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The Mary Sue Interview: Sara Richard On Creating The Gorgeous New Set Of DC Tarot Cards

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At this year’s Toy Fair, DC Comics announced they would be releasing a brand-new set of Tarot cards inspired by their characters. Eisner-nominated artist Sara Richard was tasked with the deck, and we sat down to talk with her about her inspiration for the set.

jman (TMS): At this year’s Toy Fair, DC Collectibles had on display it’s new deck of Justice League Tarot cards featuring your artwork.  How did you get involved in the project?

Sara Richard: I was actually approached by DC Collectibles at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve had a table in artist alley for the last two years with my work on display and I’d met them before, but it wasn’t until this year there was a project DC felt would be right for my style. I’d always wanted to do a Tarot deck and was definitely all for it right away.

TMS: Did you have any experience with Tarot before getting involved?  Any kind of previous knowledge of the cards?  What kind of research did you do for the project?  Did you look into the meaning of the cards or the artwork that was used in prior decks for inspiration?

Richard: I’d had a Tarot deck years ago, just the beginner Rider-Waite deck, but I never really got into readings. I had them when I was a teenager so I think I just wanted something a little New-Agey to go with my book of spells for teens and all that. I’d always had an interest in the cards though, and very much drawn to sets with really different artwork. For research I got a new Rider-Waite deck (I’d lost the first set a while ago), and a couple books on simplified and in depth meanings of each card. I looked at the original cards and the blatant as well as hidden symbolism to the elements that made up each card, and you just start down a rabbit hole of meanings from there! Every source had a slightly different meaning, so I hope I found the best way to interpret a lot of these cards.

TMS: Speaking of the designs, how did the process work for the cards? Did you choose each character for each card? Where did you get the inspiration for each image? Did you have free reign in the process, or did DC Collectibles give you guidelines as to what they were looking for?

Richard: Choosing characters for each card was a joint process between myself and DC. I was really happy how open everyone was to switching around a few characters though when they turned out to not fit as well into a card’s theme or meanings. It was all a very smooth process and I feel so lucky to have worked with such cool people who had faith in my work to let me take a few risks in illustrating certain points and trying different compositions.

TMS: How long did it take you to do each image for each card? What was the size of the original artwork? What medium did you do the cards in?

Richard: Each card took a different amount of time to paint depending on complexity. But I was able to do about one to three cards a day – and late nights. Acrylic dries fast so it lends itself to quick working. That and once I’m on a roll, I’m sort of on it for a while. The major arcana cards took a bit longer thought since they were so loaded with imagery and symbolism and are the heart of a Tarot deck. All the cards were painted at 6×11″ in acrylic paint with a bit of graphite and gel pen.

TMS: The artwork on the cards has a “dreamy” kind of feel to it. How would you describe the style?

Richard: Thank you! The style I paint in is a product of my love of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. I  love the line qualities of both those styles, the organic lines of Art Nouveau and the geometric lines of Art Deco. I paint in washes of color, kind of like watercolor, but acrylic doesn’t smudge around like watercolor, so you can get these really nice transparent areas as well as chromatic opaque sections too. I also wanted to keep the cards very mystical and airy as with most of my illustrations.

TMS: Your bio says that you’re heavily influenced by the Art Deco and Art Noveau movements, as well as Sumi-e. Are there any particular artists that you would say have influenced your style?

Richard: Artists I am influenced by are Alphonse Mucha (the poster child of Art Nouveau), Tamara de Lempicka, Margaret MacDonald Macintosh, Susan Seddon-Boulet and Michael Parkes. I am also a fan of Erte, but I didn’t use too much of his influence in this project. More so in other side projects I’m working on.

TMS: Prior to this project, have you done any other work for DC Collectibles or DC Comics?

Richard: Before this I had done a few sample pieces of artwork for potential DC apparel. I also contributed some art to the DC Darkness and Light gallery show in 2012. I had always wanted to do more with them and this project was above and beyond what I could’ve hoped for. I learned a lot about characters from the DCU!

TMS: While at the DC Collectibles booth at Toy Fair, I drew the Temperance card, which features Raven, one of my favorite DC characters. According to some interpretations, the Temperance card represents Sagittarius, which is my sign. Did you plan all that ahead of time? Would you say that was fate or kismet or just plain luck of the draw?

Richard: Big Brother and I are pretty close and it was all an elaborate set up with years of planning actually. Haha! It’s funny how things work out like that!

TMS: What projects are you currently working on?

Richard: Right now I’m currently working on the subscription covers for Jem and The Holograms (IDW) and My Little Pony (IDW) covers here and there. I have a fashion design blog where I paint fashion illustrations based on pop culture, so kind of like high fashion cosplay designs. These are all collected at I just finished a variant cover for Deadpool and currently on the desk I’m painting up a variant cover for Otis Frampton’s “Oddly Normal” comic series. I’m planning on getting back to working on a kid’s book I’ve had in mind for a while and a ghost story based on the Queen Mary, one of my favorite places to visit. Coming out soon I’ve also done and eight-page story for Titan Entertainment’s “Rider’s of Berk” How To Train Your Dragon comic series. It’s been a busy year and I hope it stays that way! I have a lot I want to do!

jman is your delightfully random emissary to most things pop culturish. For even more stimulus to your cerebral cortex, check out yfnjman.comBefore you head on out of here, don’t forget to check out the latest episode of the Almost Internet Famous Internet show. This week we’re talking about the 90’s classic crossover, DC vs Marvel!

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