DESIGNER GRACE DUONG HELPS YOU CONNECT WITH YOUR INNER MYSTIC
WNW Member Grace Duong has designed her latest project using both her extensive design background and a heavy dose of positive vibes. It's called Mystic Mondays. The project offers an array of colorful tarot cards for the modern age. Below, we talk to Grace about her own spirituality and how it fueled the project, whose Kickstarter campaign launches today. Grace also discusses the hard work that goes into a Kickstarter campaign, as well as the importance of the right kind of collaborative spirit. "Finding the right people to be involved in this creative baby of mine was important, as the Mystic Mondays tarot is all about positive energy. Surrounding yourself with people that believe in your vision helps keep you motivated, supported, and on track."
Tell us a little bit about your creative background. Who is Grace Duong and how did she get here?
I’m a multidisciplinary designer who’s worked mainly in advertising & startups. I’ve always been creative and it started off with fine art. Since my middle / high school was primarily focused on math & science, the arts program was limited so I had to look for it in other ways. In high school, I ended up working for a mural artist, joined stage crew so that I could paint sets, and various figure drawing, ceramics, and other art related classes on Saturdays that was offered by the Philadelphia public school system. Philadelphia is an amazing city for the arts since you’re surrounded by a ton of art museums and resources. When I went to college, I was introduced to graphic design and also fell in love with the design thinking and practical applications of art that went behind each project. I loved the power of visual communication that when done well has the capacity to impact people on a larger scale and in a (hopefully) beneficial way.
How would you describe your creative style? Do you recognize a signature style that links all of your projects, or do you try to excuse yourself and approach each project as its own entity?
I believe in creating with purpose and as multidimensional human beings, we’re capable of so much more than just being the “one thing”. All of my projects reflect my personality - a playful & bright aesthetic, a love of color, and a punch of positivity. However, it does depend on the project and the message it carries, to determine how the completed project will turn out.
Approaching each project as its own entity allows me to try new things, to explore different facets, which in turn allows me to decide which medium connects best for the project. In a culture of more more more and “pixel pushing” fast paced work, I think we eliminate the discovery process which is so important when you want to create something meaningful.
I definitely have a ton of different ideas all the time, all seemingly unrelated to each other, but what binds them all together is my pursuit of projects that contain a dash of altruism. I would really like my creative projects to help other people in various ways by combining art and functionality.
Your latest project is called Mystic Mondays. What’s it all about?
Mystic Mondays is your tarot for the modern age. It is an intuition tool for spiritual guidance, designed with intentional good vibes and a love of color! Energy is made of vibrations and each color vibrates at its own frequency. This colorful deck is full of positive vibes that allow you to access answers for your highest good.
Mystic Mondays is about starting your week off fresh with intentions, empowering yourself by listening to your own inner voice, and having fun in the process. It’s a modern take on tarot where I designed it to invite people to connect with themselves in ways where they might not ordinarily do so.
Right now the 22 Major Arcana cards are finished and I’m launching a Kickstarter on Monday, May 15 to help fund the creation and production of the rest of the 56 Minor Arcana cards!
There is also an app, so you can take the Mystic Mondays tarot with you wherever you go!
When did you first become interested in tarot?
I was gifted a tarot deck by my cousin Sylvie about 8 years ago and have been playing with them on and off since then. Ever since I moved to LA, for the past 5 years, I developed an interest in spirituality and dabbled with energy healing, astrology, and most pertaining to this project - psychic readings. It’s super interesting to me because there is so much mystery around all of these topics mostly because they’re intangible - but feelings are feelings, and if let loose, they can run over all aspects of your life, so it’s really important for taking the time out for self-care.
Tarot is awesome because there is so much symbolism held within each card. Each card holds a different meaning that pertains to the different life passages that you may go through. Tarot is not “scary” and will most likely not predict your death or impending doom. It’s more about using the cards to connect the dots so that you can gain clarity about whatever is on your mind. You can even use them as daily guidance, by pulling out a card. Whatever the message is, you can apply it to your life to help you throughout your day.
Why was it important to you that the traditional tarot gets an upgrade? Did you feel certain pressures to balance your own creative voice and the time-tested traditions of tarot?
I would walk into different spiritual stores that carried tarot decks and was never drawn towards a specific one where I “had to have it”. That sparked the idea of wanting to create my own. I actually remember telling a psychic reader that I was going to create my own deck, and he proceeded to go into the symbolism of the Temperance card and the importance of the little Hebrew symbol on the figure’s chest. He made it clear to me that there is a myriad amount of symbolism in the traditional tarot. I respected that and stayed true to the meanings of the card while putting my own spin on what they meant to me. So the meanings of the cards remain essentially the same and true to the traditional tarot. However, the illustrations in Mystic Mondays simplify them and get to the heart of the matter.
Can you share some of the creative challenges and breakthroughs that came with this undertaking?
I actually struggled with how to approach this project in the beginning, and it wasn’t until after a trip to London where everything seemed to click. So in December of last year, I took the entire month to illustrate the cards and it poured right out of me. It’s important to take time for yourself because it refreshes & nourishes you so that you have creative juices to flow.
The other aspect of it was putting together a Kickstarter campaign, and that actually requires a lot of research and preparation. It felt challenging because this was something new that I haven’t done before, but I’m always down to try something new and equally up for the challenge. Also, you’d be surprised how willing people are to help out once you ask!
Finding the right people to be involved in this creative baby of mine was important also, as the Mystic Mondays tarot is all about positive energy. Surrounding yourself with people that believe in your vision helps keep you motivated, supported, and on track.
What would you say to tarot skeptics that may help them see the benefits of giving it a try?
What I love about tarot is that everybody has their own individual experience with it. It’s like having a relationship with your cards and connecting with it in your own way, and by doing so, allows you to tune into your inner voice. We are all so busy in our lives, and part of the practice of tarot is slowing down, taking the time to reflect on your situation, and connecting the dots on your own. External circumstances easily influence us, but once you take the time to ask yourself those hard questions, you already know the answer.
The stigma behind tarot is that it’s scary, but it’s really a tool you can use to access your own intuition. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to use the tarot and you don’t need to be an expert to use them. It’s an experience, and you can have fun with it!
Who and what are your biggest creative influences?
I take inspiration from things that I read, people I come across, and my surroundings. That little piece of information that you pick up somewhere might not be relevant to you now, but it could prove to be useful later.
In terms of design & art direction, I’m a big fan of Sagmeister & Walsh and their individual side projects that speak to humanity, Refinery29’s fun & feminine media presence, and Leta Sobierajski & Wade Jefree’s quirky art direction. There’s so many more amazing studios & designers, I can hardly name them all!
I’m also a big fan of Salvador Dali and his abstract art beyond his time, James Turrell with his use of light, color, & space, and Ai WeiWei for using his art to have a voice in activism.
I’m pretty active on Instagram and Pinterest and find a ton of visual inspiration through those platforms also. The internet is an amazing place.
What do you do when Not Working?
As of late, I’ve gotten much more into writing and how to express myself creatively through words, whether it’s freeform writing or more structured ways of telling a story.
I’m also always looking to try new things (like a Kickstarter), so am always looking for a new coffee place to hang out at, an intriguing event happening in the area, or place to travel to. Switching up my routine keeps things interesting as I tend to get bored fairly easily.
AND I’m always down for a good hip hop dance party!
Who are some WNW Members whose work you admire and why?
I think that everyone in the WNW community brings a valuable and unique standpoint with their work. Everyone’s so talented, it’s hard to select a few. Keep on doing you, boo!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Please support the Mystic Mondays Kickstarter!
You would make all my rainbow dreams come true <3