Interview with Christine Filipak by Angela Holtz - March 2012

Back to Index

We are pleased to welcome Christine Filipak as our Featured Artist for today. Thank you for joining us!

Hi Angela. Thanks for inviting me to join in the discussion.

Please tell us a little more about yourself.

Professionally, I am an artist and graphic designer. I've also written some short stories and magazine articles. I've produced Madame Endora's Fortune Cards and accompanying calendars. I am also the web designer and business manager for Monolith Graphics. Personally, I am an animal lover (I have 2 rescued cats), and I devote some of my free time to spreading the word about animal rights issues.

How did you get started as an artist? What are your other creative endeavors?

I always had an interest in art, photography and graphic design. I attended Kent State University and studied graphic design, graduating with a BFA degree. After college I began my work with Monolith Graphics, and have since become proficient in web design, and pre-press production. I designed two fortune-telling decks with Joseph Vargo, The Gothic Tarot and Madame Endora's Fortune Cards. I have also written many articles for Dark Realms Magazine, as well as a few short stories for the anthologies Tales From The Dark Tower and Beyond The Dark Tower.

Tell us more about Madame Endora's Fortune Cards.

Madame Endora's Fortune Cards is an oracle deck based on Old World myth and lore, rendered in an Art Nouveau style. The 48-card deck is divided into five Realms: The Royal Court, The Realm of Fable, The Beastiary, The Treasury, and The Elements. Each card offers a general fortune for quick divination, but deeper readings can be uncovered through the use of various card spreads.
       The artwork combines Celtic, Egyptian, Greek and Medieval elements, and blends them in an elegant fantasy style. Much of my art is heavily influenced by Alphonse Mucha, master artist of the Art Nouveau movement.
       The deck is very popular and has garnered some critical acclaim. We get lots of letters from people who tell us how much they love the deck and how accurate the readings are. Images from the Madame Endora deck were also featured in Madame Endora's Calendar of Fortune, which offered astrology and fortunes and insightful advice for each month.

What inspired you to create a deck of fortune cards? And how did you come up with the designs?

After we had created The Gothic Tarot, Joseph Vargo had an idea for another deck that would showcase my art. Madame Endora began as a regular feature that we wrote for Dark Realms Magazine. In each issue Madame Endora enlightened the reader about different methods of divination, the meanings of symbols, natural elements and talismans, as well as the historical significance of these and many other beliefs. The Fortune deck was a natural progression from this idea, and combines concepts from ancient cultures, mythology and lore.
       Joseph and I created the artwork for this deck together. He did detailed pencil drawings of several of the designs and I applied the color and backgrounds to them. I illustrated the other half of the deck, combining some of my watercolor paintings with computer manipulation. My specialty is the Art Nouveau style and I love rendering female figures with elegant gowns and flowing hair as well as creating stylized artistic elements such as ornamentations and borders. I think our styles mesh together very well in this deck. Whereas I think it's obvious that I created the more feminine-looking cards such as The Seer, The Queen and Hindrance, I think people will recognize Joseph's style in cards such as The Greenman, The Golem and The Siren and the mythical creatures of The Beastiary. Although in some instances, it is difficult to discern who did certain cards.
       The ideas for the card designs came from several sources, such as ancient mythology, Medieval folklore, and mystical symbolism. We wanted the deck to convey a very lavish, magical feeling, without getting too deep into any specific belief system. I think the end result achieved our goal very nicely.

Did you start working for Monolith Graphics before you created Madame Endora's Fortune Cards?

Yes. I came on board Monolith Graphics in 1992 as a graphic designer, but I also did photography, layout, and all the computer pre-press work. We began marketing our products to stores here in the US, and the business took off like wildfire. A few years later I designed and launched the Monolith Graphics website, which I still manage. We produced dozens of new products including posters, t-shirts, postcards, calendars, magazines, music cds, books and writing journals before we began work on our tarot and fortune decks.

Are you thinking about creating a Tarot deck or another fortune cards deck?

No. I have no plans for another deck, but we have discussed the possibility of an expansion deck. Madame Endora has her own App available on iTunes, and coming soon to Droid.

What is the most important piece of advice you would offer a fellow artist?

As far as creativity, just practice your techniques as often as possible. Try other mediums. Attempt different subject matter. It's easy to fall back on what you know and feel comfortable with, and that's usually where you'll succeed. But it's also good to challenge yourself every so often, even if you hate the end result. Everything is a learning experience. From a business aspect, know your rights, and respect the rights of other artists. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Always check up on any company who promises to distribute your work and pay you later. If they're honest and above board, then they won't mind providing some references.

Where can we go to learn more about you and purchase your works?

The Monolith Graphics website offers all of our products. Apps and printed materials are also available from, Google Play, and iTunes.

We appreciate you spending some time with us today Christine! We wish you continued success with this deck, and with all your artistic endeavors.

Thank you, and may your path be blissful and prosperous.