artists experience


two semesters ago, as part of a computer graphics project, i began creation of a tarot deck i had been threatening my friends with for years. of the 5 cards i completed for the assignment, i considered 3 of them "finished": the star, the fool, and the tower (in that order).

the order is very important... through the experience of making each card, i felt as though the process was reflecting the character of that particular card. i.e. the star (a card i've always felt connected with) was a pleasure, the fool quite simple but profound, and the tower- well, i guess the tower is the punchline. while working on the tower, i had no less than 3 computer crashes, losing my data and starting over again.

finished with the assignment, i stopped there, and figured i would get back to finish the rest of the deck as time permitted. i should have heeded the lesson from the tower, though. i lost my original zipdisk with all the files, and wouldn't ya know it, no backup copy... start over again. thanks for playing.

which is fine with me, i have printouts to work from and better ideas this time anyhow. right now i am working on the high priestess, and researching her led me to this forum. my question (oh yeah, there was a question behind all of this!) is this:

which do you think is more appropriate, to work on the major arcana from the perspective of the fool's journey, in order, so that they may refer back sequentially? or to do them in the order that reflects experiences in the artist's life?

also, have any of you artists felt as though the card you were working on was affecting you outside of the studio? (for example, there has been a theme of initiations and secrets in several arenas of my life since i began work on the highpriestess.)

is your life informing the work, or the work informing your life?



Gonesavage - do 'em in whatever order works for you. I think I started with the Ace of Cups, mostly because I figured it would be a simple design (and I knew I would be going back at the end and changing a lot of things, so let it be the simple ones that got the most changes!).

The tendency to avoid, I think, is doing the cards you like best first. When you're looking at 78 separate pieces of artwork, you need to know that some of the fun ones are still to come, so pick an order that saves some of the best 'til last.

I hadn't gotten any particular connective life experiences while I was working on my deck - possibly because I've been reading for over 30 years and most of them have come up strongly before, but possibly because I was thinking in terms of artwork, rather than readings or meanings, while I was doing them.


Every self-drawn picture can pull a story

to mind and will bring up emotive associations--which I believe why the belief in "sympathetic magic" came into being. I think it was an archeology introduction when I first heard the term.

So I do believe when someone is engaged in writing or drawing or 'discussing' a theme (studying, meditating, examining in any shape or form, including dreaming) with their mind/others, they've a heightened awareness of the association. Perhaps if you had three computer crashes during the Lovers card, the associations might have been "it's all for love" and that the number three is half of the number six, so you were half-way through your learning to complete the card. That's a silly example on my part---I believe when you focus on a design, your attention and awareness is more easily in tuned to things that would work with the design.

I review the design of the card that I am working on or few cards that I do at a time (for instance, Temperance and the Star are a natural pairing for me and I like to echo the colors and associations). Sometimes in my edit, I flow to the next card, because the design element that I edit or eliminate would work better with that personal association with another card.

At least, that is my conscious examination of my process. I hope you are enjoying your project and have fun as well.

Mari H.

Little Baron

For the deck I am working on as part of my college brief, I work on the image and things start coming together. If you have seen my other thread (regarding Jack), that was originally going to become the Fool card. However, Jack didn't seem to feel that way today and as he was getting dressed, I could see it was the Magician coming into play. Now that I have gone that far, I will produce that card. Does that make sense?



I've gone a few ways on that question: whether to be led by my likes and dislikes on which card to work on next, or to work by intuition (being 'told' which image needs addressed next, or to simply proceed by a prearranged plan.

I think it really works out according to which kind of artist you are. I don't think it's a question of there being a right or wrong way to proceed. I can easily imagine that there are as many ways of approaching the artwork on a Tarot deck as there are artists.

For myself, however, the results have been best when proceeding by a dispassionate plan. My opinion is (1 )that likes and dislikes should be disregarded, (2) that intuition works well enough, but it doesn't seem to easily and predictably make for a coherent whole, and that (3) there's puh-lenty of room for intuitive lightning strikes even when working according to the plan (whatever plan it may be).

My advice, for what it's worth, is: if you want a complete and coherent deck, figure out your overall plan and pursue it. Some will say that's unimaginative and un-Aquarian Age, but I think it works best and most efficiently that way.



I am still very new to this forum, may i just say how thrilled i am to have fumbled my way into it?




Hi - and welcome to the forum!

I agree with a lot of what's already been written here, so just to add something specific from my experience...

Because our deck is based on an actual place, the order in which we did the cards was to some extent determined by the order in which we found suitable elements. In fact, we completed The Sun first (the image was tweaked almost up to the last day, but it was essentially designed very early on). I think this was mostly because my kitchen window looked out on to the baroque sundial we used, so it was in my mind to use it from the very beginning. The statue we used for the Sun himself is from a house that I have loved for years (I was standing in front of it when I decided to live here - a few years ago now). So again, the imagery was obvious, plus I already had a sense of happiness - and stepping out into something wonderful - associated with that statue.

The final card we did was the Knight of Swords. Someone on Aeclectic (she may want to identify herself some time ;-) ) almost held my hand by email over that card. We tried to do it SO many times, and it just never felt right. I really began to think we would end up with a 77-card deck! In the end, we were going through our folders of photographs and we just found one of Duke Wallenstein as "Mars". We were amazed we'd never made the connection before - in fact the picture, and the symbolism, was perfect, but somehow we couldn't see it until very late on in the whole design process. So that card was completed very soon before we went to print and I still think it's one of the most powerful cards in the deck.

The advice I'd give you from this experience is to go with fate and chance (to at least some extent) when you are designing the cards. If a really good idea comes into your mind for a card that you in fact planned to leave for later - go with it, change your plans. On the other hand, if a card isn't "coming" to you - just put it to one side and go back to it later. Sometimes you just need to give your subconscious time to work on something - and maybe an idea will come along just by some chance association. Even the cards you have difficulty with WILL work out - and you may find they are all the better for the struggle.

Okay - hope that is useful. Lots of luck with your work - let us see the progress please.


The cards essence treads upon the artist's days in life........
YES!.....Here at the forums, some of us got together & made a deck~ 2 actually, but I was only involved in the seconed deck..
During the time that I was creating the moon, my dreams where plenty...I felt more intune that usual & one step ahead of everything ('cuz I could 'see' it). The other card I did, I did as a manifestation aid. The image I drew for the 9 of Pentacles is a scene, simular to the one I wish to live in come a few months (year or 2) My goal is the picture in the's slow but things are starting to roll.....


I also agree with much written here...
I started with the Magician, because when I started the deck, I felt that this is whom I was! and it added to the inspiration! :)

I go along, as I feel like it... sometimes, it's a reccuring card that comes up, so I feel like reading and learning about it, and then doing it...

I work on 15-20 cards at the time, and every time I get stuck, I switch...!
sometimes, I also work vertically, meaning: when i finished the Queen of Rods, and later the Q-of Swords, I got into finishing the other queens as well... now i'm into the Knights... this way, I make sure they have the same "weight", that they are more equal as knights, amongst themselves...

Regarding cards I like: if you like, DO!
later , you'll have the opportunity to "get to like", the others!

And sharing, always keeps the spirits up... It is a LOOOOOONG journey!


M-Press said:
I work on 15-20 cards at the time, and every time I get stuck, I switch...!
sometimes, I also work vertically, meaning: when i finished the Queen of Rods, and later the Q-of Swords, I got into finishing the other queens as well... now i'm into the Knights... this way, I make sure they have the same "weight", that they are more equal as knights, amongst themselves...

I'm thinking about making my own deck but so far I tend to have about the same number of cards like yourself 15-20 that I've done drawings for. Some how I work my way through this mess.