Interview with Deviant Moon's Patrick Valenza

Patrick Valenza photo

Copyright (c) 2008 Patrick Valenza

By Melanie Harris

“I LOVE a ‘fingernail’ moon, the slightest, thinnest, sharpest crescent you could possibly have,“says Patrick Valenza. “It is so mysterious and has the most powerful influence over my thoughts.” With his recently released Deviant Moon Tarot (U.S. Games Systems Inc., 2008) getting rave reviews, we had to find out more about this lunar-influenced artistic man of mystery.

Tarot Reflections: I understand the Deviant Moon is your first publication. What inspired you to make this deck and seek out a publisher?

Patrick Valenza: Yes, this was my first of hopefully many publications yet to come. It was the first thing I have ever submitted as well. I created Deviant Moon for myself first. I made the 22 Majors just to see if I could take the ideas I had had in childhood and recreate them in my current ability. I probably would have lost them on my hard-drive somewhere, like so many of my other unfortunate endeavors, but I took a chance and submitted it to U.S. Games. Now I am busy dusting off years of accumulated ideas.

TR: How did you feel when you got the news that your deck would be published?

PV: I got the good news in an email only a few days after I submitted my samples. I didn't expect to hear anything for months, let alone that I was going to be published. It took so long and so much energy to bring this deck into being, so I felt it was a true lifetime accomplishment.

TR: Tell me more about the process you used to create the artwork for this Tarot.

PV: Each card began with a series of very rough sketches. To me, the idea behind the card was always the most important aspect to deal with. ‘Art’ came second. I never started an image unless I was sure about it containing all of my underlying meanings and innuendos. I would refine these drawings until I had an outline that I could scan into my computer and apply all of the various photographic textures. Some card ideas came to me on their own, almost out of nowhere, while others took months until I had something I could work with. Many of the cards were thought out over the last thirty years, and changed little in the final result, while others have characters and scenes from various paintings and drawings I have done in the past.

TR: I understand you incorporated manipulated images of gravestones into your Tarot designs. Do you like to hang out in cemeteries and talk to ghosts?

PV: When I was a child, my friends and I would often play around very respectfully in a church cemetery. I have always been fascinated by old tombstones, particularly 18th century winged death-heads. I liked to read the names and wonder about the souls that once occupied the bodies below. When I became an adult, I went back to these childhood ‘haunts’ and photographed the stones in great detail. When I began the Deviant Moon, I had thousands of photographs at hand. I manipulated them into the boots, hats, coats, and wings of the Deviant citizens. Almost everything in the deck has some kind of tombstone texturing.

TR: How did you come up with the title, ‘Deviant Moon’?

PV: I had no title for the deck until the night before I sent out my samples to U.S. Games! I knew I wanted the ‘moon’ to be in there somewhere, then I thought of words to describe the moon. ‘Deviant’ came to me out of nowhere, and it just fit perfect! At that time, I only had the Majors completed, and they were not really ‘moon-based’ characters. With the new title in hand, I set off to create the Minor characters with a more lunar appearance. It's a case where the art affects the title, then the title in turn affects the art!

TR: Tell me more about these moon-faced characters in your deck.

PV: Originally, I created the characters based on ancient Greek stylization about 25 years ago. Everything was profile, either left or right. I knew that this would get boring and I searched for a way to show a quarter view of the face. Also, the Deviant Moon eyes are circular, and if I had two of them in a frontal view, it would not look so good. The face somehow evolved into the split view through a series of sketches. The darker side became the subconscious, half awake side, with a slightly open slit for an eye.

TR: What is your favorite card in the Deviant Moon?

PV: Oh, that's impossible for me to say. It's like asking a father, ‘Which child do you like best?’ I like them all, for many different reasons. Each one is a record of my life in so many personal ways. There are also no filler cards in this deck. Any idea I felt would bring down the other cards was quickly dropped. There was only one card that had two versions, the Six of Pentacles. I realized that card wouldn't fit with the rest about an hour after I finished it. I gave each card my undivided attention during creation, and did not think of the next card until what I was working on satisfied me. It was like raising 78 children, and now it is so nice to see them making it on their own, so to speak. 

TR: So, now that your beautiful 78 ‘children’ have ventured out into the wide world, what do you have in mind for the future?

PV: Right now I am illustrating a children's book due out in 2009. This book involves a party of wild characters and the event they attended one winter night. Right now I am completing the dummy book, and will be starting the final illustrations very soon. I had so much fun creating the characters, but it is such a challenge, because there are so many of them in this story, and they jump around and interact with each other, so there is a lot to draw and think about. Also, there are still three distinctive Tarot decks left inside of me, one of which will be a very unique sister deck to the Deviant Moon. Hopefully, that one will be out in 2012.

TR: Do you read Tarot cards?

PV: Although I can read the cards very well, I don't actively read Tarot for others. I have studied them since childhood, and the images and stories have engraved themselves into my psyche, affecting every aspect of my art and personality.

TR: Tell me more about that, about how the Tarot has affected you.

PV: I believe the Tarot has a definite magical grip over my subconscious and imagination. Tarot has profoundly affected my art in that all of my creations are character driven. I am constantly creating new types of ‘people.’ I have no interest in any other subject. This definitely stems from my early studies of single card characters such as the Fool or the Magician. I suppose childhood influences are the strongest in life. They grow with you and become part of you.

We’re certainly going to keep an eye on this one, and you can, too. Find out more about Patrick Valenza and the Deviant Moon Tarot at

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2008 

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