The “Jack of Clubs” – for the #Hull52

So I was asked as part of the Hull52 project to produce one of the cards for the set.

I was allocated the Jack of Clubs. Which is cool, I was happy to get a picture card… but what to do with it?

I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it at first, and toyed around with a bunch of ideas,

…and did my usual research schtick, reading up on the history and symbolism of the cards and its tarot equivalents… which led me all the way back to the dualist, double headed imagery that we usually see on the picture cards of a typical deck, though I knew (after looking at the various Tarot representations – Princess/Knave etc.) that I wanted to make one half male and one half female.

Perhaps with one half dark and one half light, representing the good luck/creative and bad luck/destructive aspects of the tarot interpretations.

That mix of destructive symbolism and creative endeavour put me in mind of imagery such as the tower of Babel, add to that the imagery of the characters holding a living sapling instead of a wand or club.

The shields and other elements of the dress of the two characters would also reflect some of the medieval symbolism that was eventually brought into the tarot imagery, such as the white stag (above) and the ants that would eventually parade around the “reverse” aspect’s shield.

Likewise, the imagery of the rose and the salamander on the shield of the “upright” aspect.

With the (still quite loose) pencils complete, the next stage was hitting in with the inks.

The decorative style I ended up adopting (using a mix of drawing pens and brushpen) came out of my love of the work of Sergio Toppi‘s amazing comic book art, which I felt had a link to the surreal sweeping art of the painted tarot cards of Marguerite Frieda Harris, which was also at the back of my mind.

Ever start something and then regret it, laughs… I’d spent a lot of time of late trying to simplify my inking style, going for something much more economical in order to hit a higher page count… this was a step back to a more baroque approach.

The tower in this aspect (with the princess) needed to look like a positive project, a place to climb, for seekers of light and enlightenment… the floating islands and the miniature shrines there on attempting to convey an otherworldly spiritual journey.

By the time I’d got this far I think I knew it was going to be okay.

..and that was that, now to flip the image and work on the other half.

Here we go again…

The stoic look of the princess is here replaced by the laughing knave, I tried to give him the typical triple panelled feathered cap of a regular playing card jack, adding the tarot symbolism elsewhere, the stag on the shield, the (Wyrmwood-like) comet, and the aforementioned ants…

Plus there was that branch, here being broken, whilst he doesn’t notice…

Finally that reflection of the serene tower of creative and spiritual endeavour, here in turmoir and destruction, the towers falling figures mirrored by the falling leaves of the destroyed sapling, also a shadow of The Tower card from the tarot.

…A ship is caught in the chaos, a journey cut short by bad luck, or misadventure brought about by a lack of care or responsibility.

And there you have it… with just a little of what I was thinking whilst I pulled that image together.

Finally, after sending the work off to Adam and the gang at Hull52, it was great to have Domanic Li take the line work and add his own thing to THIS making it one of our first collab’s. Check out his stuff, Top work.


~ by hesir on March 31, 2017.

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