Our latest interview is with Adam Zonca. He is the creator of The Black Ritual Tarot deck. The Black Ritual is a black and white tarot heavily inspired by the popular Rider-Waite deck. Adam created this tarot with the intent of challenging himself and paying homage to the incredible work of Pamela Coleman-Smith. Each card displays a highly detailed illustration providing the reader with straightforward imagery that may be interpreted in a similar manner to the most prevalent Tarot deck in the world.
Kickstarter - The Black Ritual Tarot
Where in the world do you call home?
I’ve always called Michigan my home; for the last five years I’ve been living and working in Grand Rapids.
What was your first experience with tarot and when did you fall in love with it?
I had been interested in tarot for a very long time and I had never seen or handled a deck in person, but a few years ago I decided to make my own rudimentary deck using what little knowledge I had. That deck was terribly fun to make and use, but I really had no idea what I was doing. After doing more research and being exposed to mystical thinkers like Carl Jung and Manly P. Hall, I became fascinated with the symbology, mechanics, and history of the tarot. The result of this interest is the deck you see now.
What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?
After creating that first deck and dipping my toes into mystical and esoteric thought, I decided to just dive right in. As I consumed more information, my interest in tarot only grew. I’ve always enjoyed making art, and the tarot seemed a marvellously appropriate vehicle for a large scale illustration project.
When I began to work on my deck, I naturally looked around at what some other artists were doing. To my surprise, I found a considerable amount of content that put a bad taste in my mouth. Some decks even seemed almost disrespectful to the very concept of tarot. I was resolved to create something that would offer homage to and respect for the work done by the mystics that came before us.
Aside from your own deck, do you have a favourite deck? If so, which one?
I only own one other deck than my own, and it’s a Rider-Waite-Smith; however I’m definitely looking to expand my collection and I’ve seen some absolutely marvellous decks out there that I’d like to acquire.
Do you have a favourite card (either from your deck or just the card in general). If so, why is it your favourite?
There’s so much joy for me in the suit of Cups - I’d have so settle on the Two of Cups. I really value social contracts and keeping one’s word, and this card is a marvellous visualization of the power of creating and maintaining relationships.
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
I’m usually a bit of a hermit so spending most of my time at home hasn’t been the biggest change, but during this time I’ve really learned to strap down and work uninterrupted for long periods. Still, not having the option of going out and being social has certainly weighed on me; having a large project to work on like the tarot really gave me some long-term vision and helped me pull through some gray days.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
A major challenge for me when I was creating the Black Ritual was my self. I frequently wondered if creating the deck was worth it at all. “Another Rider-Waite clone? There are already so many!”
Even though I felt good after finishing the deck I still felt a bit uncertain about how it would be received, but so far I’ve had nothing but positive feedback. I’m extremely grateful for everyone that’s helped me along the way with constructive criticism, advice, and encouragement.
Why did you decide to create the whole deck in black and white?
I’ve always valued the simplicity and authority that monochromatic color schemes provide; most of my art is in black and white. Creating the art for the tarot in this way not only felt natural for me, but functioned pragmatically as I didn't have to fret over creating unified color schemes for 78 individual art pieces. Each card also bears the same black background - a unifying reminder that each of the illustrations on these cards exist in the same impartial space.
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
The deck may be published soon but the work is never finished! I suppose I’ll drink some wine and smile.
What is on offer for people who pledge?
The Kickstarter offers the 78 card Black Ritual Tarot in a printed tuck box, as well as stickers, oversized prints, and shirts bearing illustrations of the Major Arcana from the deck. Much to my surprise, the highest reward levels have already been snatched up! I had some hand-made Rosaries that were bundled with the deck as well as a one-of-a-kind painted skull box for holding the deck.
To add this mono=chrome themed tarot deck to your collection, pledge here:
Kickstarter - The Black Ritual Tarot