The Hermit

2015 watercolor and pen

I conceived the basic concepts of what would become my Hermit illustration long before I began the tarot project. I assume the Hermit is an immediately identifiable aspect of each person, not so much mired in symbolism and cryptic mythology as so many of the other cards. We've all felt the pull of self-reflection, the loneliness of quarantine, the self-preservation in exile. I felt it quite a bit in my youth but I attached a melodramatic importance to it.

Often when I'd feel a teenage romance was unrequited, I'd reach a point of acceptance and then a strange sort of sexless arrogance, like I was some earthbound angel or spaceman meant to only appreciate the beauties of the human race from afar but never to actually touch it.

I feel like a lot of teenagers rationalize rejection in similar ways to keep from looking in the mirror and feeling the naked accusation that they just aren't good enough in someone else's standards. But as I'd imagine myself walking isolated shores on distant planets, a lone cold figure in a sprawling glittering universe of wonders, I felt special for not being chosen. 


As I got older I would experience a similar feeling, though far less valiant, in times of deep overwhelm. When daily life avalanched around me, I wanted to pull leaves, bushes, grass and twigs over myself like a blanket, hiding from boogie man banks and the looming haunted house of adult responsibilities. In my adult life, when faced with romantic rejections or responsibilities I didn't want to accept, I found myself identifying with bog men.

Bog men, darling National Geographic centerfolds, are people whose corpses were mummified by the peaty swamps, preserved in a mixture of water and earth matter. I no longer saw myself as the charming angel or sexless alien but as the insulated bog man, a decaying wonder preserved by the natural world against the rotting laws of men. I would close my eyes and imagine sinking into hundreds of years of hibernation in that cool, all-encompassing mud. 


I explored themes of isolation in a more romantic aspect of my life as I began to write lyrics for music. In the early 2000s, I flirted with the idea of calling my band (which had more names than songs) Mannequin On Moon, the symbol for isolation in its purest form. Imagining a mute, plastic motionless effigy on the moon's surface encapsulated the romantic feelings of isolation I harbored.

I'd even fantasize about myself on a space station, visible to the voyeuristic eyes of planet earth through a one way camera. I'd leave video messages to earth updating the world on my life on the moon but I'd never hear a word back. Eventually, the moon seemed too populated in my head and the concept of the mannequin on the moon became Mannequin On Mars, a much colder atmosphere.

My illustration of the Hermit depicts this beacon of pure isolation, the plastic Mannequin on Mars. She is positioned with one hand pointing down to the concealed, potentially prehistoric bog man astronaut beneath the Martian soil. Her other hand points skyward to the stars somewhere beyond the cocoon of red sky. This speaks of the optimistic focus of the Hermit, almost a blind faith in the greatness beyond the world seen with our eyes.

This is paralleled in the hermit's catatonic eyes - his right eye lights up with the clearly visible star that the mannequin points to beyond the red skies. The mannequin serves to further divorce the prehistoric astronaut from human connection, instead offering painted-on eyes, cold plastic skin, synthetic hair, and a half-hearted gesture of anatomy. 

The traditional Hermit depicts a gray old man while my hermit is actually a prehistoric time travelling astronaut, literally frozen in a catatonic trance. Of course my hermit needed to be an astronaut to continue my romance with feelings of isolation and my honoring of the heroic qualities offered in those times in our life when we are lucky enough to get to know ourselves.

I believe that this astronaut is beneath the Martian soil voluntarily. The space is less his tomb and more his womb, evidenced by his fetal position. Eventually, my hermit will reach the understanding that he needs and his story will continue beyond the confines of the red soil. But it is through silence and self-imposed isolation that the hermit learns the valuable lessons he needs to continue on his path.

To further indicate this, I depicted the hermit with bare feet, easing his connection to the source. He is plugged directly into the matter around him though he remains disconnected from the world that we know. Such achievements are similarly possibly through quiet meditation and self-reflection. 

The clocks in the borders simply reinforce a common theme of the Hermit card: the passage of time. Likewise, the astronaut helmets in the borders are supportive of the theme of isolation.


The Moon

My rendition of the Moon card grows from a happy coincidence, if you believe in coincidences. I had been wanting to do an illustration based on a dream that I had when I was in my early teens about a girl I simply referred to as the Lunar Witch.

The Lunar Witch was a strangely powerful figure in my dreamscapes, especially considering she was not part of a recurring dream but only visited me once. I awoke from the dream with an intense, burning passion for her which was confusing at that age as her actions in the dreams undoubtedly painted her as a villainous girl.

But despite her sinister actions, she showed a love for me that commanded my passions and I found myself blinded to her crimes, instead swooning at her mysterious beauty. Somewhere in Florida, I have a dream journal that tells the full detailed story of the Lunar Witch and all the ways she made my heart hurt so gloriously but for today I only have faded memories of the dream to draw connections to the Moon card.

From what little I can recall of the dream, I was waiting for a bus in the backyard of the home in which I grew up in Southwest Florida, in the darkness of the early morning. A glowing white fog was rolling in over the darkness soon illuminated by the hazy glow of the headlights of an ivory bus. The bus seemed to have been built from the bones of ancient creatures and was punctuated by futuristic round black windows that hid the passengers from sight.

I believe there may have been some controversy as to who was actually allowed to board the bus and a lot of this was orchestrated by a controlling force on the bus, a seductive girl from outer space who practiced black magic. I didn't approve of her actions that, at the very least, treated people unfairly but at the worst may have endangered their lives.

There was the sense in the dream that I knew the Lunar Witch well and that we were well known to be romantically involved despite our moral differences. When I'd voice disapproval of her villainous plans, she'd laugh me off as naive but regard it as cute. While she saw my attempts to dissuade her from evil as ridiculous, she also found it charming.

And though I recognized the deep darkness in her actions, her elitist acceptance of me seduced me. I felt special that someone as dark and lovely as the Lunar Witch found value in me and her rejection of the rest of humanity made her love so much more intoxicating. As I sat in the interior of the bus soon to depart for the moon, I kissed the Lunar Witch and felt the darkness in her cold lips that made my heart flutter. 


So how does the dream of the Lunar Witch parallel the messages of the Moon card? The Lunar Witch was as mysterious as she was powerful. The mechanics she'd set in motion in the dream always remained hidden from me but at face value exhibited supervillainous levels of ambition.

Though she seemed to be only a teenager herself, she already exhibited an advanced knowledge of magical arts but again her history with magic was unclear as was her strong connection to the moon. Her propensity for dark deeds also alludes, in fragment, to the moon's symbol as the unconscious manifested in an erratic, uncontrollable manner.

Though she was, for lack of a better term, my girlfriend in this dream, the Lunar Witch was wild and unrestrained and her love for me never tempered her teenage tyranny. The lunar bus itself stood as a artifact of the unknown in motion.

The driver was never revealed, the windows were opaque, and it appeared with the spectral smoothness of a ghost on clouds of fog that obscured visibility. Also, the Moon card often signifies a connection between the conscious and unconscious world and who better to usher in such a concept than a girl from my dreams who instilled in me a terrible pain of longing upon waking. 

There are further connections to the tarot's symbolism of the Moon and the Lunar Witch that, again, were not preconceived. Her body suit of pearl silk is reminiscent of a cocoon which obviously points to the change that so often accompanies stepping forward into the unknown. When I was trying to put together a Batcave goth band in Florida in the early 2000s, I'd contemplated dressing up as my rendition of the somnambulist Cesar in the classic silent German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

My rendition of Cesar was to wear a white bandage body stocking similar in appearance to that of the otherworldly clothing the Lunar Witch wore when she appeared to me in my dream many years before. Again, this draws parallels to dreams as Cesar committed all of his crimes in a state of sleepwalking. Also, the Lunar Witch is depicted looking back over her shoulder, leading us into the unknown with the finger-to-mouth gesture of secrecy. Like the moon, half of her face is illuminated while the other half is in shadow. 

Typically, the Moon card features some sort of crustacean rising from the waters to indicate an ignored or repressed fear but I chose an animal I relate to more on a personal level in the gharial. Gharials are large, intimidating crocodiles with narrow snouts and needle-like teeth. But unlike most species of crocodiles, gharials are rarely dangerous to humans as their mouths are equipped for dealing with fish.

Since the gharial doesn't devour humans, it represents a baseless fear in the context of this card. The gharial's head is emerging from the black, murky waters of the river Styx where memories are lost. In this case, the gharial is a memory of unfounded fear that is re-emerging for potential confrontation although we can rest assured that its appearance is far more fearsome than its actions. 

The lunar bus is entering between two towers constructed from the fossilized remains of a variety of creatures. These towers represent illusions of security as they are built from bones, nature's biological structural supports. Yet, these are the bones of ancient animals who died due to unhealthy attachments to perishing worlds.

The towers stand as reminders of the casualties of an old world and cautions those of us who refuse to change. These creatures that relied on the security of old ways now decorate the gates to the land of the dead with their fossilized remains. The unobscured totem presents three dire wolf skulls in tribute to Cerberus, the three-headed canine guardian of the underworld. The dire wolves also reference pure natural lunacy in the wolf's attachment to the moon.

This too echoes a connection to the primal energy that permeates the shadows of the Moon card. Again, the movement of the bus between these markers symbolizes movement between the conscious and unconscious worlds. 

Finally, the borders of the card depict the cycles of the moon as well as keyholes that remind us of the locked doors of mystery. The locked door may seem cruel but this is another message to the Moon card; a sense of waiting as the mysteries beyond us work their magic.

In my dream, the lunar bus never departed. Though I boarded it, we continued waiting and there was never an explanation for this. But rather than try to figure it out, I lost myself in the moment with the Lunar Witch, kissing her icy lips while I patiently waited for the mystery to unfold. 


Pentacles, Oz, and Economics

NOTE: Since the illustrations in this particular post are not complete yet, color prints aren't available in the store but should be soon. In the meantime, you can always ease on down the Yellowbrick Road and share some of that gold by buying prints of my other work!


You may not know it by looking at the site but I've actually been very busy with my Tarot series. While I have the Moon and Strength cards completed and waiting in the wings to share with you, I thought I'd take the opportunity of Jupiter going forward tomorrow (good for money) to share the early stirrings of my take on the Pentacles suit.

These are really rough shots I snapped just moments ago, not even straightened up in Photoshop because I don't want to spend too much time detracting from the creation process just yet. Eventually, I'll have some nice black-and-white as well as color shots of these cards to share but this is more of just a raw glimpse at what's been going on in the Seth Styles studio. 


When I first showed these to some close friends, they mentioned that they had a very Wizard of Oz vibe to them. Surprisingly, this was unintentional though I totally see it. We've got a dark mystic from outer space bringing to life scarecrow agricultural workers to augment an already toiling force of robot farmhands. I love The Wizard of Oz so I'm not going to say a subconscious influence isn't possible.

However, I think that L. Frank Baum and I may have just been drinking from the same cup. The Pentacles Suit is all about economic flow and eventual prosperity and abundance. Numerous articles have been written explaining theories of how L. Frank Baum's writing is actually a fairy tale on economics. Here's a great one from The Money Masters that summarizes several theories:

When these cards are finished and looking a bit prettier, I'll delve into all of my own symbolism and how it ties into this particular facet of the tarot. In the meantime, here's wishing you wealth, fortune, prosperity, and abundance as Jupiter finally comes out of retrograde!

The Knight of Pentacles

Money and wealth have been both glamorized and demonized in Western society so much that it is often hard to get a clear concept of abundance and how one relates to it. This was a huge struggle for me even before I began work on the Knight of Pentacles. I'd been meditating on money for years, trying to deprogram myself so that I could accept without guilt.

I've loved money but not as much as I've feared a lack of money and even in moments of financial security (and outright excess when compared to the majority of the world), I'd feared poverty to a point that could easily be considered an addiction to fear. My efforts to overcome my flaws found me thinking about wealth often, sometimes with faith, other times with terror. And so the Knight of Pentacles has become a very important figure in my mythology, often appearing to me in meditations. 


As with any knight card, the Knight of Pentacles deals with movement but specifically in matters of work and money. It's common to find descriptions of the Knight of Pentacles as a simple. humble, yet patient character, bonded to nature and content with plodding through the menial tasks and tedious hard work to get his rewards.

Admittedly, my Knight of Pentacles is quite different than his predecessors, but this has a lot to do with my own metaphysical beliefs. I can translate a facet of these beliefs most simply into the concept that working hard is not necessarily better than working smart. My Knight of Pentacles can be seen as humble as much as glamorous, he is tied to nature quite strongly, and his ingenuity and gift for strategy gain him prosperity and abundance. 

I've always assumed my Knight of Pentacles would wear red primarily. When doing chakra meditations, I often concentrated on images of red money and red tribal warriors brandishing sharpened red blades when working on my base (red) chakra. These tribal warriors evolved into masked beings that could only be described as red ninjas, protecting their clan.

Anyone who has done chakra work will know that the base chakra incorporates matters of stability (which often translates to financial stability in my mind) and tribal/familial/societal/cultural beliefs. Therefore, the color red was heavily incorporated into my concept of the Knight of Pentacles. Likewise, green is often the color of abundance, prosperity, and in American culture, money.

Therefore, the color green was used liberally throughout my illustration. Even the green candles are simply an allusion to a popular component of spells for money. Gold was also incorporated for its obvious correlation with wealth. 

I depicted the Knight of Pentacles as a samurai and this was one of those lovely intuitive flourishes that came from somewhere beyond my conscious mind. If I were to try to make sense of divine inspiration, I'd assume that my Knight of Pentacles uses a lot more tactic and strategy than the other knights in my tarot as economic matters often require thought and, at times, stealth.

When I say stealth, I am referring to pure skill and thinking on one's feet as opposed to any sort of dishonorable activity. Like the mythic samurai, my Knight of Pentacles serves with honor, fully aware that there is enough abundance in the world for all. He simply loves money and uses his mind to acquire it. A samurai often served as a warrior for the noble class, again linking my Knight of Pentacles to wealth. 

What may be less obvious about my Knight of Pentacles is that he is actually a scarecrow. If you look beyond the golden mask, you can see the blank burlap sack that covers his gourd head, falling down into a moth-eaten cape. Scarecrows are tasked with watching over the land and protecting the abundance. Within this context, it makes perfect sense that my Knight of Pentacles would be a samurai scarecrow.

But the Pentacles Suite is also tied to the element of earth just as the scarecrow is born of the land, like an earth golem made of gourd, straw, and dust. The farmer finds value in waste, using manure to fertilize the land. So too is this scarecrow a protector made from waste, a golem conjured from the earth to protect the earth. The waste becomes assimilated into the prosperity.

As a scarecrow, the Knight of Pentacles can be seen still mounted upon his wooden cross. This is simply further reinforcement of the concept of stability that can come through the work of the Knight of Pentacles and therefore a balancing of the base chakra. Though the Knight of Pentacles wears some traditional samurai armor, he is not as ensconced in armor as the other knights in my tarot deck. This again goes back to his tact and strategy.

His body is made of enchanted straw so traditional attacks pass through him. In this natural simplicity, he finds an advantage. Strategy over brute force often brings this knight his rewards. Most incarnations of the Knight of Pentacles depict him with a pentacle coin in his hand. It may not be obvious due to the amount of detail, but the knight is rolling his coin across the twig fingers of his left hand. This again reinforces his tendency for strategy, walking the coin as a distraction while he blocks using the golden kitana in his right hand. 

The harvest moon rises above an orchard of pomegranate trees in the background. The golden harvest moon references abundance in that it signals the opportune time for collection of the crops; the point when the work, ideas, and strategies come to fruition. I really wanted to use pomegranates as the crop that the knight stood over.

I later read that the Ancient Egyptians regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. The knight is skewering a pomegranate with his golden kitana, spilling the seeds in a symbolic gesture for further abundance to come. The hilt of the kitana offers another blade showing the abundance of resources at the knight's disposal. Golden diamonds accentuate the hilt as an obvious nod to riches and wealth. 

The scarecrow that is the Knight of Pentacles wears a golden youth face mask with decadent baroque curls. It represents the beauty and youth that prosperity offers. The samurai helmet extends into a set of horns vaguely alluding to the bull (Taurus, an earth sign) and a golden leaf crowning the helmet as a reminder of the knight's bond with the natural world. 

The Knight of Pentacles' steed is a horse of pure gold with golden pentacle coins entwined in its fancy curls. Vines, representative of the abundance of nature (and, again, the knight's ties to this), cling to the proud golden horse. It bares a coin slot indicating a willingness to receive abundance.  


The Knight of Cups

The image of the Knight of Cups came to me several months ago albeit he looked pretty different. Originally, the colors for the piece would have been predominately gold and blue with the knight himself being a cyborg composed of golden machinery, tubes of water, and tanks of sea life. The main shift in colors was one of the few times when I've allowed thought to trump feeling and it surprisingly worked in my favor.

I doubt I'd be nearly as happy with the outcome of the Knight of Cups had I gone with my first idea. Of course, the first idea was almost a reflex to a concept that was yet to be fully formed. The Knight of Cups is about movement forward in romance, art, and higher goals of the heart in general. In order to properly express these themes, I needed colors that set the mood. Since the Cups are representative of the element of water, I designed the Knight of Cups standing before the sea (or more likely rising from it).

Around the time that it came to color the illustration, I had been listening to a lot of new romantic groups like Duran Duran, Kajagoogoo, and Fashion. The song I was most listening to by Fashion, "You Only Left Your Picture", was used in a season 1 episode of Miami Vice and I somehow found myself looking at promo shots from the show. One shot featured a moody and gorgeous twilight sky reflected in a Miami bay and I thought the look of it was perfect for the mood I wanted to achieve.

The watercolor offered a bit of a challenge in mimicking what I saw in the Miami Vice promo photo, but I was still ecstatic over the results. At its heart, the image in the Knight of Cups of the twilit sea beneath the melodramatic sky perfectly represented the emotion I wanted in this card. I don't need to spell out that making an octopus-headed entity seem romantic has its hurdles. 


While almost all of my illustrations have built-in allusions, references, and symbols, my tarot illustrations obviously demand a lot more symbolism. Luckily, ideas for symbolism typically come to me a lot more quickly when doing tarot illustrations probably because of the tarot's built-in universal symbols.

Often the Cups refer to the Holy Grail which itself is often considered a symbol of the vagina. The vagina seemed like an apt symbol to incorporate as much as possible into the Knight of Cups for obvious reasons: as a heterosexual male, successful romantic conquests for me are ultimately determined through my obtainment of "the Holy Grail."

But remember that the Knight of Cups isn't just about love and all that comes with it but also movement forward in art, often expressed as the birth of an idea. And birth comes through a vagina. So, it's not just my libido talking here.

The Knight of Cups before all of the romance...

The vaginal imagery has been worked into several points of the Knight of Cups portrait. The knight's skirt of armor is fashioned to look like a metallic tapestry of roses and vaginas giving way to eyes. Again, the knight's left shoulder is protected by armor fashioned into the shape of a vagina giving away to a sparkling eye.

The Holy Grail itself, entangled in the knight's hand with metal rose stems, features jewelled eyes above vaginas and the stem of the Holy Grail itself emerges from a metal vagina. The pairing of vaginas and eyes is an intentional theme of the Knight of Cups, stemming from the saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and "eyes are the window to the soul."

Taking the eyes as a symbol of romance, I additionally worked them into the binding of the armor on the knight's right arm (bordered by puckered lips), protecting the knight's right shoulder, and staring from the center of a rose in the handle of the knight's trident sword. Even in the border, the chalices depict an eye crying a heart, a motif that is repeated in the detail of his belt.

There's an entire spider web effect of symbols happening here. Eyelids look like vaginas which look like puckered lips which look like eyelids. Romance exudes from eyes, it exudes from puckered lips, and it exudes from vaginas. Also, the Holy Grail is said to have collected the blood of Jesus Christ.

In the Knight of Cups illustration, a subtle red glow in the centre of the cups may allude to blood just as the hearts (full of blood) drip from crying eyes. Likewise, vaginas (Holy Grail) menstruate. Perhaps I'm lost in the incestuousness of my own symbolism but the connections seemed too strong to ignore. 

This may be considered a rather primal perspective of love and romance but there are plenty of allusions to less biologically-based symbols of passion. The pink candles standing proudly from their cup bases are a reference to the color of candles traditionally used in love spells.

Roses, the flower most popularly use to express feelings of love, are engraved in the knight's chest plate armor, the knight's armored skirt, the center of his trident sword's handle, and even in the candle smoke. Of course, there is something obviously vaginal about a rose, but that association has been dulled with time.

The rune of "wunjo", often used to express joy or love, is used liberally throughout the portrait. Wunjo appears on the sides and center (solar plexus) of the knight's armored torso, on the knight's upper left arm plate, on the larger candle holder cups, on the rim of the Holy Grail, on the steed, and in the center of the eyes of the cups in the borders. The knight is even colored using primarily the colors associated with St. Valentine's Day: red, pink, lavender, and white.

But the most obvious and popular symbol of romance in this illustration is the cartoonish heart. These hearts punctuate the knight's flowing romantic scarf, the rim of the Holy Grail, the left lower arm plate, stand proudly from the armband on his left arm, accentuate the hilt of his sword, cry forth from the eyes of the border cups, and decorate the center of the serpentine starfish in the sky.

A heart plate stands out on his chest with a tube of the knight's blood protruding from it. Hearts are caught in the sticky arms of the octopus. A heart even stands as the head of love's swift arrow, piercing the knight's right forearm. 

High romance!


On a more personal level, I felt that the knight's championing of love could be lost if there was too much emphasis put on the fighter over the lover. The knight-in-shining-armor is therefore accentuated with dandyish accentuations of his romantic nature; his white gloves with passionate red trim and his flowing scarf.

His glass eye cries an emotionally charged tear of condensation. Even the qualities of war are filtered through innocent feelings of love, as seen in Cupid's piercing arrow. 

As mentioned before, the Cups are representative of the water element and therefore also emotion, intuition, sensitivity, and relationships. I also see water as the fluid world of dreams. A lot of basic water symbols were incorporated into this illustration, mostly just to reinforce the knight's connection to the water element.

Perhaps most prominent of these symbols is that the knight's steed is a seahorse with the rune of wunjo emblazoned on it. The seahorse theme carries over into the knight's stomach, an aquarium where two seahorses are kissing in romantic red lighting. The knight's head is comprised of a metallic cup and a glass dome housing an octopus.

The octopus was chosen as the brain of the Knight of Cups mostly for reasons beyond me but there's the obvious suckered grip of the octopus (love's sticky grip). You could even reference Veruca Salt's Eight Arms to Hold You album which may not make it into my Top 10 Make-Out Albums but it is noteworthy as the only other piece of art I know to romanticize an octopus.

Associating water with dreams, I wanted to incorporate a starry sky prior to deciding on a twilight scene. During that point, I came up with the idea of using starfish instead of actual celestial stars. Starfish were worked into the borders but I also used serpentine starfish as representatives of the stars in the dreamy sky. Serpentine starfish may have a less obvious star shape than the majority of their cousins but it allowed me to show them linking arms in a gesture of longing.

A trident is the weapon of choice of the god of the sea in Greek mythology (Poseidon) and Roman mythology (Neptune) so I thought it fitting that the Knight of Cups's sword be fashioned in a similar style. In addition, his weapon features fish tails as handles. 

Finally, I wanted to express the movement associated with knight cards through a concept that came to me with the initial images that came to my mind. Tubes of water protrude and surround the knight, facilitating the movement of water and, in the case of the heart plate section, blood. These water tubes stand as the initial strands of a spider web of symbolism both universal and personal that creates a picture of a charged moment of love, passion, and dreams. 


The Lovers

Choice is the main theme of the Lovers card and while that's often seen in a purely romantic context, the choices represented by this card actually stretch out much further. I tried to keep the spirit of romance in my rendition of the Lovers while at the same time hinting at the manifold choices that fall outside of relationships or, at the very least, exist as peripheral factors influencing our choices in those relationships.

Often, the story of Adam and Eve is used to convey the choices insinuated by the Lovers and though I didn't feel that particular story captured the feeling of this card for me, I did pay homage by using apples in the border to display the card number. 

The Lovers - prior to phantasy coloring

I wanted to present several choices to the space cadet in the middle so she's walking between male and female, city and country, music and sport, night and day. The girl with the tennis racket represents this sort of '60s/'70s sweet (candy necklace) yet sexual in a not-so-obvious way nostalgic teen fantasy.

She's a camp counselor in a sort of teen horror fantasy as indicated by the hockey mask on her uniform. Though she pretty much exhales the hot breath of a '70s Indian summer, I wanted her to look like she was in the same future as the space cadet, hence the futuristic tennis racket. She's meant to represent the crossroads of the seasons between summer and autumn as evidenced by the leaves.

Some people may mistake the white orbs of fluff floating around as snowflakes but they were actually inspired by the wisps of pollen in the air in the movie Legend. They're basically like whole dandelion tufts coasting on the torrid breeze. 

The Lovers in full phantasy colour


To the cadet's right we have a different side of the nostalgic coin - a '70s glam rocker in a bubbly pink and violet disco with full on Farrah Fawcett mall hair and shark's tooth necklace. This is an archetype I can connect with for reasons beyond words. His shirt, his make-up, all of it has appeared to me in visions for several years.

But I really can't explain him beyond this. The same goes for the space cadet. Perhaps it ties into some personal mythology for me; the sexually ambiguous girl from outer space with the world at her feet, the sunshine and warmth of the Indian summer girl, the nocturnal allure and plasticity of the disco glam guitarist. There is so much that this rendition of the Lovers says to me but so few words that I can think to convey the meaning. 


The Knight of Swords

The Knight of Swords came to me spontaneously amidst a lecture on the meaning of the Minor Arcana. The concept for some sort of “video tarot” appeared to me in which cards are somehow selected at random but presented as 10-second bursts of video imagery and music.

For the Knight of Swords, I saw a slowly panning shot of dead trees losing their few remaining dried leaves to violent gusts of wind in the night, lightning illuminating a twisted sculpture of metal, an indiscernible mass of razor-studded limbs, bladed helmets, and thrusting swords in a stalemate of confusion.

The Knight of Swords - pre-color

The Knight of Swords - pre-color

For the illustration of the Knight of Swords, I took the basic concept but late in the illustration, I opted out of using the dead trees and lightning because I feared they would render the illustration even more confusing than I’d intended.

Yet, when I look at it in its watercoloured conclusion, I can’t help but feel the dead trees and lightning are still there – just out of frame. I used a tornado to unite the Knight of Swords into one being because this isn’t an army of knights fighting each other; rather it’s one knight in various stages of being just as one mind has several conflicting ideas. The uses of reds and purples were to perpetuate a sense of violence that accompanies states of confusion for me personally.

The Knight of Swords in vicious color

The Knight of Swords in vicious color


All knight cards have their horses and the Knight of Swords’ horse is split, facing opposite directions, actually being pulled together and apart at the same time by barbed chains. Blades are pointed outward and inward, destructive and self-destructive, the blind desperation of confusion. I can’t say whether the metal eyes of the horse can see but the knights have no vision in their dagger-like helmets. 


The Fool

I think I fashioned myself a romantic because I grew up in a Southwest Florida suburb looking out my bedroom window and never seeing what was there but rather seeing beyond it. Every new girl I met had a mystery, every mix tape had a secret message, every sunset was really mine whether anyone else knew it or not. I was the fool. Hell, I am the fool. And like the fool, I eventually left that suburb without much of a plan.

Recently, I was asked to take part in an art show inspired by the tarot (as an aside, the show opens on July 19th, at LAST Projects Gallery in Hollywood - Not only was I honored to be joining so many artists I respect but I was also genuinely interested in the theme after having just taken a course on reading tarot specifically in the hopes of finding some inspiration for my art and writing.

As soon as I was told about this show's theme, I immediately knew I'd have to do the Fool card, one of my favorites of the deck for many reasons; chiefly because he is the romantic.

The Fool illustration pre-colorization

I had a basic understanding of the Fool card but the tarot course went much more in-depth than what I'd read in passing. But as every human has his/her own mythology, I had a lot to draw on when adhering to the symbols of my Fool while honoring the universal symbols of the card.

The Fool in all his glory


In my rendition of the Fool, he is seen, as usual, prancing toward the edge of a cliff. His eyes are hopelessly focused on a blue moon that beckons him with a grin. Originally, the clownish mask that my Fool wears (somehow inspired by Punchinello and Pinocchio) was to be his true face, but as I worked on other cards in the series, this didn't seem to make sense. Something beyond me told me the Fool is wearing a mask.

Likewise, instead of a knap sack, he's carrying a scarecrow. The scarecrow is taken directly from a dream I had as a teenager in which I was trying to impress a girl I thought I was in love with; when I was rejected, I smashed myself up against a boulder repeatedly until my spine was snapped. At this point, I became the scarecrow.

Of course, art is always up for interpretation, but when I see the mask, I see a false smile, a nose that indicates lies, possibly even forced confidence. But that confidence, as porcelain and frail as it maybe, as fake as a mask, still gives my Fool the courage to soldier onward. After all, this is his unique mask and it fits him well.

The scarecrow ties into this somewhat, providing my Fool the same comfort as a cherished stuffed animal might, despite it being a man-made effigy. The scarecrow may also represent his past foolish behaviors and possibly displaced fear over the journey (as evidenced by the scarecrow's expression). You could also see him as half of a man or a burden of some sort that my Fool has carried, like a cross, through his travels. 

The dog in my Fool card was originally supposed to be a hyena but I felt the hyena expressed too much cowardice and pack mentality when my Fool's journey is primarily his own. Instead, my dog represents a combination of intelligence, faith, and loyalty to a cause, so I created a sort of hybrid fox/wolf that is pointing the way forward.

Some may see this card as a confirmed tragedy because of the shark marauding the waters directly below the cliff, but what risk could be worth taking that wasn't the slightest bit scary? I chose a light pink color for the shark to indicate that this is actually a benign event that can look scary from afar. I have full faith that my Fool will survive his fall and make it to the island in the distance.

And what about that island? The palm trees indicate the typical paradise island setting but they surround a pink Space Mountain-like structure. This is purely a personal reference; every time I go to Disneyland, I have a huge debate on whether I will ride Space Mountain. Typically I do and it terrifies me to the point of regret.

But there's also a lot of romance assigned to this ride for me, probably owing a lot of it to that same fear. How better to describe the journey of the Fool after his initial plunge? Honestly, do we have many occurrences in our lives where we take a leap of faith and that's all that is asked of us? That's often just the introduction to the adventure.

Instead of a rose, my Fool has picked a poppy. The Wizard of Oz reference wasn't intentional, but with the poppies and the scarecrow, it's not hard to see a subconscious influence from another great fool's journey. The poppies bring sleep and dreams and the Fool is a dreamer. He offers the poppy to the moon as a romantic tribute while losing himself in his dreams.

Again, this piece will be on display on July 19th, at LAST Projects Gallery in Hollywood - You can see the Facebook event page for it here: