Interview by Remi Daily of The Tarot Tributary.
Isha Lerner, a fellow deck creator, stated this about your deck:
“The power of Timothy Lantz’s art is awe inspiring. His multi-dimensional imagery draws the individual toward spiritual awakening, stirring the emotional repertoire of the soul. Timothy’s gifted work contributes to a wealth of tarot imagery offered through US Games throughout the world. I am eager to acquire a deck of my own”Isha Lerner’s Question for Timothy:
What was the passionate force behind the creation of Archeon Tarot and what exactly is the title of the deck referring to?
My main motivation for creating the Archeon Tarot was simply the joy of creation. I’d been a casual fan of the tarot since I first discovered it in my junior high days. Something about the powerful nature of symbolism inherent in the tarot really drew me to the cards and the thought of creating my symbology was intoxicating.
Archeon stems from ‘archon’ which is a word I came by through its use in ancient Greece, meaning a magistrate or leader. That alone, however, wasn’t quite what I had in mind for a title. I wanted to create a new word that would, in essence, be a symbol of all the things that fascinate me and perhaps, define how I strived to live my life. Thus using ‘archon’ as my root, I happened upon “Archeon” which I then defined as a word that meant teacher, leader, artist, lover… all the things we should aspire to be, and could be if we tried.
RD: This is my standard question: what originally brought you to the world of Tarot?
The iconography of the whole thing I suppose. I discovered the Tarot while I was fairly young, and it had this whole taboo and mysterious aspect surrounding it. Couple that with the symbolism of the cards and it was like something just clicked inside my brain. I knew it was something I had to get my self into.
RD: Many people have described this deck as being dark. But I never have been able to evaluate the deck in that manner. Do you consider your deck dark and what do you hope your deck ultimately provides for the user?
I’ve never considered the Archeon a “dark deck.” It’s so full of light and life and hope. I can see how it comes by this association though. My art style was once described as a kind of “beautiful melancholy” and I think that’s spot on. There’s maybe a little sadness in the way I color my images, a longing for brighter things and better days. It’s this moodiness that I think people tend to read on the surface as “darkness” but I think when you really look closer at the art, this just focuses the lighter aspects of the images and pushes them out into the forefront.
RD: In the creative process of The Archeon Tarot, what were your challenges (maybe you were going through a personal challenge(s)) that magnified the creative process?
The biggest challenge for me was trying to reign in all of the wild ideas I had. I really wanted the Archeon to be accessible to people who were already familiar with the tarot. At the same time, I felt the need to inject my own ideas and beliefs into the deck. Trying to maintain a balance between adding something new and staying with the established was tricky. In the end, I think I probably leaned more towards the traditional than I could have, but I felt it best not to alienate the dedicated tarot community by changing too much, especially since this was my first deck.
RD: In creating the visual archetypes for the cards did you center your images based upon people you’ve encountered in your personal life history as inspirational images?
To some extent, that is the case. While all of the cards have been filtered through my experiences, some are definitely influenced by people I have met. The rest are simply reflective of ideas or beliefs that I have come to know as my personal mythology.
RD: Those who are not familiar with your artwork can go to http://www.stygiandarkness.com/ and peak into your creative mind. I must say that your personal artwork is so breathtakingly serene and beautiful but also teeters on the line of internal upheaval within the subject. I liken it to the angst of Greek/Roman mythology fused with the modern, glamorous touch of a rocker lifestyle. Do you find your personal artwork to have a different “essence” than the artwork you chose to use on your deck?
I wouldn’t say that there is a difference so much as a refinement. The Archeon was really one of my first forays into this style of art. I grew up stylistically during the year in which I worked on the cards and it’s an evolution that still continues. I think as you look through the 78 images in the deck you can begin to see the formation of a sensibility, or aesthetic which has become more keenly defined in my later work.
RD: Do you plan to create another deck, if so what do you plan to do differently (PS I personally love larger cards so do you think you might make your cards slightly larger)?
I am at present working on a new deck. I think it will ultimately be a lot different than the Archeon. As I mentioned, I really tried to remain faithful to the traditional symbolism of tarot with the Archeon. My next deck will be more of unfiltered experiment. I have certain ideas that I want to explore within the confines of tarot that simply didn’t belong in the Archeon. The next deck will be based on these more challenging ideas.
RD: In deciding the content for your LWB, why did you chose short, descriptive phrases for the cards instead of maybe going into the story about the cards as you did for the Major Arcana?
As I was working on the deck, I heard from so many people that they never even look at the LWB. At first, I found this terribly discouraging, and to some degree I’m sure it influenced my decision somewhat when it came to the minor arcana descriptions. In my defense, I felt since I wasn’t deviating too wildly from the established traditions, it would be more important to focus on where I had made changes. The bulk of these were described well enough for those who bothered to look for them. Meanwhile, people just starting with tarot really just need a primer. To try to cram everything I had to say about tarot into a LWB seemed impossible, and there are far better teachers and texts out there than what I could accomplish in those pages. By providing a single quote or bit of flavor text to help influence a person’s perceptions of the card, along with a list of key words, I felt it served the purpose of the LWB in that it provides a starting point to anchor you as you begin your own tarot journey.
RD: Just recently I’ve been exploring the world of Edgar Cayce and found a connection between the Cayce’s visions of the pre-mortal world and your deck (Cayce states that before we come to Earth we sometimes spend time on other planets expanding our thought forms to the qualities of that planet before we inhabit a body on Earth). I was wondering if you followed some metaphysical thought and may have applied its approach to your cards?
I think it would be impossible to avoid having your own beliefs penetrate into a work such as this. It’s a very personal project on a lot of levels.
RD: In the LWB the highlighted spread is the Celtic Cross, are there any other spreads you find that work extremely well with your deck that you would like to share with others currently using your cards?
I toyed with the idea of including my own spreads in the LWB. Here again, I decided to stick with the traditional. The beginners will expect (and need) that foundation, while those further along will ultimately have discovered and tried other spreads. I’m a fan of 3 and 5 card draws when I read for myself, but ultimately I felt the book should serve as a gateway rather than a list of how I do things.
RD: My personal question, why the many numbers of nude forms?
It’s all symbolism. Ultimately, the tarot is about the human condition. Who we are, what we think, what feel, how we make connections in our lives. It can strip us down to our core and expose us for what we really are. Human. What better way to express what it is to be human, than showing the human form? I think there is a nobility to the human form that shouldn’t be a cause for shame. We all have the same parts and there’s nothing in my imagery that hasn’t been depicted by artists since the first human drew on cave walls. I know this seemingly flies in the face of a lot of conservatives, but isn’t tarot about expanding your understanding of yourself? I would challenge those who have a problem with the nudity in the Archeon to take a closer look at why it bothers them so much.
RD: What do you plan to feature on your long awaited Archeon Tarot website?
The Archeon tarot website has existed since the deck was first published. During that time, a lot has changed technology wise and for me professionally. I decided this year to revise the site and fold it into a subsection of my new website which I hope to launch in 2010.
RD: This is the final part of the interview when I ask for you to pick a deck or a card from a deck other than the one’s you’ve created to reflect on. You may comment about the things you like about the deck or things about the deck or card that is also emulated in your deck.
The Vertigo Tarot by Dave McKean
McKean’s art inspired a revolution in the design world. In the Vertigo Tarot, we see the artist at the pinnacle of his craft. Seamlessly blending text and images to create a new visual language, the Vertigo Tarot stands out as a benchmark of modern design, and an inspiration to a new generation of artists.
RD: Thank you so very much for your time in doing this interview.
You are most welcome