Monday, 24 December 2012

Interview with Kendra Hurteau

Under the Roses Lenormand
Hi Kendra

Thanks so much for agreeing to answer some questions about your decks and creative process.  You will have brought out three Lenormand decks in the course of this year. That’s a phenomenal creative output! Could you say a little about what inspired you? 
Katrina and I had thrown around some ideas for working together for some time, including the possibility of her illustrating a picture book I’ve written.  Originally, I had an idea for a tarot deck but the deck I’d written up was very detailed and seemed a huge undertaking.  I belong to the Detroit Area Tarot Guild and there I was introduced to Lenormand by a friend.  It was love at first sight.  As my love for Lenormand grew it seemed a natural fit.  In addition, I love old mysteries and secrets, so the theme emerged.  After the first draft and images were created for Under the Roses we started discussing creating decks for the holidays.  We both enjoy the fall and winter holidays and they are a big part of our family traditions.  After all that we’ve accomplished, that tarot idea doesn’t seem so overwhelming now. 

Katrina loves art.  She is now a mother herself, but she has been drawing since she was young.  As she grew up her pages were filled with designer dresses, faeries, and animé.  She has a degree in computer animation and currently works as a graphic artist doing both graphic design and animation.  The idea of creating something people would love was enough to bring her joy and inspiration. 

Our decks were released in September, October, and November.  When I reflect, I can hardly believe it myself.   The Tarot and Lenormand communities have embraced us with so much warmth and we are very grateful. 
Under the Roses Lenormand
Under the Roses is a quite traditional Lenormand, very appropriate for beginners with its keywords. Your other two decks, though, seem to challenge tradition as much as possible, renaming every single card and representing them in very different ways. Can you tell us a bit about the choices behind that?

Under the Roses Lenormand was designed for everyone, while our holiday decks are geared toward collectors and/or holiday enthusiasts. 

Our intention with Under the Roses Lenormand was to make the images vibrant while making the keywords available.  The keywords were chosen from various traditions and styles.  Seemingly random, they were laid out so that the novice could select which words make the most sense to them or the experienced reader might feel challenged. 

While we wanted the traditional Lenormand to stay intact, we did change some card titles to enhance the theme and understanding of Under the Roses.  For instance, the traditional Heart card has become The Locket. 

After our first project was underway, we gave a lot of thought and discussed several ideas for our next adventures.  We knew we would have to dedicate a lot of time to put out the holiday decks in short order but we really wanted to put out Lenormand-like decks for the Holidays. 

Whether we could produce holiday Lenormand decks and still be true to the traditional style was a question we took seriously.  I pondered if we could remain true to the Lenormand simplicity and still make it work.  However, that would have only lead to cute borders and color appropriate backgrounds.  It came to a decision between creative license and not doing the projects at all.  In fact, there was a public discussion at the time we were working on the Halloween Lenormand that mostly argued against taking such liberties.  While I agree that the original idea of a deck still needs to remain intact, I also think that some evolution happens with divination decks.  Our holiday decks aren’t meant to do that, they are meant for holiday enjoyment.  The images do seem very different in the holiday decks but there is something in every card that relates to the original image and meaning, for instance the Witch card being the Whip and Broom card.  In order to make the cards work we found images that had the same sort of meanings and characteristics as the original symbols.  The decks still read as Lenormand decks do with the meanings the same or similar.  The images are suited to something more appropriate for the holiday. 

Halloween Lenormand
Our shenanigans with the Halloween Lenormand deck were in the spirit of the holiday.  It was meant to be a parody and downright fun in that cheesy sort of way Halloween can be.  That being said, research was not neglected, the images (loosely based on Lenormand) were not selected at random.  Personally, I was nervous about how the community would receive the deck and whether they would take it in the spirit it was intended.  As I shared images for the first time I remember saying out loud, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m sharing this.”  We’d seriously considered skipping the Halloween deck because, frankly, we were worried about how it would make us look.  It also caused time restraints with the Yuletide deck and we weren’t sure we could get it done in time.

The Yuletide Lenormand has many renamed cards as well.  In addition to the traditional card titles that wouldn’t work for us, we were faced with making a universal holiday deck.  Can you imagine four-leaf clovers sprinkling the holiday dinner table or a Snake in the snow?  Incorporating traditional cards into this project just didn’t make sense for us.  Hopefully, you all will find the images appropriate when you see them. It was actually a complicated process to put it together as a whole. 

For the most part, with some exceptions, people have embraced us and understood the spirit in which the holiday decks were intended. We in no way want to disgrace the Petit Lenormand or upset its readers.  We only wish to provide a variety and some holiday enjoyment. We hope the holiday decks bring more fun to card reading.  One of the great things about Lenormand is that it can be read lightly, such as at parties.  People might ask things like “If I buy that boat…”  Their questions may not have life altering answers.  I love that about Lenormand, it can answer the serious and mundane. 

Under the Roses Lenormand
With these decks, you worked together with Katrina Hill, who is your daughter. What was it like working together, and how did the creative process actually look?

We communicate within the process.  Any hiccups are due to lack of communication, usually on my part.  We both have roles, Katrina’s is mostly art (she’s the one with the pencil, pen or tablet in her hand) but she has a say in all aspects of the deck.  I write, present, research, network, give the intuitive input, and guide the images and theme.  Throughout the process we discuss what is working and what isn’t.    We keep a schedule to get hours in and a spreadsheet to tell us where we are at in the process - boring but it provides workability for the project when we already have full lives.  We were blessed enough to see two visions become one and then actually manifest into something tangible as a result. 

Yuletide Lenormand
Which card/s was/were the hardest to give birth to, and why?

The Whip, The Mountain, and The Grave.  We found that during the process of creating the Under the Roses deck that the meanings on some of the cards were manifesting in our work and relationship.  We get along well, but every time we’ve done the Whip card there has been tension between us.  Every time we’ve done the Mountain it has hung us up for hours when we’ve thought it should be an easy process.  Fortunately, the positive cards have had similar effects, especially the Stars. 

As far as artwork goes, The Gentlemen were the hardest for Katrina to create because they required her to grow as an artist.  Most of her work has been of women and she actually did some studying while doing the Under the Roses deck to improve in this area.

In the process of creating, it was definitely the first two cards of Under the Roses Lenormand.  It took some effort to get both our visions of the deck to blend.  We started with The Lady and The Gentleman but as the deck evolved those first images did not get included in the finished product. I cherish those first images because it was watching our vision become reality when they were made.  We’ve put them in The Lenormand Shop at if anyone would like to take a gander. 

Yuletide Lenormand
Which card/s do you have a special fondness for, and why?

As difficult as it was, we both love The Whip from Under the Roses.  It was a big challenge and turned out better than we had expected.  Personally, I think the woman in the picture is probably my favorite character that Katrina has created to date.    

It’s hard to choose favorites in the Yuletide Lenormand; we are both fond of so many.  Father Time is high on the list; I love how mischievous he looks.  The Child has to be one of our all-time favorites because she is actually Katrina’s daughter.   She is older than that now but the joy that she expressed when I took that picture compelled us to pull it out and use it as a reference.  It reflects her personality and her personality reflects the Child card.

In both the Under the Roses and the Halloween Lenormand, you have renamed the Tower the Clock Tower. What is it about this card that you wanted to highlight with that?

I typically read the card as perspective or a structure.  When we created the first one the idea was to enhance the possibility that the card could speak of perspective (the deck theme is about things hidden after all).  It seemed the perfect structure for Under the Roses Lenormand when we designed the card.  We liked it so much in Under the Roses that it found its place in both of the holiday decks. 

Your Yuletide Lenormand should be ready just in time for Christmas ( What plans, if any, do you have for after that?

We plan to take a creative break over the holidays and then select from a list of projects we’d like to accomplish.  We still need to narrow down our options as we have several to choose from.  We’ve been throwing around ideas for another Lenormand, a tarot deck, an oracle deck, a picture book, and a greeting card line. Yep, we’ve got some decisions to make.  Where’s The Crossroads card?

Under the Roses and the Halloween Lenormand are now OOP. How do you feel about the way they were embraced by people, and do you think you will reprint them in the future?

The second edition of Under the Roses Lenormand is now available both with and without keywords.  There is also an option to purchase a custom Lady or Gentleman card or our original Concept Art cards until December 10th.  I don’t know if we will issue a second edition of the Halloween or Yuletide decks, if so I imagine it will be a small batch. 

Clearly, to have dedicated so much of your energy to creating Lenormand decks, these are something you feel passionate about. What is it that makes these cards so special?

Divination cards of any kind are magical to us.  Lenormand is pin-point accurate and it brings a tremendous amount of clarity.  Its simplicity allows the beginner to pick up the basics in one sitting.  I am usually showing people how to use it as I give them readings.  It’s amazing to watch the resurgence of the Petit Lenormand and we wanted to be part of it. 

What else would you like to share with us?

Creating Petit Lenormand decks has been an amazing and rewarding experience.  We encourage others that use divination decks to explore creating their own, even if it is only for personal use. 

I'd like to thank Kendra for taking the time to answer these questions.  I love this insight into three amazing decks!

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