Each month I will ask a question of Riccardo Minnetti. Who is Riccardo? Let me tell you:

Riccardo Minetti is the chief editor at Lo Scarabeo. At Lo Scarabeo, Ric does a little bit of everything, including concepting, designing, and directing new decks. He is an author. He mediates between deck designers, artists, and Lo Scarabeo. He edits and designs covers.

Some of the projects he has personally authored or designed include:

  • Etruscan Tarot
  • Fey Tarot
  • Tarot of the Journey to the Orient (majors only)
  • Gothic Tarot of Vampires
  • Manga Tarot

In addition to his professional duties, Ric also is a true lover of tarot. A connoisseur of complexity and fearless pursuer of questions, Ric challenges the tarot community—both in private conversations and in public forums—to look behind initial reactions and assumed truths, to embrace the unknown, to face the future with a curious mind and to eschew comfortable beliefs.

Our first question came from Ty, a faithful reader and active commenter on this blog (Thanks, Ty!). If you have a question for Riccardo, mention it in the comments and we’ll see what we can do.

Barbara,  would you ask Mr. Minetti how they select subjects for their decks?  Do artists approach them, do they have an in-house staff of creators and artists, a combination of both or what?

Lo Scarabeo has a continuous flow of projects going on, at any given time, all moving at different speeds. In the course of the year, we have “production meetings” where we try to create a sensible production plan for the coming year.

Some of the projects are considered of greater importance (for 2011, for instance, the project that will receive the most attention are the “Book of Shadows” decks, designed by Barbara Moore—a project that has been in Lo Scarabeo for a few years already as an abstract idea). Around those we try to have decks that create a balanced approach to Tarot: something light, something dark, something pagan, something experimental, something traditional, etc… And we choose and develop those decks that help us best meet those criteria.

But how does a project start?

– Sometimes they start from an idea. That was the case, for instance, with the Tarot of Celtic Fairies. With the idea we had been looking around (among our contacts, people who had already worked with us or who had sent submissions) who would be the best suited to develop the project. We asked Mark McElroy to design the deck. After a while he was able to give us the script for the deck. And then it took us over a year to find an artist that could paint the deck. Only when Eldar Minibaev (the artist) was firmly committed to the deck did we really start thinking about really publishing the deck.

– Other times, a project comes to us from a person. That is the case of the Dark Angels Tarot by Luca Russo. Luca Russo came to us (a few years back) with a submission. We asked him a few trial cards for a different project (by the way a project that, to date, still hasn’t found his author) but the trial cards were not convincing. That is, not convincing for that specific project, but quite good in their own way. We then spent a little time looking for an idea that could work the best with Luca Russo’s poetic style and that was the Dark Angels Tarot. It took another year to complete the deck, but everything went smoothly, so much that we are looking forward to his next deck.

– And other times we receive submissions. There are a few problems regarding submissions. One is that Lo Scarabeo cannot match the economic and distribution of bigger companies (so, if you are an author and have something that can be a real success, Lo Scarabeo is not probably your best pick). Submissions rarely can wait for years, to find their spot between Lo Scarabeo products within our “balanced” plan. And, as Lo Scarabeo (for the good and the bad) creates highly standardized products (66×120 mm card size, with a 64 pages booklet in 5 languages for instance) submissions may find a hard time fitting in. And sometimes (this is one of the saddest things of the trade) submissions are real jewels, but not good for the mass market. Letting those jewels unpublished is a real pain.

However, we are trying to be more open to submissions lately. As for the Quantum Tarot (one of the afore mentioned jewels that was going out of print) we had been forced to change our standards and our habits in order to find a place for that deck.

Not all projects work in the same way. For some project we let the writers or artists work with the greatest possible freedom. Others times there is a closer supervision, and a few times Lo Scarabeo team is an author by itself.

Anyway, the last production meeting (May 2010) was focused on the production for 2011. We brought forth a selection of 12 decks, out of maybe 20 currently active. Of those, 6 to 8 will be published. Among these only one is a true submission, while two others evolved from a submission but went in a totally different direction as the original submission (but involving the same people).

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...