"A year of hard work."
How I did it: So one night I was sitting around doodling and my boyfriend suggested I try doodling on the 'xenofetish tarot' idea he'd had a while back. I did - and it very shortly lost the perv angle.
Within a couple days I'd roughed out all of the Major Arcana, and I wanted to color them. But I knew that if I started that I'd have to go on to the rest of the deck - Major-only decks feel like a cop-out to me. I pondered this for a while and decided I wanted to do this, and started coloring the Majors.
I bought a couple books and dug into the references I could find on-line, and started on drawing the Minors. Pretty soon I'd done almost all of the Majors and had decided on my framework for the Minors; I began drawing and coloring them in no particular order.
Then, with about 1/4 of the whole deck done, I talked to a local gallery about exhibiting. I had two things in my head as possible exhibition themes - the deck, and another series of pictures. I chose the deck. And then I had a deadline. I made the agreement in February; the exhibition would be in August. Minus a month for printing and framing.
I frittered away a month or two; another month was lost to a family emergency. But mostly, it became my full-time job; I was finishing a card about every three days.
I still have a few extra cards to do, I still need to take it around to publishers - but the traditional 78 cards and a few extras were done in time to completely fill up the gallery for my first show. I even sold about 10% of the prints.
It's done enough for now, done enough to et me get back to my other projects...
Lessons & tips: Know your medium. I used Adobe Illustrator, which has been my main medium for seven years; I never had to stop and think about how to achieve something. I just did it.
Gather reference - the more the better. Having different takes on the structures behind the intended meaning of the cards let me put together a deck that reflected my worldview.
Don't think you have to do them in any particular order. I started by pencilling the Majors in order, but the Fool wasn't the first card I finished coloring. I skipped around in the Minors, I ended up doing all the Courts in a bunch at the very end because I had trouble deciding how to handle them... and the last two cards I did were the High Priestess and the High Priest, despite having done the rest of the Majors at the beginning of the project.
If a sketch doesn't work, throw it out and start from the text again. I threw out several perfectly good drawings because they simply didn't convey the message they were supposed to, and the deck is stronger for it.
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