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LolitaPenguin
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Hello everyone,
I am currently working on the design of the major arcana for a new tarot deck. I thought that instead of doing it alone in my room I should ask for feedback on the actual illustrations.
Basically I am making hybrids archetypes with two animals whose common symbolism relates to the topic of each card. I am happy with some of them but quite confused with some others (I won't tell which one I would'nt want to influence anyone).

Please have a look at them and share some feedback, advice, criticism etc in order to help me make it good.
Here is a link to my blog where the first draft is featured:
http://lolitadopesodiogo.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/firstdraft/

Thank you for reading this

AdamMcLean
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I am not sure I can see the connection in many cases between the particular hybridised animals forms and the tarot archetypes.

LolitaPenguin
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do you mean because of the associations, the concept of hybridising, or because of the animals themselves?

AdamMcLean
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Well what does a fish/caterpillar have to do with the Hanged Man ? What does a camel/ostrich have to do with Temperance?
It seems such an idiosyncratic view that the tarot content is reduced almost to zero.

Somehow, I feel there must be some meaningful connection, however distant, between the image chosen by the artist and the established archetypal/traditional idea contained in the tarot arcana.

Otherwise one can chose any image and call it a tarot arcanum. The essence of tarot creation is to walk the line between the traditional image and a new conception of this.

Here is an example I found a day or two ago of just that. Here the artist uses a wonderful image for the Star. It was not randomly chosen and is in fact quite a neat idea as he used a polyhedron called a stellated icosidodecahedron, thus playing with the word as well as the image.

Attachment: stellated.jpg (Downloaded 273 times)

LolitaPenguin
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it's interesting that you feel that the associations are random, maybe the choice of animals is not always the most obvious. for example for the hanged-man I mixed a whale and a caterpillar in reference to the caterpillar that will soon become a butterfly and the whale as a reference to the myth of the whale womb (in which happens the painful transformation). Basically I took the core idea behind each card and expressed it through hybridised animals which I chose carefuly because of their symbolism. But I do acknowledge that some choices are a bit too obscure and therefore are a bit difficult to understand. (are there any arcanum/archetypes that you understand or does everything seem out of place?)

anyways, have a look at the following decks that express the idea of each arcanum without always using the traditional imagery (which is more or less what I am trying to achieve):

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/tarot/art_tarot19.html

http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/tarot-of-color/index.shtml

http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/transparent/

http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/animal-wise/

Thank you for your feedback, I take it into consideration.

gregory
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AdamMcLean wrote: Here is an example I found a day or two ago of just that. Here the artist uses a wonderful image for the Star. It was not randomly chosen and is in fact quite a neat idea as he used a polyhedron called a stellated icosidodecahedron, thus playing with the word as well as the image.
That is a very interesting deck; I plan to read the book, but it will take me a while...

I rather agree with you here - I was staying quiet as I know less than you - but I couldn'  see how the various hybrids - interesting though they are as images - relate to tarot at all. I think this world work better as an oracle.

The Colquhoun is rather a special case, but the other three you link to do all fit to a degree with tarot as I understand it. The Transparent in particular - the creation process is detailed on line and Emily certainly had traditional associations in mind and they can be seen in the individual cards - but the combinations add layers of meaning. This doesn't happen for me with your hybrid combinations - I'm sorry.

AdamMcLean
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Gregory wrote:

That is a very interesting deck; I plan to read the book, but it will take me a while..

I just realised it is an earlier version of the Baumtarot. I will put up a note about this on my weblog tomorrow.

Last edited on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 12:15 pm by AdamMcLean

gregory
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I wouldn't exactly have said so, but ...

AdamMcLean
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I wouldn't exactly have said so, but ...


Have a look at my Tarot weblog.

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/tarot/tarot_weblog.html

Last edited on Tue Apr 5th, 2011 01:04 pm by AdamMcLean

gregory
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I had both decks out after you said that.... I would have seen it more as you can often pick out the work of the same artist on another deck; the new LoS Wheel of the Year for instance, is very reminiscent of the Universal Goddess - same artist...

Last edited on Wed Apr 6th, 2011 02:24 pm by gregory

debra
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With some cards I can see it, or see part of it.  It could be clearer.

For the Hanged Man, this is a fish tail.  Whales' tails (flukes) are symmetrical, and  they align horizontally, not vertically.  http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=whale+fluke&cp=8&qe=d2hhbGUgZmw&qesig=FG4Tiaw5NFI3Mzzt60X8qw&pkc=AFgZ2tlVM958Buj0ZZG5Fc-SiJ_BEv-HmbUSxUE1QNRt1HIMrV1ca1VWgU2kYENLPNQj6whtb-OXUS4jnPEU1MBU-ijn43_CSA&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&biw=686&bih=395
 

AdamMcLean
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I cannot see how a mouse/goat hybrid in any way captures the essence of the tarot Tower.

If you want to create a tarot deck you cannot merely create images out of your imagination and then call them tarot archetypes. To begin you must to some extent immerse yourself in tarot imagery, look at many other tarot decks, read and study, as much as you are able, what the many people over the years have said about these images.

One cannot just make things up and call them tarot. To do so is mere solipsism, being shut up within ones own subjectivity.

What is necessary for the tarot artist is that they see the tarot as some established communal set of archetypal images, and then they build their own tarot on this basis and foundation, in their own style and medium. Otherwise it is not a tarot but merely a collection of 22 artworks.

debra
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Hi, LolitaP, I'm back having spent some more time with your images.

Some seem spot-on.  This made me want to look more carefully at all of them.  I can't make out some of the animals.  Either their essential feature isn't obvious  so I can't identify it, or it's too small or dark for my weak eyes.

The closest I've seen to this is the Bestiarium Azaz.  http://www.tarotcollectors.com/view_topic.php?id=649&forum_id=3

So, here's what I see.

The Fool:  Sheep/butterfly opposition works well; the sheep looks appropriately mindless, the butterfly wings are lovely and it's an easy image to look at.

Magician:  Visually difficult to resolve.  I see the snake, good; I understand the concept of magician as a sly fox, I want him to have a face and "hands."

High Priestess:  Ibis, yes.  Fish, I don't see why.

Empress:  Pig + Rabbit = fertility.  Pig might be better with teats.

Emperor: Eagle, yes.  Elephant--at first I thought Yes, but I keep getting hung up that elephants are matriarchal.  This is one image that I really don't like looking at; it's too visually disturbing.

Hierophant.  I see the dog, loyalty; I can't figure out what the other animal is.

Lovers:  I don't get this one, visually or conceptually.

Chariot:  How is the horse changed by substituting insect legs? 

Justice:  I can't identify the mammal.  I get the "saw" as sword-like, but I think there's something stronger.  Lots of myths have animal judges.

Hermit:  I can't make it out, beyond the fish tail. 

Wheel:  I like this a lot.  To me it's:  what will you be, the bug or the bird; the prey or the predator?

Strength:  Lion, yes.  The other animal I can't identify--is it a lizard?

Hanged Man:  As I said, these are not whale flukes.  You are thinking of Jonah in the Whale and the caterpillar becoming a butterfly?  But the caterpillar doesn't transform until it's spun a cocoon.

13.  A scarab?  Ok.  The toad, I don't follow.


Temperance.  I got the camel right away, a good choice.  The other animal I can't identify.  I find this disturbing to look at, like the Emperor--no bodies!

Devil:  Creepy, buggy, I don't know which two creepy animals these are.  I think there could be a more creative approach. 

Tower.  Is that a yak or other mountain-climbing animal?  I would see the fall, in that case.  I don't get the mouse's significance.

Star.  I like the way it looks; I don't understand either animal's symbolism, especially the cow.

The Moon.  This is a beauty.  A night owl and the octopus from the depths.  As a "bad dream" card, this one works much better than the devil, in my opinion.

The Sun.  A funny looking bird!  I don't know it, and I can't id the other parts.

Judgement--same problem for me.

The world--I like the concept of a snail with wings although I'm not sure how it is the World.

Seems to me you have three things going on here, as far as symbolism is concerned:  1.  Some symbols are "general knowledge about the animal itself " like the owl being a bird of the night  2.  Some are common metaphors, like the eagle as emperor and lion as strength  3.  Some are symbols you found on the cards, like the snake on the Magician. 

Hope this helps; good luck with your project!  I like your web site, too.










LolitaPenguin
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Debra, thanks so much for this detailed feedback. It is very useful indeed!

I am going to modify the illustrations using all the commens that were given to me.

Ill keep you guys updated!

OnePotato
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Hello LolitaPenguin.

Well, I think it's a fantastic project.

I think the first question to ask is whether it is actually necessary for the audience to recognize and understand all of your symbolic associations simply by looking at your work.

Is your work intended to be primarily creative, or interpretive?

If you want your work to be instantly recognizable and understandable as a traditional tarot deck, then I see it as interpretive. Someone from long ago has established the narrative content, and you are simply illustrating it in your own stylized interpretation. Most of the commercial tarot decks you see today fall somewhere under this heading. Essentially, it is an illustration job.

This is not the only way for an artist to work.

If you want to create a more-or-less new translation of the traditional concept, where the earlier narrative is reinterpreted through one of your own creation, then your emphasis is on creativity. The traditional narrative is replaced by a new one of your own that has evolved from it, perhaps retaining the traditional root concepts, or some other particular aspects, as determined by you. Essentially, this is a design project, and will likely require a bit more effort. Tarot decks like this are relatively fewer than the interpretive ones these days, and more often tend to be artist-produced. Personally, I often find them to offer a much more interesting and rewarding experience.

(Aside: I am not talking about a "literary" narrative here. It may very well be incorporated into a non-verbal "visual language", as in a painting. The point is that it was established in an earlier deck design.)

Obviously, this is all really a matter of degree. Neither "option" is all or nothing. But I believe it will help you to better define your objective, and thus make it easier to work toward it.

If you are trying to create a work that is familiar to "tarot people", and intended for "use" by them, (as card readers) I think you will need to concentrate on making some of your images more instantly recognizable, and that you may need to offer more familiar signals to the viewer, and probably explain your rationale externally. (Presumably in writing.) Your job is essentially to present the traditional concepts clearly and accurately, along with some additional "visual comment" of your own.

If you are in fact trying to express your own vision of the traditional archetypes of the tarot, and thus create a new kind of viewer experience, then you are of course free to decide which aspects of the traditional tarot concepts you wish to tie in to, and how important it is for the viewer to be able to consciously recognize these links. For example, the choice of animals to use on a given card is yours to make, and the viewer is free to try to decipher your intention or not. Some viewers will see your point, others will not. Does it really matter if they get all of them "right", or in some cases don't "get it" at all? Is the visual interest of the imagery enough of a statement in and of itself? This is conceptual art. Your focus is your own, and your audience is free to follow you or not. Just because you do not focus on presenting the familiar aspects of the tarot, does not make your work in any way invalid.

Realistically, I expect you might like to find a comfortable point of balance between these two aspects, and work toward reaching it.

I hope you find my comments useful.

Again, I think this is refreshing, fantastic work, and I eagerly look forward to watching your progress.

Good Luck!

Best,
OnePotato

LolitaPenguin
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Hello again everyone,

I am currently working on making the hybrid deck better (and making proper cards with arcanas names etc).

Aside the hybrid deck, I am making minimalist decks (still only with the major arcana) and see if they can be used for reading. I am attempting to question the limits of what a tarot card is.
Anyways I post here a link to one that I finished today, I am also planning on making a explanatory booklet to go with the cards but so far I would prefer you to see them as they are and see if it is possible to work out the system.

http://lolitadopesodiogo.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/another-tarot-of-colours/

(the last image is the back of the cards)

Thank you again for your time I will also post this as a new thread.

Lolita

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I am also working on typographic tarots, below is a link to the first one I finished (I am only talking about choosing the words).

http://lolitadopesodiogo.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/allegories/

If anyone could have a quick look and tell me what they think it would be much appreciated. The words that I chose are only my own personal view of the cards and I will be more than happy if anyone wants to discuss them.

thanks again

OnePotato
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It might be interesting to do a third variation that combines the colors and the type.
(And a forth that adds in the hybrid animals?)

While each of your 3 decks is a separate concept, they can all be combined because they share the same underlying structure.
Individually, they struggle to make the structure apparent to the viewer.
But when combined, is the traditional tarot structure better revealed?

Reverse-deconstruction.


I like this!

Last edited on Fri Apr 29th, 2011 03:27 pm by OnePotato

LolitaPenguin
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I was thinking of mixing them up when finished, I already started with other works in progress.

I think the colour deck and the typographic one are more like a toolbox rather than really usable cards. I think they also question the importance of interpretation on tarot.

Thanks for your positive feedback, as usual I will keep you updated.

AdamMcLean
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Of course, a Typographic Tarot has already been created

http://www.tarotpaedia.com/wiki/Tarocchi_Metaforici

nexus7
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I would like to get a more professional-looking version of my cards up and runing and recently have discovered a site that is forpeoplewho want to make card games. But tarot is one of the options mentioned.

Especially as I have published my book on my Pack at Blurb, I would like a more calssy-looking packon offer than the colpour photocopies I usually do on demand. Does anypne have any experience of the card-making site I am on about?

LolitaPenguin
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Hi nexus7, are you looking for a manufacturer to print your cards?

nexus7
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Yes!

Though I am not ruling out the card-making website option yet either.

Maybe I will have to get a little bit more pocket money saved up before I splash out, but yes, I do. Especially now Ihave done the book. Incidentally, feedback on that would be greatly appreciated, I poseted elsewhwere on that. I may tidy up one or two things there too, add a couple of picutes, but I am just so glad to find my thesis a home....


http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2150388

LolitaPenguin
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well, what I found so far is that there are apparently 3 companies in UK (I dont know where you live) that have the technology to produce proper cards.

one is Richard Edward : http://www.richard-edward.com/print.html
but they dont run for less than 500 decks

there is this as well http://www.gamesandprint.co.uk/gpcards.htm but it seems quite expensive, I asked for a quote and to print twice 5 different games on poker size cards it would have cost me £360. So I guess this company is good if you have lot to print.

Finally ivory graphics can print as little as one deck http://www.ivorygraphics.co.uk/playing-cards.asp
but the size is not flexible and a bit tiny (58x88mm).

Then there are companies in the US that are quite cheap but the shipping is outrageously expensive (about £200).

Somebody told me about a printer he knew that was really cheap, £3/deck with a minimum of 25 decks but I asked for the contact and haven't heard back yet.

I hope this helps

nexus7
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Thank you Lolita Penguin!

I am based in Budapest. There is a company called ÉdesvÍz that publishes packs here, so then I woud have to writer up all the lables inmy dack into Hungarian. That is what someone who is srot of working with me as anagent suggests anyway.

nexus7
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I shall probably investigate gamesandprint.....

LolitaPenguin
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Hello everyone,
I have done a new version of the hybrid cards, this time with a booklet etc.

here is the link to see it:

http://lolitadopesodiogo.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/hybrids-2/

Let me know any comments you might have.

Thank you, I hope you enjoy it

nexus7
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Your cards look quite sophisticated I think Lolita Penguin.

debra
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I like them, Lolita, and the redesigned cards especially

:ok

  I can't read the descriptions (it's either my eyes or my inability to figure out how to make the lettering larger)


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hi everyone

Thanks for your posotive feedback.

I'll be exhibiting my cards for my degree show. That's in London this week:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=176174345771155


Best

debra
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Congratulations!

:ok:hp:ok

forkissima
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After checking the final version of your cards, I still fail to recognise why these cards  would be a tarot (or good art for that matter, I'm sorry to say). Here's a link to a tarot that uses minimalistic, very powerful images which express the archetypes very well:

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/tarot/art_tarot08.html


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