R.I.P ART BELL

art-bellIt was a really sad revelation to hear that Art Bell had passed into the great beyond. I don’t usually get too upset about celebrities passing on; after all, I don’t actually know them. Yet, when I heard about Bell passing on, I had that same sad feeling I had when Tom Petty slipped away. In the case of Petty, it was announced online that he’d died, then we found out that that news wasn’t entirely accurate and that he wasn’t dead “yet” but was close to death, and it was at that point I had really hoped he’d pull through.

With the internet as it is, and the amount of hoaxes and fake death stories (Sylvester Stallone comes to mind, and I remember Frank Stallone tweeting about how these stories upset their mother) hearing that Art Bell had passed had me hoping it was just another fake story. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

Art-Bell-TarotWhen we began creating a lot more of our Tarot decks, in particular the Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot and Twisted Tarot Tales, we used to listen to Coast to Coast reruns at night along with Midnight In The Desert.  Art Bell was such a big influence to us, that we even immortalized him into one of our UFO themed cards in the Twisted Tarot Tales. In the 8 of Wands card, Art steps out of a small trailer for a smoke in Pahrump, Nevada.

Thanks for reading!

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Chinese Propaganda Tarot PDF

chinese-tarot-artOn the 28th of January 2017 we officially released the Winter Chinese Propaganda Deck and have complete the free downloadable printable PDF that goes along with it.

It would be easy to simply throw together a PDF, it’s not hard, but I like to have them coloured nicely along with various imagery from the cards. It takes a little bit longer to produce, but I think it’s worth it.

All being well we’ll eventually release our Chinese Propaganda Art companion book sometime next year. Most of it was written over 2 years ago, but it’s ended up being one of those projects that takes a bit of a back seat.

The Chinese Propaganda Art companion book goes into the some of the ideas behind the imagery, which is probably a bit of an added bonus with this kind of imagery since it deals with a whole other culture and time period.

In the meantime enjoy our free PDF printout. Even if you don’t have either the original Propaganda Art Tarot or the Year of Rooster Edition (winter edition), you may find it useful for aiding in the readings of other decks.

TAROT PORTRAITS

tarot-portraits_origPortraiture has been around since ancient Egypt and possibly even beyond. From statues of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten to coins depicting Julius Caesar, portraiture has been around for thousands of years.

Traditionally it was only those in power or who had great wealth that could commission portraits. The royals all have their portraits, along with the U.S Presidents.

Before the invention of canvas painting, which seems to have been introduced king-charlesaround the 13th century, most portraits came in the form of great monuments and statues that were erected to honour kings and leaders throughout history. The Sumerians had their cylinder seals with their depictions of Enki and the other “Annunaki”. The Mayans created, among other great works, the depiction of Pacal the Great on a well known sarcophagus lid in the Temple of the Inscriptions Pyramid structure in Mexico.

Regardless of what form the portrait came in; statue, or canvas, even paper, portraiture was a form of immortalising royal or political figures before the invention of photography.

While art portraiture continued on alongside photographic portraiture, it’s importance, in terms of immortalizing the figure, waned. Yet despite photography mainly succeeding the hand painted / drawn aspect of portraiture, traditionally painted and drawn portraits are still carried on today, probably more through a sense of keeping tradition.

Did you know that from George Washington onwards, U.S Presidents have traditionally had their official portraits painted? There’s a colorful history behind the portraits too. President Washington’s portrait, it is said, was rescued by First Lady Dolley Madison when the White House was set on fire by the British in 1812.

obama-portrait_origTheodore Roosevelt hated his portrait so much that he had it painted a second time; this time by one John Singer Sargent. He felt the original looked too tame and he wanted something a bit more masculine.

Bill Clinton’s portrait was the first of it’s kind to be painted by an Africa American artist; Simmie Knox. Barack Obama was the very first U.S President to have his photo taken digitally. He’s also the first to have 3D portraits taken of himself.

Yet while photography, and now video, have, for the most part, replaced the hand produced “immortalisation” technique of portraiture, hand drawn portraits have stood the test of time. What’s more. You don’t have to be the next president or born into royalty to afford a great portrait.

For those of you in the Tarot world, I have begun to once again take commissions for portraits. While it’s probably one of the more time consuming services that an artist might offer, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. (We’re currently offering portraits around 60 dollars) . I understand that to some that seems like a low price (when compared to other artists) but I’m also aware of the current economical climate.

One of the most important aspects in portraiture, both for the artist and for the “sitter”, is whether the finished pieces actually look like the figures. Take the Queen of England for example. There are some really great portraits of her, but there are also some which are a bit….well, not the most flattering. That’s why I feel it’s important to see a few examples of portraits I’ve already worked on.

First up is my partner Christine.

portraitexample1Based on photos of Christine before I met her in “real life”, here are a few portraits there were created from her photos. There were quite a few changes made to blend in with a fantasy theme, but I like to think the likeness is still there. The arm movements were changed since in the portrait I have placed her on a throne hewn from stone amidst a garden. With the angle her head is tilted at, I felt it was important to add a hand below her chin slightly to make the final image look more natural.

The next image of Christine was created with a slight Japanese theme. The portraitexample2_origbackground was inspired by the famous banzai flag, not for any political motive, but it was a design that I liked visually.

Christine’s grandmother and mother come from Japan originally, and Christine herself has a lot of interest in asian culture so the theme seemed fitting.

Here’s a few more faces you might recognise below!

If interested in a great portrait of your own, please see our Tarot Portraits services

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5 Things You SHOULD Do To Sell Your Art Online.

Like my earlier article, entitled “5 things you shouldn’t do to sell your art online“, I speak from the perspective of being an artist in the Tarot community, but I think you may be able to take something away from it regardless of which art community you find yourself in.

1, Check Your Mental Attitude

Most artists I’ve encountered feel downtrodden because their art is not selling, not even enough to pay the rent or the groceries. Above all things though one must remain positive and be prepared to learn how to sell your work. Without learning how to sell your work, you’re like a potato farmer in a world of potato growers. You’ve produced great potatoes but who cares when i have literally tonnes of them to pick from? Sell me them! Tell me why your potato is better than your competitor? When the world is falling down around you, learn to push through it and continue on creating great work. Only those who keep going will finally make it but you must learn the art of selling your wares…

Book_Images2, Read lots of Sales Books

Being an artist is only half the battle. Sadly creating great artwork is probably the least important aspect when it comes to selling the work although of course that helps too.

How many times have you heard an amazing band playing amazing music and are stunned to find that not only do they not have a record deal, but hardly anyone has heard of them? Probably a lot. I know i have. In fact sometimes it annoys me. To be honest it annoys me more when you hear a local band who has been trying to get their music out there for years yet have no online presence in the “Internet age”. No business card, no website, no songs on Youtube. They appear to want to be found yet they’re hiding so how does that work?

Then you then go on to be equally stunned when you hear the latest offense upon the ears that passes for popular music and you see that not only are they signed by a big label, but they are highly sought after by the populace. “Surely the populace can’t be that beaten down that they think this is amazing music can they?” you ask yourself. Of course not.

Often what you’re experiencing is the power of hype and most of the time creating hype is rather costly. Big companies can afford to create the hype but more than likely you’re an artist like me who is concerned with paying the rent and don’t have the money for huge commercials. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking that every deck you see out there which appears to be highly sought after is a result of it being a brilliant deck because often that is not the case. Rather, hype is very often manufactured and a lot of money changes hands (I am a newcomer to this sad state of affairs and was shocked to hear a lot of what went on behind the scenes)

In other words your art doesn’t necessarily have to be amazing to sell it, because we’ve seen many mediocre decks being produced that do not have anything special about them, but they are highly sought after and fetch big money and big publicity because of them being powered by hype. Selling a product is only a mystery until you learn the secrets of how sales work. That being said, not everyone knows how to fully utilize these sales strategies. Some may apply to you and some may not.

That being said you also want to put your very best work out there because people deserve your best and if you are an honest person like me, you would not feel fulfilled by putting out mediocre rubbish.

I really feel that I can say we have achieved a lot of attention for our Twisted Tarot Tales through a grass-roots approach. We aren’t paying anyone to write any good reports, or paying for publicity. We’ve worked at it the old-fashioned way and you can too. It doesn’t guarantee success instantly but I like to think our success, even if it takes a little longer, has more of an enduring appeal.

boasting-800x4003, Boast like you’ve never boasted before

This has been a very hard one for me. I was taught not to be boastful as a child, and all through school I was taught the same thing. Don’t be boastful as no one likes a boastful person. This mixed with religious teachings about how wrong it is for man to boast about his own creations, along with a society (at least it would seem in Northern Ireland anyway) that doesn’t like overly boastful people has made me very wary about taking credit for anything that has worked for me, anything that has done well.

Unfortunately sales are all about boasting about an object’s qualities, and in art the objects are either the artist himself/herself or the artworks. To boast of these qualities, you need to find unique differences over the competition (and let’s be serious, your fellow creators are the competition even if they like to pretend they are not). If you’ve ever been backstabbed, shunned or have seen fellow creators attempt to sabotage or undermine your work, please don’t fool yourself into thinking they are anything other than competitors. Some will suggest that there’s “room enough for us all” in such a very niche industry, all the while trying to turn your successful “campaign” into a train wreck. Keep your wits about you, boast of your qualities and never show weakness. If you show weakness, expect to be taken advantage of.

land-defence_foreground4, Defend Your Work To The Death

Your artwork is YOU. It represents you as a person; it represents your achievements, your skills, and your knowledge and so on. If someone takes issue with your work, it is your responsibility to stand up for it. Answer questions respectfully but be aware of when these are not questions but underhanded attacks. It’s your job to make sure the next person who wants to derail you will think twice about it unless there is a really good reason to find issue with you.

More than likely, if you create a kick ass outstanding work of art (or several) and you gain a following, you WILL find opposition, but don’t let them get away with lying about you or trying to ban your work.  People will suggest you take the high road when this happens but the high road is congested by well-meaning people. That and some of these people need challenged simply because they are not expecting to be challenged. Over the past year I’ve become known for creating controversial art yet I feel it’s not that the art itself is necessarily controversial; rather all it takes is one big shot to feel offended by a cartoon and if you are not on it and handling it, it can potentially grow out of control. It’s your job to make sure that these people are called out if they are being hypocrites or are being troublemakers for the sake of causing trouble.

5, Create Your Best Work

Not that it has to be mentioned, but the most important thing in the end is to create great work because let’s face it, if you are like us, you would not want fame or fortune if you yourself felt that you were producing mediocre art. You’d still feel like a fraud. Rather, your own worst critic should be yourself. If your work is good enough for you, in the end that’s all that really matters, though let’s hope you are financially rewarded too 😉