Friday, February 27, 2009

"The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues."

-- Elizabeth Taylor

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"You either write your own script, or you become an actor in somebody else's script."

-- John Taylor Gatto, Weapons of Mass Instruction

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A lovely photo of Candy Darling, by Kenn Duncan.

This is a 19th century English theater poster of an actress named Mrs. Stanley, portraying Ulin the demon of fire. This must be the most cheerful demon I've ever seen. She looks more inclined to invite me for tea than steal my immortal soul.

I love the skull motif on her dress; it makes me think of the Hindu goddess Kali. If Mrs. Stanley were a bit more dour or mysterious, I think she'd make an interesting, Frida Kahlo-inspired Death card.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This is an early 19th century English theater poster. The actor is Mr. Bland, in the role of the Ocean King. I think he would make a great King of Cups.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hearts are trumps today.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This is a cigarette card from Player's Cigarettes, part of a series called Gallery of Beauty. I'm not sure what historical era or culture this woman is supposed to represent, but there's an archetypal quality to this image that I find quite evocative. She would make an interesting Queen of Pentacles.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This Madame Lenormand-inspired fortune telling card is the Rider. According to NoCoolName's wonderful guide, generously posted on the Aeclectic Tarot forum, the Rider signifies transportation, sports, and agility. It can also refer to a young man.

My retro homage to this fortune telling deck features a red 1954 Oldsmobile. What better signifies transportation than an iconic image from the golden era of American automobiles? The mid-century car symbolizes mobility, status, and the freedom of the open road. The color is passionate and dynamic, and the sleek lines proclaim that this car is built for speed. That message is underscored by the racehorses in the background, which also nicely echo the Rider on horseback in the card which inspired this one. The overall look of this vintage ad is masculine, which ties in with the masculine association of the Rider.

When I came across this image of a Pan Am jet, from a timetable booklet, I thought it would be perfect for my fortune telling deck homage to the Madame Lenormand cards.

This virtual card is an updated version of the Ship. I love the way the lines help convey the idea of movement, going places, moving up in the world (literally). There's also the suggestion of adventure, setting off for the unknown. This image was from a time when air travel was still regarded as something exciting, even a bit glamorous. Just as the ship would have evoked a constellation of associations, ideas, and emotions in the mind of a person in the 19th century, so does the plane for us post-moderns. My intention in selecting a vintage graphic is to encourage a sense of the wonder about air travel, and the idea of boundlessness that it represents.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I love these fortune telling cards. Published by Carreras in the 1920's, they were included in packs of Black Cat cigarettes, along with a booklet which gave meanings for the various images. The designs are based on fortune telling cards created by Madame Lenormand.

I found a helpful guide to the cards' meanings posted by NoCoolName on the Aeclectic Tarot forum. Much of the symbolism is pretty straightforward. The house on the King of Hearts deals with the home and domestic affairs.

The ship relates to travel, commerce, and business.

The clovers represent good luck, naturally.

I think updating these cards with modern imagery would make a fun DIY project. I would be inclined to use mid-century images, in order to keep a retro kind of flavor. For the house, I would use an image of a classic, SoCal Eichler home, with its wonderful glass walls and post and beam construction. I would substitute a vintage drawing of a Pan Am jet for the ship. The use of more vintage art would be a way to honor the spirit of the originals while conjuring a more current sensibility.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some lovely Renaissance fabric.

Here's a beautiful coat of arms for Venice. Naturally it features a lion, symbol of La Serenissima's patron saint, St. Mark. She also holds a sword in one hand and scales in the other. There are elements of both Strength and the Justice cards in this striking image.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"There is more between zero and one, than between one and a hundred."

-- Claudio Baglioni, Grand' Uomo