particular, how did you enjoy that we had I guess a match or an alignment between what I had envisioned for the deck and what you were expressing in terms of your illustrations? What was your process for that?
Eleanor: Well, that’s a good question. It’s interesting to hear your point of view and your side of what happened around that beginning time because for me, I’ll tell you what happened for me. So, I get the assignment. I’m just like, “Oh my god, I can’t wait to start.” I was so excited. I actually had to hold back on showing Susan. I think I had done like five cards right off the bat. I was just like eh because I dove right in. I just committed 100% because I also like to get things done very quickly.
I think that’s something that it sounds like we didn’t even know we had that in common, but that’s a huge part of my life. If something isn’t done today, it takes a mental space for me and I just hate it. It’s like, “I need things off my plate, off my plate, off my plate.” So, getting things done quickly, making decisions quickly, I would say if anybody who knows me can say anything about me they’ll say, “Well, Eleanor is very decisive.” It’s like I will make that decision. It may not be the best decision, but I have made it and then it’s done and that’s that.
So, that’s a very similar thing that we have and I think something that I need to do more in my life is trust, like you’re saying, trusting more of a process. Trusting that maybe time has a … It doesn’t have to be done today. Time has a place in all of these things. So, when something goes off course or shift a little bit, for me that’s a huge issue. I’m like, “Oh my god, it’s out-of-control. I can’t handle it,” but it’s strange.
I had already done maybe let’s say four or five cards by the time I was selecting the ones that I wanted to show to Susan and then to you. So, she was going to take this to you as part of the look of the Tarot cards. So, we had decided on a couple of things that were I think unique to the look of this deck. I wanted to have an archetype for each figure. So, it would be one woman. It wouldn’t be a whole lot of different women. It would be a female figure and this is femininity.
So, when we’re talking about the Empress, this was the first card that I think that we showed you. So, the Empress set the tone for who this feminine character was going to be. She’s the archetype of femininity throughout all of the cards. So, it’s not a bunch of different women. It’s this woman. It’s her face. They have different shades, but this is the archetype.
Then there was going to be a flower and this was shown in the sun. So, it’s the child with the sunflower wreath around the horse. I thought, I want this flower to have that same feeling that it’s not any particular flower, but it is the essence of a flower. So, maybe I’m just sounding like a crazy person, but it had to be not like a rose or a sunflower. It’s just a flower. It’s petals. So, for me, it made it more metaphysical in my mind. Like it exists in this plane that’s not our plane.
For me, my understanding of Tarot, which is a little limited, but it always feels like it’s behold us but it’s also part of us. It’s like, yes, it reflects us, but it’s not living on our same world to me. So, the images I wanted them to be still. I wanted them to be ever present. It’s like an idea of this world not the world itself. You know what I mean? I don’t know. Maybe, that’s just silly but that’s what I was trying to capture with these images.
So, the Empress, to me she needed to have stillness. She isn’t running around. She’s just this entity of femininity. Then when you were saying, “Oh, I like this and this about it, but she needs to have certain things that are elemental to the Empress. These are the Venus symbol. The hill in the background. You were saying like she needs to have some floral element. For me, having familiarity with the Rider-Waite deck I knew that there were a lot of symbols that were very important that I needed your guidance to decide which ones work because there’s a lot. There is a lot of stuff in the deck.
So, for you to say like okay, yeah. A tree, flowers, hills, some of those elements are important but not all of them. In the Star I remember you said, “That bird in the background. Yeah, we can get rid of the bird. Birds like, yeah if you like it, that’s fine but you don’t need the bird.” So, this is very important for me to get.
But I remember we decided well we’ll put the Venus symbol as an earring on the Empress. So, it doesn’t have to be … It can be fun as well as being metaphysical and serious and spiritual. It’s got an element of fun as well or the pattern on her dress felt more fun to me than too serious.
Brigit: Yeah. It was such a funny process. It’s so serendipitous all of it because when I would tell you what symbols needed to be in that, it’s almost as if you shook them all up and put them into different places as like the lighter Rider-Waite and then you’re like, “No, let’s change it up.”
So, it’s the modernisation of this deck and for me that’s the real essence of this deck. It is a modern version of the Rider-Waite. It’s taking all of the good ancient wisdom and symbols and so on, but putting in a way that is I think a lot more approachable, a lot more understandable and earring with the Venus symbol like, “Yeah, that’s what you do these days.”
Eleanor: Right. Of course, yeah.
Brigit: So, that’s neat. Then it’s funny because I think it was after about the five cards where I was like, “Okay, there were going to be specific symbols in each card.” Running Press had said, “Okay, well can you write down for every card exactly which symbol should be in it?” I was like, “No. No, I won’t.” Well and I thought gosh, that’s a lot of work. Then two, I thought you know what, I’m going to trust this process. What happened from there is you were able to find the exact right symbols.
From that point onwards, it was very rare for me to need to say okay, you’ve missed or you’ve got to add this. Again, I think there was just so much trust in this process. I needed to trust that you would intuitively see what you needed to see. So, I know that you were looking at the website, at the Biddy Tarot website, and trying to really tap into how I was interpreting the cards. Then you were taking that and visually expressing it. I needed to trust that you would see exactly what you needed to see as an illustrator and you would express it in the exact way you needed to as an illustrator. I kind of-
Eleanor: I appreciate.
Brigit: … don’t want to tinker with that process. Do you know what I mean?
Brigit: Because I knew if I told you too much, it should be there. You’d end up with these lines and boxes on that card which is not how I wanted it.
Eleanor: And that actually is extremely true because there’s a good thing about control where where you have good control with anything, you sort of have an element of letting things go. To an extent being a good driver, I feel like I’m pretty good driver now. I live in Florida. I drive all the time. I’m pretty good driver. When I got back into driving because I hadn’t driven car maybe regularly in at least five years, there was a lot of control where I was holding really tight. I was holding the steering wheel like this and every single decision was sort of equally important and I didn’t know what to do.
I was so slow. I’m still slow, but I’m actually a maddeningly slow driver for anybody who is kind of … Oh my god, just don’t meet me on the road. It’s awful. You’ll get stack behind me. Now, I notice that where there is a good control, there’s almost an element of relaxation. So, you have to trust a little bit in order to let go. I think the way that you were able to steer me with these cards is that you thought, “Okay, she is an illustrator. She knows what I like. Let her do her thing.”
Then once I was able to do that, we had talked about a little bit which symbols. I obviously read your descriptions of the cards. I also looked at other decks to see how other people had interpreted both modern and older decks. I would go back to what they say is like the original deck, the Marseille sort of look, very old-fashioned, but also had some elements that I felt like were important to consider than other decks that can ago very modern like Golden Thread. You had mentioned it. Look at Golden Thread. Look at Mesquite and those are very modern, very beautiful interpretations. Quite different. Quite different.
And so, for me to see how did they do it? Which things did they make sure to include? I knew that those were the things then that we would have to keep. Everything else, my style is something that I feel like it’s, get rid of everything except what’s absolutely necessarily. That’s my style actually in my house too. Always get rid of everything except what’s absolutely necessary, because I just hate clutter. Clutter is my enemy.
So, always get rid of everything and I’m just getting rid of papers all the time and I feel like in illustration, I do the same thing. Just get rid of everything that’s extra. Anything extra just it bothers me. So, having you trust me in that process was just so key. I think to talk about my interpretation of when they said to me, “Hold on, Eleanor. We got to take a step back.”
So, I got an email from Susan like, you were the author at that point, “The author doesn’t feel very connected to this process. So, what we’re going to do is put it on hold for a little while and then we’ll have you guys figure it out. Maybe we’ll have a conversation on the phone.” I was thinking, “Oh my god, no. It’s over.” I just went into this dark place where I was like, “Oh my god, she hates. Oh it’s so horrible.” I was really stressed because I thought, “Oh no, I’ve done something wrong. What is it?”
Then Peter said to me, Peter is my husband, he said, “Would you just chill out? It could be anything. It could be like the colour. The particular shade of purple isn’t really what she wants and all she can see is just purple and that’s sometimes overwhelming for people. They see something and it might not be your style that’s the problem at all. It might just be the way she’s feeling about it or certain things that are going on that are beyond your control.”
So I was like, “Okay.” Peter is a voice of reason in my life. I was like, “Okay, I’m going to trust you, Peter.” So, when we got on the phone, I felt like immediately we were giddy. We were really giddy. We were just like, “Oh okay, it’s you.” We were very relaxed I felt immediately. That made me feel so good that you were open to meeting me as a person and hearing my interpretation of what was going on and how to make this deck the best it could possibly be.
Then when I heard from you is funny you can actually did, you said, “You know the shade of purple isn’t really reflecting my brand.” I was like, “Peter, you’re so right.” Sometimes it’s as simple as something like that. So that was one of the things. We changed the shade of purple to make it darker. Then another thing that you were responding to is our lack of direct communication. So, I think it helped immensely then to check in once a month, once every few week. What was it? One a month, about that?
Brigit: Yeah. I think-
Eleanor: To decide what’s working and what’s not.
Brigit: Yeah. Even just having the call with the two of us, I just knew that then our energy had connected. I mean, I’m very big into energy and I knew that just even after that meeting it’s fine. All the energy would flow around it. I think yeah, that was a massive turning point, a really important turning point. So, we’ve talked a little bit about the slowness or fastness of creating a deck.
Brigit: Tell me how quickly you made these cards.
Brigit: A month. Yeah. It could have been, yes.
Eleanor: One month. Okay. Does that tell you anything about how obsessively excited I was about making these? I mean, I would start my day with a smile and I would go outside to work because it was beautiful weather. I live in Florida, so it was beautiful winter weather. It was just sunny and bright, blue sky.
I would go outside to work. I put my computer down, have my coffee and I would look at the two or three cards that I had to illustrate for that day. I would just sit with them. I would read about them. I would consider what other illustrators had done with them. I would look at the card and think, what is this card, what is it saying to me? What’s the story here? What do you want to say about this card? How should it look?
When I’m thinking about this, when I think of the Death card, so the Death card to me was actually kind of a challenge because a couple of versions that I showed you had this sort of goofy looking skull face. You were like, “That is not happening. That just looks silly.”
When I was working on it, I got this, what would you call it, tunnel vision where I’m just looking at this card and I’m thinking okay, it has to look like this kind of skull. How do you simplify this skull to fit in this world? How does it not look too scary, but not look too goofy? I had a hard time creating that one and making it look serious, approachable, not like too detailed but still looked like a skull. Eventually, we got around to that.
I think that one I had given you some different interpretations of time. Like time being upside down. The time doesn’t matter. The card in the original Rider-Waite deck, it has a lot of figures. There’s a lot of things going on. I had a challenge kind of simplifying that story. So, I think in the end, we chose one woman begging Death for her life and he’s sort of like, “Nah, I touch everything no matter what.”
Eleanor: So, we still have the regal Death character who is outside of the realm of being touched by pity or by any of the emotions that we experience. Then we have this figure as the woman who she’s humanity begging for help or survival or anything and he’s sort of casting her aside. So, in the original one I think there is a bishop who is also dying. It’s like well, even if you’re religious, even if you have faith, it doesn’t matter.
So, that one was a challenge for me because it was a lot of back and forth about how this character should look. Should he be an armour? We were wondering about that too. Is it too archaic to have him in armour or can armour also be a modern idea? I think we decided it can be a modern idea armour. We have emotional armour that we put on. It can be that. It doesn’t have to be knightly necessarily.
Eleanor: 22 cards. It’s a little crazy.
Brigit: Then you moved onto the 56 Minor Arcana. At the same time, it was Christmas and New Year and how long did that-
Eleanor: That’s right.
Brigit: … take you?
Eleanor: Well, Brigit I have to say, I was cheating a little bit because before I was done with the Major Arcana … So, we have our kids at home with us. So, we have a three and a half year old and a one and a half year old. My husband and I work together. So, we are 100% parents and 100% working nearly all the time. It’s a little intense. It really is.
So, in the morning, I’ll usually work for a while and then in the afternoon, Peter will work or he’ll take on a project on the house or we’ll figure it out. So, it is constant juggling. So, during nap time as anybody who has young children knows, this is a key time to get your chores done or your fun stuff like maybe watch a little movie or something during nap time. So, during nap time when I was making the Major Arcana in the morning, I would be doing the Minor Arcana for the cups during that month.
So, I wanted to warm up into the Suit of Cups to kind of get into that world, like what it’s like to create a suit. So, cups was first. Then I would do I just worked Ace through to King and it was sort of like my fun time to work on these things. Boy, what a difference between Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. So, I think I had shown you the cups. Let’s see. We completed the 56 in about another six weeks I believe or was it less?
Brigit: I think it’s less.
Eleanor: Was it a month?
Brigit: I had a feeling it came out in about three weeks over Christmas which blew me away. I remember being on a call with you going, “You realise that this normally takes two years for people and you’re doing it in three weeks. You’re an amazing woman.”
Eleanor: Yeah. Oh thank you, Brigit. I can’t deal with unfinished business. It’s just too much for me. So, creating these things I knew that there’s another thing that happens when you’re an illustrator and there’s a lengthy project, your style can change. So, things can happen in your life and your style just changes.
I knew with this, it had to look perfect. It had to be consistent and there had to be this line throughout that for me as an illustrator I cannot maintain through two years. I just can’t. Things will change. So, I knew that this had to be at the most three months because if you go back and forth too much, then suddenly the Major Arcana will start to look like oh-oh they don’t match.
Eleanor: To me, maybe I’m the only one who sees that. Maybe people will look at my website and say, “What is she talking about? Her style is the same.” But I see changes like that. I can’t go back. So, it was important for me to make it a contained process that I was in the same mindset from beginning to end. That there was this like I said a line, a continuity throughout beyond just the look of them.
Eleanor: For energy too. Energy-wise it’s, you’re bringing the same excitement and the same … Every day, I wanted this to be my ritual. I would wake up and do three or four cards. Then during nap time I might do another one or two because I was just like, “I can’t wait to do more. Give me more.” At the end, I was thinking-
Brigit: I know. I remember how sad you were when it ended.
Eleanor: …”Can there be more cards?” Yeah.
Brigit: I was like, “There’s always a Lenormand deck that you could create.”
Eleanor: That’s right. That’s right. Help a girl out. Where is some more cards?
Brigit: Yeah, good.
Eleanor: It’s so rewarding. It’s fun, but it’s also deeply rewarding to create these images.
Brigit: Yeah. I’ll be curious to hear in your words how would you describe these decks? So, if someone was interested in getting the deck, what would you tell them about the deck and it’s energy and who it would be for?
Eleanor: I think the person, as a commercial artist, you always have to think of that. Who is this for? I remember you had given me or it was either you or through the publisher you had said that it’s primarily for women, but it can also be for men. But the key character that we were designing for is a woman who has some familiarity with Tarot, some interest in Tarot but necessarily a lot of background.
So, in looking at your website then and discovering what your brand is about, that is so key, making it something accessible. So, demystifying the mystical is a big job. This is a hard thing to do. How do you make it attainable, but also something that people find inspiring and aspirational?
I would say that’s something that anybody who is trying to make something sophisticated and elegant, they want it to be something that people want to rise to. But then you also didn’t want it to be intimidating, so that’s a hard mix. So, for me I wanted the style to be elegant, sophisticated, very smooth and beautiful. But then the imagery and the colors and the simplicity of it I’m hoping gives it an attainability and accessibility to anybody.
That anybody can pick it up and say, “Oh, that’s cool picture” or “Hey, what does this tell me about my day? What does this tell me about my current emotional situation?” Can I read into it and say, “I can see myself there?” Then also for my daughter, who is three and a half, we were looking at the Rider-Waite deck and I was telling her about it. I thought I wanted to also be something that she would like.
Going back to the children’s book idea that if it’s something that a child thinks is beautiful … She’s deep into princesses. If she thinks it’s beautiful color, image, every part of it, then that is also something that I want for anybody, literally anybody to pick it up and say, “Oh, okay. I’m interested in this,” at the very basic level.
Brigit: Yeah, absolutely. I think you’ve captured it in all of the cards where it could be a stand-alone image. Particularly, I’m thinking of the Empress I loved her and the Knight of Pentacles. They’re probably two of my favourites. So-
Eleanor: I love the Knight of Pentacles too.
Brigit: Yeah. Well, it’s gorgeous. So, I think you’ve done such an amazing job of keeping that modern feel, the simplicity as well, but without losing the important symbolism that’s in those cards and then making it really approachable. I think it just really fits the bill. So, super happy.
Eleanor: Thank you, Brigit. When you’re saying it now, it feels like wow, it’s a lot of ask. If you are to say to somebody, “I want it to be attainable, but also inspirational,” I was like, “Oh, oh, I don’t know.” But I think your openness with the whole process and your openness with even the fact that none of the characters that have eyes, that was something that, as strange as it may sound, that was very important to me because I feel like once they have eyes, they become people and they are not people. They are figures.
So, that’s a weird thing to sell someone. I’m like, “No eyes and only from the side. Side-view only.” I remember saying to Susan like, “Make sure the author knows that they cannot have eyes.” I’m thinking, “What kind of a lunatic does she think I am?” But I loved your openness at that because I feel like it gives it something special. Once there are eyes, it’s like, who is that? Oh, she kind of looks like my friend. No. This isn’t about who it looks like. It’s a feeling.
Brigit: Yes, and now it’s all coming through that … Like when we were playing with intuition and so on, we’re in a different realm. I think it was you who was saying earlier in the call is this is in a realm. We’re looking more at archetypes versus actual people. The whole idea of having it without eyes or faces particularly really lanes into that. So yeah, that’s neat.
Eleanor: But I’m so grateful that you were open to that because it could be like an unusual take on it, but a realm is exactly the feeling. That’s it. In fact, you had asked about the different suits. I just wanted to talk about the different suits and where they live. We had talked about cups and living in a realm of water and how far can you push that and have it be too far?
I think I had this kind of gaudy pirate at one point and it’s just like okay, too much, but scale that back a little. But how do you repeat elements and also to make it seem like they live fully in the water realm because in the Rider-Waite deck, I always had a problem with the suits, the minor cards. It was the court cards that seemed interchangeable to me because they’re all sitting on a throne and they’re all kind of wearing robes. It’s like, “Oh, I’m confused by this. Which one is this again?”
But something that I really valued that we brought to it and you helped me a lot with this, with interpreting it, but something like the wands, where they live in the fiery realm, how far can we go with that? At one point, we had them sort of more Egyptian and desert like and that was too much, but then we pulled it back a little bit and now they live in the warm climate.
For the swords with the element of air, how far can you push that? So, we made it sort of mountain top. Then could they be even vaguely Olympian like Greek? Greek mythology, can we bring that in a little bit where it’s not hitting you over the head, but it’s like the Knight of Swords is Athena riding on Pegasus?
Brigit: Oh, yeah.
Eleanor: So that was sort of like yeah. I love that one so much because I feel like that was something we kind of came to together. Could we make them? Obviously gender roles are somewhat important in many of the cards, but in the ones where they’re not vital, can we play with that a little bit and make the page a young woman, make the knight a warrior, female warrior instead of a male warrior? We did that a little bit and I think it adds something extra to the cards. For sure.
Brigit: I really appreciate that with the gender diversity and then also the, I guess you can say, race or even just basic skin colour diversity. We looked at having … We have characters with all different skin colours.
Eleanor: Right, and of course they’re white, gold, and purple, but the idea is-
Brigit: Who’s got purple skin?
Eleanor: …some diversity in terms of it also just adds … I mean for one thing, it’s a reflection of different I wouldn’t even say cultures, but what would it be? It’s a reflection of diversity of spirit, diversity of also just the way that it looks on the page, it’s more interesting. That’s another element that I really liked that we didn’t have to have it all with a purple background. Some of them could have a gold background. So, some of the skin then could be gold, some could be white, some could be purple. It gives it more interest as well.
Brigit: Yeah. I can’t wait to share this deck with our community and also the bigger, the wider world out there. It’s very awesome.
Eleanor: I can’t either, Brigit. That’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to know what people think of them. If they do find them accessible, I would love to know.
Brigit: Yeah, yeah. Brilliant. So-
Eleanor: Oh, you know what I wanted to tell you Brigit, there is one question that I wanted to answer just quickly. My favourite card, you had mentioned that one of your favourites was the Knight of Pentacles. I have to say that I love that card. I love how that turned out too.
Sometimes as with anything creative, certain cards can surprise you in the way that they turn out. People sometimes say that they feel like midwives to their creativity or you create music. Yes, you created a beat, but it also just kind of flows through you. The same way with artwork, in a way it does flow through you. So, certain cards that I was a little bit afraid of actually ended up being my favorites.
Like the Three of Cups was one that I just thought, I’m like, “Oh my, that looks crazy. I don’t know how I’m going to do that one and make it look like anything because I can’t see what they’re doing. They’re all three women surrounded by robes. They’re dancing.” I’m like, “I don’t know.” That ended up being my favourite card. I love it. I am so proud of that card. I can’t even believe I made it. I just love it. I know it sounds so silly because I’m like, “Well, obviously you drew it,” but no. I didn’t altogether make it. That came through me and I just love it.
Brigit: Yeah, beautiful.
Eleanor: It’s funny.
Brigit: The whole concept of it just coming through you, I think that’s also a lot of this is I would say channeled work because you’ve worked so quickly with it. I don’t think you can do that unless you are just holding that energy and expressing it. I don’t think you can create a deck in three months if you’re very heady about it. You’ve just allowed it to flow and similarly, I’ve allowed it to flow as well.
Eleanor: It’s a good point.
Brigit: I’ve trusted in the process.
Eleanor: That’s a really good point, Brigit. Honestly, I’m going to take that with me on my day because I think as a control freak, if I can sort of take that idea more into my life, I think I’m going to have a better time creating anything because when it goes so well like it did with you, it was a matter of trust on your end which I have no control over and also letting things happen on my end, like letting it flow is one thing. Trusting that you might be open to it is something that you have to bring to a process. You can’t think too much about that or it won’t happen, right?
Brigit: Yeah. It’s fate of trust.
Eleanor: Yeah, it’s true.
Brigit: It’s very important. Yeah. So, Eleanor, what else have you got coming up? Obviously, you’re illustrating the book right now or maybe you finished it. I’m yet to see it.
Eleanor: That’s right.
Brigit: But what other projects have got? Another Tarot deck, a Lenormand deck or something completely different?
Eleanor: Oh my god, that would be so great I know. If anybody else needs one, here I am, right? But at the moment I’m actually … Strangely, I’m also a designer. So, I design cards for various companies. At the moment, I’m designing Christmas cards. It’s just a little out of season but everybody gets started so early. It’s nowhere close to Christmas, but … So, that’s one thing.
Then recently I finished something that’s sort of more true to my roots, which is a set of animal illustrations for the California Academy of Sciences. They’re having an exhibit on coral reefs and I did some artwork for them. So, that’s kind of cool to go back to animals for a little while. I think my heart actually lies in human figures now.
So, I did a couple of things that people can see on my site sort of inspired by the follow-up to the Tarot deck. I was missing creating these figures so much. I did an interpretation of the Nutcracker, the coffee and tea dances which are just I love the music so much. It’s just so evocative. I couldn’t help, but make these. It was sort of like just do them.
So, I sat down one afternoon and drew them. I put them up on the site so anybody who is interested can see those like the next version of what more figural work could look like, which I’m looking forward to. I’m hoping that happens.
Brigit: Neat. So yeah. So, tell us your website or where people can find out more about you.
Eleanor: So, anybody who is interested can find more about me at www.justeleanor.com.
Brigit: Awesome, awesome. We’ll include those in the show notes plus images of our Tarot deck. Super exciting.
Eleanor: That’s awesome, Brigit. I’m excited. I can’t wait.
Brigit: Eleanor, it’s been so good to have a chat with you. We’ve gone a bit longer than we normally do on the podcast, but I have just enjoyed this so much.
Eleanor: Me too.
Brigit: It’s so good to hear I guess the process and how these things come about. They don’t just suddenly pop onto the bookshelves or into the bookstores. There’s so many unique processes that happen and so many learnings along the way as well, really trusting that process. So, thank you so much for sharing your journey and being a part of this Everyday Tarot deck. It’s awesome.
Eleanor: Well, Brigit, I just have to thank you so much for this. It’s been life-changing. So, thank you. It’s been great to be on the podcast because I feel like it’s fun to hear you. It’s really interesting to hear your side of what happened and it’s fun to share mine as well. Looking back at it as a success kind of the hiccups along the way that were funny behind the scenes moments for us and now we get to share them and laugh about them and say well, but here we are. We trust it and here it is. So, congratulation and thank you.
Brigit: I know.
Eleanor: Bye, Brigit.
Brigit: Thank you so much. So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Eleanor and I. It’s such a joy to be able to talk with Eleanor and really unpack the process that went on for both of us as we created this Everyday Tarot deck.
I think the one major thing that really opened up for me particularly as we were talking was that we really trusted our intuition. We held the space to allow what emanated to come through in this deck. The result of that was that we could create a deck within three months, which is record time in my opinion.
I believe we’ve created a deck that is so in alignment with what I had envisioned for this and also a deck that I believe will have such a positive role to play in so many people’s lives. So, check it out. It’s over at everydaytarot.com. I think you’re going to love it. Of course, you can find it in all the best booksellers and the links are on our site at everydaytarot.com.