Kickstarter Campaign to Fund Portland Tarot Deck: A Photo/Digitally Illustrated Labor of Love

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Portland, Oregon artist Theresa Pridemore is creating a 78 card Tarot deck inspired by her adopted home town and its unique inhabitants.

Artist Theresa Pridemore is revealing her wholly original Portland Tarot deck at a rate of a card per week, with the aim of completing all 78 cards by the end of next year – if she can meet her Kickstarter goal.

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Death wearing the makeup of a Dia de los muertos sugar skull. The Moon illuminating Multnomah Falls. The Lovers uniting beneath the sanguine gaze of a cherubic pug. Artist Theresa Pridemore is revealing her wholly original Portland Tarot deck at a rate of a card per week, with the aim of completing all 78 cards by the end of next year – if she can meet her Kickstarter goal. (

Each card is a stand-alone work of art, created through a process of blending original photography with digital collage to create crisp yet surreal images that visually and tonally evoke the artist’s adopted home town of Portland.

Pridemore has been studying the Tarot since 2008. She was inspired to throw her own vision into the ring for the Splendorporium’s 2012 Tarot-themed art show. For this, Pridemore submitted her take on the Chariot card: In place of a princely figure being ensconced between two sphinxes, Pridemore photographed close friend Cynthia Lopez sitting on the hood of her electric blue, mid-‘70s Mercedes Benz, flanked by a light and dark version of her own beloved dog, Charlie.

Soon after, Lopez convinced Pridemore to take on her oft-discussed notion of creating a deck full of cards that, like the Chariot, would feature a distinctly Portland flavor. Pridemore decided she would take a more subversive approach with the remaining 77 cards, while keeping “a sense of the arcane about it.”

Each card takes anywhere from 30 to 40 hours to produce. Pridemore starts with a general concept in mind, then “casts” a close friend or colleague to portray the card’s archetype – and to bring his or her own perspective to that corner of the Tarot.

“I select models from friends – Portland people – and acquaintances, people I’ve met around town who drew me in,” Pridemore explains. “I pick people for whom each card resonates. They’re everyday Portlanders who align in some way with the concept of their card, and bring their style, creative vision and vibe.”

To date, Pridemore’s models have included the founder of an international nonprofit, a documentary filmmaker, a massage therapist and community activist, a rock star, a farmer, a journalist and an award-winning illustrator – an accurate cross-section of the Portland job market.

As she makes her way through both Major and Minor Arcana cards, however, Pridemore has decided to hold a more open casting call: Supporters who contribute $4,500 or more to the Portland Tarot Kickstarter will have the opportunity to appear in their very own Tarot card, and engage in the process with Pridemore.

After an in-studio photo session, Pridemore takes to the streets of Portland to collect supporting imagery, which sometimes necessitates some intrepid exploration – like stepping over hypodermic needles as she braves the city's seamier sides to get the perfect shot. Then she assembles all elements to create her unique illustrations.

The Portland Tarot Kickstarter runs from April 18 through May 16, and will fund photo equipment and photo shoot incidentals like costumes, make-up and props. When the design process is complete, Kickstarter money will enable Pridemore to print a minimum of 2,000 decks, as well as produce other rewards like prints of the artwork and limited edition decks with customized boxes. Donations beyond her target goal will support Pridemore as she devotes a couple months of focused work to the project. (

Inspired so heavily by the city of bridges, Pridemore has unofficially referred to this project as The Tarot of Bridges – an apt nickname, as her deck not only bridges old and new traditions in Tarot, but because Pridemore believes the Tarot, at its heart, acts as a bridge of consciousness. (

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