Designing "The Portland Tarot" Deck

Designing "The Portland Tarot" Deck

Portland artist Theresa Pridemore talks Tarot

By Staff

Tarot is an incredible tool for personal growth and meditation. Whether Tarot is seen as a tool for tapping into one's intuition, revealing the workings of the unconscious mind or a connection with the divine, it is the interpretation of the Tarot cards, their images and their inherent symbolism that acts as a mirror of inner awareness and a catalyst for change.

Artists have been fascinated by the Tarot for hundreds of years, and the act of creating a Tarot deck takes this meditation into meaning to a whole other level.

The fascination with creating art for the Tarot may come in the exploration of symbols, the desire to find a timely take on the meanings within, or the opportunity to explore specific themes through the lens of mystical symbols and imagery.

A fresh take on the Tarot

Theresa PridemoreTheresa Pridemore, an artist and Tarot card reader from Portland, Ore., is taking her own visual, meditative journey into the Tarot to create a deck with modern day concepts and environments, which will feel helpful and relatable to the world of a querent today. She also wants to challenge some misconceptions that Tarot is dark or frightening in nature.

Pridemore became inspired to create her own Portland Tarot deck in 2012, when she submitted a piece to a Tarot art show that a good friend described as "very Portland." When her piece received wonderful reviews, she knew she was onto something big. She decided to channel her love for her city, which has a bustling spiritual community and appreciation for Tarot, into what she called "a divinatory, art-rich love letter to the spirit of Portland." Her deck-in-progress is "The Portland Tarot."

The Star card

One card that really captures her modern take and Portland flavor is "The Star." This card evolved out of the personal journey of the card's subject, roller derby player Juvie Hall of the Rose City Rollers. Juvie was working on a roller derby documentary, and she felt a special resonance with the card that came from her own quest to find her authentic voice in the course of her mission.

Pridemore wanted to capture this dynamic tension between a person's inner search and the world's outer demands in her image for The Star. This Tarot card normally illustrates a woman in the nude, gently connecting with her soul's guidance by cleansing herself in waters that could represent her deeper, guiding emotions.

In this day and age, Pridemore felt it was impossible to completely get away from the modern idea of what it means to be a star -- the next talent to be adored in the spotlight. Even though this didn't represent the card's true meaning, this dynamic would always be present in the mind of the modern querent.

In Pridemore's take on The Star, the card illustrates the necessity for the querent to connect with their soul's light before "performing" for the world ... for one can only be the star of their own life from a recognition of their own deep purpose and authenticity.

Portland Tarot The StarThe process of creating The Star Tarot card involved photo shoots around Portland and in Theresa's studio. For the nurturing garden scene, Theresa took photos at the Japanese Garden. A dusk image of the iconic Hollywood Theatre in Northeast Portland is layered underneath to the left. (Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, the day she photographed the theater, the words "microphone" and "secret garden" were already on the marquee.) The gazelle, which represents The Star's vulnerability, was photographed at the Oregon Zoo.

Nearly every model is photographed in Theresa's studio against a green screen. Studio lights allow her to sculpt the lighting on the model to match the collaged background's mood and light sources.

Once all of the images have been collected, she stitches them together using Photoshop and digitally paints final embellishments with a tablet.

Pridemore is sharing her process of creating The Portland Tarot deck with the world, by posting the in-progress images online as she goes. Her target date for completion was the fall of 2014. In 2013 she completed her first Major Arcana version of the deck.

Pridemore describes the magical undercurrents that seem to accompany her work as if the Tarot is actually collaborating with her to help the deck come into being. "The beauty of sharing this process on the web is that I can tell all the magical stories of synchronicity that are happening along the way," she said.

"What would normally seem like a lot of work -- 78 unique pieces of art -- actually feels quite attainable when you have the magic of the universe, and of the Tarot, to back you up."

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