tarot de Nicolas COnver

Q&A about Kartograme

The range of decks and papers

Kartograme is a company that produces Tarot de Marseille decks with paper printed in France. Since most decks are printed in China, how did you make this decision?
With Kartograme I immediately made the choice to create tarot decks in an artisanal way. Jean-Claude and Roxane Flornoy inspired me a lot. The reason? I think there is something very important to learn in the process of making, of taking action. As I live in France, the handmade decks are "made in France"! I subtract the making of the manufactured decks to an external company. And it is very likely that it manufactures in Asia, especially for small quantities.I personally take care of the packaging and shipping of each game.

Your cards are acid-free.
Yes, the idea is to create a product in the sense that it is possible to keep it several centuries without alteration. For that I respect the iso regulation of conservation of documents: (ISO9706) used by the libraries and the national museums.
You offer several paper options:
Yes, absolutely. So each paper has its own qualities.
Jean Pierre Gouy, Master papermaker, makes for me typical 17th century paper: I now reserve it for unique cards because it is extremely precious.
The National Library of France has developed a cotton-based paper to restore its ancient works. This is the paper I use for the 22 and 78 card sets: the "papier vergé de restauration".
Finally, a family of paper craftsmen, based in Japan for generations, produces a handmade paper with extremely resistant fibres of mulberry and hemp. In addition, they integrate new technologies into their craft process: for example, the preparation of paper for high definition digital inkjet printing.

What's the tarot readers' opinion!

What feedback do you get from fortune tellers who buy a handmade or manufactured deck?
Tarot readers love it! It must be said that the vast majority of them use these tarot cards very regularly. I think there is a concentration of energy because of the handmade nature of the deck. I remember: the very first time I sent samples to Pablo Robledo in Argentina, his first impression was that the cards gave off heat...

Why and how I craft

Handmade decks are expensive, but you try to replicate a 17th century cartomancer's experience by using special paper, giclee printing, paper sizing and soap smoothing, hand cutting... You also offer options to customize the deck like gold leafed edges. How long does a handmade deck take to reproduce and how many people are involved?
I am self-taught, with some help in learning how to gild.
For paper and glue work, I spent 2 full years creating and testing glue recipes with a huge variety of paper. I combined these tests with many printing trials on different printers.
For the moment I work alone. But I have started to pass on the knowledge to prepare the future
More or less: it takes one full crafting day to make 1 deck if no corrections are needed.

You print the games of the BNF with a license, without corrections, because they survived in time. The corrections you make to all your decks are limited to the renewal of the color as it was originally. You also correct broken paper spots.
You print the decks of the BNF with a license, without corrections, because they survived in time. The corrections you make to all your decks are limited to the renewal of the color as it was originally. You also correct broken paper spots.

So why facsimiles...


Do you think you will produce re-drawn or restored decks in the future? (No color bleeding, no errors in the lines, better contrast, etc.)

I studied these restored Tarot decks in my early days. I was very happy to find the "Ancient Tarot of Marseille" with the little booklet by Tchalai! I learned a lot with this deck. But the visual is hard because of the too black lines: it looks like artificial walls separating the colors. I notice that prints and xylographs never have such an intense black: there is a phenomenon between the ink and the absorption of the paper that creates a lot of diversity in the perception of the lines. And for the colors: stencil painting creates an illusion of volume: for example on an original 2 of wands... see how the pigments are pushed to one side of the wands: it gives them a round aspect like virtual 3D objects in space. For these reasons, I don't go after restored deck.
However, I do appreciate Pablo Robledo's restorations because his way of working with lines and colors is a creative, artisanal process that requires his full inspiration. He works very sensitively and thoughtfully on the way the colors appear to be brushed with gradations. He totally respects the line, then works a lot on the appearance of the whole to make it as realas a woodprint. Beacause he is also an engraver and printer, he knows intimately the nature of a print. For the original tarot community, it is a great blessing to have an artist so dedicated to tarot and with such talent.
I am very honored and invested to have the opportunity to publish limited hand crafted editions of his Tarots.
For me, the Tarots restored by Pablo Robledo are modern creations with as much authenticity as the first European Tarots.
Since September 2020, Kartograme offers some of Pablo Robledo's Tarots: Dodal, Vandenborre, Besançon and Carrajat exclusively in handmade finish. High definition printing enhances the art of Pablo Robledo. And my artisanal process makes the games very durable and valuable. We are committed to the preservation and transmission of the Tarot to future generations.

The features of Kartograme decks

Why is the printing of Kartograme decks different from other mass printed decks? Do you collaborate with another company? What methods do you use to make your work special?
Handmade decks make a big difference to the feel in your hands. Natural paper allows for better molecular exchange with the skin. High definition printing allows for full, accurate color without pixelisation. This is as close as you can get to the original. The inks and papers selected by Kartograme have conservation qualities that are expected to last for centuries.
Why should a fortune teller buy a Kartograme deck?
It is very personal and symbolic.
I see tarot decks as vehicles of light. The opposite of darkness, secrecy, black magic, that kind of things that want to look witchy.
With Kartograme it's more like "Light and Renaissance": it's the added value of manual work, it's the culture of effort, of deepening, of working on oneself, with the aim of making care and kindness grow. I do not work with black magic, and I am also very attentive to the notions of right action and right temporality.
This is how I work and how I communicate. So I think naturally people who are sensitive to all of that recognize that and may consider using a Kartogram Tarot.
Also, I think the authentic Tarot de Marseille cards are first and foremost: games for play. They have a playful tone, wordplay, and hidden details that we continue to discover after years of use. I simply think that they can sustain intuition longer and with more precision.

A conversation led by Constantinos Nietzotis