Our latest interview is with Nick Ribera, the creator of the Eros Tarot (second edition). The deck is the second edition of Nick's most successful project - the initial Eros Tarot.
This simple idea began with one card- The Tower. Nick knew it as a position in the Kama Sutra before he knew it as a tarot card, so when he made that connection his imagination ran wild.
Kickstarter -Eros Tarot
Where in the world do you call home?
I grew up in Miami, Florida, had a short stint in Nashville, Tennessee, but have lived in St. Petersburg, Florida for the last 9 years. I own a home here, with my wife and three dogs, and this city will be my forever home. I’ve made a name for myself here as a local artist; I’ve won awards and painted murals here. I love St Pete.
What was your first experience with tarot?
It started with board games. I have a friend who is a board gamer, and while browsing through her collection I found her tarot decks. At the time, I didn’t know there was anything besides the Rider Waite deck, so she introduced all of it to me. Meanwhile, I was doing a lot of erotic art at the time, so when I saw the Tower card, I was reminded of the Tower position in the Kama Sutra. Then came my idea for the hanged man, the wheel of fortune, and the ideas just kept flowing.
What would you say is unique about your deck?
As an illustrator, I don’t have a style of my own. Every project I do uses a different color palette and different styles. For this one, I wanted to present an ethereal watercolor-like style of pastels and glowing lights. Thematically, I wanted to make it inclusive of gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, and sexuality. I did not shy away from any body parts in the imagery.
What cardstock and finish will be used?
The cards will be printed on 18 pt C-2s. It’s the thickest material offered by my printer, Community Printers, in California. The cards have an untextured coating.
How long has it taken you to create this deck?
The first edition’s illustrations took around 4 months from idea to completion. I began it as my city began to quarantine. This second edition uses the same art, but the graphic design elements have changed. That coupled with creating new graphics for the Facebook ads, Instagram ads, promo decks, and Kickstarter graphics and video was about a month.
You previously published the Eros deck, why did you decide to print a second edition?
The first edition was, at the time, my most successful project ever. I created 400 copies, 37 of which got lost in transit from the factory in China. After delivering to my Kickstarter backers, the remaining 150 decks sold out on my online store within two months. I got to know the people in my local post office pretty well. What this taught me was that there is definitely a market out there for my naughty art.
I wanted to immediately start the second printing, but the factory got in trouble with their local government because erotic art is forbidden in China. It took me a long time to find a factory willing to do the reprint. Even in the United States, I found printers unwilling to deal with the material.
What card are you most proud of and why?
Ironically, the illustration I’m most proud of is the only one that doesn’t feature nudity- the Lovers. It’s an image of two skulls kissing. I love that there is no gender assigned to either skull, so I find it to be a simple and pure expression of love, independent of any outside influences or burdens. Just one person kissing another person. This image now appears on my business card.
What impact would you like your deck to have on its readers?
I want readers to become used to this deck and not be shocked by the imagery (past their first flip through). Right after the first Eros Tarot Kickstarter campaign ended, I created Satisfy- a board game designed to help couples with sexual communication. It was an extension of the ideas that led to the creation of this deck. My intention is not to shock, it’s to provide an environment of empathy through titillation.
The world is becoming more open with expressing their sexuality, why do you think there are still some that find the subject confronting?
There’s a lot to unpack with this question. I once heard someone say “Men are most afraid that women will laugh at them, and women are most afraid that men will kill them.” That phrase always helps me put things in perspective. I feel that since society has traditionally been a patriarchy, its rules are all predicated on protecting the male ego. Many men are still raised equating desire with weakness, while women are raised equating desire with power. This sows the seeds of the imbalance that results in the quote.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
Total honesty here- I can get a little “distracted” while researching reference photos for the illustrations. Plus, it is funny when the wife walks in on me google image searching “dripping lesbian cunninlingus” and I’m like “It’s for a card, I swear!” But the biggest issue was finding the printer for the second run. After signing the contract with Community Printers, I found one in India that I'd like to try for a third printing should there be demand for it.
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
I’ll celebrate by starting to build my next Kickstarter project. I never rest (it’s actually a problem I’m working out through therapy). I’ve got my next 6 Kickstarter projects planned. I want my brand, Chain Assembly, to have a never-ending supply of intellectual property tied to it so it seems like it’s the creation of a team of people, and not just me and a computer.
What is on offer for people who pledge?
Kickstarter backers are getting an extra set of exclusive cards! These were being parsed out via stretch goals, but as of this writing, all five have been unlocked. So with your pledge, you’ll get an envelope of additional cards that won’t be part of the retail set. The Bound, The Consumed, The Penetrated, The Unarmed, and The Exposed are Major Arcana inspired by The Goracle, a gore-themed Oracle deck I published via Kickstarter at the end of 2021.
To get in touch with your sensual side, pledge here:
Kickstarter -Eros Tarot