Art Discovery! Mattias Pilhede

Art Discovery! Mattias Pilhede


Mattias Pilhede is an artist from Sweden who makes videos on YouTube. My favorites are the very sarcastic critiques of famous artists, especially Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt – I was crying with laughter from the Rembrandt one.

Pilhede has those silly videos but he also has some pretty introspective ones. He has a nice attitude about being an artist and making art, which you can see in Should I be an Artist? He also gives good advice that honors human limits – none of that “You’re not an artist unless you draw 10 hours a day” nonsense.

More links for Mattias Pilhede:

Tarot Feature: Golden Thread Tarot

Tarot Feature: Golden Thread Tarot

Photo by Benebell Wen

The design of the deck was inspired by the concept of the night, and the archetype of a single string that connected all things within the universe, threading images in a murky unknown.

Tina Gong, illustrator of the Golden Thread Tarot and founder of Labyrinthos Academy, was the focus of an episode of the Side Hustle School podcast. After listening, I immediately looked her up and was tickled to see such cute, compelling, and well-composed designs. The cardstock, which is gold foil on matte recycled plastic, also looks awesome.

Photo by Benebell Wen

Her philosophy of Tarot as a tool for self-knowledge and self-development matches my own:

We don’t believe in divination.
Tarot is your mirror.
What you read and interpret is a reflection of your own inner world.

Photo by me

Like the International Icon Tarot, this deck’s simplicity enhances the symbols and meanings of each card. The geometric style could have easily felt too modern or techy, but it just doesn’t. From a design standpoint, it’s very well done. I love Gong’s use of repeating lines and how she often breaks the rectangle frame and takes lines to the edge of the card.

LOVE the queens!

I have to say that, while I love to look at all of my featured Tarot decks, this one really touches me on a subconscious level – the designs tap deep into the basic symbols of primarily-Western cultures and hit me right away. Tina Gong, you nailed it!

How many eyes do you NEED
The Hermit
Look at the little slimes!
The Star
Notice she replaced the traditional symbols in the corners with symbols of the suits

I’m not one to download apps, but I may just download one of the free-forever Tarot apps to learn card meanings. There are three apps and they all look great, especially the Golden Thread one.

Along with the deck, I got the Map of the Universe altar cloth, which is a four-foot square silk cloth featuring the Zodiac signs, night and day, above and below, and the center. You can use the cloth for spreads, but I’m going to wear it : )


(crossposted at Ridley the Fool)

My art: Leda with Horns 2.0

My art: Leda with Horns 2.0


I thought my first version of Leda needed an extra something-something, so I added some textures and color. It took a looooong time to do the horns – I took my Color Study: Brown and sliced it up and rotated the pieces.

If you like Leda, head over to my Redbubble store to see all the products she’s on!

Art Discovery! Harry Clarke’s Creepy Edgar Allen Poe Illustrations

Art Discovery! Harry Clarke’s Creepy Edgar Allen Poe Illustrations


Just in time for Halloween, here are some super creepy illustrations for you! Illustrator and stained glass artist Harry Clarke (1889-1931) produced these incredibly-detailed images for Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, published in 1919 by George G. Harrap & Co. In 1923, the publisher released an expanded edition with color plates.

Clarke does an excellent job of representing the heavy and oppressive nature of Poe’s stories through overwhelming busy patterns, the liberal use of black, and facial expressions. He often declines to portray a literal scene, rather taking a psychologically representative approach instead.

I found these images at (which has larger images). The illustrations below are the least disturbing of the collection. If you’re sensitive to gore, horror, or the grotesque, I urge you to not visit that page, and absolutely don’t go in search of the color illustrations because they’re even worse.

I don’t know which stories most of these are from, so if you do, let me know in the comments!

Detail from the above
from “The Cask of Amontillado”
I’m going to assume “A Descent into the Maelström”

Detail from the above

My art: digitally-altered photos

My art: digitally-altered photos

I have a lot of nature photos and have uploaded some to my Redbubble store. Some are pretty amazeballs, if I do say so myself.

Epic Bee
Epic Mushroom

But not all of them are that amazeballs, so I’m jazzing up some of them with a little digital alteration. I was really inspired by how Sara Tepes uses photos for visual textures, and my favorite technique so far has been to take royalty-free photos of outer space – stars – and layer these onto the photos.

Rainbow Falls

I’m also isolating elements by making the backgrounds black and white and leaving the important parts in color.

Mushroom Friends

Look out for more this fall and winter!

Artist Profile & Quiz! Ukiyo-e Heroes

Artist Profile & Quiz! Ukiyo-e Heroes

“I Choose You”

Ukiyo-e Heroes is a fantastic and unique collaboration between illustrator and animator Jed Henry in the U.S. and Tokyo-based printer Dave Bull. This ingenious project combines Henry’s interpretations of video game and animation characters in the Ukiyo-e style with Bull’s expert traditional Japanese woodblock printing methods.

Henry, in his own words, is a “lifelong gamer, Japanophile, and all-around nerd”. What I love about Henry’s designs are that they are unmistakably Ukiyo-e. They are dynamic, make great use of line and color, depict the essence of a moment, and can even be a little grotesque-looking.

Detail from “Rickshaw Cart”
Detail from “Rickshaw Cart”

He also does an amazing job of balancing the subject matter – video game and animation characters – with historical elements, so that the anachronisms are inventive and delightful. Henry’s designs are so clever and dare I say “original” that they avoid the nostalgia trap, too.

“Power Down” – Notice the life bars on their flags!

Dave Bull has lived in Japan for over 25 years, printing for subscribers and hosting printing parties. Bull’s love for woodblock printing is evident. He has an ongoing encyclopedia in addition to his own YouTube channel. He has made an impressive amount of prints and print-related material over the years – be sure to look at his website to see them all.

Carving the key block for “Infestation”

Only recently did Bull open the Mokuhankan workshop in Tokyo and employ apprentices and other masters of woodblock printing, helping to keep alive the traditional Japanese way of producing prints. (If you join the Ukiyo-e Heroes Portraits or Chibi subscription program, your payments go to the apprentices! The subscriptions are $20-$40 a month, which is a ridiculous steal.)

I think the prints are very reasonably priced at $135 to $155, given the immense amount of detailed manual labor that goes into them: Henry’s hand-inking, Bull’s hand-carving and printing with multiple colors, and even the paper itself, which is handmade by Living National Treasure Ichibei Iwano IX and his family. But if you’d like another option, Ukiyo-e Heroes also offers Giclée prints, which include other illustrations that don’t translate as well to woodblock prints.

Now it’s quiz time! What media do these prints reference? Below the pictures are the answers, and a bunch of links for you.

1 – Trouble Afoot
2 – Ancient Magic
3 – Hungry Customer! (Check out the non-inked lines that create an impression on the paper.)
4 – Infestation
5 – Rickshaw Cart
6 – Swift Kill
7 – Pocketing a Wager (Don’t you love how this reveals exactly what it really is?)
8 – Blue Storm
9 – preview of a new illustration


  1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  2. Howl’s Moving Castle
  3. Kirby
  4. Metroid
  5. Mario Cart
  6. Sonic the Hedgehog
  7. Pokémon
  8. Mega Man
  9. Zenyatta from an upcoming Overwatch illustration

Links for Ukiyo-e Heroes:

Links for Jed Henry:

Links for Dave Bull:

Links about Ukiyo-e:

Tarot Feature: I Tarocchi di Vetro

Tarot Feature: I Tarocchi di Vetro

(crossposted at Ridley the Fool)

There is so much going on with the gorgeous, intriguing I Tarocchi di Vetro by Elizabetta Trevisan. Today I’ll talk about:

  • The Art Itself
  • Unusual Symbolism
  • Names of the Deck
  • Printing History
The Fool

The Art Itself
This is one of the most distinctive, beautiful, and well-composed decks I’ve ever seen. Rendered in tempera and pastels, the effect is that of stained glass. The overall style, in my opinion, is a blend of Art Nouveau and Art Deco – the human and animal figures are realistic and have soft shadows as in Art Nouveau, but the rest of the elements are geometric and sharp like Art Deco. The pip cards (1 through 10) have no people and so emphasize geometry more. You will find yourself tracing the dynamic lines and swirls over and over with your eyes.

The Hermit

While you are doing this, you will discover the clever ways zodiac symbols and the symbols for the suits fit into the compositions. I especially like how the Queen of Chalice’s throne is a chalice.

Queen of Chalices

Unusual Symbolism
One of the first things you’ll notice is that the suits have unusual elemental associations. Typically,

  • swords = air
  • cups = water
  • wands = fire
  • coins = earth

In this deck:

  • swords has primarily water imagery with air as a secondary element
  • chalices (cups) seems to suggest both water and air – like a lake environment in the summertime, with lily pads floating on water while dragonflies zip above the surface
  • wands feature fire but tree imagery frequently overtakes the fire in prominence
  • pentacles are earth (no change there)
Knave (Page) of Swords

These differences exist because the Minors of this deck are based on designs by Eudes Picard. Many of the Majors are influenced by Oswald Wirth’s Arcana of the Cabbalistic Tarot, which is itself a modified version of the foundational Tarot of Marseilles.*

Wirth’s design on the left, Tarocchi di Vetro on the right
Picard’s design on the left, Tarocchi di Vetro on the right

The Minors (pips) may at first look like they’re devoid of meaning, but if you look closely, you’ll see helpful symbols.

Three of Wands
Some Minors are nearly identical, though

Also, you may notice that the kings age as you progress through Swords, Chalices, Wands, and Pentacles, which is pretty cool. I don’t know what it means, but I like it.

Ageing Kings

Names of the Deck

This deck has been marketed as “The Crystal Tarots” but that’s an inaccurate translation of the original Italian “I Tarocchi di Vetro”. I’m learning Italian and while I’m no expert, I have learned that “vetro” means “glass” – not “crystal”. Maybe a marketing person thought “crystal” would appeal to the New Age audience.

“Tarots” in the plural sounds weird to English speakers but is accurate because “tarocchi” is plural in Italian. There is also a singular word, “tarocco”, and I admit I’m not sure which to use. There are many decks out there called “Tarocco Whatever” and “Tarocchi di Whatever”. If anyone has some insight on this, please leave a comment!

The Empress

Printing History

Trying to find out when all the editions were printed is like squeezing blood from a turnip while trying to pull the turnip’s teeth. (…It’s really hard.) I used WorldCat, Tarot Garden, the Aeclectic Tarot forums, and for help.

  • The deck started out Majors-only, possibly as early as 1987.
  • According to, images from the Majors-only deck appeared on the covers of Lo Scarebo’s catalog from 1987-1994, but I haven’t been able to verify this.
  • At some point, Lo Scarebo published an Edizione d’Arte (Art Edition) on large cards with only Italian labels, which was one of many in a series. I don’t know how many cards this deck has. It may have been the first edition.
  • 1995: Lo Scarebo published the 78-card deck, with labels in several European languages; the High Priestess image is reversed for some reason.
  • 1996 and 1998: U.S. Games Systems published the 78-card deck.
  • 2002: Lo Scarebo published 78-card deck with five Majors printed in reverse (High Priestess, Hierophant, Chariot, Judgement, and the World) – the World being kind of a problem given that the four corners have specific symbols for them. There’s no explanation for this – it was probably a mistake.
The World, reversed

Again, any insights you can provide about the printing history would be great for comments, thank you!

Queen of Wands

This deck is gorgeous and a wonderful addition to any collection. If you’re used to Rider-Waite-Smith or its many derivatives, though, you may have initial difficulties with the pip cards. But it’s worth it because they’re so beautiful!

Here are the rest of my favorites:

The Hanged Man
The Stars (usually singular “Star”)
The Moon
Four of Pentacles
Back of the cards

Links for Tarocchi di Vetro:

*Interestingly, the Universal Wirth Tarot, by the same publisher (Lo Scarebo), used this same Wirth + Picard combination over a decade after I Tarocchi di Vetro was produced. I wonder how many decks are out there with this combo.