If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been toiling away for months now at my first original deck, the Spirit Vertigo Tarot. It’s nutty enough for an illustrator to take on one tarot deck, but two at a time is bananas, and frankly, not something I’d planned.
How long has this been going on, and why am I doing this?
The Black Ink tarot flowed so naturally from the Spirit Vertigo project that I couldn’t ignore it. While drawing the Spirit Vertigo majors, I couldn’t shake the thought of working on a smaller scale and cutting down to simpler forms with minimal details. In December, I finally let myself doodle out some compositions at the size of a standard, printed tarot card. I was surprised by how many images I got, and what a nice change of pace it was to work smaller and quicker.
Because the Black Ink style is small and spare, it’s much faster to work on, so I felt okay about taking on both decks at once. In three months, I’ve finalized all the major cards and begun sketching the minors. I’ve bumped it ahead of the Spirit Vertigo deck for two reasons: I can finish it faster, and the simpler images will work perfectly to illustrate new tarot spreads, both on the blog, and in an ebook I’m putting together. That said, I’m still chipping away at the big deck, and I’ll still have updates every couple weeks or so on that. The two decks are playing off each other so well from my end. Each gives me ideas for the other, and each can do things the other can’t. Here’s a side by side comparison of the techniques, specs, and goals I have for each deck:
Black Ink Tarot
Started: December 2015
Projected Finish: By August 2016
Medium: Pen and ink, digital media.
Color: White on black, with option to DIY color in.
Technique: 1-1” Scale. Stark and minimal.
Format: Full bleed. Full standard size or mini-size options possible. May release as a print-at-home digital download.
Titles: Numbers, but no titles on cards. LWB includes traditional titles, and alternative gender-neutral titles.
Suits: Matchsticks, Drops, Arrows, and Gems.
Symbolism: Loosely based on Rider-Waite-Smith system. Mostly North American (particularly New England) flora & fauna. Influenced by antique printer’s ornaments and Yankee folk art.
Inclusivity: Blank-canvas. Non-figurative. 100% Genderless. Minimal hierarchy. Just don’t ask me what I’m doing for the courts yet!
Spirit Vertigo Tarot
Started: July 2015
Projected Finish: By July 2017
Medium: Pen and ink, digital media.
Color: Black line-work on white. Grayscale.
Technique: 1-2” Scale. Tons of textures and tiny details.
Format: Bordered. Final border TBD
Titles: Traditional titles on cards. Final font TBD. LWB includes traditional titles, and alternative gender-neutral titles.
Suits: Traditional. Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles.
Symbolism: Loosely based on Rider-Waite-Smith system. Mostly North American (particularly New England) flora & fauna. Plays with macro vs. micro, and upper-world vs. underworld. Lots of stars. Lots of dirt.
Inclusivity: Diversity within a traditional tarot structure (includes hierarchical courts). Large cast of characters of different races, genders, gender presentations, ages, and body-types. Characters with multiple and ambiguous identities. Some non-figurative cards. Some cards ambiguous due to lighting and scale.
I hope you like what I have so far! I would love to see both these decks published in some form or another. If you’re interested in the Black Ink Tarot, I need your input. Would you like to see this deck released as a mini-size, print-at-home digital download? Or a full-size deck, crowd-funded, self-published, and pro-printed on matte card-stock? Both? Let me know in the comments! And if you love it, please take a minute to share this post with someone you know who might love it, too. If I get enough interest, we could make it happen within the year.