Make me an Empress!

Little Baron

This is a kind of strange thread I am posting here ... so I am going to try and explain this as best as I can.

I have mentioned before once or twice, that aside from working with the tarot, I study at university in London. I am studying menswear fashion design and am just about to go into my final year.

Since it is the summer, I have a three or so month holiday and have been set a summer brief. To be presented in any way, I have to be able to illustrate to me tutors and in the crit when I return, what me 'design identity' is.

I have been thinking since I came back to my parents and have tried to come up with an idea about how I was going to do this. I am sure some people will do photographic shoots and others will make videos. Some people will make clothes and document their design process,

Yesterday, after a heavy night on the tiles, I sat in a coffee shop with a fellow student and friend for two hours and we talked about our proposals. I thought that talking to somebody else in the same boat may help. Our conversations flitted from one conversation to another and ended up resting on the tarot. I had bought a few books while out shopping the day before and he was interested to find out a little bit about the art, since he knew little to nothing about the cards and was integued.
After a while, he asked me 'Why don't you combine the two and create a beautiful deck which highlights all of the 'feelings', fabrics, personality that you feel is the essense of your design identity.

In a recent tutorial with my tutors, they had suggested that I use myself as a subject for future projects becaused they said that I was visually interesting. I know that I am not beautiful in a conventional sense but I am slim and have always had an interest in image (not just my own). In their early stages of development, I wonder if I could create this deck photographically and with the help of notes and imagery used via the computer, and present something that as well as being interesting to tarotists, would have a fashionable slant to it. I like the way in which Rohrig adds his preliminary notes to his cars and wonder whether my thoughts, designs and relevant fabrics could take form in this way; showing what textures, lines, colours,feelings, expressions and emotions of 'The Fool', for example, would be like as clothing on my body. Would the Empress comprise of thick wool garments, maybe with recycled fabrics from old baby blankets? If I was the Emporer, would I take on harsh order through thick close cut pinstripe? Right now, I don't know.

Why am I writing this? You are probably asking the same question! I think I just wanted to sound the idea out to my new-found friends on this board to see if it was a good idea. Secondly, since I would use myself as the subject, I was wondering if anybody had any ideas about how I could interpret more feminine cards such as The Empress. Before anyone suggests it, drag is not a possibility!

I hope someone has some interesting ideas because I think this could be a stimulating vision if handled well. Unfortunately, unlike most tarot artists, I have two months left to complete this project and not five years. With this in mind, maybe I will not be too ambitious and will start with the idea of doing just the major arcana.

Warm regards to you all



Yaboot, do you have to appear in each image?

You could possibly have a woman dressed as you would picture Empress, with you somewhere in the picture "in relation" to her. An immediate image came to me of you and Empress sitting on a park bench in beautiful gardens for example. Maybe she could be a Mother, holding or nursing a baby.

With High Priestess, maybe you could have yourself alongside the Mona Lisa.

You can do wonders with Photoshop these days and perhaps you could include yourself in these images in other ways. Perhaps you could have a vague image of yourself standing behind Empress or Justice, representing yourself as a male acting out the Empress role. Another way of doing this could be to simply picture yourself in some tradionally nurturing role - say Dad in the park with the kids or Dad getting dinner for the kids - and call it Empress. Now that would be challenging :)

It's a wonderful idea to represent how a male might enact the feminine archetype. You could also use the theme of your own tarot journey and appear in each picture with your visualization of the archetype.


Since you can (eventually) change whatever you do first, I suggest that you use mannequins for your first photos. They have the advantage that they hold still for as long as it takes you to decide what fabrics you want to use and how you want them draped. Then add photos of yourself - as background, in most cases - and blend them in behind the mannequins as subtly as possible. This lets you, and the viewer, focus on the fabric and design primarily while still allowing you to play with a Tarot "theme"


yes. why not make her a mother in a maternity dress, with soft, light, feminine fabrics? :) that is, if you're not the one portraying her. LOL. :D

Major Tom

Moongold said:
It's a wonderful idea to represent how a male might enact the feminine archetype. You could also use the theme of your own tarot journey and appear in each picture with your visualization of the archetype.

I wholeheartedly agree with Moongold on this. :)

Here's my suggestion:

Both men and women have the ability to embody both the male and female archtypes. We all have the ability to embody all the archtypes - for a time, certainly long enough to take a photo. :laugh: One could even say it is by our concious selection to protray a particular archtype at a particular moment that we demonstrate our mastery. ;)

The Empress' most basic qualities are fertility, creativity and production. Although men are unable to give birth, they are still able to embody these qualities.

Why not a photo of yourself doing something fertily creative and productive? Drawing designs perhaps?


what an interesting project this could be. Fabrics, accessories, make up etc. i love dressing up and find that magazine pictures and advertising shots speak to me - and a tarot deck with a similar feel would be great.

the empress would be an ideal opportunity for you to do a maternity design. The sun could be a child. the devil - pvc fetish. the star - something irredescent.

you could use the fabric choices for the majors - then perhaps colour scheme the pips. eg wands/ fire would be red hot and spicy. cups/water blues.

im sure you will have loads of ideas soon to play around with and choose from. you would proberbly make a bit of money selling what ever costumes you make too.


ps - i did a year course at LCF in 1995. i am interested - what is your course called??

Little Baron

Thanks everyone

Some really good ideas that I hadn't considered. I especially like the idea of using dress dummies or even shop ones (if I could get hold of any).

I am studing BA Fashion design at Middlesex.

Once I have absorbed all of these ideas, I will post again and let you know how things are going. I have got in touch with a few old friends that are photographers so their creative input may also throw some new ideas into the cooking pot.

Thanks for your help.

Best wishes



Only just seen this thread as I'm not here that often anymore, but don't worry about a big mannequin ... go to a good art shop and buy one of the small, wooden, poseable sketching mannaquins, and do it small scale.

Good luck


If it's mannequins you're considering, you don't need to think only of storewindow dummies or poseable wooden artist figures :: why not try toys? A quick stop in a Toys R Us will show you that the GI Joe-style dolls are quite a bit more realistic. They come in a range of colors, and both sexes. Also, being toy-sized, it would be easier to pose, light and shoot one of those than some big clunky mannequin.

Maybe the world is ready for the Toy Tarot...