Monday, August 19th, 2013

Empress — Tarot of the Absurd

A few people have asked me what’s up with the crazy hat on the Empress. The Empress is an early card, one of the first ones I illustrated. This was, like, 14 years ago, back when I was still experimenting with which medium I’d draw the deck in, and I didn’t even know there were more than 22 important cards. Anyhow, the truth is, I just like drawing fancy hats on silhouettes.

 

My love of fancy hats stems from early childhood. Did you ever read the “I Can Read” book “Go Dog, Go!” ? There’s this one lady dog who keeps asking a guy dog, “Do you like my hat?” and he keeps saying, “I do not.” Until the end, when her hat is so fancy, and he says, “I do I do! I like that hat!” Or something to that extent. I haven’t read the book in 30 years or so, but it’s a classic. And then there’s the book “Mother, Mother I Feel Sick, Send for the Doctor, Quick Quick, Quick” which was highly influential in my illustration style and not without a fancy hat (Have you seen my hat?), and of course there were Arthur Rackham’s elegant silhouetted hats, and “The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins,” all of which I found delightful. My artistic influences did not stretch much beyond what I saw in children’s book illustration. In the end, this keeps the deck light-hearted and fun.

 

But about the Empress’ hat, really, I was just putting fancy hats and crazy hair on people. Most of the fancy hats disappeared and the crazy hair became quite tame. The Kings, the last cards to be illustrated, do not have a hair out of place. The Empress kept her crazy hat and her children kept their crazy hair. It’s a very important hat.

Empress

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