About a couple of weeks ago, I found an incredibly amazing Tarot deck which existence I was entirely oblivious to: Jonasa Jaus. When I discovered that the deck had been produced in my country, I couldn’t help but rushing to find the artist and interview her, hoping that you all enjoy her creation about as much as I do. This is the result!
Interviewing Jonasa Jaus, creatrix of Jonasa Jaus Tarot.
Jonasa Jaus is the name behind Angela Castrillón, creatrix of Jonasa Jaus Tarot. An astonishing deck based in the Marseilles system, with titles in Galician and printed in Spain. A revelation and a promise for the indie stage of Tarot creation in her country.
Q. – Jonasa Jaus is a blend of pretty uncommon characteristics that somehow are a perfect fit: The measures, far from standard, offer a charming and “witchy” style that I personally adore. The deck as a strong Marseilles base, but its reminiscences of botanic symbolism make the Minor Arcana very appealing to the eye and interesting on a deeper level, as well, the combination of four primal and elemental colours seems to be just the right choice. What inspired you to create this deck?
J.J. – Inspiration came in several phases, the first one being the process of an illness – from which I am now recovered – the beginning, the uncertainty and the concerns I faced. It was then when I wanted to express myself through drawing all of those feelings, and the first picture was “Death”. Then I thought it could make a Tarot card, and I decided to draw all of the Major Arcana, the vital ones. Later, a friend of mine lent me Jodorowsky’s book analyzing the Marseilles Tarot and I kept on drawing the rest of the cards, for what I read in those pages was the organic feelings of people. This is why I consider that inspiration came in different phases.
Q. – In general terms, indie Tarot deck production is not a particularly prolific area of work in Spain. Do you think that the success of Jonasa Jaus Tarot may have a repercussion in your own country? Be an inspiration to others for creating more content?
J.J. – No. Unfortunately, in Spain, the work of an artist or illustrator is not taken seriously, as a real job as it could be a doctor. It is not considered a successful career and those who barely make a living out of it are considered “artisans” in terms of career and there is no way of making it easier. If and when you want to become a freelancer, there is not even an “illustrator” section to subscribe to. This is what artists face in general terms, but it becomes harder for those who, through their art, favour occult or unknown ways of artistic expression, just as a Tarot deck, which in Spain is seen as a deceitful occupation, related to con-artists and scammers. In a nutshell, the whole Esoteric world is not a commonly accepted topic, although there are some who appreciate its art.
Q. – The second edition of Jonasa Jaus Tarot is sold out, barely a month after its launching. That’s definitely a success! What do you think has contributed to this?
J. J. – Regarding other countries out of Spain, perhaps there is some recognition, although I don’t know to what extent yet. I am not aware. I am not even aware that I am being interviewed yet! Hahaha.
Q. – Around when can we expect a third edition? Will there be significant changes in comparison with the second edition?
J. J. – I don’t know when the third edition will be available. As of now I have found printers already so it will take me less time than the others. I guess that I’ll start the process after I make my pending journey to Galicia in November.
Significant changes? Well, so far the third edition will be just as big as the first one, although this one will be a borderless edition. This time there will be more illustration and less numbers and titles, which I guess is good news for some people.
Q. – One of the things that calls strongly my attention is the choice of Galician as the language of the deck. It is particularly curious, taking into account that the deck has been mainly shipped to the US and Canada, where Galician is far from being a known language. What made you decide to choose it?
J. J. – Well, I’ve always been fond of my roots. Although I live in Barcelona I am from Galicia, I love my land, the language, the food, the culture, all of which I’ll always be proud of. I first created the Tarot deck for myself, with no prospects of selling it. Someone found me through social media and I guess that it appeared to be quite “exotic” for the rest of the world.
Q. – Tell us about the creation of the deck.
J. J. – The creation process what pretty hard. On the one side, I was making it on the side with my main job, so it took me a year to finish it. First, I read the above-mentioned book by Jodorowsky. Then, I started digging deeper into the meanings, one by one. And to make it harder (;’D) I related flowers and plants to the meaning of each one of the cards, so each time I was learning about a particular card, I looked for a flower or plant that could be related to the meaning. Some of them because of their healing properties, some of them for their looks, or based on what their name suggested to me.
For instance, “A Imperatriz” (The Empress) is a wild flower that can be found in pathways. It is pretty common and it goes unnoticed. It is known in English as “Queen Anne’s Lace”, which scientific name is “Daucus Carota”. It’s English translation, the lace of Queen Anne, seemed pretty sexy and appropriate for The Empress.
As for the drawing, I almost always had the composition in mind. I drew it in Hahnemüehle’s fine paper, ink friendly, and then I drew it again in black ink. The hole process of inking, before the impression is available in social media, both Instagram and Tumblr. Then I scanned and painted each card in Photoshop. For the colours, I chose a limited pallete. I knew that traditional Marseilles Tarot was painted in plain and basic colours: red, yellow, blue… In my case, I made three different colour palletes and uploaded them to Facebook so my friends could help me choose. The most voted pallete is the one you can see in the cards.
Q. – Why “Jonasa Jaus”?
J. J. – It is my stage name. It is a beautiful story from the times when I had just started dating my partner. His name is Josan (Jose Antonio) and when I travelled to Galicia to visit, a friend of mine always confused his name and called him Jonás. So we were Jonás and Jonasa.
Actually, since the theme of my deck is also related to plants, I thought of calling it “Plant Tarot”, but I discovered that there was already a deck with that name, so I chose my stage name instead.
Q. – Leaving Jonasa Jaus Tarot aside, ¿what is your relationship with Tarot in general terms?
J. J. – Now? Now it is what I am. I found a window to the whole esoteric world. Ars Magica, Dark Arts, Masonry, Hermetism… All unknown to me at the time. Now it is why I tried to learn every day. Before I made my first drawing I had no relationship with the esoteric world whatsoever. I thought of it as something too “weird” and complex.
Q. – Do you think that there is a tangible difference between the way in which Tarot is regarded in Spain in comparison with how it is seen in other parts of the world?
J. J. – Yes, it is just as I said. In Spain, it is for freaks, weirdos, charlatans, it is unknown. And actually it has been with us for quite a while, in fact, once I read that the Spanish deck is pretty similar to Marseilles Tarot. And it is true! The elderly, and not so elderly, when they are playing card games, “chinchón”, bridge, “el burro”… Endless games that we learnt from our grandparents, and they from their own… This is something within us, it is in our culture and now it is undervalued. It pertains to a different sphere.
I don’t know how it is seen outside of Spain, if there’s a culture of esotericism or not, but definitely it is more accepted.
Q. – And, from now on, what are your plans for Jonasa Jaus? Will there be more decks?
J. J. – From now on, I’ll carry on. I’ll continue doing what I like, creating more decks, keeping on with my studies in the Art, but with no financial intentions. I want to create a world related to esotericism and Tarot, further away than just a deck. Perhaps, I would create some scarf or reading cloth, extend this Art and make it fashionable (It was already done by Valentino) but making it more accesible, more approachable. I don’t know, wherever it may take me, now I just can’t stop! 🙂
And this is it! I am pretty convinced that this deck will make it to the most lusted after indie Tarot decks! What are your thoughts about it?
If you want to know more about Jonasa Jaus, you can do it here.
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*The second edition of the deck is currently SOLD OUT.