Our latest interview is with Danilo Sanino - the creator of The White Fly Tarot. This deck's narrative derives from both Fantasy and Grotesque themes
It includes the major and minor arcana and comes with a special guidebook that provides meaning for all cards in their upright and reversed positions. The guidebook comes in English, Italian and French.
Kickstarter - The White Fly Tarot
Where in the world do you call home?
I have never identified myself in the place where I live, or in the reflection of the people around me. The definition of home for me is a feeling of peace and tranquility that I can achieve after a satisfying job, or during time spent with friends, or just by myself.
It is definitely an inner space, which I have yet to completely conquer. The "home" theme is a goal that I am reaching, but I am in transit at this moment in my life.
I hope to cross the threshold of my inner house, and be home, soon.
What was your first experience with tarot and when did you fall in love with it?
I remember that in the first years of high school, with my first Tarot deck, I read the cards to my classmates. I had written the meanings of the Arcana on the cards, and the whole subject was difficult for me.
Then, over time, I temporarily abandoned the tarot, to study Astrology and various metaphysical themes of Indian derivation in depth.
I have been studying the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian Sanskrit text, and practiced yoga for years. After this, during the pandemic, I took up the tarot again, and thanks to YouTube I dusted off my ancient curiosity. At that moment, I fell in love with them. At that point, I was more mature to assimilate the meaning of the cards and the synchronistic act of reading them.
What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?
I have been working as a professional illustrator for more than 10 years. I felt that the right time has come to give birth to a great project that summarizes all my experience.
Commissioned work, although it represented a point of personal pride and financial support, has reached its saturation in my career. I feel the need to be an author, of something special, something on which my intuition and creativity can be expressed.
I have always been very prolific in my creativity, I have produced thousands of illustrations over the years. Some of them were perfectly suited to the meanings of the cards, therefore, I adapted them, adding details, varying colors, improving them to have a satisfactory result.
Others, however, have been specially designed for the project.
The external inspiration came from the observation and study of the various Tarot readers on YouTube. Internal inspiration, on the other hand, comes from my creative world, which can only express itself through what I call "play". If I don't enjoy drawing, I can't come up with a good result.
Creativity is a game. I know it sounds unprofessional, but that's what I believe. Metaphorically speaking, this concept aligns with Eastern philosophy which speaks of reality as a game, like a matrix. Macro creation is a game, just like micro creation, of the single individual.
It's definitely a serious game, that's what I believe in.
What would you say is unique about your deck?
It's hard to say. I think it's the synthesis of my style, which maintains realism, while expressing itself with cartoon accents.
I wanted to give very clear and expressive images that would describe a story, if put together. For example, the Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings figures are people who might belong to a fantasy novel. We also have mythical animals on other cards, such as the phoenix and the unicorn.
I wanted to differentiate the Major Arcana from the Minor ones. The Major Arcana have a white background, the subject represented is alone in the empty, white space. The Minor Arcana instead have a full color, in the whole area of representation, the background is colored and full.
I am very satisfied with the final result :)
How long have you had the idea for the deck for and how long has it taken you to create it?
The idea of creating a deck came to my mind years ago, but I wasn't ready. I started doing them, but then I stopped. Finally, last year, 2020, I decided to restart this long climb. I started with the first card, the two of Swords, in August. I completed the deck in December, working hard every day (and night), so 5 months in total.
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
The pandemic played a fundamental role in the realization of the White Fly Tarot project. During this period, from March 2020 onwards, every day I spoke to my best friend via video call. We read tarot cards to each other, to reduce anxiety and feel together. This process gave me the desire to create a Tarot deck. Furthermore, I have studied a lot the meaning of each single card, practicing constant and daily reading.
As for creativity, the pandemic was a tool that completely isolated me, in my inner space, amplifying the will to express and work on a long-term project.
Outside there was uncertainty and fear of the future. Sitting at my desk, with my pencils and papers, computer and graphic tablet, I took refuge in a safe space.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
There have been some challenges. The first of all was facing the magnitude of the project. During the making of the first cards, I did not know when I would finish, and above all I was not sure I had the consistency to get to the last one.
The other challenge was: "How can I make this Tarot deck known to the world?" So I studied various ways, and I discovered Kickstarter, a crowdfunding site where my project is currently located.
At the end of the project, I still don't know how I will carry this deck forward, I am considering various options. I hope some doors open for me.
Your deck is based on a fantasy and grotesque theme. How do you define a grotesque theme?
For me, the theme of the grotesque is similar to horror and macabre, but it doesn't reach their heights. In other words, it maintains a feeling of darkness, but carries with it a lightness that can be given by a funny detail.
For example, in the Devil card, we see a semi-human subject with buttons instead of eyes. He is sitting on a goat, which instead of the hoofs has high heels. This is grotesque.
Instead, in the Nine of Swords, I inserted a real horror image. In the classic description of this card, there is a person who is affected by the Nine of Swords, sitting in a bed with his face in his hands. I wanted to represent, instead of the consequences of the nightmare, the nightmare itself.
But I didn't want to give the whole deck a horror feel, so a few times I put in details that broke the drama.
In another card, the Moon, we see a half human, half moth subject. This character, as it is described, could lead back to horror. But the way in which I represented it, in the colors and above all in its delicate pose, almost dancing and floating in the air, soften its characteristics. It could be called grotesque, I think :)
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
On a personal level, I have already told my best friend that we will cook a memorable dinner together.
On a broader level, I am in a phase of change in my life. I hope this project reaches the stars, I'm thinking of opening a YouTube channel dedicated to the deck, but I'm in the "work in progress" phase, especially on a mental level.
Reconnecting to the first question, I hope this project gives me the key to open the door to my inner home.
What is on offer for people who pledge?
Since it's my first project on Kickstarter, I want to keep it simple. So far, I have included buying one, two, or five decks as an option. I am evaluating the possibility of putting stretch goals, such as emailing digital illustrations relating to cards, in high quality.
Thanks a lot for this interview! It makes me happy and proud :)
To add this wildly imaginative deck to your tarot collection, click here:
Kickstarter - The White Fly Tarot