|There’s a lot I enjoy about creating new decks but my absolute favorite part of the process is dreaming up the deck packaging. It’s like some unique little holiday for your deck where you decide how best to wrap it and tuck it under the proverbial tree for your potential deck buyers. It may seem like a simple subject but there are all manner of tiny details that go into thoughtful packaging of your deck that start at material costs and work their way up to how well your deck is protected during shipping.
For me, I get a little crazy with packaging. I think it’s the comic book person in me. I used to love the special packaging or special editions of my favorite titles. Come to think of it, I was enticed to purchase cds I already had because I just had to have that special box set. As a result I am very particular about how my decks are packaged. This is something I’ve come to through trial and error over the years though. I had to learn the process of matching my packaging desires with my actual budget. So your budget is a good place to start.
What is your budget? Think about that and be very honest about it. Being hopeful about what you think you might be able to spend isn’t helpful. Set your budget and go by it. Some of you might have the resources to truly invest in the publishing expenses of your deck, while others have little to no budget and are just hoping to figure out a way to get it to market. So it’s important to know realistically what your budget is so you can decide what you can actually spend on your packaging costs.
What are your packaging costs? Make a list of everything that is going to go into your deck packaging per deck (break it down even to the cent) so you know what that expense is going to be. And I mean list everything. If you use a sticker to seal the end of deck box know the individual sticker cost. It might sound nick-picky but those little expenses add up over time. The more little expenses you have like that with your packaging, the more they collectively add up as well. I’ve made that mistake in the past by overlooking things like the shrink-wrap to seal up my decks, the labels for the boxes, etc because they were so small, only to find there was about a dollar worth of overlooked expense per deck. With a hundred decks that was one hundred dollars I was not expecting to have spent.
What all will be in your packaging? I usually divide this between limited edition and open edition decks. I worry more about what all is in the packaging for the open edition since those are budgeted for better sales. Generally speaking this includes a box for the deck, labeling, and a companion book. This is if you’re going plain. It’s your packaging, you can do what you want. If you want to make your own boxes to make the decks more collectable do it! Keep in mind the expense of the box materials and the time it’ll take to make them. Or maybe you just want to keep it simple, that’s great too. At the end of the day the thing that is most important is the deck itself, but it never hurts to have some nice packaging.
Where are you going to get your packaging materials? When you’re a DIY deck publisher the keyword is wholesale. You can find neat things at the craft store to aid in your packaging needs but ultimately that’s not cost effective. Often times many of those things you find at the craft store for retail price can be found through the same wholesalers they get them from. I’d advice looking into different wholesalers too. Places like Papermart.com are wonderful for supplies and seem like a place where you can get everything, but doing a little price checking per item you might find uline.com is cheaper on some things. If you’re doing plain boxes or custom deck boxes check your printer’s price. I love my printer but their custom box printing is a bit steep compared to other places, this is why I make my own.
Do you have a budget to have your packaging custom printed? Congrats! That is the easiest way to put some clothes on your deck. I’m currently working towards that goal myself as I move towards the ability to offer my decks wholesale for international distribution. Bulk rules apply here. Typically the more your order at a time the cheaper your per deck price will be.
So those are a few things to think about when you start to approach your deck packaging. We’ll chat about the many ways to get creative with your packaging another day. Till then, keep on keeping on. No, I don’t like that one. Stay calm. Enjoy autumn. That’s better! 🙂
Today’s card was plucked from the Black Ibis Tarot by our resident living-dead batfrog Sven. He brought me the Page of Chalices card. I love this card. Yes, like with many of my own cards I’m a bit bias with some of them and I’m certainly that when it comes to my chalice frogs, but this is a good card for me.
I have several deck ideas slowly marching forward but this past week I really fell in love with a new idea. The first cards have been wonderful and they’re coming with ease. The Page of Chalices often (in a full reading when upright) represents something new trying to find its way to the surface, or just something new, be it news, ideas, and the like. So I think it gives me a poke to let me know this project is a good thing and it’ll do for me what many of my other decks have done before it. Very positive. And speaking of our Halloween guest (who never left) Sven, may we introduce you to the one and only batfrogs site? Worth a visit!
|It’s Halloween! And Halloween seems like the best time to take a look at my Attic Halloween Tarot. This is another collage art style deck that focuses on only the major arcana. I took classic paintings and tore them apart, jigsaw puzzled them back together, and threw in a little digital air-brushing to smooth all the new parts together. The end result is my classical take on old movie monsters like the mummy, the invisible man, the bride of Frankenstein, and even a new character of my own: The bride of the Headless Horseman as my Fool card. There are autumn themes, secret masquerades, and of course the macabre.
I’m a huge fan of collage style art. When I was a kid I used to cut up magazines to make collages. I liked taking something familiar and changing it into something very different. Using classic paintings for this deck kept that familiarity even while making it something quite unfamiliar. If you get the itch to work with collage just keep in mind that all of your materials need to be in the public domain. This is (if I do say so myself) a very pretty deck thanks to the incredible talents of the reference artists. You can see the entire deck here.
Happy Halloween! My card of the day comes from my Butterfly Circus lenormand deck. I love the moon card. It’s a wonderful card for Halloween. It’s about emotions and creativity, romance and seduction! It’s kind of like (keeping with the spooky theme of the day) Morticia and Gomez Addams in a card. At least for me. This card suggests you dream and dream big!
Now, I have five gi-norm-us bags of candy staring me down and trick or treat bowls that need to be filled. The sun is starting to set and soon all the little witches and ghouls will be assaulting our doorbell with their candy needs. I hope you all have a very wonderful and spooky Halloween!
Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died. – Steven Wright
We’re still transporting the boxes of our life slowly from Michigan to Ohio with each trip back. Given my craft corner that is a pretty big task. And if my craft boxes are a small army of Tupperware, then my gent’s art supplies are that army’s kingdom. With that said, I spent the morning sifting through some of the boxes we brought back trying to find all the little nooks and crannies of my studio/shoppe that I’m still missing. I stumbled upon my out-of-the-case vending suitcase! It had treasures!
My biggest find in the case was two first printing Black Ibis decks and my own original Black Ibis prototype deck! I love finding old decks. I tend to sell out to the last. If I’m at a convention I try to hold onto my display decks but often if I have sold out of that deck someone will talk me into letting it go. So I was terribly happy to find these. I’m keeping my deck! I think I will make a special companion book to match the simple deck package and sell one and keep the other one for my collection. I’m making shadowboxes featuring each of my different decks. The other photo is my wonderful lil Gremlin helping me photograph my Attic spirit boards. Six years ago on Halloween my gent and I found him mewing and a bit dog chewed under our car. We knew the stray he was from, we figure he was about six weeks when we found him. Given he actually came into our lives on Halloween (and he looked like Gizmo from the Gremlins as a kitten) we thought it a good marker for him.
Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game. – Voltaire
|I simply adore handmade decks. With a handmade deck you can control all the variables. It’s unique, it’s personal, it’s all yours. Quite a few of the card readers who’ve tutored me over the years prefer to do readings from their own handmade decks. I have my own beast of a wooden oracle deck I add to as time has permitted over the years, but she is slow thus the nickname beast. So these are a few things to consider when making your own handmade deck and some ideas to get you started if you don’t know where to begin.
I think with most tips I give out for deck creating I start by saying get your ideas organized first. I don’t feel a need to be quite so gung-ho with that advice here. A handmade deck is a creature of trial and error to be honest. Even when you have in mind the artistic idea for it you never know how they’ll work with your chosen card materials until you’ve given it a test run. You can read my own experiences with testing materials here. I recommend sampling a few of the materials you’d like to use and see how they hold up to your art, however that art will be applied to it. Every material has its pros and cons just as each one will hold up to better or lesser degrees with repeated handling. This goes as well for the art on that material.
Your art. Not everyone is an artist and not everyone is confident in what they can create. Try not to let this hold you back too much. It’s your deck, you can make it look however you want, especially if it’s one of a kind. If you don’t feel you can draw your work out, collage it. If you do want to draw your own cards but get self conscious about how they look, don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m always giving this advice to my dad. She (here is where I confuse people, my dad is transgendered just for FYI) chokes a little when staring at all that blank space. She gets a little frustrated when she begins and things don’t look immediately right. Art is (I use this phrase a lot) trial and error and the process of getting to what you like is half the fun –for me at least. You might see it as a hurdle to be crossed. I’m just saying, relax, and see where it goes. You might surprise yourself. It’s most important it speaks to you and it can be as sparse or as detailed as you want to make it. Keep in mind a person who is an artist is probably having the same frustrations as you are. I speak from experience. Being the fussy perfectionist that I am I’m always going nine rounds with my artwork. So don’t get too caught up on this. Hit that wee arrow to continue.
This weekend has been a bit of a very busy affair that is still going strong now that we’re in Grand Rapids house painting. I added a few cute little designs in my RedBubble profile featuring the Butterfly Circus artwork for the mice card. More to come after this little paint odyssey has ended and we’re back home!
Our night at the Ladies Literary Library in Ypsilanti was absolutely wonderful! Our host Acadia put together an incredibly beautiful tea party and she left no detail out. My best tea mate Kate and her husband Ted put on a wonderful show that I was happy to finally overcome my fear of public speaking by adding to it with a few of my Snapdragon Tea stories. The gent and I kept feeling harassed by something standing behind us. Kate went a bit farther by having this sensation being far more harassing, especially during her group tea leaf reading. It was quite a night. I even sold some decks. Now we’re back in GR already covered in paint. Aw, what change one day does make.
It’s been hectic in my attic! Back in Michigan calling my work space The Attic was for effect, but here I’m being literal. The second floor of our rental house is just a massive attic. One side is bedroom, the other side of the stairwell is my shoppe space. At the bottom of the stairs is the actual bedroom for the house, which serves as a studio/work-space for my husband and I. Today the attic space has tumbled down the stairs as I try and pull a smaller traveling vendor set-up for my tea party tomorrow night.
I go through decks quickly enough that I don’t always have a chance to get a look at them altogether. I set them all out today to take a quick inventory and took a second to give them a quick snapshot. It feels like a Halloween party where all my kids stopped in and I managed to get a family portrait. Almost anyway, there are still several different decks and variations of these not present. Still makes me happy. Now I have to get all these kids tucked into my travel case and go wrangle my queen bee costume from the closet!
|So today I decided to take my Isidore deck out for a walk and I drew the ten of coins card. In my Isidore tarot this card features a very dapper bird gentleman standing in front of his happy home of bird kin. All around them are coins that suggest good fortune. Not just as far as fiances go, but good fortune within our own lives. If things have been hard they may just be looking up. It’s a good card to pull from the deck and whether it predicts what’s to come or not, it soothes my frazzled nerves a little today. The countdown to our massive trip is down to its last days and soon we’ll be on the road. First stop Ypsilanti where my best tea mate Kate and I will help host a haunted tea party. Promptly afterwards the gent and I will travel to Grand Rapids to do a whirlwind scrape & paint job on my aunt Mira’s house. Where the funds for that are going to come I don’t know but I’m trying to have a little faith. So thank-you ten of coins, at least for this moment I can feel a little hopeful.|
|I’m very into O.O.A.K. items, especially personal creations. I had a phase where I was into making strange muslin dolls (mostly mermaids) that slowly glided into creating jewelry artifacts from some of my fiction. This latter one was fun because I was mostly recreating my cursed shears from a Snapdragon Tea short story. (The shears pictured at the end of the article for the curious.) Then I was into making custom boxes and versions of my various decks. After seeing the beautiful creation of my friend Kate’s Isis Oracle I decided it was about time I made my own handmade oracle deck just for me.
I was very eager to get this project started. I called it my Sunday Affair because I don’t get a lot of personal time to work on things I would consider a hobby. However, on Sunday I set aside a few hours that were devoted to me working on my deck. For the first many Sundays this work amounted to figuring out–not what I wanted the deck to be like–but what to even get started with to make the deck out of. First things were first: What was I going to use for my cards?
|Though this is the first article published here, I’ve written about ten articles so far and they stretch from one end of the design process to the other. I tend to write when an idea hits me but I also realize there should be some order to what I’m offering. So I thought it best to find a place to begin from and go from there. So we’re going to start with some basics.
I’ve been a graphic designer for a long time and one thing my clients really like about my work is my extreme attention paid to the little details. Before I begin a project I’ve pulled out my notebook and sketched out my idea, laid out my theme, and decided upon a color palette. You’d think that being my general nature I would have applied it to my first tarot project. Yeah, not so much. It was more of a passion project so I just winged it at first. There’s nothing wrong with that really, but it does help to go into project like this with some basic design ideas in mind. I learned very quickly that being thoughtful out the gate helps with the process in the long run.
First, give serious consideration to what card size or shape you want to use. There are standard sizes that I tend to recommend mainly because it will be easier to get your deck printed. Many deck printers have set sizes and templates for you to use. When you go with a non-standard size you move into the realm of custom printing and that generally means a more expensive printing process. It bumps up your packaging costs as well if you have to specialize it to fit the deck. If you have the resources though, hey, go crazy! That aside, packaging and future costs might not actually be on your mind right now. You’re in the honeymoon stage of just creating your cards. I love that stage. However, keeping your deck dimensions (and the costs associated with that) in mind at the beginning will help you better structure your card layout.
Another thing to consider is how your artwork will look on the different card sizes. The smaller the card the more compact your image is going to be. If your artwork is very intricate or detailed some of those details will be lost to some degree. I personally prefer a standard tarot card size, which is 2.75″ x 4.75″ or 70mm x 121mm. It’s an easy to handle card size and still large enough to avoid losing details in your art. This is my preference though and you’ll have to decide what you prefer.
Now that you have your card size settled upon, ask yourself: Are there going to be borders around my card artwork or am I going to go for a full bleed? A border is pretty self explanatory. Having a full bleed means your artwork extends to the edge of the card and beyond. When creating a card with a full bleed make sure to keep the important stuff within a set border space, create an area for a full bleed, and then the wiggle room for the cutting process. You want all important card imagery to stop before you hit the full bleed area.
Also, just a little side note to consider: With tarot decks I’ve learned that different people have different views on what they want design wise in their decks. I know quite a few tarot users who will cut off the borders of a deck if it’s just a solid white or colored border. It’s something to think about as you begin to design. Up to this point I’ve mostly used decorative borders that play into the artwork on the card. I like that unification of the cards. My first full bleed deck was my Attic Halloween Tarot and I still caved into my border-frenzy and made it with the option to get a bordered or borderless version.
Once you’ve gotten to this point and you’re beginning to format your finished art for printing, there are a few other details to keep in mind: Will your cards have words and numbers on them? You’ll need to pick out the fonts you want to use and keep in mind how legible they will be. I love a pretty font but not all pretty fonts are easy to read at card size. Research your fonts too. We have tons of fonts at the ready online but some of them are commercial and you actually have to have a license to use them. So I suggest going for commercial free or public domain fonts. Also, placement of your text on your cards is important. You want your design to flatter your art, not distract from it. Granted, this last tip is a bit of my obsessive compulsive order, though in my years of making and selling decks I’ve read many reviews of other decks to see how to better make my own. I’ve seen reviews of beautiful decks that get points taken away from them for fonts that are hard to read, clash with the art, or are poorly placed in the design. I like to approach the wording and lettering on my cards as an extension of the artwork.
I’ll finish this bit of tips with one last word of advice: Whether you’re making your card artwork traditionally or digitally it will eventually end up on your computer in need of formatting for printing. So remember to make sure your screen is calibrated. You want what you see on the screen to be what comes through in the printing process. There are a number of tutorials online to do this or programs that will do it for you. When in doubt as to if what I see on my screen will come out the same in printing, I like to make 4 x 6 inch prints of them through hour photo. Some photo machines aren’t calibrated as well as they should be but most are pretty spot on. I’ve found times when my work was much darker in the printing process than what I saw on my screen.
That is where I get my tips started and what I will leave you with for today my lovely deck makers. I’m staring down the path of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon while I make spirit boards for the attic shoppe. Buffy and October just have a nice relationship to them. Have a good evening!
I adore RedBubble. I love all the unique products they offer that allow someone like me, with a small budget to work with, the opportunity to design interesting things with this large collection of artwork I have at my disposal. In deciding what things to have as apart of my blog I knew I wanted to pay a lot of lip service to my Attic Cartomancy RedBubble profile. Like my blog, my AC profile is new and I’m slowly designing and adding products to it. So my very first design is devoted to my Coffin card from my Butterfly Circus Lenormand. Turns out the Butterfly Circus artwork is pretty versatile.
RedBubble has a new interface where your product isn’t just adjusted to an item, often making some items look wonky, but where you can upload specific files for that item. I’ve taken advantage of this by creating items with different styles of this card’s artwork on them. And in the case of some items where the artwork doesn’t quite fit with it, such as the leggings, I’ve taken the gradient and card colors to create an item that compliments the other items. I invested in a tee shirt and matching leggings to see what they’re like in person. Pictured here is their a-line dress. I love it! So I hope you’ll take a moment to have a look and perhaps find something there you like! More to come.
My card of the day was the Coffin selected from my Butterfly Lenormand. The everyday person might get a shudder upon pulling this card but Attic folk just smile, sort of subdued like. This is not an inherently bad card as one might think. It’s a card that signifies a great deal about a need of change. There might be an aspect of your life that needs change, or closure… or the completion of a cycle so a new cycle can begin. Change is a part of life and what keeps our lives ever evolving. Life needs change now and then.
Personally, I know for me this card represents the completion of a cycle. For a year now I have been in mourning, rebuilding and finding a new groove in a life that is so different from this time last year. Things have hit an end point and I’ve accepted that change in the current of my river, so to speak. The elder goth in me says “Right on… gloomy card…” but the person in me who loves life (as goths actually do no matter what anyone tells you) realizes things have taken a turn and are getting better, more stabilized. I don’t hate on this card. Plus I absolutely adore my coffin riding pinup silhouette on this card. I’m totally biased.
I can read the Tarot cards and believe in ghosts. – Mark Roberts
|I love this card but only in design. For some reason the mountain cards in my two lenormand decks are my favorites. Maybe unconsciously I wanted to soften the blow this card can present sometimes. The symbolism of this card is that of an obstacle. Something is there that is getting in the way. If I apply it to myself I’d say it represents the situation going on with my aunt’s house and the changes in my old neighborhood that are keeping her from feeling comfortable. I feel too far away from her to help out as I should. Getting her house properly updated and in good shape stands between me finding my peace of mind. The mountain gives me a little kick in the bum so that I stop just looking at the thing in front of me as an obstacle and start figuring out how to get past it. Maybe I’ll jump in my tea bat’s umbrella and let him fly me over it!|
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game. – Randy Pausch