Hello there - my name's Neil Lovell and I'm the designer of all the decks on this site and the owner of Malpertuis Designs Ltd. I was born and brought up in rural Northamptonshire, England and after four years at Oxford I moved to London where I've lived ever since.
I haven't always been a designer. For many years I had a successful and interesting career within research and brand consultancy which took me all around the world working for global clients. My later years within research were especially dedicated to developing new methods of presenting research information through design, and eventually my 'design side' won out over the more commercial aspects of my work. In 2014 I therefore left the industry I'd worked in for years to become a full time illustrator and designer.
I first became interested in card design well over over twenty years ago and quite early on entertained ambitions to design my own deck. My first ‘soft’ attempt at a deck, the experimental Nijinsky Tarot, was designed in the mid 1990s. For various reasons this first deck was never published, but after some time I decided to design another deck with the specific intention of getting it published. This was the deck which - after a long development - finally became the Tyldwick Tarot, and a fuller account of the story behind that deck can be found here. I published this deck as a limited edition in 2013 (limited numbers of decks are still available from this site). After a break, I decided that I'd enjoyed the whole experience of creating this deck so much that just one wasn't enough - I wanted to design more.
Probably like most Tarot enthusiasts, I discovered Lenormand much more recently. My first Lenormand deck, the Malpertuis Lenormand, has now been published and is available from this site. This deck was initially intended as a companion to the Tyldwick Tarot, but inevitably ended up changing throughout the design process into a more independent creation. I'm now in the process of completing further Lenormand decks and am also in the early stages of creating another new Tarot deck.
My founding principle is simple: to create beautiful objects which I'd myself wish to own. I don't design decks with an eye to the market, or base my designs around what I think might be most popular or most lucrative.
It's important to me that I'm able to produce decks exactly as I'd like them to be without needing to make any compromises to satsify third parties. That's why I design, publish, and sell my decks independently.
While I respect and love the history of cards, I'm more interested in expanding and extending possibilities than in sticking religiously to traditional images. In some respects my designs may nod (for example) to Rider-Waite or Dondorf, but in others they may divert considerably from the traditional images associated with those decks. I'm a designer - not a scholar or archivist - and imagination is much more important to me than 'authenticity'. I'm therefore happy to leave the pursuit of provenance or purity to others while I hopefully create something original and different.
There exist many examples of what can be called clone decks - modified versions of other artists' original work. This is especially true of Tarot decks, where 'authentic' or 'traditional' are frequently employed euphemisms for 'copied'. I don't intend to follow this route - I hope to create decks which are as attractive and original as possible, without stealing other designers' material or ideas.
I work primarily as a collagist. This involves gathering of images from many different sources. I don't believe, however, that I have the right to incorporate other other artists' original images and photographs into my work by using the '10% rule'. As far as possible, therefore, any images I use are my own original photographs or drawings, paid for images from stock libraries, or material which is already certified as existing in the public domain. In those rare instances where I identify material which isn't available for purchase, I either (a) recreate a new image as an original quantity by drawing or tracing or (b) modify the image to such an extent that it could no longer reasonably be identified against the original image.
I place the highest importance on quality - in terms of ensuring that both (a) card designs are as good as I can possibly make them and (b) the physical production of my decks is executed to as high a standard as possible.
Designing a deck (particularly a Tarot deck) can be an extremely long process: I can easily spend as much time on developing design ideas which don't make it into the final version of a deck as on those designs which actually do. It takes a while for a deck's overall personality to take shape: it's only once a deck is nearing completion that it's generally possible to look at each individual card design in order to reassess how well it fits into the overall concept. I often reject many completed designs at this late stage - and, given the level of work that's often gone into them, this can be a difficult and painful procedure!
Getting decks printed can also take some time, since it's impossible to know exactly how a deck will look and feel until it's actually made. Printing on home printers - even in the highest quality - won't produce quite the same results as professional printers deliver. Cards which looked fine at home can look too dark or too bleached, details visible on screen might not render as expected, and at a more general level cards which previously seemed to work sometimes simply don't 'feel right' within the physical, printed deck. There can, therefore, be substantial proofing and re-proofing at this stage - I can go through many, many proofs before signing off the final run.
I insist on the highest paper quality, finish, and cutting precision for my decks and have devoted great efforts to sourcing specialist suppliers who can deliver the exact specifications I want. I genuinely believe that this makes a difference to the final product.
I want my customers to be satisfied fully with their cards, and personally check all decks as thoroughly as possible before dispatch. On the (very) rare occasions when a flawed or faulty deck slips through the net I'm of course always willing to offer a replacement deck or full refund.
From time to time, I've been asked (both in person and online) about the relatively high price of my decks. So, just to answer this question:
I publish my decks in exclusive limited runs, which means much higher production costs per unit than major publishers can demand. There’s a huge difference between what the big publishers can afford to charge and what independent designers need to charge.
Early on I made the decision to design, publish, and sell my decks independently. As many others have probably done before me, I debated for quite a while whether I should print and sell decks myself or just sell the rights to a publisher. For the reasons explained above, I eventually decided that independence was more important to me. This does, of course, bring its own burdens as well as advantages (I personally certify, package, and post every deck).
It's inevitable that when printing only limited edition runs (rather than the runs of many thousands typical of the major publishers) the cost will need to be spread across a smaller number of customers. And that means a higher price - unfortunate, but a fact of life.
I design my decks for customers who appreciate the exclusivity that comes with limited editions, and I print relatively low number runs where the unit production costs are high. As such, I'm generally not in a position to offer large wholesale discounts to resellers. I have, however, been prepared in the past to make occasional exceptions for certain resellers who fit one or more of the following criteria:
In these circumstances, I may be willing to negotiate wholesale discounts. The precise discount will be determined by deck type, price, and order size, but as an indication I would usually offer a discount of c. 20% on an order of more than twenty decks.
For further information, please contact me here.
My deck designs and all other content on this site are protected by international copyright.
I welcome people posting images of decks they've purchased as long as due credit is given: this credit should include the name of the deck and a link to this site.
I'd kindly request that no original digital images and text from this site be copied without prior permission. In particular, re-posting the 'complete deck' (presenting images of cards online for download) is strictly forbidden.
Users must request permission if one of my decks is featured in any publication, website, or other online channel which incorporates any commercial advantage or gain, through subscription or membership fees, single access charges, or third party advertising. This includes personal blogs and YouTube channels which generate income for the owner through advertising.
Copyright © 2014 by Neil Lovell
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
For permission requests, please contact me here.