Our latest interview is with Buboplague - the creator of the Yokai Yochi Tarot. This deck is a body of art that is a culmination of the creator's love for ghosts, folklore, and traditional Japanese artwork all blended together with the storytelling of tarot. Every card features a different unique yokai (or two), each chosen to match or reflect the meanings and stories of the cards. Some are playful critters, while others are sombre spirits - there's a full array!
Each card was traditionally drawn in sumi ink on rice paper, then scanned and digitally colored for consistency, giving it a not-quite modern and not-quite traditional fresh look.
Kickstarter - Yokai Yochi Tarot
Where in the world do you call home?
Illinois USA, nothing special.
What was your first experience with tarot and when did you fall in love with it?
I was gifted Yoshitaka Amano's Shiwase o Tsukamu tarot deck many years ago (one of my favorite artists), and found the structure and stories of the cards really appealing. Since then I've always admired and appreciated all the artistry and thought that goes into making a deck. I love how unique each one is.
What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?
The friend that gave me the Amano deck had actually heavily encouraged me to make one some day. It was a seed that was planted early in my mind and stuck with me.
This specific deck actually started as a personal art challenge, with no real goal for a printed product. I wanted something to work on here and there that had a set number of pieces and a theme, maybe a story to tell, that I could look back on and say "I completed this body of work." A tarot set seemed perfect.
What would you say is unique about your deck?
Maybe the style? It's a bit traditional looking but a bit modern. It was made to feel both old and new.
How long have you had the idea for the deck for and how long has it taken you to create it?
It took me years to start, because I could never settle on a solid theme, but once I finally narrowed it to yokai, it all clicked and fell into place pretty fast. That old seed that was planted suddenly erupted.
It took six months to draw from start to finish and I worked on it in between other things, then when I was done I posted it all to social media. The reception was so overwhelmingly positive that I decided maybe I should print it after all... And then designing the box, writing the booklet, formatting the cards for print, and the whole pre-production and preparation process felt like it took even longer than drawing the deck!
We are living in such crazy times. How has the pandemic affected your creativity?
It hasn't that much actually. I was one of those few where not much in my life changed, except some time off from my job during the 3 month quarantine.
I did feel that unspoken pressure to create and draw more because we all suddenly had more time, and not being productive in that extra time made me feel guilty -- I think that was a common feeling among creatives.
What have been your challenges in creating this deck?
Finding a uniform style that wasn't too simple or too complex, that I could be consistent with for 78 cards. I restarted the first few cards quite a few times before I settled on a look.
There's been a lot of challenges trying to get it to print as well, it was delayed a full year; but in the end I think the timing worked out.
Are stories of the Yokai handed down through the generations? Were you familiar with them all or did you have to research them?
I love traditional stories and do a lot of reading/research on my own out of interest, but a lot of the common yokai lore I was introduced to as a child either by my mother or my grandmother. So it was a mix of both knowing them and researching to find something that fit.
For the deck, I did try to stick to all pre-existing yokai and folklore, and I wanted to specifically include some lesser known ones - some are so obscure that there just isn't much information, but are still beloved enough to be recognized and documented.
How will you celebrate when the deck is finally published?
A nice long nap.
What is on offer for people who pledge?
The main item is the deck, but people can also get a cotton cloth, a couple of pins, and those that pledge in the kickstarter will be able to buy prints of any of the cards!
To add this unique Japanese deck to your tarot collection, click here:
Kickstarter - Yokai Yochi Tarot