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Illustrator Interview - Meet Kimishka Naidoo (Black Tarot & Elemental Alchemist)

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

"Black Tarot" "Kimishka Naidoo" "Illustrator Interview" "Elemental Alchemist" "Nyasha Williams" “Grace Banda” “Oracle Deck” “Elemental Alchemist Oracle Deck” “Andrew McMeel Publishing” “Andrew McMeel”  “Running Press” “Hachette Book Group” “RP Mystic”

Thank you, Kimishka, for gracing me with this illustrator interview! Let's dig in:

Tell us your story and how your journey led you to illustrating two divination tools. (a tarot deck and an oracle deck)

One of the most significant experiences that profoundly impacted my journey as an illustrator happened during a spiritual awakening phase in my life, around 2020.

Nyasha, who had a deep connection to spirituality and divination, noticed my illustrations and recognized the potential in me to create something special. She approached me with a unique and exciting proposition - to illustrate her first Tarot deck. At that moment, I knew I had to say yes, even though I had no prior knowledge of Tarot.

Please talk about the process of illustrating a deck from start to finish.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to illustrate a Tarot/Oracle deck from start to finish:

The first step is to thoroughly read the guidebook provided by the author. This guidebook contains essential information about the theme, symbolism, and interpretations of each card. Understanding the author's vision and intention behind the deck is crucial for creating illustrations that align with their vision.

After familiarizing myself with the guidebook, I review the reference images supplied by the Author. These images might include mood boards, visual inspirations, or specific references related to the deck's theme. This helps me to visualize the atmosphere and aesthetic the author desires for the deck.

Next, I would engage in discussions with the Author about the colour palette and layout of each card. Understand their preferences and the emotions they want to convey through the colors.

Based on the discussions and reference materials, I began creating three different mock-ups for each card. These mock-ups will present different artistic styles, color variations, and layouts for the author to choose from.

Present the three mock-ups to the Author for review. Allow them time to carefully consider each option and provide feedback on what they like and dislike about each design.

Once the author has made their selections, I proceed to create rough sketches for the chosen designs. These sketches will be the initial blueprints for the final illustrations. I would share the rough sketches with the Author and gather their feedback.

With the author's feedback in mind, I proceed to finalize each card's illustration. Paying close attention to the details, colour choices, and composition to create visually captivating and meaningful cards.

What is your favorite part of working on divination tools? What is the most challenging part?

My favourite aspect of working with divination tools, particularly the Tarot, lies in the profound spiritual difficulties encountered with each card. The Tarot, with its rich symbolism and archetypes, presents a unique opportunity for personal growth and self-discovery. Each card serves as a mirror, reflecting aspects of my inner self and bringing to light both strengths and challenges that I might not have been fully aware of before.

As I dove into the meanings and interpretations of each card, I found myself confronted with various obstacles and emotional barriers that required introspection and inner work to overcome. So I would say this is my favourite part and my most difficult part about working with divination tools.

Walk us through your spirituality journey and how it appears when illustrating.

My spirituality plays a significant role in my illustration journey, shaping the creative process and the energy that flows into each piece I create.

One of the core practices that deeply resonates with me is meditation. Through meditation, I tap into a space of stillness and introspection that allows me to connect with my inner self and gain a sense of clarity and inspiration.

Another technique that I find immensely helpful is listening to binaural beats. The synergy between binaural beats and my artistic expression creates a harmonious environment that fosters innovation and imagination.

My spirituality is intricately woven into the fabric of my illustrations. Meditation, binaural beats, and a conscious focus on positivity serve as my guiding lights, infusing every piece with intention, authenticity, and transformative energy. It's a journey of exploration, self-discovery, and channeling the spiritual essence into art that speaks not only to the mind but also to the soul.

How do you use Black Tarot and Elemental Alchemist?

I utilize the Black Tarot and the Elemental Alchemist Oracle deck as powerful tools for self-reflection, insight, and guidance in various aspects of my life.

How did the illustration of Black Tarot and Elemental Alchemist mirror each other, and how was it different?

Illustrating the Black Tarot deck and the Elemental Alchemist Oracle deck presented contrasting experiences. The Tarot deck was marked by uncertainty, evolving visions, and multiple revisions as I developed my style. In contrast, the Oracle deck flowed effortlessly, with a clear creative direction and pre-sketching of all cards. The confidence gained from the Tarot deck allowed for a smoother Oracle deck creation.

What is your experience with journals? Talk about your design for the journals for each of the decks.

In my past experiences with journals, I often worked with blank pages, shaping my own bullet journaling style to organise my thoughts, tasks, and creative ideas. The experience of creating my first reflection journal was a source of fun and inspiration. It provided a fresh perspective on journaling- one that merged creativity with self-reflection.

The interplay of symbols and imagery allowed me to capture the unique qualities and energies associated with Earth, Water, Air, Spirit, and Fire. It felt like I was not only expressing myself creatively but also instilling each page with a sense of balance and harmony that mirrored the elements themselves.

What do the words “creative block” mean to you? How do you work through the issues of getting stuck when working on an illustration?

Creative block is that frustrating feeling when I find myself unable to tap into my creative flow. It often happens when I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of a project or when I start doubting my skills.

To break free from this block, I've learned a few strategies that work well for me. The first step is recognizing when I'm in that mental space and acknowledging that it's a natural part of the creative process.

Grounding myself is key. I might engage in mindfulness exercises, meditation, or even just taking a leisurely walk in nature.

I deliberately step out of my comfort zone and explore the city. By seeking out new environments and experiences, I open my mind to fresh perspectives.

I often find myself wandering around, looking for those little beautiful moments – a ray of sunlight, a vibrant flower, or the laughter of children – that remind me of the beauty in the world. With a renewed sense of wonder and positivity, I'm able to return to my creative work with a clearer mind and a lighter heart.

What are your favorites: a card from Black Tarot and a card from Elemental Alchemist

My favourite card from the Black Tarot is the Empress. When I began illustrating this card, the creative process flowed effortlessly. The beautiful, empowering energy of the Empress seemed to resonate through me, guiding my hand as the imagery took shape. The symbolism and essence translated seamlessly, capturing the essence of fertility, abundance, and nurturing.

From the Elemental Alchemist deck, the Goddess of Fire holds a special place as my favourite. This particular Goddess radiates a strong and empowering energy that resonates deeply with me. Her fiery spirit and fierce determination reflect qualities I see within myself. The process of bringing her to life felt like a collaboration, where her essence and my creative expression merged seamlessly to convey the strength and passion she represents.

"Black Tarot" "Kimishka Naidoo" "Illustrator Interview" "Elemental Alchemist" "Nyasha Williams" “Grace Banda” “Oracle Deck” “Elemental Alchemist Oracle Deck” “Andrew McMeel Publishing” “Andrew McMeel”  “Running Press” “Hachette Book Group” “RP Mystic”

Who do you think would benefit most from Black Tarot and who from the Elemental Alchemist?

I believe these two decks would be particularly beneficial for individuals seeking to establish a deeper connection with their inner divine essence. The decks serve as powerful tools of divination that can facilitate a profound journey of self-empowerment and self-discovery. Whether you're in touch with your feminine or masculine qualities or seeking to balance both, these decks provide a pathway to understanding and embracing your own inner god or goddess.

Are there therapeutic benefits to illustrating a character or place after someone or somewhere you know?

Yes, illustrating a place and someone you know can be therapeutic in their own ways. They provide avenues for introspection, self-expression, and a fresh lens through which to view the past and the people in your life. Through the creative act of illustration, you not only create art but also create a space for reflection, healing, and newfound understanding.

How do you use social media as an illustrator?

I use social media as an illustrator primarily for marketing my skills and spreading awareness about leading a serene life by embracing what truly matters. I showcase my artwork through platforms like Instagram and Facebook, sharing my unique style and creations with a wider audience. Alongside my illustrations, I also share messages that promote a calm and meaningful lifestyle, encouraging others to prioritise the important aspects of their lives. This combination of artistic expression and mindful living messages allows me to connect with followers who resonate with my vision and values.

How do you decide what projects to take on as an illustrator and which ones to pass on?

When choosing projects as an illustrator, my focus is on projects that bring me joy and positively impact people or the environment. While I used to consider financial aspects in the past, my approach has shifted. I now prioritise projects that align with my values and aspirations. I aim to work on endeavours that reflect who I am and contribute positively to the world, ensuring that my creative efforts are both fulfilling and meaningful.

Problems in dealing with clients probably come mostly from poor communication. What should an illustrator generally make sure they do to avoid misunderstandings in communicating with a client?

To prevent misunderstandings when communicating with clients, it's essential for illustrators to focus on clear, attentive, and responsive communication.

Clearly articulating your ideas, expectations, and project details. Use straightforward language, avoiding jargon that might confuse the client. Providing precise timelines, costs, and scope of work. Ensuring that both parties have a shared understanding of project goals and requirements from the very beginning.

Documenting all key agreements and decisions in writing, such as project scope, deadlines, revisions, and costs. This provides a reference point that you and the client can refer to in case of discrepancies.

Finally, utilize visual aids like sketches, mood boards, or mock-ups to illustrate your ideas visually. Visual representations can often clarify concepts and help the client understand your vision more effectively.

How would you describe your illustration style?

My illustration style is a harmonious fusion of minimalism and line art, drawing inspiration from both South Africa and Europe. The vibrant colors and rich cultural tapestry of South Africa influence my choice of color palette, infusing my work with dynamic and expressive hues. This vibrant use of color resonates with the diverse landscapes and traditions of South Africa, creating a visual language that speaks to the heart.

From the European influence, my style is refined and sophisticated, characterized by clean lines and elegant simplicity. This blend of influences results in artwork that captures the essence of two continents, merging the warmth and vitality of South Africa with the classic and timeless aesthetics of Europe.

What was it like illustrating a project like Elemental Alchemist that was co-authored?

Illustrating the co-authored project "Elemental Alchemist" was a delightful experience. Having collaborated with Nyasha on the "Black Tarot," I already understood her vision, making the translation process smooth. Working alongside Grace, Nyasha's sister, was equally seamless, as her vision aligned closely with ours. This shared understanding and effortless teamwork made the project a lovely endeavor.

What is your favorite thing in the world to illustrate?

My favourite thing to illustrate is people and places, especially individuals from diverse cultures and settings like restaurants, coffee shops, and tea places that I've visited.

How many hours a day do you spend drawing?

I spend an average of 2-3 hours a day illustrating. Sometimes, I don't force it—if I can't illustrate, I won't. However, there are instances when I can dedicate a full day, getting lost in an illustration and fully immersing myself in the creative process. This flexibility allows me to maintain a balanced approach to my work while also embracing moments of deep artistic exploration.

What would your advice be to aspiring illustrators?

Embrace your unique artistic voice and journey. Cultivate your skills, stay curious, and create from the heart. Don't fear mistakes; they're stepping stones to growth. Seek inspiration and learn from others, but let your creativity shine authentically. Remember, your artistic path is a continuous evolution – enjoy the process and believe in your potential.

Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?

Currently, I don't have any major projects in progress. I've dedicated some time to refining my brand and will soon be unveiling new illustrations inspired by my travels. Stay tuned for these upcoming creations!

"Black Tarot" "Kimishka Naidoo" "Illustrator Interview" "Elemental Alchemist" "Nyasha Williams" “Grace Banda” “Oracle Deck” “Elemental Alchemist Oracle Deck” “Andrew McMeel Publishing” “Andrew McMeel”  “Running Press” “Hachette Book Group” “RP Mystic”

If you are local to Colorado, learn more about the creation of the Elemental Alchemist Deck and Journal.

Interested in purchasing the deck and journals?

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13 oct. 2023
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

Very interesting and insightful interview.

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