egypturnash's avatar

not for divination purposes

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By egypturnash   |   
Published: October 6, 2007
© 2007 - 2020 egypturnash
Sketchbook compilation: my take on the twenty-two major arcana of the Tarot.

The closer a card is to the standard Rider-Waite imagery, the more likely it is to be replaced, if I color these.

Edit, much later: Hmm. All but six out of these twenty made it into the finished deck. Not too bad.
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Comments18
anonymous's avatar
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minkee's avatar
I have to say, I have no idea what's being said in half these comments! Nontheless, I really love these sketches - I mean, the final pieces are wonderful, of course - but there's something I can really relate to here! I suppose it's because I can see you going through the same processes as I do.

What I'm trying to say is, I still think you're excellent!
egypturnash's avatar
egypturnashProfessional Digital Artist
Inhaling a rough outline of about 500 years of mis-interpretation and "repair" and outright lies is not necessary to enjoy these Tarot pieces. It might not have even been a requirement for making 'em, but one thing just kinda lead to another.

Thanks!
blue-fusion's avatar
saw this in aeclectic. really nice deco edge to it.
Ztoical's avatar
ZtoicalProfessional Filmographer
these are really great, i hope you colour them
egypturnash's avatar
egypturnashProfessional Digital Artist
I need to decide on an appropriately simple manner of coloring, what with having a major comics project also going on. Sigh. I've toyed with doing a Tarot series for decades; why does my unconscious give me one NOW when I'm working on a 150+ page graphic novel?
Ztoical's avatar
ZtoicalProfessional Filmographer
inspiration always hits when you least expect lol I started working on a tarot deck a while back but worked out it was going to take me over a year to finish it to the level I wanted so I put it on hold for a while until i get that idea/theme/whatever that I'm total inspired by. I like how you did rough but very clear designs for all the major acana here so theres a clear theme across all the cards and I don't think there's a rush to colour. I feel the colour choice and medium might take a while to pick............personnal I'd make them all etchings but then I've a once track mind that way lol
egypturnash's avatar
egypturnashProfessional Digital Artist
My easy reflexive medium is Illustrator. I knocked two of them out in as many days. *grin* These are quick easy pieces - it's the comic that's being done hyper-detailed.
J-Blacksoot's avatar
This is really interesting. I've had aspirations to design my own tarot, but I wore myself out just thinking about it. I'll stick with my tattered old Thoth deck.

Your too right about the copycat decks out there. I'd love to see a tarot set designed by 72 different artists with 72 different styles.
egypturnash's avatar
egypturnashProfessional Digital Artist
I've thought about doing this kind of thing every few years for the past couple decades. Each time I would, I'd do the research from different angles. The sticking point has always been that even if you take Crowley's angle of only doing complicated pictures for the Major Arcana and the Court cards, it's still a ton of work. Although, having drawn these, and having doodled out something for the Aces last night, there's 'only' sixteen images left if I take Crowley's route. (And 'taking Crowley's route' is never an appealing prospect to me.)

(I've always vaguely wondered if he chose that because of some Complicated Mystical Reason, because he only had so much money to give to the artist who actually painted the thing, or because he did it before the artist who drew the Waite deck created a pretty picture for every card. I can't remember that particular chronology offhand.)

I have a strong suspicion that a group Tarot project would end up mostly being direct compositional/symbolic swipes from the Waite versions, with most of the rest being direct swipes from the favorite deck of the card's artist.
J-Blacksoot's avatar
Frankly, I can't wait to see some of those finished designs.

History:
Lady Frieda Harris was the artist who painted the deck based on Crowley's extremely detailed, and sometimes furiously frustrating instructions. Every color, every line, loop, and swirl has a specific meaning based on the personality of each particular card and further based on the kabbalistic tree of life, Egyptian dogma, Chinese I-Ching, Alchemical symbolism, the keys of King Solomon, and infinitly more. Even the minor arcana are designed with this detail in mind. In total, it took five years to complete the deck. She did the work for free. The deck was finished 1943. The Waite deck is about 30 years older than that.

It's a shame that many choose to swipe from the Waite deck. In my opinion, it's a mediocre design at best. I'm still saving up for the Vertigo deck, designed by Dave McKean. [link]
egypturnash's avatar
egypturnashProfessional Digital Artist
Whenever I read descriptions of that working relationship it just sounds like the textbook description of the Nightmare Commission. Of course, if she was a dedicated mystic herself, the story reads differently.

The Smith/Waite deck has become the iconic image of Tarot. If you don't do any primary research of your own, it's where you end up; most people's first encounters with Tarot are probably with the Smith/Waite deck, or with images derived from it. Its popularity may well be linked to the simplicity of its images - it was far easier and cheaper to reproduce than something like the paintings of the Harris/Crowley deck, and the Meaningful Details jump out at you more quickly due to the simplicity of approach.
J-Blacksoot's avatar
Nightmare commission or divine inspiration? Most stories, even those by Harris herself, lean toward the latter.

I agree about the appeal of simplicity. Technically, a simple pack of playing cards can replace all but the trumps. A deck like that is easier to reproduce, but far harder to visualize all the facets of personality, at least that's how it is for my micro-mind. :) On the human foible scale, neither deck is better or worse than the other, merely different versions of the same map.
Athelind's avatar
Magnificent. We need a Posthuman Tarot.

I love the Fool LEAPING off the precipice.

I love the symmetry of Empress and Emperor.

You KNOW I love the Asteroid Spider as Fortune.

The Hanged Man is very Rider-Waite, but I hope you don't change it much if you take this project further. The cocoon imagery is perfect; it enhances the transformational aspects of the card's traditional meaning, while tying it firmly into the themes resonating through the rest of this deck.
egypturnash's avatar
egypturnashProfessional Digital Artist
The Hanged Man is built on the frame of the familiar imagery, but I feel like I went a completely different place with it. That one's definitely staying; the ones likely to be replaced are the Heirophant (who needs to mirror the High Priestess), Strength, and the Tower (which are just boring, uninspired takes on Waite).

I guess it sort of is a Posthuman Tarot. That theme runs through a lot of my art, even when I'm not explicitly pushing it; it's the way Ithink!

I just need to figure out how to find the time to do the furshlugginer thing.
JRHogg's avatar
It's a bit wrong of me, but I see Harley Quinn in more than one of these.

Great though, and I'd love to see these colored. Uh, no pressure or anything. This (the tarot) would be a good project for any artist, I think.
egypturnash's avatar
egypturnashProfessional Digital Artist
There's Fool imagery woven through several, and I borrowed liberally from Timm's motley-writ-large design.

The tarot is a tempting project, but it's harder than it looks. Seventy-two images, if you do it all. That's a ton of work. Especially if you try to do a more personal version than 'I blindly copied the Rider-Waite imagery except I swapped out lightbulbs for the people, to make the Lightbulb Tarot'.

And I got a comic to work on. Well, something to do when I'm stuck for motivation on the comic, I guess.
egypturnash's avatar
egypturnashProfessional Digital Artist
Thanks! n.n
anonymous's avatar
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