DEVELOPMENT OF THE QUANTUM TAROT AND PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF THE DECK
by Chris Butler
As an artist and illustrator I get to work on a wide variety of assignments. Some are fun, some are wonderful and others can be a downright drudge. Once in a while a different kind of project comes along. You know immediately that you have to work on these and the Quantum Tarot is one of these projects.
I first met Kay Stopforth at a meeting of Tarot enthusiasts from the Aeclectic Tarot Forum. I really didn't know what to expect but the first person I met was Kay – a striking, flame haired woman with a gentle elegance that complements her fiery creativity and sharp intellect. We had much in common. By this stage I had already created one tarot deck and I was working on my second. Kay had created the Universe Cards and the accompanying book, already published by Thorsons Element.
The afternoon was a great success and further meetings were arranged. During the second meeting Kay tentatively approached me about a new project she had in mind. She wanted to take the concepts of astronomy and quantum physics and fashion them into a tarot deck, using Hubble Space Telescope images as the primary source material. Using these spectacular photos as a point of departure, the idea was to create space themed fantasy art around basic tarot archetypes. Each card would draw parallels with scientific theory or the ancient myths behind the planets and the constellations. She really needn't have asked whether or not I was interested. I knew I had to give this one a go.
Artistic collaborations can be incredibly difficult and often fail due to conflicts of interest or a clash of egos so we arranged a preliminary work session to establish whether or not we could work together. If this wasn't successful for one or both then we could part with no hard feelings. In the event we just gelled within five minutes and achieved a huge amount during that first meeting, finalising the first versions of two Major Arcana – The Fool and Death. From thereon we met up and worked together for either two or three days a week. I created the artwork on the computer under Kay's direction and we completed the first draft of the deck over a three month period.
Above: The harsh scientific consequences of successful artistic collaborations.
Despite our compatibility as work partners, neither of us would say that this was an easy process. There were days when we both felt so drained by the end of the afternoon that we didn't even want to speak that much. Some afternoons were hilarious, particularly when we would get into a row over artistic differences of opinion. I can be notoriously stubborn and likewise, Kay doesn't give in until the image on screen fits exactly to her ideas. We coined the term “Quantum Gits” for each other accordingly.
What I learned from this whole process is that a genuine and successful partnership doesn't hinge on there being no conflict; rather it depends on an ability to flow through conflict arising from the creative process. Working with Kay on the Quantum Tarot has been such a process. Moreover, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Above: Box artwork and cards from the Adam McClean/Alchemy Web Bookstore Ltd Edition Quantum Tarot Major Arcana. The Star card shown here is an early version. The card was completely re-worked for the Kunati edition.
Since its initial completion, the Quantum Tarot has undergone something of a metamorphosis, growing and evolving with its publication history. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Adam McClean who published the first limited edition of the Major Arcana in 2007. Adam is a truly dedicated publisher of high end art tarot editions and the care he lavished on this fledgling edition was a pleasure to witness. My gratitude to Adam is twofold as he subsequently published a similar first edition of my Son Tarot, completed immediately prior to the Quantum.
The first commercial edition of the full 78 card deck was published by Kunati Books in 2008. The Quantum was their first foray into Tarot publishing and thankfully for us, they lavished a great deal of care, attention and budget on publishing a truly deluxe product. The deck itself had silver gilt edges and was accompanied by Kay's 200 page book, reproduced to the same size as the card deck. Both deck and book were housed in a sturdy, cigar type presentation box with a lift off lid. For this edition, both artwork and text were revised and the cards were presented in an innovative, borderless format.
Sadly, Kunati Books succumbed to the global economic downturn in 2009. The Quantum Tarot went out of print but within less than a month we were approached by Lo Scarabeo with a view to launching a new edition of the deck. As of October 2010, the Quantum Tarot enters a new phase of its metamorphosis. Quantum Tarot 2.0 has similarly lavish packaging and presentation to the Kunati edition but the book and cards have been given their most radical revision yet whilst remaining true to the spirit and feel of the previous two editions. Most of the changes made have been as a result of the extensive user feedback we gathered from purchasers of the Kunati edition. As a result, we hope Quantum 2.0 will provide a reading and learning experience more magical than ever.
The new deck is a first in Tarot publishing as the cards feature UV spot varnish highlighting. Turn each card to catch the light and you will notice certain parts of each design picked out in sumptuous high gloss. On other cards, whole new design elements have been overlayed in varnish on the original image, further enriching the original symbolism.
Our final change for the new deck has been to include two new and extra Major Arcana cards, at the suggestion of Riccardo Minetti of Lo Scarabeo. One of these shows blasts of supernova energy in glowing shades of orange. We've entitled this card 'The Phoenix' as a symbol of rebirth. We felt this was fitting, not only as a universal concept, but also as a symbol of the deck itself. We've loved every minute of re-launching the Quantum Tarot with Riccardo and all the folks at Lo Scarabeo. May you also enjoy our glowing Phoenix as she rises from the ashes.
Chris Butler. July 2010.