Tarot T-Shirts (tarot-tshirts.com) is a web-based apparel company founded by Ciaran Gaffey and featuring designs by Rosario Salerno.
I first came across these bold, Tarot de Marseille inspired tees when I was browsing Instagram one day. I fell in love with Rosario’s art instantly (I bought The Fool Card Crew Neck T-Shirt the following payday.), so you can imagine how excited I was when Ciaran contacted me about exchanging interviews. Once I finished doing my fan boi happy dance, I said “sure thing.”
Read on to see what he had to say about business, tarot and his plans for Tarot T-Shirts in 2016.
Cameron: When did you launch Tarot T-Shirts and what inspired you to start the business?
Ciaran: I launched Tarot-Tshirts.com in the summer of 2015. It all began when my partner Rosario decided to start creating his own Tarot deck. Both him and I had been interested in Tarot when we were younger but we had fallen away from it. I had all but forgotten everything I knew about Tarot but when he started the deck I couldn’t help be introduced to the world of Tarot again.
I really loved Rosario’s designs and I thought they would look excellent on apparel. I had wanted for a long time to work on a project with Rosario so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Shortly after that I decided to set up the site.
Cameron: Prior to Tarot T-Shirts had you ever considered starting a business before?
Ciaran: Well I’m a freelance web designer by trade so I guess you could call that a business. Apart from that though, no, I never considered starting my own business. For a long time I wanted to have a personal project to work on, something that would be independent of my clients and that I would have total control over. Tarot-Tshirts.com has been a great experience and has really satisfied those desires.
Cameron: What were some unexpected challenges and/or joys that you encountered as a result of launching Tarot T-Shirts?
Ciaran: One of the biggest joys has been seeing people’s reactions to the items and artwork. It’s really gratifying see someone wear an item that we created and to be really excited to wear it.
Another unexpected joy has been becoming introduced to Tarot aficionados. It’s very interesting because I can see that people have very differing relationships with Tarot. There’s a common thread that most people share but the specifics of how they use the cards can be so different. As a somewhat of an outsider to the world of Tarot it’s been very interesting.
Cameron: How would you describe the style of art that you feature on your products? One thing that I love about Rosario’s designs are how unique and stylistic they are.
Ciaran: I think the designs are very modern but with a comic book feel. They’re very faithful to the symbolism and iconography of the Tarot of Marseilles but they’re also a very fresh take on the designs. I loved how colourful and bright and sexy the designs were and I immediately thought they’d look great on apparel when I saw them.
Cameron: By putting tarot images onto something as accessible as a t-shirt, do you feel like you and Rosario are helping bring tarot more into the mainstream?
Ciaran: I think that Tarot is already in the mainstream. I think most people have encountered it at some point in their lives and certainly everyone is aware of it. We want to provide products to people who already have a strong interest in Tarot but also we want them to be accessible to people who may not be as familiar with the specifics of the practise.
Cameron: What type of reactions do you usually encounter when you tell people that you run a tarot themed business? Do you find yourself having a lot of conversations with folks about tarot now that you’ve started the business?
Ciaran: People’s reactions are usually really positive. I would describe it as pleasantly surprised. People will usually think it’s a good idea and they’re even more convinced when they see the items as it becomes clear that the designs are quite modern and fun… I do spend a lot of time explaining what the business is about and actually I’m becoming more and more educated about Tarot through these discussions.
Cameron: Do either you or Rosario read tarot? If not, do you have any aspirations to learn in the future?
Ciaran: I don’t read Tarot personally but Rosario does. I think I need more time to become better acquainted with the cards first.
Cameron: When you’re not working on your business, what do you two enjoy doing?
Ciaran: We live between Italy and Germany so there’s a significant amount of time spent travelling and organising ourselves. After working on Tarot-Tshirts.com and our other jobs there’s not a lot of time for anything else. I’m a web designer also and Rosario is a teacher. There’s a great music scene in Berlin though so we do take advantage of that.
Cameron: What plans do you have for Tarot T-Shirts in 2016?
Ciaran: In 2016 we want to add more designs to the shop. There’s still many cards that are not on the site yet. Also we want to refine what we have, the designs I think can always be improved upon. We see the shop continually as a work in progress. Rosario will be publishing his deck, New Choice Tarot, in 2016 also. First the major arcana and then later the full deck.
Cameron: Thank you Ciaran for chatting with me and letting me feature Tarot T-Shirts on my website. I love your products and I wear my t-shirt all the time. Wishing you and Rosario much success in 2016 and beyond.
If you want to check out what Ciaran and Rosario are up to and see what Tarot T-Shirts has to offer (and trust me, you do, because their stuff is fantastic 🙂 ) you can find them on their Website, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.