Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Photo original
The Urban Tarot Deck is an illustration series that is nearly 10 years in the making. It is about magic, truth and the city.
Created by

Robin Scott

346 backers pledged $33,595 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

Photos

D6faecf353a7b0b6451774d4ef885a4e original
E0cbfa2aff5554d8ee44208ec10eb3ed original
836d0402d53b230587b73a53e38774ac original
37c33c6758bc0a62d7faa92f250fa7c6 original
972ec88c1f4a220744868f7f4c0c29e7 original
50fe21d5ecce2dc510c21580dfc5ee63 original
C5cf1114084229dd791074ae8540bb1c original

Laziness or whatever, I guess...

7 likes

Hi tarot people,

I want to thank everyone who contributed to the Daughters of Mercury project last month. Thanks to people like you, the project was fully funded, and I'm looking forward to being a model, a few months down the line.

And so we come to the 74th card,

The Eight of Cups: Indolence

After the initial honeymoon phase we saw in the first three cards in the suit, the relationship story told in the Cups has suffered through some difficult times. With the four, we faced the dangers of getting too comfortable and stale. In the five, we dealt with betrayal and disappointment. Although the six brought us once more to pure joy, the seven immediately found itself overindulging in that pleasure, and becoming corrupted by it. With the eight, we see perhaps the ultimate threat to any relationship: when someone simply stops caring enough to make it work.

The Eight of Cups: Indolence
The Eight of Cups: Indolence

We all know the signs when someone has stopped putting in the effort. Maybe they are waiting to be dumped, because they don't have the courage to leave. Maybe they're just killing time at their job, waiting to be fired because they haven't the motivation to quit. There is a siren call, which we have all heard at one time or another, that tells you to give up, stay home, phone it in and just stop giving a crap. Goodness knows I've answered that call more than I'd like to admit.

This card represents a toxic morass of procrastination, distraction, depression and sloth; a ever-deepening pit that we dig for ourselves. The longer we stay in it, the harder it becomes to climb out again. It takes the strength of will that allows us to speak honest, painful truths, and the emotional courage we sometimes need to stand up and simply walk away. 

Ah, but perhaps that can wait another day, right? There's this show I've been meaning to see...

I had been imagining this card originally as being set at the desk of some anonymous cubicle farm, where a lazy employee was drinking on the job and playing solitaire rather than working. But I decided to get a little more personal with it, and depict my own workstation, and put my own self-recriminations for laziness right up on the screen. One big blank rectangle in Photoshop - the empty canvas is a scary thing for any artist to contemplate. It's funny how much work indolence took to capture though; there's a lot going on in this composition, and I went back and forth on a lot of the details over the last week before I was happy with it. I certainly had some fun making little creatures out of office supplies and building pyramids out of shot glasses though. Seemed odd at the time to think that what I was doing was actually work.

I'm already well into the next card, the Nine of Cups, so I'm hoping to show that to you soon. Grey skies are gonna clear up...

Can I buy you a drink?

3 likes

Before I get to talking about my latest card (#73 of 78 for those keeping count...) I want to briefly direct your attention to a different art series that's currently looking for funding on Kickstarter.

My good friend and artistic colleague Janet Bruesselbach (whom you may recognize as my own Princess of Wands) has envisioned a series of full-scale oil portraits of transgender women that she calls The Daughters of Mercury. The project seeks to portray trans women's bodies as the women themselves want to be seen, which is something that the public is so rarely exposed to. I think the project is artistically really important, and a great deal of the funding will go directly to the models - some of whom are living currently under some incredibly difficult conditions, and could really use that support. 

I should also mention that in addition to being a proud backer of the project, I'm also delighted to be included as one of the planned models. If I had the extra $8k on hand, I'd pay for the original painting of me in a heartbeat, but since I can't, I'm counting on folk like you to support the project, so I will at least get to see the masterpiece that Janet plans to create based on me. There's only a short time left to back the project, and although there has been a lot of interest already, it still has a ways yet to go before it reaches it's goal. So go right now, show your support, then share it around!

The Knight of Cups: The Seducer

A dynamic mix of opposites, the Knight of Cups is the fire in the suit of water; he is the avatar of passion and action in the realm of love and emotion. His watery side makes him sensitive, romantic, and creative. At the same time, his fiery essence can make him aggressive when he is aroused, and drives him to constantly seek new romantic adventures. The Seducer is attractive and friendly and falls in love easily, but there is a dangerous unpredictability about him. His sudden passion may burn hotly in one moment, and then be just as quickly submerged and snuffed out in the next. One would be well advised to be cautious - while his compassion and warmth may be genuine, they may also run no deeper than reflected candlelight, flickering on the surface of a pond.

The Knight of Cups: The Seducer
The Knight of Cups: The Seducer

You may recall I posted the reference photos for this card back in June of 2012, when I had Mr. Alessandro La Porta pose for me, along with my lovely wife Amy. I have since changed the intended subtitle of the card since, although not wholly inappropriate in this context, the term "Pick Up Artist" has come to be associated with an extremely toxic, sexist culture that I'd just as soon not pay direct homage to in my work.

Just five more to go...

What happened last night?

3 likes

This was a fun, raunchy card to do. Does an image count as unsafe for work if there are representations of tiny plastic dongs in it?

 

The Seven of Cups: Debauch 

 Aleister Crowley had some choice words about Debauchery in the Book of Thoth. “This is one of the worst ideas that one can have;” he explains. “Its mode is poison, its goal madness.” Considering the exciting life Crowley was reported to have enjoyed, I’m suspecting that his unusual clarity regarding this card may come from some personal experiences with the dangers of excess. The Thoth version of the card that Lady Frieda Harris painted for him depicts a set of cups overflowing with some sort of horrible green slime, floating above a lake of the same. Pamela Colman Smith’s version of the card takes a slightly different angle, showing seven cups overflowing with strange and enticing wonders: jewels, a mountain castle, a laurel wreath. But among them there are also more ominous symbols: a snake, a dragon, a mysterious veiled figure, an almost-hidden skull. 

The Seven of Cups, as depicted in the Thoth and Rider Waite tarot decks
The Seven of Cups, as depicted in the Thoth and Rider Waite tarot decks

In all the Sevens, we see what happens when energies in the pure and perfect Six becomes unbalanced and corrupted. The Seven of Cups speaks to us of the powerful, sometimes irresistible allure of false and fleeting pleasure -- glittering and exciting, but ultimately self-destructive. We seek fun and escape in drugs, alcohol, sexual adventure, but those thrills do not last, and when they are pursued as ends in themselves, they lead only to destruction. Does that mean it’s not okay to enjoy a reckless night of hedonism now and again? Certainly not if you’re asking me; I like to think of myself as generally quite debauchery-positive, in the appropriate times and places. But the temptation to indulge in ever-greater and ever more risky excesses can be deeply seductive. 

This card warns us against the impulse that tells us to throw everything away for a blissful moment that gains us nothing of real value, while slowly destroying us from within. This card cautions us to beware a drive that is ultimately suicidal, which leads us into a terrible and all-too-common trap. If you’re someone whose life has never been personally affected by the dangers of substance abuse, you should count yourself among the lucky few. 

The Seven of Cups: Debauch
The Seven of Cups: Debauch

 I envisioned a wild bachelorette party for this card, or rather the last painful dregs of a party that has already gone on a bit longer than was really wise. A dazzling series of tempting, fruity frozen drinks stand above a table littered with the castoffs of a drunken night that nobody will recall too clearly. In the Six of Cups, we saw Pleasure that was healthy and life-affirming. Here we see that same pursuit of pleasure become corrupt trough blind over-reaching, leading to an inevitable downward spiral of regret and pain. 

Reference photo for the Seven of Cups
Reference photo for the Seven of Cups

 I had a lot of fun setting up the reference photos for this shot, trying to artfully dump some condensed cream of mushroom soup around our coffee table, then putting out a few cigarettes into the muck. Generally making an unappealing mess, that my wife could barely stand to look at, not to mention smell. I was quick to clean up of course, once I’d taken the photos I needed.  

An Update About Me

15 Comments
16 likes

For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

Fashioning Dreams

4 likes

Hello again, Urban Tarot supporters. It's been a little while since we've spoken, but it seems like a great deal of life has happened in the intervening time. 

I feel inclined to apologize for the long break since the last update, and to provide some kind of explanation for what I've been up to. But the truth is, the last few months have been such a monumental storm of major life changes and emotional upheavals, I've just been in no state to really focus on my art. It's been difficult, and while there's still a lot going on in my world right now, I'm finally getting back to a place where I'm ready to work again. So instead of coming back with an apology for things I cannot expect to control, I'll instead come back with gratitude and with a renewed commitment - thank you all so much for sticking with me and with this project. It wouldn't exist without you. This deck continues to be my first priority and primary focus, and whatever delays life sends my way, it will get done. And soon -  only 7 more cards still to go...

The Princess of Cups: The Costume Designer

Having one foot in the dreamy world of Water, and one on the solid surface of Earth, the Princess of Cups has the power to crystallize the stuff of imagination into beautiful reality. A kind and gentle dreamer, the Princess embraces the most positive aspects of the element of Water and then uses them to fuel her creativity. She is a lover of romance, of wonder, and of grand stories. 

The Princess of Cups: The Costume Designer
The Princess of Cups: The Costume Designer

There is, of course, a danger in becoming too wrapped up in the world of dreams. Lacking the clarity of Air or the passion of Fire, The Princess needs to keep herself grounded to the real world, or she might find herself trapped in a castle in the sky built of her own imaginings.

I want to thank backer Susan Goodell for both modeling for this card, and providing the primary inspiration for its direction. When I initially interviewed Susan back at the beginning of this project, she told me about how much she loves Broadway shows, and how she plans every trip she makes to New York around which shows she can get tickets to see. It occurred to me that, if we could describe New York as having a dream life, its dreams play out each night on the theatre stages of the city. I decided that I wanted my Princess of Cups to have a role in building those dreams, so I imagined her as a costume designer, helping to transform imaginary characters into reality through their clothing. 

I imagined my Princess working out of a tiny, basement level studio, crowded with materials and bits of inspiration, right in the heart of the theatre district. In reality, her surroundings are meager, but in her imagination transforms it into center stage. The costume she has just completed will soon glitter under a spotlight, playing a part in a fairy tale that is retold before a new audience every night.

Happily Ever After

One of the many exciting developments of the last few months was the birth of my roommates' healthy baby daughter. Little Amelia Rose is just six weeks old now, and we're delighted to have her around. Shortly before the big day, I took the happy moms out for a quick photo shoot. Jennifer and Sarah will be the primary figures for my 10 of Cups, coming up soon. Here's a quick preview of what's in store for that card.

Jennifer and Sarah Salenger
Jennifer and Sarah Salenger