Grace Duong, creator of Mystic Mondays and the new Cosmic Creatures Deck speaks with Ash + Chess, creators of Queer Tarot, about her background in Tarot and the creative process behind her new deck and guidebook which celebrate the magic of animals.
Ash + Chess: When did you first discover your interest in using tarot cards and oracle decks?
Grace Duong: My cousin gifted me a Tarot deck back in either high school or college and I used it but didn’t take it too seriously then. It wasn’t until I moved out to Los Angeles right out of college (for a job that I was fired from two months later) where I started getting Tarot readings pretty frequently. To me, it felt like a form of therapy and not the typical scary Tarot readers predicting your death! Tarot readings helped give me perspective and greater awareness into my problems, tackling it from a spiritual level that can be delivered with tangible advice and guidance.
A+C: What motivated you to begin to create your own decks?
GD: Several reasons! After receiving Tarot readings for years, I had an inkling to learn Tarot on a deeper level and for me, learning by doing is the best way to integrate knowledge. I also couldn’t find a Tarot deck that I really loved. The decks that I found seemed outdated, didn’t represent figures that looked like me, with language that seemed antiquated. I wanted Mystic Mondays to feel fun, modern, and vibrant, introducing people to Tarot in a way that would be easy and magical. Since I couldn’t find a Tarot deck I really resonated with, I decided to make my own!
A+C: What did your research process look like when choosing animals for your upcoming Cosmic Creatures Deck?
GD: I wanted The Cosmic Creatures Deck to feel well rounded with both animals and mythical creatures that we are familiar with. I also made sure to include creatures that I’ve had a special relationship with, where they’ve shown up for me as synchronicities that I’ve applied in my own life. I also wanted to choose creatures that would be fun to illustrate and write about!
A+C: What is the biggest challenge you faced when switching gears from creating your original Mystic Mondays Tarot Deck verses going into more oracle-based decks like your Crystal Grid and Cosmic Creatures?
GD: There wasn’t any challenge in switching over because to me – it all relates! The metaphysical world is all interconnected and the Tarot and Oracle decks are meant to bring awareness for greater awareness and growth and can be used together. They all fulfill the same purpose of attuning to your own intuition and helping others to do so.
A+C: What does your illustration process look like? What programs do you use? What does a card or a project look like from start to finish in terms of the artwork?
GD: I tend to collect a lot of reference images before I begin, so in this case I Googled a lot of animals to make sure I captured their likeness while also adding my own style to the illustrations. I sometimes sketch and then sometimes dive right into Adobe Illustrator for the illustrations.
A+C: If you could choose just one, which card from The Cosmic Creatures Deck do you identify with the most?
GD: I identify with Phoenix the most right now. Phoenix has shown up for me again and again in my life, and with my grandfather’s recent passing, Phoenix again is holding special space for me to process, grieve, and to value life with new eyes. I’ve also found in my own life that I go through many transformation phases, which I liken to the themes of Phoenix.
A+C: What was your most favorite part of making The Cosmic Creatures Deck?
GD: Learning about the wisdom of animals and creatures, and how they can play such an important part in our lives on a spiritual level. We always have guidance on our side and we don’t need to look into the ethereal heavens. We can look right here on Earth at the majestic beings we share this planet with. We just have to know where to look!