The Atlas of Prejudice Book Coming Soon. In German

Atlas der Vorurteile von Yanko Tsvetkov

Those of you who keep an eye on my Facebook page or follow me on Behance already know that I started work on my first book. The working title is Atlas of Prejudice and it will contain all maps from my Mapping Stereotypes project.

But that’s just half of the story. Ever since I started thinking about a book, I realized I had to add something more. After all, all maps are already available in a calendar, switching the print format won’t bring much extra value.

What is different about books is that you actually have an opportunity to tell a story. A lot of people have been asking me how did I come up with the idea of the project, what was my motivation for expanding it or what do I think about stereotypes in general. I get a lot of emails from students who say their teachers ask them to discuss a certain map in class or write an essay about it. And of course occasionally there have been people who have taken the project out of context, treating some maps as simple statistics or even understanding them in a brutally serious way, with all the awkward consequences that follow.

I will always be thankful for all the feedback I receive, positive or negative, but the thing that makes me most happy is that the Mapping Stereotypes project doesn’t only entertain people but helps them ask questions. Is there truth in a stereotype? Can we get rid of our prejudices? Does Santa Claus love Nordic children more than he loves Brazilian ones? Everybody has a different answer and if you are interested in mine, this book will help you find it.

There’s a catch though. If you’re an English-speaking person you might have a problem understanding it. That’s because the book will be first published in German. It wasn’t necessarily planned this way but I found a publisher who met all my requirements and it just happened to be operating on the German market. Besides the financial sense, those requirements were mainly artistic. I insisted on writing, illustrating and designing the book myself, from cover to back (call me the Prince of publishing). I’m still looking for an English publisher who would be able to match that.

Of course even if I don’t find one, I would still would have the option to self-publish in the near future, so stay tuned for more. The end of 2012 will be an interesting period for alphadesigner.

Geotagged Photo Storytelling


View Castilla Plana Project in a larger map or check the project page.

Have you ever been to a place that very few other people have a chance to visit? A place that is not “impressive” in the mainstream, flashy urban way. There are no amazing buildings, no glittering beaches, no spectacular waterfalls, nothing that can grab you by the throat and make your jaw drop. And yet, after you spend some time in it, you start discovering small, delicate things. Things that may seem unremarkable, perhaps even boring. But after a while, if you’re perceptive enough, you start to realize that each and every one of them has a little story to tell.

My story is about a place called Torrijos. A small town in the middle of Spain that no tourist would ever go to, even by mistake. I spent there a year and a half of my life. Among other things, I always kept my camera close. And it was through its lens that really discovered the place for myself.

Central Spain is not like the coast and it doesn’t fit any of the widespread known stereotypes about the country. It’s a barren, inhospitable land, flat as a tortilla. In fact, it’s so strikingly flat that it invokes illusions of grandeur in your mind. Because when you’re out there in the open field you’re the highest thing around and when there aren’t many other objects you can measure up to, you not only lose sense of distance and size, you feel like you’re carrying the sky on your own shoulders. Remember Don Quixote? He may have been a fictional character but his prototype was not. It came from here and it remains here, constantly reincarnated, reinvented and reinterpreted, it’s a remarkable proof of how geography can shape the human psyche.

It’s an unique story but I wasn’t sure how to tell it until I started geotagging my photo archive with pictures from the region. I caught myself playing with the map, revisiting all the places I know, remembering conversations, events, emotions. And then I thought well, maybe I can “pin” the whole story on a Google map, instead of writing it on a page and decorating it with photos. Instead, I will have different colored pins and each one will be independent of the rest. There will be no beginning and no end. You can click on as many pins as you want, look, read, zoom in and out. That’s pretty much how I discovered the place for myself.

If it works for me, it should work for other people too, right? So here are the humble beginnings of the Castilla Plana project. Take it as a beta version. It has enough pins for an introduction and the rest will come gradually, bit by bit, as I update it in the next few months. Wish me inspiration.

The Trumplust Mythological World Map

alphadesigner trumplust the game play

In the introduction to my Trumplust Card Deck I hinted it was more than a design and illustration project. The concept goes far beyond and includes a fully developed mythology and a custom card game. After the completion of all the illustrations from the card deck, here comes the Trumplust World Map, which depicts the world featured in the mythology of the game.

The Trumplust world is divided in 4 continents, 3 oceans and 1 sea. Each continent has 2 islands, 1 mountain, 1 river and 1 city. In the center of the world is a mysterious city built on a landmass that doesn’t belong to any of the continents.

Hyperborea (North)

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Hyperborea, the Northern continent, is the realm of the Spades ruled by the gods Osiris, Kali and Belus. It’s named after a mysterious country from Ancient Greek mythology. Pindar described it as a land of plenty where disease, war and labor are unknown. In Trumplust however, it’s a cold and barren continent, inhabited by a warrior race.

Its city Valhalla is named after the legendary Hall of Heroes in Norse mythology. Through it flows the river Vaitarna. The name comes from a Hindu myth about a river that separates the Earth from the realm of the dead, similar the the Ancient Greek Styx. In Trumplust, it’s a cold icy river which poisons every living creature that touches its waters. Only Kali, the Queen of Spades can resist its spell and come out of it alive.

Osiris, the King of Spades, lives on Mount Killaraus, named after a mythical Irish mountain, which is the source of the stones used in the construction of the famous Stonehenge according to the legend of King Arthur. In Trumplust, it’s a mountain of pure transparent ice, which makes it invisible to any mortal. Although all deities can see it, only Osiris can climb its slopes.

Off the Eastern shore of the continent lies the Isle of War, inhabited by giant warrior birds. Their bodies are said to be covered with blades instead of feathers and are the primary source of weapons for all the Spades. The island of Thule lies to the Southwest. It’s the only place in the realm of the Spades which is not covered by ice. In its cool misty forests live the spirits of all heroic warriors. Spades visit the island to seek advice from the spirits, who are said to possess the power to see into the future. Thule is an actual name of a northern land in medieval European literature, sometimes described as an island.

Antillia (West)

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Antillia, the Western continent, is the realm of the Diamonds ruled by the gods Jörmungandr, Lakshmi and Mammon. It’s named after a legendary island in the Western Atlantic, frequently depicted on pre 16th Century maps, even though its existence was only hypothetical, originating from an old Christian legend about Visigothic bishops fleeing the Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula. The Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean was named after it. In Trumplust, it’s a desert continent inhabited by a merchant race.

Its city Hesperidia is named after the legendary Garden of the Hesperides which according to the Ancient Greek myth was a blissful place, situated in the far western corner of the world. Through it flows the river Sillas. It’s the Hellenistic name of a non-existent Indian river hypothesized by the Ancient Greek ethnographer Megasthenes. He mentioned that nothing cast into its waters can float and sinks to its bottom. In Trumplust, this quality is preserved, whatever falls into its deep turquoise waters sinks immediately and can never be recovered. Because of that Sillas is also referred to as the “river of greed”.
Lakshmi, the Queen of Diamonds is said to be able to walk on the surface of its waters. Because the river cannot be directly crossed, it literary splits the continent in two and anyone who wishes to move from the northern to the southern part has to go around its spring, which lies to the far east.

Jörmungandr, the King of Diamonds, lives on Mount Judi, named after the mythical place, where Noah’s Ark came to rest after the flood. His palace is a giant sea shell situated at the top.

To the North of Antillia lies the Isle of Demons, the birth place of the god Mammon. It is named after a legendary land that can be found on some medieval maps. The island is surrounded from all sides by high razor sharp cliffs and according to Antillean legends beyond them stretches a flat valley full of treasures and gold. Off the Southern coast of the continent is the Isle of Jealousy, a place entirely covered by giant tropical forest. Its soil contains a lot of diamonds. Unfortunately those diamonds turn to water if they leave the shores of the island.

Primordia (East)

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Primordia, the Eastern continent, is the realm of the Clubs ruled by the gods Chronos, Rhea and Min. Primordia is a rich fertile land inhabited by the peasants, who are a race of hermaphrodites.

Its city Eden is named after the Biblical Garden of Eden. Through it flows the Lethe river, named after one of the five rivers of Hades from Ancient Greek mythology. According to the legend, everybody who drinks from it experiences complete forgetfulness. In Trumplust, it’s the river of ignorance. Everybody who drinks from its waters forgets everything he has learned in life and enters a state of blissful happiness. Because it’s the only source of fresh water on the continent, all of its inhabitants are under its influence. Rhea, the Queen of Clubs, lays her eggs in the river, from which all peasants are born.

Chronos, the King of Clubs, lives on Mount Penglai, named after a mythical mountain in Chinese mythology inhabited by immortals. His palace is a giant tree that grows on the top of the mountain.

Close to the Southern shore of Primordia lies the Snake Isle, inhabited by dragon snakes. Their poison is an antidote for the magical effects of the river Lethe. To the North lies the Isle of the Sexes. According to a legend, every peasant who reaches its golden sands turns into a man or a woman.

Ourania (South)

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Ourania, the Southern continent, is the realm of the Hearts ruled by the gods Anteros, Astarte and Kamadeva. It is named after the Ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite which was known as Ourania in some ancient writings, as a reference to her father, the castrated Uranus. In Trumplust, it’s an enchanted world occupied by the race of the poets.

Its city Utopia is named after the philosophical concept of the ideal society. Trough it flows the river Malva, named after the mythical Malvam river in Northern Africa. In its waterfalls live the nymphs, the daughters of the Astarte, the Queen of Hearts. The songs of the nymphs are stronger than opium. Many poets come to the waterfalls to find inspiration in their singing. Some of them are so taken by the songs that cannot find the strength to walk away and die from starvation. Astarte takes their souls and carries them to Elysium, the island of the Eternal bliss, which lies to North of the continent.

Anteros, the King of Hearts, lives on Mount Meru, the sacred mountain in Hindu and Buddhist mythology, considered the Center of the Universe. His palace floats on a cloud around the top of the mountain.

Apart from Elysium to the North, there is the Fortunate Isle to the East, named after the legendary islands in Ancient Greek mythology, which welcomed the souls of famous heroes. In Trumplust, the island is known as the place of requited love. It is believed that any poet who is able to swim to it will find his muse in flesh and blood waiting for him at the shore.

Oceans and Seas

There are 4 of them. The Ocean of Doom lies between Hyperborea and Antillia. The Ocean of Obsession is between Antillia and Ourania. The Sea of Innocence connects Ourania to Primordia and the icy Bitter Ocean separates Primordia from Hyperborea.

Agartha

In the exact center of the map lies the city of Agartha. It’s named after the legendary city that is exists in the Earth’s core according to some hollow Earth theories. In Trumplust it’s a mysterious place which is still unexplored. Anybody who tried to reach it never came back. The seas around it are notoriously stormy and hard to navigate.

The Four Winds

There are 4 primary winds in the Trumplust world. All of them are named after their modern geographical equivalents – the Northeastern Greco, the Southeastern Scirocco, the Southwestern Libeccio and the Northwestern Maestro.

Trumplust, Reinventing the Playing Card Deck

alphadesigner trumplust the extra cards

I’ve been dreaming of designing my own set of playing cards for a lot of time. The idea first came in 2007 when I was working on my Theogony project. For a brief time I was even considering turning the whole project into a tarot deck. Last year I finally started making drafts for the more widely used French deck and that’s how my Trumplust Deck of Cards began to take shape.

Although it was no longer a part of Theogony, I decided to follow a similar concept which can be described as re-interpreted depictions of ancient mythological figures and deities. The main difference is these interpretations now follow the organization of the standard playing card deck and to achieve that, I had to assemble groups of deities under common “houses” that correspond to the four suits of Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs.

The end result is a divine pastiche of gods and goddesses from Norse to Hindu mythology. The symbolism of the suits was also re-imagined and so were some of the cartomancy concepts as you will see in the explanations below. Like the rest of my projects, the Trumplust Deck of Cards is far from finished, so I will gradually expand it further. For example, the association of each suit with a cardinal geographic direction is not accidental and it’s going to be one of the ideas I will definitely spend some time on.

The House of Spades

Symbolism: War, violence, challenge, sacrifice, death, afterlife
Direction: North
Caste: Warrior

alphadesigner trumplust the house of spades

King of Spades: Osiris

The card symbolizes the cycle of life and death through pain and sacrifice. Osiris was one of the most revered Egyptian gods, ruler of the underworld and a symbol of life at the same time. He embodies almost every archetype of an ancient supreme deity. According to the myth, he was twice killed by his own brother Set and twice resurrected with the help of his wife Isis. Their son, Horus, was conceived by Isis from the dead body of Osiris.

Queen of Spades: Kali

The card symbolizes the brute force of nature and evolution, devoid of human categories like justice, compassion and mercy. Kali is the Hindu goddess of rage, annihilation and destruction and symbolizes the moment of death and letting go of one’s ego. She is often associated with darkness and the force that transcends time, one of the fundamental aspects of the Universe to which every creation inevitably returns.

Jack of Spades: Belus

The card symbolizes civilization and conquest through war and technology. Belus is a Babylonian god of war. The name is a latinized equivalent of Madruk, the ancient patron deity of Babylon.

The House of Hearts

Symbolism: Love, romance, emotion, spirituality, magic
Direction: South
Caste: Poet

alphadesigner trumplust the house of hearts

King of Hearts: Anteros

The card symbolizes the union of hearts and the triumph of love over individualism. Anteros is the lesser known brother of the Ancient Greek god Eros. He’s the god of fulfilled, requited love.

Queen of Hearts: Astarte

The card symbolizes the yearning for love. Astarte is an ancient Eastern Mediterranean goddess of sex, love and fertility. She’s the “prototype” for the Ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Roman Venus. All of them are associated with the “evening star” – the planet Venus.

Jack of Hearts: Kamadeva

The card symbolizes sexual desire and passion. Kamadeva is a Hindu god of physical love. According to some myths, he was born from the mind of Brahma, the god of creation.

The House of Diamonds

Symbolism: Luck, wealth, greed, rationality, materialism
Direction: West
Caste: Merchant

alphadesigner trumplust the house of diamonds

King of Diamonds: Jörmungandr

The card symbolizes possession and obsession with power. Jörmungandr, also known as Midgard, is a mythical ancient sea serpent in Norse mythology, one that holds all the waters of the world in his embrace. According to the myth, the end of the world will come when Jörmungandr loosens his grip.

Queen of Diamonds: Lakshmi

The card symbolizes wealth and material prosperity. Lakshmi is a Hindu goddess of wealth and fortune, closely associate with money, which are considered one of her many manifestations.

Jack of Diamonds: Mammon

The card symbolizes greed and the speculative accumulation of wealth. Mammon wasn’t originally a deity but a Biblical term used to refer to unjust material gain and gluttony. Later, it was personified as a false god and as one of the seven princes of Hell in Christian demonology.

The House of Clubs

Symbolism: Birth, fertility, desire, sex
Direction: East
Caste: Peasant

alphadesigner trumplust the house of clubs

King of Clubs: Chronos

The card symbolizes the passage of time. In Ancient Greek mythology, Chronos is the personification of time. He is sometimes depicted as a serpent, who circled the primordial egg which contained the world, ultimately splitting into three different parts – earth, sky and ocean.

Queen of Clubs: Rhea

The card symbolizes birth and the instinct for procreation. In Ancient Greek mythology, Rhea is the mother of many Olympian gods, among which Zeus, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon and Hera.

Jack of Clubs: Min

The card symbolizes fertility and the primal sexual desire. Min is an Egyptian god of nature, reproduction and male sexual potency. He’s often portrayed black-skinned and with an erect penis. The Ancient Greeks associated Min with their god of nature, Pan.

Castilian Mythology, Part I (Creation)

The Powers That Be

In the beginning, there was nothing. Then God heard a noise in the kitchen and created light to see whether a mouse wasn’t eating his cheese. There was indeed one. It was staring at him with its cute little eyes and mouth full of tasty aromatic cheese. God got really angry. He knew the mouse was an incarnation of the Devil. The Devil himself was created by God but an unfortunate accident during a poker game turned them into bitter enemies.

God decided to trick the Devil and get rid of him, so he created Earth, then turned to the mouse and said: “Naughty little rodent! You ate my cheese and pooped in my fridge, therefore I curse you for all eternity! You shall live in holes in the Earth and chew wheat grains all the days of your miserable life!”

“Wheat what?” said the mouse.

“Wheat grains!” repeated the Lord with his majestic, authoritative voice.

“What on Earth is that?” asked the mouse and then added ironically “Pun intended!”

“Oh crap!” said the Lord and threw some weed seeds on the freshly created Earth. “Here they are!” The seeds immediately started sprouting, growing bigger and bigger. In several minutes, the whole Earth was a dense, impenetrable wheat field.

“That’s not very cosy you know…” complained the mouse “I can hardly move in this thick vegetation. Is this the best you can do?”

“Of course not!” angrily replied the Lord whose pride was slightly hurt for having to reason with a tricky little rodent. So he created men to control the spread and growth of weed.

Planet Hay II

“Interesting!” said the mouse and took a sip of tea to wash the remains of cheese down his tiny cute belly “I shall befriend thee!”

“Like hell you will!” said the Lord “I will make their women scream each moment they see you!”

“What on Earth are women?” The mouse could barely hide its itchy sarcasm behind his cute little mustaches.

“Erm…” God hesitated for a while but decided to pretend He wasn’t caught unprepared, so He snapped his fingers very fast hoping the mouse wouldn’t notice “There they are!”

“Interesting!” said the mouse. “You just created women!”

“No I didn’t…” replied the Lord “Men did!”

“Those men are pretty creative” said the mouse. “I think I like them. Maybe I should move to Earth permanently, eat grains for a while and then wait until they start producing cheese!”

Judging by His red, pulsating face, God was getting pretty pissed off. The mouse knew it was getting on His nerves big time but continued to play the role of an innocent creature with a superb Satanic dedication.

“Say it!” said the mouse with its little tender voice!

“Say what?” angrily exploded the Lord.

The mouse smiled and sarcastically added “You lost again!”

“No I didn’t, you little idiot! They will never make cheese! They won’t even think of making cheese! Even if there were cows on Earth and those cows get domesticated by the humans. Even if they milk them every day and get the best milk in the entire Universe, even then, they won’t make cheese!”

“That doesn’t seem very logical to me!” said the mouse “Why would they refuse to make cheese after all this!”

“Because I will forbid them to!” said the Lord.

And that’s how sin was created.

The World According to Israel

Get the Atlas of Prejudice on Amazon US | UK | Germany | France | Italy | Spain

world-according-to-israel

After the Arab Spring update, the Mapping Stereotypes project finally enters the realm of astronomy.

This chart finally delivers a crushing blow to the lunatic theory that Israel is round and rotates around the Sun. The country is just too important to be bent into a sphere and tossed around in space.

I actually truly believe this is the mental image that most Israeli politicians have of the world. The paranoia that drives them literary smells of early antiquity. In case you don’t know, that was the time when the Earth was flat and what happened outside your own borders mattered only when it came to military threats. Your land was divine, your city was the only one worth living in, your buddies were the only fun guys in the universe and your women – excuse the sexist cliche – the most shagadelic.

Of course, with several important inventions throughout the ages, humanity managed to move forward. Borders dissolved, people started to move around, America was “discovered” etc. Unfortunately, I think that Israeli politicians spent all this time in cryogenic stasis. When they were defrosted in the middle of the 20th Century, they just continued doing what they did best – being adolescent, provincial kings, pursuing their policies with total disregard for the rest of the world.

This is why, strictly speaking, there is no actual Earth on this map. Only the state of Israel. Around its flat holy surface revolve 8 planets. And far away, in the cold recesses of the Oort cloud, lurks Iran.