Saturday, June 14, 2014

All In the Family

I've used a small amount of authentic Circus Lingo in the keywords for these minor cards, and here is another example of that: "Straw House" is the circus term meaning "A sold-outcrowd, a Full House."

For the first time since I designed "The Lovers" in the Major Arcana last year, I was forced to blur the background. I hate doing this, but I did try a number of alternatives and nothing worked. The design was too busy and confusing to the eye unless the background was thus blurred, and I wasn't about to change my main figures in the foreground: I liked them too much.

To longtime followers of the deck: You knew that I was going to put an elephant on this card somehow, right? Elephants have been by Designated Animal for the Suit of Cups, as their species is so reliant on and focussed around water, and among the animal kingdom I find that they are freest with their emotions and expression of their emotions.

This card typically celebrates the virtues of family, completion and fullness, and I knew that it was the proper place to celebrate the Circus Family. Performing is oftentimes, perhaps most times, a Family Business, going down for many generations, and this is especially true in the circus. The Wallendas are only one of the most public examples of this -- and patriarch Carl Wallenda's very public death did nothing to deter his sons from following in the family tradition. Family pride runs very strong in the circus... and "youthful rebellion" often means nothing more than trading in the family high-wire act to become a Lion Tamer, or splitting from the group to go solo.

Beyond that -- in the Performing Arts the concept of Extended Family, the notion that we can choose our own families if we desire, is very strong. Many small circuses are one big family made up of people who may not be related by blood, but are deeply connected in spirit if only because they risk their lives on a daily basis, and trust -- "having your back" -- is a necessity of life. Every high-wire act puts their faith not just in the other members of the act, but in the men and women who rig their equipment. As in any family there are disputes, hitches, hostilities and anxieties; "The Circus eats its own kind." -- But this card in its upright position is all about the Circus Family when it grooves.

-- Freder.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Four of Wands: Come Join the Circus!

The Four of Wands is often defined vaguely in RWS decks as "Celebration," and more specifically in Thoth decks as "Completion." 

Both keywords can be (and are) applied to other cards in the deck: so I drilled down into the meanings behind them and came up with something common to both: Community. This allowed me to use a vintage base photo that has been a favorite of mine for well over a decade. This community of clowns doesn't just play together: as you can see, they all have instruments and make music together as a Clown Band. What's more complete than a Clown Band? What brings more celebration to an affair? I can't think of anything. When the clown band appears under the four poles of the Big Top, it is time to laugh and dance and sing. You've earned it.

-- Freder.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Page of Swords -- is here to Remind You that the Deck is now being Funded!

... as if I was going to let you forget:

Junior here finally completes all the Pages, and thus the entire Royal Family of the deck. He heralds the arrival of sharp new ideas... but designing this card was by no means "on point." The first version was, well... you know, potentially harmless. But it just didn't hang together well... didn't Make a Statement the way every card in a tarot deck should do.

The second version was completely different, and oh my doodness, I don't even want to think about it.  You don't even want to know. I might as well have used "NOT!!!" as the bottom caption.

Finally, in a kind of creative fury, I tore it all apart, found some completely different base images, threw them all together, said to myself, "THERE! Take THAT, y'little bastard!" And you know what? Even though he strays far away from the conceit behind my other pages (as all being billposters for the circus), I think he looks... he looks "right." Maybe it proves that a little piss and vinegar can be good for the design process. I don't know.

Newsy Notes: At the end of the first full day of funding, 11 percent of the total budget had been raised. As I write this, we're up to thirteen percent, and headed higher. This is ENTIRELY due to the efforts of some wonderful people who have shared and re-shared the link, and who have had some incredibly nice things to say about the deck. Thank you all -- I call this a damn good start!

43 days remaining... so, for the first time it's starting to look do-able to me. Thank you all!!!

-- Freder.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

KICKSTARTER Funding is now Live --

... Oh, and here's a card that shows
exactly how I feel about that:

The bed of nails wasn't enough... at least, it didn't make for much in the way of a visually interesting card. But to have Awful Weight applied from above -- that sells it, I think. The always-fabulous Carrie Paris had a wonderful comment when she saw this one. She said, "Oh, the nightmare of supporting a musician!"

Thank you, as always, for your kind enthusiasm. YOU make this deck possible.

-- Freder.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Six of Pentacles says: Pre-order your deck: KICKSTARTER funding Now Live!

The Gates are Open! -- And the Six of Pentacles is here to remind us that there's no show without Patronage. 

Before you go, here are some things that Kickstarter won't allow me to say on their website:

$45 option
 By selecting this option, you are pre-ordering the deck at $5 off (at least) the final sale price. Maybe more.

$85 option
 By selecting this option, you are pre-ordering two decks at AT $15 off (at least) the final sale price. Maybe more. 

When the Kickstarter campaign is over, no matter what the outcome, the price on remaining copies of the Majors-only deck will start to go up. By how much depends on how few I have left when this period is over. 

The moral of the story?


Support your very own local Tarot Circus. And spread the word! We have quite a mountain to climb this time!

Many thanks to all of you for your kind words, enthusiasm and support.

-- Freder

Monday, June 9, 2014


Things are happening fast in the Eight of Wands... chances are they will be Good Things if you can react quickly enough and grasp the situation without hesitation.

The Eight was a card that I had no idea what to do with, until, poring over some books of Circus History, I came on this trapeze artist caught in the moment of Truth. Unfortunately he was performing indoors in a gymnasium-style setting, and that needed to change.

This is a perfect card for me to start the week with: because the Kickstarter project to fund the deck is ready to fly, and will launch sometime very, VERY soon. I'm just waiting for the cards to say to me: "NOW!"

-- Freder.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Penultimate Page

The Page of Cups is here to herald the arrival of new feelings and emotional connections. I'm afraid he looks a bit surly, but perhaps he's tired of people shooting the messenger?

Yes, I put a fish in his bucket. A little RWS reference.

Both of his posters are Elephant-centric: followers of the deck will already know that I've decreed the elephant the Official Animal of the suit of Buckets. Although I will shortly be forced to include one in a card for the Wands... eh, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, and all that.

Only one Page left to complete my Royal Family... I actually designed him last night and what a difficult chore THAT was! More to come...