Tarot of the QTPOC Interview Series: Krystal Banner creator of the Kaleidadope Tarot

I'm so excited to bring this interview to you.

I've been watching the creation of Kaleidadope Tarot as a fan on Instagram for sometime now, and of course I am always interested in getting to know the creators behind these beautiful decks that have become such a part of my practice, so you know I had to see if Krystal would be down for a conversation about tarot, creativity, and spirit. 

So without further ado, here is my interview with Krystal Banner, creator of the Kaleidadope Tarot (out right now!):

Blessings, Krystal! Please share with us a bit about yourself!

Of course!

My name is Krystal Banner and I’m a former engineer/consultant and current artist/entrepreneur. I’m originally from South Carolina, but now reside in the Washington, DC metro area. Art has been a passion of mine since I was a child and I feel like I’ve come full circle. I feel a responsibility to increase representation in art through people, places and things that are familiar and culturally relatable. Art can be therapeutic in the sense that it can make people feel and heal, so I want to make sure people can see themselves or something familiar in my work to spark further interest.

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How did you discover the Tarot?

I feel like tarot discovered me!

I was going through a really rough time in my life last year and I stumbled across a tarot reading on YouTube that spoke to my exact situation. I was intrigued, confused and had this pull and need to know more. I’ve always admired the art on tarot cards since I am an artist, but there was a desire to really understand it at a deeper level.

I bought SEVERAL decks and dove head first into this quest for knowledge. As I’m learning and going through the decks I kept getting this feeling or message of “You should create your own deck”, synchronicities kept coming, etc, but I kept brushing it off and ignoring it because who was going to draw 78 cards? Definitely not me!

But as we can see, Universe: 1 (literally one & figuratively won), Krystal: 0

What are you drawn to in a tarot or oracle deck? Any favorites (other than your own of course!) you’re working with?

I’m drawn to visuals first. I have to feel the art. It has to resonate with me to initially attract my attention, which is a very personal thing. I also believe this is my engineering background – aesthetics are very important to me and what’s just as important, if not more, is depth.

A pretty tarot or oracle deck with no depth would leave me feeling like something is missing. Although I have tons of decks, right now I’ve mainly been working with the Radiant Rider Waite Tarot deck and the Energy Oracle deck, besides my own. 

Since I’ve been in full creation mode, I purposely put a pause on using other tarot decks outside of the OG Rider Waite since I wanted to ensure I wasn’t questioning or comparing my own inspiration to others.  I really like the way the Energy Oracle deck reads and plan to make an oracle deck of my own in the near future.

What are your favorite and least favorite Tarot cards and why?

It’s interesting…my favorite tarot card is the Wheel of Fortune and not necessarily due to what it represents when it shows up in a reading, but what it reminds me about life. Life is ever changing and ever evolving so things will not stay the same, good or bad.  It’s a constant reminder to me that the wheel has to keep turning. If things aren’t going my way, it’s not going to last forever. Also, if things are wonderful, it’s a reminder to truly bask in that moment because things can change at any moment. I’m very hard on myself, so when I think of the wheel of fortune it reminds me that ups and downs are a part of the human experience so I need to chill.

My least favorite card (and the last card I drew in my deck) is definitely the seven of swords. I don’t resonate with that energy AT ALL, which is probably why I kept putting off creating it. That card and energy just scream DRAMA! SHADY! SNEAKY!

No. Thank. You.

The seven of swords can go THAT WAY (i.e. the opposite way of where I’m going ).

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What was the inspiration behind the Kaleidadope tarot? What does "Kaleidadope" mean?

I’ll start out with the meaning of Kaleidadope. Last year I had the idea to start a business focusing on selling my art prints and greeting cards so I needed a name. Since my name is Krystal (with a K) I wanted something that started with that letter.

[Krystal's Sidebar: Names starting with a K were clearly popping in the 80s.]

Anyway, I wanted something that encompassed the feel and colorful look of my artwork, was meaningful and sounded cool.

Kaleidoscope became Kaleidadope due to the etymology:

kal – beautiful

ideo – shapes/forms

dope – as in cool

It just happened to be synchronicity that there are 11 letters in Kaleidadope, K is the 11th letter of the alphabet and my birthday is on the 11th of March.

The inspiration to create a tarot deck came from what I feel was a spiritual awakening and/or universal push. My business has always been about creating an interest in art through representation and relatable themes and when I kept getting the message and strong urge to create a deck I started to realize why.

This was necessary in the tarot world.

As I was learning tarot, sometimes it was difficult for me to understand the imagery because it was antiquated. At times it was hard to connect with because no one looked like me….ever. There is also this negative perception of tarot that could be related to both of these things, along with a basic lack of understanding. I feel like tarot helped me in so many ways and if people can’t relate to it or see it in a negative light, they won’t be willing to entertain it in any capacity.

I believe Kaleidadope Tarot is accessible enough for the novice and has enough layers and depth for the seasoned tarot enthusiast. It brings current day imagery and diversity to the forefront, which I believe is long overdue.

The Kaleidadope Tarot is packed with pop culture references. What do you think of how pop culture and media seems to be embracing the woo world?

I think it was being embraced subconsciously by pop culture a long time ago, unbeknownst to them. Now I think it’s being embraced consciously from a capitalistic standpoint by media and businesses.

We have all these pop culture sayings, “Vibes”, “On the same wavelength”, “We’re in tune”, “have that same energy” etc. This is basically everything that the woo world has been talking about forever. I’m a rap quote enthusiast and rappers have been talking about aligning with the universe, manifesting, using intuition, having a feeling something is going to happen, etc. for a LONG time. So I think it’s being embraced, even if pop culture doesn’t realize it.

When I told people I was creating a tarot deck I got some crazy looks, but as I started explaining what it was and my approach, the defensiveness came down and it was almost a sense of “oh that makes sense”. 

I think the media and businesses will embrace anything that is trendy or can make money as we’ve seen with Starbuck’s Crystal Ball frappe and others, but in general, I think there is more alignment than people think.

I also think you’re doing something very cool by re-centering Black culture as pop culture creators. Would that be a correct assumption? If so, what does that perspective mean to you?

Yes. Exactly.  

As I stated in the previous response many pop culture sayings come directly from Black culture because Black culture IS popular culture. Ironically, when these things are mass marketed there are no black people to be found.

Black culture IS popular culture.
— Krystal Banner, creator of the Kaleidadope Tarot

I don’t think I can overstate how important visuals and imagery are. During my career as an engineer I was on assignment in Europe for almost two years and naturally went to every museum and art gallery I could find. Out of all these places in various different countries, I can count on one hand how many images were of Black people. There were images of Gods, angels, other angelic beings, Kings, regal figures…none of which looked like me. When it comes to present-day pop culture and what we actually see (outside of the few massively popular Black artists) the same thing is happening. 

I feel a strong responsibility to be an artistic voice and illustrate my truth. My truth is what is authentic to me as a Black woman, as an artist and as someone who understands the power of visuals and how that can influence what someone believes about themselves and the world.

I can literally count the number of Black women indie tarot deck creators on my hand- and I'm happy to include you in that count! What has been your experience of the tarot business so far?

Yay! My experience has been positive. I’m very new to this and have been working so hard that I feel like I’m in my own little zone. I self-published Kaleidadope Tarot, so if there are any politics or nuances of the tarot business, I’ve been isolated from it. I’ve received so much positive feedback from people about what I’m doing, which is like a cherry on top. What I’m creating is coming from a place of authenticity and excitement, so my experiences thus far have aligned with that.

[Asali's Sidebar: you can find a list of Black women creators at the end of this post; support them and if you're a Black woman making tarot decks drop me a line! I wanna chat with you and shout out your work!]

Where else can we find your art? How can we support you, this project, and all your future art?

All my art can be found on my website, Kaleidadope, and my Etsy shop.

Everyone can support me by checking out my sites and following my IG (@kaleidadope & @kaleidadopetarot) and buying anything that resonates.

I can be contacted through any of the above sites if anyone has any questions or wants to connect with me directly.

This project [Kaleidadope Tarot] can be supported by purchasing the deck, which I’m excited to announce will be available on June 15th, 2018!!

[Asali's Sidebar: That's today! Go get it!]

All my future art and projects will be shared on my websites and Instagram and everyone is welcome to sign up on my website to receive updates on future projects.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Along with the deck I will be releasing some other super dope merch that I plan to share very soon. I know I’m biased, but really.

Kaleidadope Tarot is just the beginning for me.

 an auspicious reading from the Kaleidadope Tarot

an auspicious reading from the Kaleidadope Tarot

I will be releasing a positive affirmation deck in late July/early August (stay tuned!) and at least one more in addition to that before the end of the year. I plan to expand to oracle decks and possibly create workshops focusing on art symbolism in tarot.  I feel like I’ve been guided and supported to create all of this because it is beneficial and necessary. It is my wish and hope that people resonate with it, especially since it is a bit different from status quo.

I want to inspire and empower people to find their purpose and use their inherent gifts to benefit themselves and others. Thank you to all the people that have supported thus far and will in the future. I’m grateful.

Thank you Krystal, and I will definitely be purchasing a copy today!

As promised, below are other Black women and femmes doing their thing in this tarot world and moving the needle on very needed change.

Black Girl Deck Magic

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- Krystal B of the Kaleidadope  Tarot, we just met her here!
- Casey R of the Shrine of the Black Medusa Tarot, check out her interview with me here!
- Courtney A of the Dust II Onyx Tarot, another awesome creator (and publisher!) I got to interview at Little Red Tarot!
- Kristen of the Over the Moon, has created more decks than I can count, you have got to see to believe!
- Jo of the Fool's Journey Tarot, and you can learn more about her journey as a creator here!
- Fontaine Felisha Foxworth of the Melanade Stand's Tarot, created the first all Black girl non-illustrated tarot deck.

Who did I miss? Please let me know in the comments!