the deck you've been waiting for: next world tarot

i recently i had the distinct pleasure of interviewing cristy c. road about her upcoming tarot deck next world tarot.  the deck is raw, punk-as-fuck, gruesomely beautiful and features qtpoc and post-apocalyptic imagery. i could say more, but i think the images really do speak for themselves. this deck is gorgeous and i am so excited for it to arrive in my mail box!
how would you describe your individual relationship to tarot? do you feel like it has changed since you started creating your own deck?

definitely has changed! i got way into magic in a really detached way -- i kind of had no idea what i was doing, aside from coddling my love for the paranormal. i also really connected with ancient ways of connecting with the earth and the sky; it was so much more pure and radical than the ways we are forced to connect with the earth through capitalism -- paying to own land, gmo's, factory farming. i started getting readings from recommended genius witches when i was about 21. my friend's aunt, irene, primarily, read me like she had been reading my journal. i think it's easy to get a reading that is vague but familiar, so i look for that intense detail. while creating my own deck, my community of punk/poc/queer witches grew, as a lot of my friends and i were connecting with their magic, the older and "healthier" we got. i started giving readings about a year after devoting my time to creating the deck. it came super natural to me -- learning the card definitions and learning spreads and how cards complement one another. i originally learned tarot for self-care reasons, wanting to access my intuition and articulate my anxiety. so although i'm way less intimidated by it now,  i'm more knowledgeable and even more in awe.  

you grew up in a catholic cuban family. how do those influences and your relationship with your ancestors come to life in this deck?

i can answer this, but should provide some backstory: i was a pretty scattered witch for a long time, no connection to family, and when i had one, didn't understand it. it wasn't until i became friends with a woman named jade who runs an herbal medicine and tarot project called honey and blackbone. she was just starting it while we were roommates, and i was pretty much learning how to not be the aforementioned messy witch.

connecting to my ancestry was on top of my list, and as much support i had from older latina friends and qpoc who got me, i needed a lot more of my own agency. so, jade basically gave me a life changing reading that brought up family members by name and connections i had lost due to a lot of crap that had taken over that era -- really intense stuff. so really "loving" myself and feeling like i deserve my ancestral magic was a mission, until that point. all this really pushed me to validate the protection that i had from my ancestors. so without that, i couldn't have even brought their presence forward -- so that was when i started personalizing the deck much more.

i think my relationship to my family and their magic really changed this deck. it started as a queer punk deck, and has evolved to really touch on the complexities of being an "outcast" -- i think that showing characters who display spiritual connections to their culture became a really important theme, even though there are definitely characters who are more focused on emotions and the psyche, without much suggestions of their spirituality. i think my ancestral magic shows up on and off, but i want to display a wide range of characters, showing 78 different minded and bodied individuals.

you're a gemini/gemini rising with a cancer moon. do you feel there is an astrological influence with this deck?

there sure is, but there is with my entire life as an artist! i've never really been motivated by stability, for example, yet my foundations never, ever change (cancer moon). my goal has always been to cause a revolution and share ideas and create community or a sense of belonging (venus in aries). i always wanted to do things that rally causes and ideas since i felt this rallying call from my favorite punk bands and zines growing up. the cancer moon keeps me punk. i'm so connected to my subcultural upbringing, and my music (i play in a pop-punk band called the homewreckers), that it has to be a constant. and dabbling in other arts always gets exciting and weird, so doing this deck is real gemini of me (i'm also a gemini mercury).

i actually had a moment of wondering if i wanted to focus on writing science fiction about the future, or turn it into a memoir, and the confusion forced this serious meaning behind the creation of the tarot deck. like that was my magical futuristic contribution to art, and the novel really should be a book about my pre-teen years and green day. the book eventually became spit and passion (which was released in 2013 on feminist press), and i've been working on next world tarot ever since. so i think that's a whole lotta gemini i just got into. afterall, i never really have looked towards financial stability. sure, i want funding to create my projects -- i want them to be printed and distributed. and i also want to pay the bills, but that's why i'm currently in grad school. i want to teach college level illustration and spend the rest of my time writing pop punk songs and drawing slimy forests and queers making out. of course i feel honored to have received funding as well as freelance commisions for my art, no doubt. i just don't gauge the success of my work on how well its funded, formally.

this kickstarter is the first of its kind for me, and it'll be interesting if i reach my goal. it'll be the first project i release without publishers, a label, or scamming xerox machines. i kinda blame the lack of earth signs in my chart. i actually just have really distant bodies in earth signs, like my chiron in taurus and my south node in capricorn. i mean, let's be real, i love organization and i'm a neat freak and i've mostly been my own boss for a long, long time. i've always paid the bills on time, but i've never been able to afford restaurants that I don't work at -- i don't really need to. but i definitely keep a tight ship, whether or not all my belongings may or may not be trash picked or covered in stickers.

you've mentioned being inspired by the collective tarot, as i think many of us are. earlier this year i saw that they were considering running another print of their deck. and since then decks like slow holler and your deck have come forward. it seems that new tarot artists are renewing and renegotiating the original intention of their work. do you see your deck as related to or inspired by the collective tarot?

i'm definitely inspired by the storytelling behind each card. that is amazing to me, because although my knowledge of each card comes from so many different sources that taught me, i always try to implement personalized examples for each narrative. i think the narratives in collective tarot resonate with my life (as it would that of other activists and angry, reformed witches), so it feels as if all the cards are being read to me by someone who knows me. that really influenced how i read -- i want to communicate the meaning of the card, but i also want to include an example or illustration of the card that resonates with the person who's receiving the reading. i love collective tarot for pioneering such amazing suits as well!!!! i'm definitely sticking to the traditional suits, although their personifications will be different from what one would expect. i'm really excited to defy gender and class with a lot of this -- i think that earlier decks use femininity, masculinity, wealth, and lacking resources as these strict platforms for card definitions. i really don't like that and think that the qualities connected to these norms shouldn't be defined by these archaic gender/class standards. tenderness, intuition, strength, stubbornness, providing goods, lacking resources, having too many of resources; none of that stuff has to define your femininity, masculinity, or class.

creating a tarot deck is a huge undertaking. how does bringing the remainder of this deck into the world fit in with the rest of your art career?

i can't do it! i work full-time as a freelance illustrator, so if the kickstarter reaches its goal, i'll be able to decline some work and focus on doing 3 cards per week. i worked at bars till recently, but have quit since doing a lot of more educational/lecture work that uses different energy that I would use drawing till 4am, or cocktailing till 2am. i also am in grad school -- not as scary as it sounds, though. it's for illustration so it really, truly feels like a natural extension. sure, i have less time for chilling out and playing board games, but i'm truly grateful to have a full time job that can be integrated with my life a.k.a. i go over friends' houses to work. sometimes being at home is just as rewarding and calming. don't get me wrong, drawing stuff that is not my personal work is hard as hell and working with art directors is hard work whether or not i can do it in my pyjamas. but focusing on my tarot deck is simply a lot less stress. to be real, the bulk of my kickstarter goal is for printing and distributing. the bane of my existence. i have worked with many amazing publishers (and record labels), but this is a, well, strange project -- in the eyes of a lot of industries. funding has been difficult as hell. i think a lot of amazing, out of the ordinary decks run crowdfund campaigns for a good reason.

you've sought many different streams of funding for this deck and now you're turning to crowdfunding. what do you think this project offers the communities you are sharing it with and why do you think people are excited about sharing your work and funding it?

i think communities who have been failed by the system appreciate tarot decks that represent their alternative, or individual worldview -- it's why we love the collective tarot, and its why we loved motherpeace, or the tarot of the orishas. but there are so many more decks to be made! personally speaking for next world, I think a lot of people (including myself) have a special bond with the traditional, pamela coleman smith/a.e. waite tarot, the tarot de marseilles, etc. maybe you can blame my cancer moon, but i learned to read with the traditional deck, and i have a special connection with the art, whether or not i don't always relate to the race and gender presentations. i wanted to work on this traditional suit, and expand it to be something it has never been before. i have so many models and references that i'm so so excited to draw, who represent ideas and bodies who don't always grace the tarot. aside from this, it's hard for me to say. i don't think much about the effect of my work, i just work hard to share it. so yes, i am floored so far by the response, which makes me feel justified in pushing this project further and further.

you can book a tarot card reading with me using the next world tarot deck as soon as it arrives in my mail box.

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