Galactic Trading Cards
Fantastic Visions interviews Canadian Delvin Solkinson about the Galactic Trading Card project he initiated. Delvin is known amongst the Fantastic and Visionary art community, for his tireless work on the Galactic Trading Cards, and efforts to further promote the art. The full transcript of this interview follows the image gallery.
FV: What is the Galactic Trading Card project?
DS: The Galactic Trading Card Oracle Complex, which is the full name, is a way to make Fantastic and Visionary Art in an accessible form, so that people can purchase and have a mobile card sets or micro gallery sets, that they can carry around with them or put up on their wall.
FV: What inspired you or what was your reason for starting the project?
DS: I was inspired by a vision that I had in the year 2000 to be a part of helping to build the new global culture in some small way. I realised that there was all of the artists, Visionary Artists, Fantastic Artists, Shamanic Artists all over the world that in their own small communities were struggling to get their work out their and to get recognition. I saw that there were many elders that had established themselves and were already connected to galleries and arts organisations and that there were a new generation of emerging artists that were seeking to connect and be a part of it. So the intention was to link up this project with elder artists and emerging artists that were just starting to get out there. The idea was that each country and each continent has its own unique art movement styles and genres which are totally different and represent those particular places. Yet there was connection that wove them all together that represented this global movement, so the idea was to help that people see that there are all of these distinct individual movements and genres, but they are part of one global movement. So the intention of the cards was to really reflect that and share the idea that the new planetary culture is a mosaic of separate unique individual cultures that are all coming together as one.
FV: One of the projects defining features is its multi-lingual and cross cultural aspect. How many languages do you have so far?
DS: So far there are 50 languages involved. Each card is in English and a secondary language. The secondary language on each card is the focus of the distribution of that card. There is a card in German and I send a lot of those cards to Germany and German speaking countries to connect with the non-English speaking world and honour the diversity of languages in the same way that the project attempts to honour the diversity of artforms.
FV: What work has been involved with gathering the translations, as there are some obscure ones that you have?
DS: I was working on a card yesterday in Inuktitut which is the newest written language in the world. It is a Canadian language of the written form of the previously spoken language of the Inuit in Northern Canada. I am a networker and whenever I meet people along the way that speak different languages and who have a creative impulse, I ask them if they would like to participate in this project to make a card accessible to their language group.
FV: How many cards and how many artists do you have so far?
DS: Since 2000, there are 200 cards, I haver published over 100 artists from forty countries.
FV: Looking at the cards, on the front side is the image from the artists and on the rear side, you have a number of different things. There is a poem which is in English and the secondary language. What are the other features on the reverse side of the card? What are they all about?
DS: There are a couple of levels to the card project as a gaming system. On one level it is inspired by baseball cards or sports cards, so you can collect the card from your favourite artist that are part of the scene. But another big level to this, is that it is an oracle. It can be used to help your process of making decisions, about what to do. Traditionally with oracles you have a question or intention that you want to ask the oracle, then you cast your bones or roll the dice or pull the card out and you get some kind of answer that’s hard to relate to your question. You think to yourself, how does this even relate to my question. That process is helping you to think of your question in a new way and to ultimately to make the decision for yourself. The cards operate as an independent oracle, you can pull a card and look at the art and read the poem, and come to look at your question or intention you have in relation to that. If you want more information or fodder for exploring your decision, the cards also operates as a tarot deck. There is a 74 card tarot set, and you can see the reference on the back. The I-ching is also there, referencing the 64 hexagrams, then there is chakras to get a location on the energetic bodies and the Dreamspell Mayan calendar so you can get a reference to the one of 260 glyphs in the solkin.
FV: How do you decide then which symbols are assigned to each card and their artwork?
DS: The artwork comes in first and then I have a document that has all of the different oracular systems, and I explore and look where the match will be. I also work with a diviner, Codemus Prime, he’s really into the Math, and he’s been guiding me on how to correctly match the systems together. He’s introducing a new oracular system in the new set of cards that are coming out.
FV: With each of the cards, you usually get a new designer to do the reverse side. You have the artwork from the artist on one side, and the reverse side you get individual designers to do the layout for the poetry and symbols.
DS: There are 20 designers from North America, Europe and Oceania. The concept is that they are coming are from a visionary design paradigm and that they are exploring the edges of graphic design in the same way that Visionary and Fantastic artists are exploring the edges of painting. I meet them along the way and see that they are part of the visionary design movement just as in the same way I meet artists that are a part of the visionary art movement and I invite them to participate.
FV: You have put the cards on display as micro galleries around various events and festivals.
DS: That is a big way the project seeks to promote itself. If anyone has a gallery, a shop, or a community space, or is putting up a temporary gallery at a festival or event, I send a micro-gallery kit with selections of the cards and information about the artists as a way to promote the artists, the art and the project in particular.
FV: What are your future plans for the project? Is there and end point you have planned, or is it something ongoing?
DS: I’m just finishing off a new 50 card set, which will be released one card every two weeks for the next 25 months, and selling subscriptions. It’s all just pre-press and I’m building towards making 144 card box card deck which is the ultimate goal of the project. The project is entirely non-profit. I volunteer to make it, art is given freely by artists, designers are contributing their designs freely. It has been a journey trying to find funding to support such a project that doesn’t have a business plan. It is more intended to be part of a gifting economy, than a for profit model. So I am still in the process finding the funding that I require to make this 144 card deck.
FV: How much longer do you anticipate that it will take you to arrive at the 144 cards?
DS: With this new 50 card set, I have bought the project another two years, but hopefully this interview will touch someone out. I am ready any time to do the deck. I have my fingers crossed, and I keep making more cards, and promote the project more and more and hope that it will hit the right set of eyes or ears, and find an angel investor that is interested in making this happen.