Progress Diary

Log of Entries

You can also check the archive of old blog posts that have been tagged “Spirit Keeper’s Tarot.” A direct link to that archive is HERE.

4 July 2018 | “Ritual Coloring of the Major Arcana” | YouTube video chat that diverges onto tangents about God, the Devil, and religion in occultism, plus written progress notes in blog entry form on the Minors.

10 July 2018 | “Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Rumination Notes Fours to Aces” | After completing the lower realm and beginning the transition into the upper realm within the Minors, I paused to reflect and write up a blog post.

16 July 2018 | “Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Rumination Notes Aces to Threes” | I share some of my thoughts on the upper realm, Aces to Threes, after their completion. Also give a glimpse into the court cards to come.

20 July 2018 | “Drawing My Own Tarot Deck: Ruminations on the Court Cards” | Done! Well, at least the pen and ink line drawings of the 78 cards are done. Here I share my thoughts on designing and illustrating the courts.

25 July 2018 | “Am I Creating a Fluffy Tarot Deck?” | Some after-the-fact ruminations on what I’ve done and at the end of this long rambling post, an announcement of the preliminary intentions to send this deck to print publication as a black and white deck plus companion guidebook. Will be taking pre-orders as soon as I get my ducks in a row.

27 July 2018 | “Just Some Images” | Here I’m sharing for free download two image files and accompanying written words that I’ve dedicated to the public domain. These didn’t end up as tarot cards in Spirit Keeper, but you’ll find them in the front pages and end pages of the Book of Maps, the companion guidebook to Spirit Keeper’s Tarot.

30 July 2018 | “And So It Begins: The Artist vs. Business Reality” | Progress update and some of the logistical issues I’ve been tackling now that I’ve decided to independently publish the deck and order my first print run.

3 August 2018 | “Publishing Your Tarot Deck: Always More Work Than You Bargained For” | Work notes and reflections for the week as I work toward publishing Spirit Keeper’s Tarot.

10 August 2018 | “RWS and Thoth Comparison with Spirit Keeper’s Tarot” | Side by side review, commentary, and comparison of the Rider-Waite-Smith and Thoth with the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot.

12 August 2018 | “Tarot Box and Packaging Design DIY” | Designing the top and bottom lid box for the deck, some notes of guidance born from personal experience for the newbie deck creator, and registering for your ISBN.

14 August 2018 | “When 8 mm = $5,000 and Other Tarot Deck Creator Musings” | The details really do matter. Shipping and packaging issues I’m encountering as I get down to the blah part of producing your own tarot deck.

31 August 2018 | “Journal Notes on a Deck Production Process” | This is another progress report update, with free download of a digital print at the end. Production of the deck is under way.

12 September 2018 | “What Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Tarot Deck?” | Let me break down the numbers for you, explain those numbers, and offer some thoughts to the aspiring indie deck creator on how to calculate your business math.

22 September 2018 | “Reflecting Back on the Design Process” | While waiting on production of the first print run, I share some of my reflections on the design process and personal experience of creating and illustrating my tarot deck.

25 September 2018 | “Physical Proofs Are In! Now Awaiting Full Shipment.” | For those who like to plan ahead, this post will outline the current schedule for pre-orders and the official launch and release date for the deck and book.

31 October 2018 | “Updates and Comment on the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot” | Just a quick (well, if you consider 20 minutes “quick”) video and some blog notes giving updates on the tarot deck and personal commentary.

4 November 2018 | “Behind the Scenes of the Glamorous Deck Creator” | I take you behind the scenes in a photo essay to show you what it takes to get a tarot deck printed via self-publishing, shipped to me, prepped, and then packed and shipped to you.

26 November 2018 | “The Actual Cost of Self-Publishing a Tarot Deck” | After wrapping up and closing sales on the SKT First Edition, I tally up my numbers, do a bit of thinking, and report to you my conclusions. This is a public report of the accounting– the actual numbers, mind you– of self-publishing a tarot deck. Compare this to the earlier blog post before I started production, where I lay out my projections [“What Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Tarot Deck?“].

5 December 2018 | “The Intangible Cost of Self-Publishing a Deck | We covered the numbers that go in to self-publishing your own deck, now what about the intangible costs? How does becoming an indie deck creator affect your mental health? To what extent exactly is it going to disrupt your everyday life? What is the opportunity cost of self-publishing a deck when you already have your own thriving business operation?

31 December 2018 | “Redesigning Cards in SKT for the New Edition” | It’s been back to the drawing board for me on account of a few cards from Spirit Keeper’s Tarot. In this post I’ll share drawings and images of redesigned cards.

18 January 2019 | “Redesigning the SKT Tarot Box” | Sharing my works in progress as I struggle to redesign the top and bottom lid box the deck will come in.

25 February 2019 | “Comparing the First Edition and Vitruvian Edition” | I compare and contrast the black and white First Edition with the forthcoming sepia-toned Vitruvian Edition.

2 September 2019 | “How to Read with Your SKT” | My thoughts on how to work with and read tarot with your SKT deck. (Spoiler alert: Read it the way you want; interpret card readings in the way the cards speak specifically and only to you; don’t look outward to anyone for the answers; look inward.)

30 November 2019 | “Purchasing Digital Files for the Book of Maps” | If you’d like to purchase the digital files for the Book of Maps, the 22-Weeks with the SKT workbook, and the coloring book, then click here to learn more.

25 June 2020 | “Show Me the Numbers: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing of a Tarot or Oracle Deck” | Let’s talk numbers in self-publishing a tarot or oracle deck vs. signing a contract with a traditional publisher. Watch the video, then read the companion blog post.

7 July 2020 | “Drafting & Tinkering for SKT #3” | Sharing some works-in-progress as I redraw selected cards for SKT the Third.

15 July 2020 | “HALP ME WHY CAN’T I DRAW AN EMPEROR?!” | So many failed, miserable attempts at rendering The Emperor card. Why can’t I draw dudes??

Experimenting with color…

17 July 2020 | “SKT the Third: Experimental Trials with Color” | My first attempts at adding layers of color to the cards. This post also includes a video clip showing my illustration process for SKT the Third.

20 July 2020 | “Inspiration and Process for Coloring SKT III” | Sharing some of the 18th c. alchemical art that’s on my mood board as inspiration for coloring SKT #3; short time-lapse video clip of how I digitally color the scanned-in line drawings for the cards.

28 July 2020 | “Walk-Through of Key 1 through Key 11 of the Revised SKT” | My journey learning how to digitally paint on a tablet; first edition vs. second vs. forthcoming third edition drafts for Keys 1 through 11.

10 August 2020 | “Walk-Through of the Second Septenary” | Sharing how I apply patterns to fill in the images, rather than solid colors, which is what gives the illustrations that illuminated effect; where in art history I got the inspiration for that.

31 October 2020 | “SKT III Status Update Report” | I am now up to the Sixes in the Minors (working on the cards in fixed order, per here). Some insights into my process of world-building for every card’s background and setting. Pictorial walk-through of all full-color card drafts up to this point.

31 December 2020 | “Last SKT Update of 2020: Revelation” | I think of this full-color Revelation Edition as an entirely different deck from the First and Vitruvian Editions. It’s within the SKT family, hence the deck name remains the same. And while it shares the same DNA, SKT III has really evolved to solidify its own unconnected identity.

8 January 2021 | “And… another SKT III status update…” | I’ve finished the first draft of all 80 cards, but that doesn’t mean much because I’m returning to the Majors to fix up Keys 1 through 7, at the very least, and maybe whatever else I see that needs fixing.

1 February 2021 | “Revisiting the SKT Major Arcana” | After completing the first draft of coloring in the SKT, my technique improved to such a point where the First Septenary, i.e., the very first cards I started the coloring on, paled in comparison.

28 February 2021 | “Why is a Card Back Design so @#$%^&* Difficult?!” | I’ve been getting my ass handed back to me every time I try to draft a card back. My inspiration and the mood I’m going for is illuminated manuscripts.

5 March 2021 | “My Self-Taught Art Journey [Part 1]” | This is Part 1 of a 2-part blog piece on my personal experiences with self-taught digital art. In June of 2020, I got myself the XP-Pen Artist 12 drawing tablet and resolved to take art study seriously. Eight months later, I’d like to reflect on the journey so far and memorialize what my approach was to self-study.

18 March 2021 | “SKT III Status Update: Color Values and Saturation Issues” | I’ve now gone through two test prints of the deck to check color issues. We haven’t even gotten to the test runs for checking cardstock, finish, etc. We’re still on color.

24 March 2021 | “SKT III Production Status: More Test Prints” | Eeks. RGB to CMYK conversion was not the issue. Forgive my slow learning curve, because it wasn’t until now that I realized I can’t run the same brightness and saturation adjustments on all the cards.

27 March 2021 | “The Tarot Courts and Your Birth Chart + Pre-Order Info” | The last seven days have been a whirlwind over here. Both James and I each worked around 16 hours per day just to keep up with the pre-orders. The reception, the interest, and the support for my art has been overwhelming, humbling, and fully validating. Thank you. I cannot thank you all enough. We broke all sales records by leaps compared to the previous two editions and twice over exceeded our own sales projections/expectations.

2 April 2021 | “SKT III Production Status Update” | We’ve sent the down payment to our printing company and commenced the production process. But first, we’re doing a test print for the final confirmation of color, the packaging, and also to see how the coloring looks with the selected cardstock and finish. After hundreds of drafts and flip flopping between different options, I’ve finally selected a card back design.

7 April 2021 | “SKT-III Production: Redoing the Digital Proofs | We got the digital proofs in from our printing company, but I’m going to have to make alignment adjustments and re-submit. So, in other words, delay.

27 April 2021 | “Book of Maps Proofs” | I printed out a physical copy of the Book of Maps just to make sure everything is as it should be, before releasing it to those who ordered the premium package. I am so in love with how this cover art came out.

1 May 2021 | “About the Gilding (Gold Edging)” | While all of us are waiting on production, I thought I’d take this time to talk about gilding, and why I decided to once again go with gold edging for the third edition.

6 May 2021 | “SKT Production Status Update: Still on the Proofs” | Here are the color proofs of the cards in uncut sheets. You can click on any of the image files for an enlarged close-up view. These uncut sheets are to check the color quality. I’m trying to go for a muted color palette, hoping that will express a lighter, more ethereal quality to the cards.

19 May 2021 | “Book of Maps Files in Your Inbox (& Production Status Update)” | We’ve commenced e-delivery of the digital files to the Book of Maps and a complementary SKT tarot study journal. The contents of that e-mail will also include unlisted private direct links to a third-party print-on-demand site for you to print paperback and spiral-bound physical copies of the texts. This post is also a status update on where we’re at in terms of production.

29 May 2021 | “Book of Maps: Revelation Edition – Cover Design Art (Updates, Notes, Downloads)” | Download the cover design art (two different versions of formatting, based on preferred margin/bleed) in high-res. The cover design art for the tarot study journal is also provided for download here.

30 May 2021 | “Sapere Aude Magnets with the SKT Revelation Decks” | This is an explanation of the meaning and intent behind the illustration on the 2″ x 3.5″ magnet that will accompany each deck order. You can also download the high-res image file of the illustration for your personal uses.

9 June 2021 | “Divinity Blessing Cards & About Packing Favors (Deck Creator’s Notes & Commentary” | You can download these printable 2.5″ x 3.0″ divinity blessing cards for free and use them freely under a creative commons license. High-res 500 dpi JPGs in the hyperlinked post along with some deck creator thoughts on what I refer to as “packing favors.”

28 June 2021 | “SKT Status Update & the Cards Printing Process” | We received a status update from our manufacturer in Shenzhen, and China is in effect back under quarantine due to the new variants of Covid-19 cropping up. Thus, there may be additional delays in delivery to you. Meanwhile, this blog post shares insights into the tarot deck printing and production process.

3 July 2021 | “Tarot Deck Care and the Impact of Humidity” | Not really an SKT deck update, but I thought you might find this info interesting. Paper products like your tarot cards are made of cellulose fiber (derived from plant-based materials, like bark, wood, and leaves). They’re porous, causing them to be highly sensitive to humidity levels. Let’s talk about how humidity can be the cause of warping, breakage, or weakening of the cardstock. And this all somehow connects to the superstition of always wrapping your cards in silk and keeping your cards away from sunlight. Fun, huh?

2021 SKT Revelation Box Design

27 July 2021 | “SKT Pre-Order Update and Some More Good-to-Know Tidbits” | Our latest update on projected delivery times, insight into how we will be processing the pre-orders, packing, and shipping, editions vs. print runs, what it means when we say the cards are treated with a “matte finish,” and more.

7 August 2021 | “SKT Pre-Order Update: Bill of Lading” | Just a super quick update that really doesn’t contain any substantive content with regards to your pre-order, but some of you might find a look-see at the Bill of Lading to be interesting. So here you go. A Bill of Lading, or B/L (you can also see it in shorthand as BoL) is used in import-export, to acknowledge and document cargo on board. I’m sharing what ours looks like in case that’s something you were curious about.

23 August 2021 | “Tarot Cards: High Art or Low Art” | Not exactly SKT Progress Diary related, but I figure anyone interested in reading the entries here would also be interested in this topic.

CMA CGM Loire location on Aug. 30, 2021

30 August 2021 | “SKT Delivery Update and New Lessons Learned Re: Import-Export” | Correction of info provided in previous blog post update, sharing the correct Bill of Lading subsequently sent to me by my manufacturer, tracking the actual vessel the decks are on, and some interesting know-how re: import-export.

10 September 2021 | “Importing the SKT Decks: CBP Form 7501 Entry Summary” | Here’s a peek at the Form 7501 Entry Summary for the SKT decks. I’m continuing to keep you up to date on all the granular details of your pre-order and deck delivery, because it turns out many of you– lots– are full-blown nerds like me and find this stuff interesting. Who knew.

18 September 2021 | “SKT Delivers Begin First Week of October” | As I’ve been told, the decks are now in a warehouse near the Port of Oakland (here in California) and we’re waiting for our turn for delivery to our front doorstep.

20 September 2021 | “Container Delays” | I called the warehouse directly this morning (the info wasn’t given to me until last Friday; my status update to you was on Saturday; today is Monday) and spoke with a very kind, pleasant fellow at the warehouse. It turns out my packages are not at the warehouse yet, as I was told by the broker/importer guy. Thank goodness I took the initiative to look up the warehouse contact and called on my own. So here’s the real deal.

3 October 2021 | “No Updates & Personal Ramblings” | The container that my decks are in finally made it to the warehouse on Friday, October 1. Delivery of the shipment to my front doorstep will happen next week.

4 October 2021 | “Australia & New Zealand Delivery Updates” | We will receive delivery of the shipment some time between Wednesday and Friday. As for the Australia & New Zealand delivery update: On Oct. 1, 2021, the U.S. Postal Service released a news alert stating that it has suspended all shipping to Australia and New Zealand. Thus, we have come up with 3 options for you to choose from…

6 October 2021 | “First Look at the Arrival of the Decks” | This morning a white truck pulled up next to our house. Our decks have arrived! The order was for “curb side delivery,” meaning the truckers were only obligated to drop those boxes on those wooden pallets (which apparently we had to pay for) off literally “curb side.” But they were so sweet and moved each pallet into our garage for us!

17 October 2021 | “Possible Design Issue + SKT Video Course III” | It has come to our attention that a minority number of decks may come with a printing error. I’ve also started an orientation video series on the SKT Revelation. You can watch it here.

5 November 2021 | “SKT Ongoing Packing & Deliveries” | Just a quick update, and then I’ll be out, because lots of work. Also, check out this glaring design error on the box that now I can never unsee…..

2 December 2021 | “SKT Revelation First Printing Sold Out” | The first print run of the SKT Revelation deck has now sold out. If you’re interested in being at the head of the line for getting the second printing (which still won’t be for quite a long white), please put your name on the waitlist.

19 December 2021 | “Reflecting on My SKT Tarot & Art Journey” | Evolving from the pen and ink line drawing you see above to the digitally-remastered in-color version of The Priestess was a journey. As 2021 comes to a close and I send out the final shipment of first print run decks of the Revelation Edition, I’d like to share my reflections on this journey. Fair warning upfront: This is going to be a looooong blog post. I also share some tips, from direct personal experience, to aspiring indie deck creators.

10 August 2022 | “DIY your own SKT study journal” | Lots of high-res JPG image files and templates for you to download so you can design your own tarot study journal.