There’s no better way to launch the brand-new House of Intuition editorial platform, Luminous, than with an interview with the amazing Holly Simple—especially since we just collaborated with her on our Happy Birthday Capricorn Box! Simple is an illustrator, zine-maker, tarot deck creator, and technicolor goddess—and we are so honored to interview her for our debut series: Tarot Talk. Here, we chat about what inspired her to get into tarot, how her drawings are the lovechild of Lisa Frank and Marilyn Manson, and why stick ‘n poke art is the best way to tap into being a Capricorn.
Let’s start from the beginning: How were you first called to tarot? I was introduced to tarot about three years ago when I was working at this great boutique in SoHo. We had a weekly reader come by every Thursday—at first, I was super hesitant to even get a reading—but when I finally felt moved to do so, my experience was super inspiring. I was blown away by the artwork on the cards—the deck used was The Wild Unknown—and I also felt immediately connected to the experience since I’ve always been “tapped in” to a power I cannot quite explain. I felt that tarot was another extension of that energy. The reading went on to tell my story and was completely accurate—it blew my mind. I couldn’t believe there was this tool out there that brings greater awareness and awakening while combining art and design in a way that really spoke to me—so much so, in fact, that I literally launched into creating the Holly Simple Tarot deck that day!
So incredible! After that reading, what sort of research did you do when creating the Holly Simple Tarot deck? The research phase took a good few months during which I did a lot of sketching, doodling, and writing—most of that is included in my guidebook. Being a visual person, this was the best method for me. Overall, it took about a year to finalize the artwork and head into production of the deck. There were so many “firsts” for me in this project—it was a huge growth opportunity as an artist to start and finish something of this nature.
What’s your favorite card in your deck? I have a few favorite cards in my deck, but the first one that comes to mind is the Empress card. She exudes abundance and serenity, and I love the soft color palette in that card. I also love the Wheel of Fortune card since it holds a very personal meaning for me, but in addition to its sentimental value, I also feel this card really depicts the rapid pace of life as well as the calm reality of the bigger picture. There is both movement and stillness in this card.
I love your illustrations! How long have you been illustrating and what inspired you aesthetically when creating this deck? Thank you! I’ve been illustrating, creating zines, and comics for about eight years now, but I was always drawing growing up. My style is definitely inspired by the weird visions and funny sketches I used to doodle as a kid. I’m super influenced by ‘90s cartoons and the dark emo art during my goth phase in highschool [laughs]. I always say my characters and artwork are like the baby of Lisa Frank and Marilyn Manson. When creating the Holly Simple Tarot, I pulled from the visions I saw while researching the cards meanings and combined that with my weird, spooky, and playful characters. It happened organically—for example, the characters for the court cards, I just saw them—there’s the weird fish, mermaid head family, the sexy unicorn centaur family, the creepy mysterious serpent family, and the human-like bird family.
You also just recently launched your Fuzzy Prism Oracle deck, which is so rad! What inspired you to create an oracle deck? The Fuzzy Prism Oracle deck was a natural progression—I just knew I had to create one once I was settled with my tarot deck out in the world. I have a daily meditation practice, so I pulled from my personal practices as inspiration for this deck—it was really exciting for me to get this off the ground. The way I started was just making a master list of like, 100 feelings, emotions, and experiences that are prominent in my own life—good, bad, easy, hard, amazing, and terrible feelings and experiences. I narrowed them down to my top 44—angel number, duh!—and from there began sketching. For some of the images, I already knew what the art would be—like “Trust” was something I have been drawing for years. I pulled from my heart and soul for these images because, being a visual person, it’s actually easier for me draw feelings rather than talk about them. It’s why my art has always been a healing tool in itself. The name for the deck popped into my mind as I was thinking of how we actually move through feelings, like light through a prism—and the result is bigger, better, and more beautiful, like a rainbow. All of this shit we get to experience actually enhances us. I wanted to add a little grit to the visual of the prism so I made it fuzzy, because life isn’t smooth and glassy—it’s prickly and hard to navigate, like getting lost in a forest or something.
What inspired you to create separate guidebooks for each deck? Creating separate guidebooks tapped into my comic book and zine scene. I love making dumb zines, so it was easy for me to create them in a more visual way than most guidebooks. Being a visual learner myself, it was important for me to put the progression of the artwork inside the guidebook pages. The guidebooks are a deeper look into my artistic process. The tarot guidebook is a legit transfer of how I learned tarot—and the oracle guidebook really goes deeper and introduces you to my personal practices and beliefs.
What card(s) in either of your decks are you currently in right now? The last time I was asked this I was in the start of the Tower card—and dude, I’m still moving through it. I have to say that I’m seeing the light of the Star, though. I also deeply relate to my “Through” card from the Fuzzy Prism Oracle, because it’s all about trusting the process and whatever the universe has instore for me at this point. I’m slowly following the breadcrumbs being left for me!
For those who may just be getting into tarot, what is the best advice you have for getting started? Tarot is a tool for anyone and everyone. I especially believe that oracle decks are super intuitive and there is absolutely no wrong way to read or use the cards. With tarot, there is so much to learn—and yes, it can be super super overwhelming. For me, as I researched cards, I took notes and drew images to help me remember. Pulling a daily card helped me at first because it forced me to read up on the card each day. There are so many books, websites, social media gurus out there, too. It depends on what type of learner one is. Easy spreads like “past/present/future” is where I started—it’s a cool spread because it can be adapted in many ways. I legit printed how-to help cheats on spreads to practice at home when I was first learning—and quite frankly, I still love researching and trying new spreads. Don’t be scared to utilize what’s out there—just dive right in!
I’m obsessed with your personal style and how much color you wear! What inspires you when getting dressed? For years I was hesitant to be me as I got lost in dark relationships, toxic work life, and other dismal life occurrences that prevented me from being myself. I had to hit a bottom with that and hating everything about myself before seeing myself or owning my image. I love color! And I love pattern clashing and layering—it’s a fun challenge to make it all work. I refuse to adapt to what others may expect of women. Over time, my art and my fashion style have become one in the same. It’s all me.
Are there any other metaphysical practices or rituals besides tarot that you love to do? Music and crying—does that count [laughs]? I’m a crystal girl though—right now I keep unakite and rose quartz with me at all times, and have a small altar where my other babies live and come out to play when needed.
Do you have any other projects currently in the works? I just self-published my first children’s book called, “What I Do When I Have Feelings”! It’s a super cute, solution-oriented book for kids where Lil Hol [me] and my friends experience feelings in a more positive way than I was taught as a kid. I wish I knew some of the coping tools I’ve learned along the way when I was a kid—this book brings a light to some of those skills. But this book is for all ages—especially during current times—feelings are real, man! I’ve also started doing stick ‘n poke art, which just feels so right. It’s so barbaric and being a Capricorn, it’s such an earthy way to connect with people—check out the hashtag #professionaltattoosbyhollysimple to see some of that work. I’m also working on expanding my ceramics and painting collections, soo stay tuned for that as well. And of course, my collaboration with House of Intuition on the Happy Birthday Capricorn Box!