Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The Hermit β€” Tarot of the Absurd

[I have been in NY City for a few days. I had a wonderful time. I am now re-united with my computer and scanner.]


Artist: Jessica Shanahan


I love this image. You can click on it to make it bigger and see each individual hair in the Hermit’s beard.


This is how I make my pictures:


I spend anywhere from a few days to a few years trying to figure out what a card means to me.


I rack my brain for ideas on how to represent the meaning of the card using lovely curved lines and zero colors and two dimensions.


I draw a sketch in pencil on a piece of scrap paper. Again, this can take a very long time.


I scan the sketch into my computer and import it in Adobe Illustrator to use as a template for a vector graphics illustration.


I place points on the apexes of curves and pull vectors that approximate my hand-drawn curves. This takes one day or many, depending on the complexity of the image and how many times I edit it before it approaches completion.


Because one of my goals is to have as few points as possible, I go through a prolonged period of removing points that I have placed. I use no pre-formed β€œshapes” (squares, circles, stars, etc.) and, with few exceptions (see the hanged man), I do not cut&paste or re-use any of the images I have drawn. I am obsessive. However, my images are drawn by a human (me) and I want them to look that way. Another goal of mine is to reproduce the feeling of pen&ink.


Each image goes through a lengthy editing periodβ€” from a few days (rarely) to a few years (way too often)β€” before I say β€œenough!” and call it done. Many of the pictures have changed substantially since I began the deck. My style has become more refined and detailed. That is what happens when a project takes so long.


Because the pictures are drawn in vector graphics, the originals can be blown up infinitely large without losing definition. There are no pixels. Often times, when I am drawing an eyeball, it will take up my entire computer screen. That is how close I work.


The purpose of this blog is to gain a better understanding of the cards
that I might better be able to explain the images in my deck
and someday write a little book.

3 Responses

  1. cassandra022 says:

    quite interesting to hear about your process. love this hermit card, seriously love it :]

  2. Balakirev says:

    Love what I’ve seen of your deck, period. Very stylish, an amusing touch, good points made. And not slavishly following Waite. Hope you will complete it–well, without needing to restart it again, since the whole thing is really on a spiraling chain of life. If you get it published, I’ll buy it.

  3. I love black and white decks Jessica and really like this one. I also like illustrative decks rather than painted ones, perhaps because they are so rare, and your art is very eye catching.

    What a neat take on The Hermit. The whole deck looks wonderful to use.

    I hope you get a publisher for this or can self-publish in some way.

Leave a Reply