Inspired! A Q&A With Grace Duong of Mystic Mondays Tarot
I am so struck by those who have the courage to express their creativity and put their beautiful work out in the world for all eyes to see, no matter what shape or form it takes. And with their hard angels, bright colours and vivid design - The Mystic Mondays tarot deck is a beautiful sight indeed. That’s why when Grace Duong (designer extraordinaire and creatress of the upcoming Mystic Mondays tarot deck) and I connected, I felt like it would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about the process of creating a deck and using Kickstarter as a launch pad to jumpstart the project.
Check out the interview below where Grace talks about her love of all things mystic and her inspirations for this project. It also includes a little mini reading for Grace about her campaign, because what Tarot interview is complete with a consult of the cards? Also, be sure to check out the Kickstarter to support Grace and help bring this vibrant deck to life!
A designer who is a mystic or a mystic who is also a designer? Are the two titles synonymous to you and in what ways do they inform each other in the work you produce?
GD: I am both! I believe that my intuition informs my life and my way of expressing them is through art & design. As humans, we are multidimensional beings, and we’re capable of doing so much. I think titles are a good way to describe yourself but it doesn’t define or limit you to what you can do. I don’t procure myself as a psychic, but I do believe that I am intuitive. I believe in synchronicity, asking for what you want, and trusting the process. It’s not always easy, but otherwise, life would be pretty boring without it.
A Kickstarter campaign must be a huge undertaking! How are you feeling about it and what’s been the most challenging aspect thus far?
GD: It’s a mix of a lot of emotions! It’s putting myself out there in a way I haven’t done before so I am a mix of excited, nervous, anxious, prepared, unprepared, holding onto as much control as possible, and letting it all go. Most importantly, this has been a healing process for me. As I went through each card, I sat with it for about 3-4 hours on each one, absorbed what it meant to me, and just zoned out and illustrated them. It very much felt like a meditative state of mind.
With tarot specifically, when/how did this tool cross your path? What’s your “this is how it started” story?
GD: I was always interested in the mystic. As a creative, it’s alluring to believe in the unseen forces and a higher power. Fortunately for me, I had a cousin who was interested in spirituality also! Sylvie first got me into palmistry when I was a kid. When we were teenagers, it was tarot cards. She gifted me my first deck about 8 years ago, and have been using them on and off ever since. It’s the Rider Waite deck, and I would use them from time to time for fun, but it was always a practice I did on my own, unconsciously shuffling the cards on my question until one pops out, the card that was “meant” to pop out. I still use them in this way, and lay them out, more out of intuition than the traditional spreads. Ever since moving to LA almost 5 years ago, I’ve gotten an expenditure of psychic readings, probably more than I’d like to admit and could afford, but I always liked the ritual behind it. It was sacred space to access your spiritual guides to help you along your journey with whatever questions you had. The readings weren’t “scary” and didn’t predict my death, but was more therapeutic than anything.
After receiving so many readings, I came to this conclusion: that tarot doesn’t have to be this heavy dark thing and it doesn’t have to be so serious. I’ve had readings that were eerily accurate from readings that were completely off-base. It’s led me to this: when you go inwards and ask yourself these hard questions, oftentimes you already know the answers. It’s a matter of trusting your own inner voice and listening to your intuition.
Now, on the other side of the table as a tarot reader, I can see how tarot is an intuitive tool for clarity and self care. It offers support and guidance around the person’s concerns. It’s a means for connection, whether it’s with the people involved in the reading, or connecting with yourself in a deeper way.
Do you have a favourite or most used deck? What about it appeals to you?
GD: I use the Rider Waite deck that my cousin gifted me. I feel that you need to know the rules to “break” away from them. It’s a great deck for getting to know the tarot and developing a relationship with it. And although I’m all about trying new things, there’s a certain part of me that respects tradition & tried and true ways.
Let’s talk about Mystic Mondays. Did you have any inspirations for the project?
GD: On my original mood board, I had a lot of pastels, geometric, bold, simple shapes that ranged from people & their hair color, homeware, books, posters, set design, and other things that appeal to me. It winded up being a lot more vibrant than I originally intended but I think that deriving away from inspiration is what made it its own.
I love the clean lines, bold colour and overall modern feel. Was colour selection an important part of your process? It seems very deliberate.
GD: Yes, color was very important. My work in general has an emphasis on color as a personal mantra of mine is to “live your life in color”. I definitely wanted color to communicate energy and that each color vibrates at its own frequency, which can affect how you feel subconsciously. I wanted the colors to feel positive, warm, impactful and induce “good vibes” while using the Mystic Mondays tarot. Color can also have a healing effect, when used in the right combinations.
I know you have so far completed the Major Arcana - that in itself is a huge feat. Do you have an idea of what we can expect from the suits from a design or aesthetic perspective? I have to also ask - are you thinking full scenes, PIPs or maybe a combo of both?
GD: It depends on the cards and the meanings. I’ve started to illustrate some of the Minor Arcana and found that I was going into a more abstract route than the Major Arcana cards. But for me, it’s much more about the concept than going in with a set way of how it should look. It will aesthetically follow what is already finished in the Major Arcana.
Speaking of the Major Arcana, do you have a favourite or one you identify with more than the others?
GD: I identify with the Magician because she is my birth card. I identify with being inventive, resourceful, and making things happen. I also identified with the Moon (my moon is in pisces) and didn’t actually realize until afterward that I had a dream about this card. I’ve seen this scenario with two cliff like structures and a moon in-between them, glistening over an ocean. I also remember for some reason, when illustrating this particular card, it felt like time stopped and I was completely focused. If that’s not my subconscious speaking, I don’t know what that is!
Who do you see as being the Mystic Mondays reader? Is there a specific demographic or personality you feel the deck will appeal to specifically?
GD: I designed the Mystic Mondays tarot as a desire to fulfill my tarot needs - so with that said, a girl like me! I’m a creative who enjoys spirituality, pop culture, having a good time, small tattoos, and chill vibes. I think that this deck will appeal to both people who have been using the tarot for some time and would like to switch it up, to people who want to learn more about the tarot and don’t know where to start. My hope is that the Mystic Mondays tarot is a welcoming deck to begin with and to learn from. Tarot doesn’t have to be scary! Mystic Mondays is all about beginnings, empowering yourself by listening to your inner voice, and having fun in the process.
Thank you so much for answering these questions and sharing your vision, Grace! I feel like this interview wouldn’t be complete without having a little fun with the cards so (with permission) I turned to my trusty Rider Waite Smith and asked what Grace needs to know about the birth of this project. Here’s what they had to say!
The session started with a lot of strong energy, so I wasn’t surprised to find two Major Arcana cards came forward; The Chariot and Death reversed.
With the Chariot, it’s clear that you are full steam ahead with this project. Your eyes are set, your focus is straight and you have a super clear vision of your end destination. On top of that, you’re probably being super diligent to keep yourself to task! The Chariot is like, the perfect companion for a long term project and while the timelines you've set and the lists you likely keep are fine and well, there is that Death card seeming to butt up against your natural determination. Intuitively, I’m being guided to advise you to not be resistant to making amendments to the course or to being challenged to do something different than how you’ve planned. This project has the capacity to be deeply transformative for you on many levels, but you must allow yourself to go off course or explore a detour here and there. You have enough dedication and drive that you won’t run the risk of straying too far, but this path and all the unplanned avenues it will open up for you are a part of the journey. Be open to the possibilities, don’t get too stuck in having things be or go a precise certain way and say “yes” to change especially if it feels right. The ultimate vision can still be achieved, but the path to get there may defy your expectations in all sorts of strange and wonderful ways; be open to it!
I hope that was helpful to you, Grace, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing this deck everywhere in the coming months! And, for those loving what they’re seeing here, make sure to support Grace and the Mystic Monday’s deck via Kickstarter! Can’t wait to see it come to life!