Tarot Talks Volume III: An interview with Oleg Mitrofanov, creator of the Eroteme Tarot

Hi my beautiful souls! Fall is approaching in the Tri-State area and the Summer is coming to a close. As we enter this time of harvest, it is important that we cultivate all that we have planted this year. We leave things behind, to bring new things in. The same is occurring with the changing of our ages. We are leaving the water Age of Pisces behind, to walk into the Air Age of Aquarius. It continues to be an enlightening experience, to interview artists who have created decks that I utilize on a daily basis. The Eroteme Tarot is as unique as its creator, in its ability to communicate age old theories with elegance, symmetry & grace. I hope that you enjoy this volume of Tarot Talks as much as I enjoyed interviewing Oleg.

-HERU JEROME

Interview

Oleg Mitrofanov creator of the Eroteme Tarot

Oleg Mitrofanov has transferred the beauty & precision of Opera and created a cast of characters that are not behind the velvet curtains of the many Opera Houses of the world, but spread throughout the Major Arcana of an incredibly vivid deck. The way that we choose to adorn ourselves speaks to who we are, that language is universal. It is beautiful to see how this is conveyed through the 78 stages of the Tarot. 

Worthy Tarot: Tell me about yourself, where are you from & where are you currently? How have these locations influenced what you do creatively?

Oleg Mitrofanov: I was  born in Russia, well Soviet Union to be precise, & moved to London about 10 years ago to study fashion at Central St. Martins college of Art. I don’t suppose the locations per se influenced the cards, it was more the experiences I had in those places or rather stages of my life that are clearly visible. You see, from a very young age I was drawn to theatre. Thanks to my mother;s efforts I have seen all the children’s repertoire of Moscow theatres in the early 90s. I feel that even today theatres are much more popular in Moscow than they are in London. Somehow it is less elitist and virtually everyone goes there, not that there’s anything wrong with being elitist. 

Whilst in London I learned to appreciate fashion. I was and still am fascinated with the element of fantasy that fashion has, the way it reflects culture and society. It has always been the context of fashion that interested me, not what is actually “trendy”.

When I decided to create a deck of tarot cards, I wanted to combine those two elements, fashion & theater. Fashion designers have been designing costume for theatre for decades, from Gabrielle Chanel, Gianni Versace to Alexander McQueen and Zandra Rhodes and many others. However, my idea was to replace a costume designer with a stylist, not a designer. There’s a huge difference between costume design & fashion. A costume always represents the inner world of a character, it is a tool to convey a certain idea of what that character is. For example you will never see an innocent looking Queen of the Night from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in a light organza dress with ruffles. 

Most fashion magazines are desperately trying to find new ways to show the clothes, which is bery challenging because they have to use pieces from various collections, which have different themes, but need to be somehow united in a 10 page spread, this the key here is to find content that they will then “decorate”. With theatre, and opera in particular the emphasis is always on the content, which makes costume a secondary element. This project was a meditation on how I would combine beauty with integrity.

 Oleg Mitrofanov, creator of the Eroteme Tarot

Oleg Mitrofanov, creator of the Eroteme Tarot

What drew you to Tarot, what aspects of your energy have found their way into your deck? How does this make your deck unique?

OM: Well, I think what makes this deck unique is that is a very personal project, based on my experiences, knowledge and ideas, moreover it was never meant to be a commercial project. I didn’t have any restrictions in terms of market and so on. The only reason why I even printed more than one deck is because of the price difference between printing one and 30 was in fact very little. 

We are entering an Air Age which is associated with thought. When you examine air it can blow everything around that is not tethered. People are trying to find their footing and light as they enter this age and are drawn to the magic and spirituality of the Tarot. The face of the tarot just like our new age is changing, how do you feel your deck lends to this revolution?

OM: Oh people were always drawn to magic and spirituality. However just like any other phenomenon it comes and goes. You know, the moment something becomes fashionable, it is already on its way out. I suppose it’s not just the face of the Tarot, it is that the design at large that changes dramatically almost too often. Look at my deck, one could never presume that it was designed in 2015. I designed about 4 years ago and I must say it is very obvious. 


What inspires you and how was that inspiration incorporated into your deck?


OM: Well there are a lot of things that I like and find interesting, however when one talks about inspiration its crucial to mention timing, as the very same object can be perceived in so many different ways depending on your mood and the weather. So my deck is really a combination of some ideas and objects that I felt passionate about back then.

If you could use a film, artists, novels to make your dream Tarot deck what would that be? (I have a couple Neverending Story Tarot, Pippi Longstocking Tarot, Julie Heffernan Tarot like please now!!!!)

OM: I don’t think I would stick with one book or film, I would probably choose a genre instead, otherwise the choice of characters would be restricted. However, I could see it as a one actor project, one person who does all the cards, I suppose someone like Glenn Close or Tilda Swinton would do a marvelous job.


Would you ever create another deck, think about this one as I know 78 cards are a huge undertaking!


OM: I almost did, but that I got distracted, perhaps one day in the future.


If someone is interested in your deck how would they get a hold of you?

OM: Well I think I only have a couple of decks left, if any, you (Heru Jerome) might have got the last one. I would need to double check that. I suppose if someone is interested they can get in touch with me via my agency – www.atelierresearch.com