Time Out For Some Ill Communication
Kristi Prokopiak is a designer, artist and maker.
She’s created the Ritual Oracle, and more recently, the Illest Tarot deck, a stack of iconic pop imagery that lives up to its name. It’s quite ill. If you’re an Old Millennial or a Young Gen Xer or anyone obsessed with media from that time, you will recognize the deliciously accurate archetypes Kristi’s selected, with an unrelenting sense of joy and delight.
A few of my faves include Courtney Love on the Devil card, Oprah Winfrey as the Queen of Pentacles, Lauryn Hill as the Hierophant, Tori Amos as the High Priestess, and Chloe Sevigny as the Hanged Man. Kristi shared some thoughts with Neon Altar from her Long Beach home.
Witches, dreamers and weirdos are your described target audience. Do you call yourself a witch? What does the word witch mean to you?
First of all, thank you! It’s an honor to be interviewed by someone who loves the deck as much as I do. To answer your question, yes I do call myself a witch! To me, a witch is any woman who stands in her power. She is unafraid to live her experiences authentically and intentionally. She manifests her reality with her words. She honors her body’s natural rhythms. She shows up and does her work. She takes responsibility. In a world where we’re bombarded with messages of not enough, a witch is a woman who claims herself as she is and fiercely loves all aspects of her being.
What’s your earliest memory, connected to Tarot cards? How has your relationship with Tarot evolved over time?
I don’t have a particularly long relationship with the cards. They sort of bashed me over the head and became a rapid staple in my everyday life. I was walking to work down Manhattan Ave. in Brooklyn and discovered a card on the sidewalk. I scooped it up and immediately googled it. Guess what it was. THE TOWER.
My coworker knew the tarot and he started giving me little lessons about the cards, and it all spiraled from there. The thing I love about the tarot is there are so many interpretations of these very universal archetypes. There’s a deck for everyone and it’s such a versatile tool for self discovery, healing and growth. Even if you have no reverence for the cards, they can still be use for creative prompts or aspirational mantras. They transcend our daily trappings of mundane existence and tap in to the universal heartbeat we all share.
There’s such a specific time period and alterna-grrl aesthetic curated in your deck, that’s strongly resonated. Your first run sold out in a flash. Why do you think modern witches are so excited to see this particular slice of 90’s cool culture reflected in a Tarot deck?
That’s a really good question! I’m not entirely sure. It could be straight up nostalgia for the good old days or it could be that we were very lucky to be a part of a time where things still felt magical. In this age of rapid consumption and disposable culture, that little slice I captured was still analog.
I’m an only child and basically raised myself, so the icons I chose for the cards are a direct reflection of my experiences as a teenager growing up outside of New York City. There’s not really a concrete theme to the deck. It’s not exclusively 90s, not all musicians, not all women… These are obviously strong influences throughout the deck, but the common thread that pulls it all together is my life. And none of the experiences I speak about in relation to the archetypes in the deck are verifiable through my Facebook log. There’s no IG stories about them. It’s just pure remembered consciousness. So maybe the generation that is feeling this deck is just happy to see their youth being immortalized and honored through the lens of the tarot.
How did you become such a badass? (Final question for everyone I interview!)
By realizing and accepting that I’m a witch, hahahahaha.
Kristi's awesome, right? Grab your copy of the Illest Tarot, and begin divining with the alterna-stars.