I am really into card decks. Tarot cards, animal medicine cards, angel cards, inspirational cards, you name it. I love them. I also love cats. So these cards are very much right up my alley. I wanted to know more! I’m so intrigued by Nicole as an artist, a person, a business woman. I thought you all would be, too! So I thought an interview here would be fun. :)
Did I back Nicole’s project? You bet! Is she going to reach her goal? Ummmm, she already did. On the first day. How amazing is that? Check out the Spirit Cats Deck on Kickstarter – you can back the project, too, and get your own deck as a reward! I can’t wait to get mine, obviously.
Here’s my interview with Nicole. I hope you love it, love her, and love this amazing project.
1. I love this project so much for a variety of reasons. I love cats, I love inspirational card decks, I love healing messages and soul work. How did this project come about? Was it your intention to create a deck of cards from the start, or did the idea organically develop? Tell us the process!
The deck was surprisingly unplanned. Over a year ago, I started noticing these magical cats appearing during my daily free-form, intuitive painting sessions. I was curious about them and decided to embark on my Month of Cats project where I painted a cat a day for a month.
As I delved deeper in, I noticed that each cat was coming through with her own unique energy and healing message. There was the spark of something bigger and deeper than I anticipated. I saw that it was naturally evolving into a deck of inspirational cards.
As a long-time lover of tarot and oracle cards, this seemed to be the perfect format to bring these Spirit Cats and their sweet messages into people’s lives. So, I continued to paint the cats, write and expand on those early seeds of intuitive wisdom. Now, the deck is complete and it is ready to serve its purpose as a simple, playful and profound intuitive tool that everyone can enjoy.
2. Who is the Spirit Cats Deck for?
This deck is perfect for modern mystics with a love for cats and for creative, intuitive play. Since the Spirit Cats Deck is very simple to use, anyone can receive inspiration, insight, and joy from this deck, even without any previous experience with tarot or oracle cards. That said, tarot readers seem to have a particular love for the Spirit Cats. Many tarot-lovers are also cat-lovers so it is a natural match.
3. What media did you use to create the cat images? They are gorgeous! I’m curious what your favorite painting materials are.
About 2 years ago my best friend and fellow artist who grew up in St. Petersburg brought me back a set of White Nights Watercolors that I absolutely love. Apparently, they are renowned in Russia for their rich, luxurious pigments and I can see why. I rarely painted with watercolor before this, mostly sticking to oils, acrylic and gouache.
Now, every Spirit Cat illustration is painted in these watercolors as well as the majority of my artwork in my current portfolio. I also love drawing in black ink in my sketchbook as you can see on my Instagram. I do miss oil painting though and think those will be resurfacing in my work later this year.
4. Has your artwork always been so souls-filled and rooted in healing work, dreams, intuition? I’d love to hear a bit about your background and your creative evolution.
From the beginning, I have been fascinated with exploring the endless landscapes of my inner world through night dreams and imagination. Growing up in the forests of rural New Hampshire, I experienced a natural mystical connection to nature every day. I also loved painting, drawing and writing and found it to be a doorway into that rich interior space.
Later, I went to Yale University and majored in fine art with an emphasis in painting. There, it was expected that I provide a more academic and intellectual reason for the art I made. Yet, underneath I was still essentially trying to capture impressions from that inner realm.
After I graduated, I started freelancing for companies in the apparel, home decor, paper and gift industries creating artwork that would be printed on everything from journals to gift bags to greeting cards to wall art to women’s shirts. I loved this work but my pure vision was somewhat diluted by the client’s needs and current trends. I do think a sense of joy, beauty and inspiration still remained. I learned so much by making artwork every day on command. I improved my technique and developed a faith in the well of creativity within me. However, I also gradually felt more and more disconnected from and confused about my deeper artistic voice.
During the same time, I was delving deeper into my mystical and healing work through yoga, meditation, intuitive channeling, flower essences, and ecstatic dance. Eventually, the world of my art and my spirit just needed to fully merge for me to continue my personal evolution. I really believe this was the moment when I truly claimed and declared my voice as an artist. It was a path of self-love and self-acceptance that allowed me to integrate and embrace all of who I am and share that freely with the world.
5. This project stemmed from your idea to paint a cat a day for a month as a fun, non-client-based project, yes? What did you learn in the process of this type of daily creative practice? Did you run into any roadblocks along the way, and if so, how did you move beyond them in order to continue the project?
Before I began, I was worried that it would be challenging to come up with a new cat everyday and that they would all start to blend monotonously together. What I didn’t expect was how rich and diverse this world of magical cats would become. The more I painted them, the more there seemed to be an endless supply of completely unique Spirit Cats that were just waiting to come through into my paintings.
I would share them daily on social media and through a special newsletter. I found it so supportive and beautiful to have people come along with me on this journey. I could already see how these cats were bringing joy and healing. That feeling of generosity and service fueled my commitment to the project.
During the Month of Cats, I felt completely in the flow. The roadblocks really existed more for me before I began. Some were practical like a fear of not having the time and others were more energetic like a fear of failure. I gave myself the gift of time by saving up money and taking the entire month off from client work so that I could focus and spend more time on each painting. That was priceless.
The other roadblocks were resolved by simply beginning anew each day and being open to whatever might appear on the page without judgment. Ultimately, the biggest gift of this practice was that it helped me uncover my true artistic voice allowing me to connect with my audience on a much deeper, more authentic level.
6. How do you let Spirit guide you in your work? Any practical tips for someone who wants to connect to Spirit in order to spark their creative inspiration and art-making processes?
I consider art-making to be a sacred space where I connect with a more expanded, clearer consciousness. For me, it is a form of intuitive channeling. To honor this, I love having a small ritual before I begin. I take a few deep breaths, maybe do a few sun salutations and light a candle. The candle flame reminds me that I am connecting to the light at the very center of my being. I practice opening my mind and being in a receptive state. I am alert to visions and guidance.
Sometimes, I begin painting without a plan or drawing. Other times, I see something clearly in my mind’s eye and work diligently to bring that vision to the page. I try to be responsive and agile, adjusting my methods to accommodate whatever wants to come through.
I would recommend exploring what gives you a feeling of spaciousness, bliss, and connection to spirit. This could be dancing, running, meditation, being in nature or anything really. Then, see what rituals help you to bring that energy to your art-making. Oh and most importantly, don’t overthink it. Just begin.
7. What is your vision for the Spirit Cats Deck? How do you hope it makes its way into the world?
I see people having a quiet, introspective moment each day where they draw a Spirit Cat card and experience peace, inspiration, and healing. I see people using the cards to playfully access their intuition to help them see more clearly and make decisions with the confidence that comes from knowing your heart. I see the Spirit Cats Deck in your hands and it contains a magic especially for you.
8. Where can people find the Spirit Cats Deck? Know many of my readers will want to purchase a set (and so will I)! And where can people find you in general?
Pre-order your Spirit Cats Deck on Kickstarter from Feb 1 – March 4. The decks are available at a sweet early bird price of $15 and then, $20.
Come say hi to me on Instagram as well!
Nicole Piar is an artist and illustrator on a mission to awaken a sense of wonder, inspire wild flights of fancy and create a bridge between her inner world and yours. She received her BA in Art from Yale University and went on to be a professional illustrator for the last 10 years. Her magical art balances on the vivid intersection of intuitive visions, healing, storytelling, and dreams.