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The first review of VAMP

So one of the kickstarter backers, Stella, purchased the VAMP deck from Etsy and has published a very interesting and beautifully written blog post about Theda Bara and the deck. It really is well worth a read, and you can find it here.

The end of the kickstarter campaign

Unfortunately, the kickstarter campaign to get the VAMP tarot deck published fell just short of the target. Below is a copy of the final project update I made to the backers.

Hi everyone.

I am gutted that we just missed the target for this campaign.

I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your pledges and support throughout this campaign. I will always remember your generosity and positivity in trying to get VAMP made.

In the end we got to 93% funded and just £300 short of the target. I did invest over £1,000 of my own money into the project, and wish I could have afforded that extra £300 myself, but it was just not possible.

My initial reflection on failing to meet the target points to a couple of reasons:

  1. Sadly, I had a large number of cancelled pledges – 10 people amounting to £800. I do not know the reason for the cancellations as kickstarter do not pass these onto the creator.
  2. I failed to get the campaign in front of enough people. Some kickstarter tarot decks have over 500 pledgers. We did not even get that many viewing the campaign.
  3. I probably rushed this campaign: I should have built up a bigger following on facebook and Instagram before launching it. I also made it a 30 day campaign to make sure rewards were sent in time for Christmas – had it been a 60 day campaign I suspect we would have reached the target.
  4. I had a large number of follower on kickstarter who did not pledge. I expected these followers to convert to pledgers, but this did not materialise.

As they say, hindsight is 20:20.

I would love to hear from you with any thoughts on mistakes I may have made and how I could have done things better. Maybe I got the rewards wrong? Or the video? Or the wording or any number of things.

I am determined that this is not the end of VAMP. The fact that 67 of you lovely people pledged over £4,800 gives me the confidence that there must be a way to get the deck into print. Whether it is by kickstarter, another platform, self funded or whatever I do not know yet.

I will keep you all informed, and thank you again.

Love you all

Jook

VAMP: the Theda Bara tarot on kickstarter

VAMP: the Theda Bara tarot has been on kickstarter for a week now and has £1,500 pledged so far against a target of £5,100.

Happy to announce that kickstarter are featuring my tarot deck under their ‘Projects we Love‘. This is a staff pick that their own staff choose for ‘exceptional projects‘ that they describe as:

Every Kickstarter project starts with a creative idea. So when we look for standout projects to feature, we look for ideas that go the extra mile in their uniqueness and ambition — for example, projects that involve entirely new approaches to creating, amplify underrepresented voices, or bring creative communities together in unexpected ways.

You can see the crowdfunding campaign for VAMP here.

Q&A 5th September 2018

It’s been just over a month since the last Q&A, so time for a new one.

When will the Theda Bara deck be on kickstarter?

The deck will definitely be on kickstarter some time in September. I’m aiming at the moment for the middle of September, maybe around Sunday 15th, but this is not set in stone and several things need to be finalised before this can happen. I need to finalise some quotes with suppliers, and check on the quality of some items from different suppliers.

I am confident it will definitely be on kickstarter before the end of September. This will allow for a 30 day campaign running to some time in October, and then, if successful, four-five weeks to get everything printed and distributed to backers by the first week in December.

Can you let me know when it is released?

Yes, of course. Either:

  • Follow me on Facebook and send me a message there. The link is in the column to the right of this Q&A, or
  • Email me at steve@jooktarot.com

Either way, I will add your name to the list of people who have already asked and will let you know when the deck is on kickstarter.

How much will the deck cost?

So, the costs still haven’t been finalised. All I can say is that the deck will be at the lower end of the usual kickstarter price per deck, without sacrificing any quality.

After the kickstarter, the deck will be sold, probably from this website, or etsy or ebay…..not sure which. However, I can guarantee that the deck sale price will be higher than the kickstarter price. The kickstarter price will be at a discount to the full price.

Aren’t the images you are using copyrighted?

No, the images are covered by US copyright laws (they were all taken in the USA). The majority of images used were taken by staff photographers from Fox studios in the 1910s. In the majority of cases, the identity of the photographer is unknown.

These photographs were stills taken on the film sets mostly in New York, California and Florida. They were taken to promote the films and to feed the growing newspaper interest in ‘photoplays’ and the emerging film magazines.

Under US copyright law, the copyright for an image expires 90 years after it is first published. All of the photographs I am using were first published on or before 1928, and are therefore over 90 years so copyright has expired and the images are free for all use.

The same principle applies to the Ouspensky text that was published in 1913, and the Boiardo poems written in the 15th century and published in the 16th century.

That’s it for this Q&A. Please follow on Instagram or Facebook to get more regular updates.

Tarot Association of the British Isles Conference

I got back home today after attending the TABI conference that was held yesterday in Birmingham. For more information about TABI, check out their website here.

Was a really great conference, and I would recommend attending such an event to anyone with an interest in the tarot. It was a lovely and inclusive environment with excellent speakers on very interesting subjects. I will definitely be attending in 2019.

I was able to share my first draft copies of the Theda Bara deck with several attendees at the conference and got some lovely comments. I also got some great feedback on how to proceed with the deck.

One of the big issued I have is around the background text. I enjoyed and related to the PD Ouspensky prose I have used for the major arcana. However, the Ouspensky text only covered the majors, and not the minors. To maintain a consistent theme, I would want to include text for the minor arcana too. At the conference, Caitlín Matthews  was one of the guest speakers, and she mentioned the 15th century tarot poetry of Matteo Boiardo. I was unfamiliar with Boiardo and delighted to find a source for text for the minors.

I was able to have a conversation with several attendees about the minor arcana, and following this, I am currently considering the Theda Bara deck being a majors only deck. This would allow me to print them on larger size high quality tarot stock.

At the time of writing, I am not sure how to proceed. I am currently waiting on card stock samples from a number of printers and will make a decision soon on the way forward.

Jook Tarot props

Bea Nettles created the first photographic tarot deck; the Mountain Dream Tarot published in 1975. At the time, there was no digital and no photoshop, so Nettles had to obtain all the props she needed for the deck. In her words:

If you needed an eagle in an image, you had to find an eagle to photograph…. The same was true with flames, water, boats, swords, and all of the other props.

Work in progress on the shield for the Emperor and Empress

This reality is very true for my tarot deck. Although it would be possible to scan the plates from the wet plate process into photoshop and add items there, this would not be true and honest to the process and to the aesthetic and look of the deck. Consequently, all the props I need for each card must be purchased, borrowed or made.

Making the Sun; with 21 rays

For some cards this may be a large undertaking due to the number of props needed. Some cards will get away with very little. Under props I include costumes. As noted in the previous blog, these need to adhere to the theme and aesthetic of the period, so no modern clothing allowed.

Purchasing the props would certainly be the easiest option, and I have purchased a few cheap items from vintage/antique shops and ebay. However, due to the large number of props needed, purchasing them all is not affordable. I’ve been able to borrow some items from friends and family which has helped.

The Sun almost finished

The remainder of props needed will have to be made. This is proving to actually be quite fun and enjoyable, but is very very time consuming. I realise that this is going to create a delay in producing the deck. However, I see no other way to solve this. I have a vision of the cards I want to produce and these require very specific props, and I don’t want to compromise on this.

The wet plate collodion process also has an impact on the props. Firstly, it is only sensitive to blue light, so red appears as almost black and blue as almost white. This means for some props I need to be careful about their colour. For example, yellow also appears as almost black, so if I want my Sun to look light on the black and white scale, it can’t be yellow.

Foamboard sword made for a test, and foam armour templates

Secondly, as I mention in a previous blog post, the process does not produce pin sharp images that we are used to today. Images are a lot softer, with rapid fall off of focus. So the process is very forgiving, and I will be able to get away with props that would look terrible on digital, but look fine on wet plate.

In a future blog post, I will describe the prop making process for some of the items I am making in more detail

Q&A 06.07.18

I will be doing a regular Q&A about anything relating to this project and the tarot and wet plate collodion process in general. The website has only been up and running for a short period, so only one question received so far.

‘Do you do tarot readings’

The short answer is ‘No’.

I have done a couple of readings in the past, but am not a confident reader. I am familiar and comfortable with the tarot and understand the meanings of the cards. However, my fascination and interest in the cards is focused on the art, symbolism and history of the tarot. So I would describe myself as a tarot artist rather than a reader. I know lots of great tarot artists and tarot historians are great readers too, but I am not that talented.

 

Please email or use the contact form with any questions and I will answer them in a future post.

 

Welcome to the Jook Tarot

So after working on this project for a very very long time, I have finally decided to get this website up and running to share the process. A lot of work has been undertaken already in the creation of this deck, and I will summarise this in my first proper blog post.

At the time of writing this post, I have fully designed and sketched 19 of the 22 major arcana and will be in a position to start photographing the images when I have acquired the relevant props.

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