We only have to point out the fact that Vincent Van Gogh died penniless, having sold only one painting in his lifetime.
Greatness is something more than that. Presumably Van Gogh would have loved wealth in his own lifetime, yet today he is considered one of the greats in the art world and his paintings sell for millions of dollars.
As a general rule, I’d like to sum up what makes something great by doing a bit of ad-lib on one of the quotes of my childhood hero Stan Lee. (I can’t find the actual quote unfortunately).
Lee said something along the lines of the great thing about comics is that you have to love comics personally to keep doing it because comics is the kind of medium that demands so much time and energy and eats through so much material in terms of storylines and plot, that someone with low dedication would burn out really quickly.
Ok, so that’s a more elaborate explanation, but in summary, it basically means that to create good comics you need to love with you’re doing.
When I designed most of the characters for King’s Journey, I really loved what I was doing because I had never seen a full story taking place in a tarot deck before. I mean King’s Journey tracks the journey of a young boy who at the end of the deck, is basically a much older, full bearded, long haired man with a wife and child. I had never seen an actual story played out in a Tarot deck like that before.
For Twisted Tarot Tales, each image was a labour of love because I got to draw all the monsters and crazy scenes that, let’s face it, anyone into comic book art would have fun imagining. My co creator Christine has been a fan of horror comics and film since she was a kid growing up in the 70’s.
The Chinese Propaganda Art Tarot is another one of our successful decks thanks to Christine’s love of and knowledge of Chinese Propaganda Art along with the historical background the art is based on.
In short, the best works of art, writing, music or film, almost always comes from a love of the genre which you’re basing your work on.
"To have something with my name on it as the writer be so globally reviled is gut wrenching. To receive hate mail from all over the world is heartbreaking. (...) I went into the project chasing after a big payday, not as a fan of the franchise but as a businessman taking on an assignment. I have learned that when you go into a creative endeavor without passion you come out with sub-optimal results, and sometimes flat out garbage. So I’m not blaming anyone for Dragonball but myself.”
Dragon Ball: Evolution was apparently so bad that Akira Toriyama; creator of the original manga, revealed that he felt the Hollywood producers did not listen to him and his ideas and suggestions, and that the final version was not on par with the original Dragon Ball series.
He felt the result was a movie he couldn't even call "Dragon Ball". Discussing the film in the 2016 Dragon Ball 30th Anniversary “Super History Book”, Toriyama wrote: "I had put Dragon Ball behind me, but seeing how much that live-action film ticked me off..."
I haven’t seen the movie personally, nor have I ever read or know anything about the manga the movie is based on, but there’s a two things we can take away from what Ramsey said…
1, He went into the project, not as a fan but as a businessman hoping for a big payday.
In other words he believed he would be able to cash in on the Dragonball name itself, ( purely a business like attitude of course, but one that cost him) rather than caring about the content.
2, He learned that when you go into a creative project without any passion about the content you’re working with you come out with much poorer results, and “sometimes flat out garbage”
There you have it readers. If you want to pursue something and make it great, take a word of advice from Ramsey and create something on a subject you’re passionate about!
I've always done my best to support new Kickstarter projects in our industry If I think they are good and of course, if they happen to pass my radar! As a self employed artist, you can imagine I don't always have the "disposable income" that I wish I had to be able to support such projects more fully, but at the very least I like to share links etc. Here is the Venetian Carnival Tarot and it is currently ongoing on Kickstarter. Here is their facebook page if you'd like to see more!
In interviews Schulz stated that Linus represented his spiritual side and this was clearly seen in A Charlie Brown Christmas when, at the end, Linus tells the viewers “the true meaning of Christmas”.
When I was younger, I can’t say the Peanuts strip or the Charlie Brown TV show really appealed to me very much. Rather, like most cases, it was the artist behind the cartoon. Why do people like Schulz dedicate their lives to drawing pictures? What type of person would do that and do they feel the same way I do about drawing pictures? These thoughts occur to you from time to time. In my teens and early twenties I began looking into the history of some of these iconic creators because the process was probably what appealed to me the most. I would like to read interviews and the opinions of those artists that were behind the creation of such iconic figures.
“Schulz drew a new Peanuts strip for each day of the year for almost 50 years, essentially creating over 18,000 original pieces each published and syndicated in newspapers throughout the world.”
Creating something from the ground up, as any business owner who has done so can attest, requires tremendous patience and dedication, and seeing something simple, or small, grow into something of a big deal is really inspiring for those of us on that journey. Perhaps what is most impressive though is Schulz’s ability to preserve the spirit of his characters after such huge success. All too often when someone makes it big, they lose the spirit and originality that made them, or their creation, popular in the first place. Often we see this with music, where a band might have a few good records at the beginning and fade out when either they’ve said all they “needed to say” or reached the level of fame they had originally sought. I am not certain if it is officially known if Schulz based Charlie Brown on himself or not but I expect so, and I think he grew along with his characters which was why he was able to preserve the spirit of the Peanuts gang.
Have a great Christmas or holiday season!
This is a continuation piece from the newsletter. Never miss a story by signing up to our newsletter where we cover the decks and projects we're working on along with various interesting articles that come our way.
A Recap of the story so far - My uncle had contracted a combine harvester to cut the barley in his field when I was about 10 years old. The combine harvester wheel fell into an underground hole and a cave was discovered.
Now, to continue on with the story
We weren’t able to see much by torch light and so we put off exploring the cave until the next day. With my uncle, and my dad we explored the cave together. We found a bottom floor to the cave, but no one would be able to fit down the hole that led to it except me. At the time, as a 10 year old, I was a lot skinnier than I am now, and so I ventured into the cave’s bottom. It was a square hole and maybe about a 6 foot crawl downwards until I reached the bottom. On the bottom was a flat floor with four walls. One of the walls to my left had a square cut out of the wall, which led into another room. To enter the smaller room to the left, you’d have to crawl through the “window” area, or what looked like a “window” frame, not with glass obviously, but where you could see into another smaller room that looked like a little storage area. My parents wondered if maybe the lower room was for a safety area for kids since adults, at least adults in our day and age, weren’t able to fit down into the lower room.
We know that the spiral, for example, seems to be the one pattern in life that is seen everywhere, and if you’ve ever heard or read the Manga graphic novel Uzimaki you’ll see the funny side! Spirals are everywhere in nature. You can find spirals in everything from snail shells and spider webs, to hurricanes and tornados, even the Milky Way. Spirals were also important in much of ancient art, from the natives in Sedona to Celtic spirals in Newgrange, Ireland.
So the first few chapters were read under palm trees instead of our usual Northern Irish semi dull days. The book was first published in Germany in 1894 after being banned in his home country of Russia and is the culmination of thirty years of Tolstoy's thinking, and lays out a new organization for society based on a literal Christian interpretation. Why am I always drawn to banned things? I swear, it is not intentional. In the case of Tolstoy, I imagine his work was banned because it was in direct conflict with, say, the idea of the draft. It is basically a pacifist’s manual.
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I’ll roll it back a bit, and let you into my life. I grew up in a family where church attendance was not that important, but occasionally my father desired that we would still attend. I was never interested in church. In Ireland, when some kind of mass salvation thing swept across my sister’s school, (thought it was not a religious school) and she got saved, it was a little shocking. If I’m honest about it I wasn’t too happy. I felt that my sister was stolen away from me. Soon I started to wonder If I too should be saved. For a long time I mocked the Christian music she listened too because it sounded too…well, weak. As time rolled on I thought “I’ll do the prayer”…you know that prayer that you’re supposed to do to get saved. I did that and forgot about it. About two weeks later I started to read the bible more and more. It felt like a compulsion. I am not sure if I had self hypnotised myself but I became really eager to learn more about the bible. Instead of being peaceful though, I turned really inspired by the apocalyptic. I started to straighten out though but I became interested in bands like the very obscure Nashville based Wedding Party ‘s Anthems Album (in my early 20’s they even invited me to their studio to see their set up because I made friends with most of the band members and often wrote detailed descriptions of how I felt about their songs) and Saviour Machine, a great gothic Christian band whose lead singer Eric Clayton was really great to talk to. I was a big fan and here was Eric talking to me!
At that point in my life I’d rather meet these people rather than the biggest pop star today. For me, These people were “celebrities” and they inspired my thinking, and also my belief that the best and most talented works of art and literature are probably the ones you’ll never hear of. What I mean is that most of the musica and art that has inspired me will probably never ever reach the mainstream. From that perspective I’ve never felt that I should necessarily seek to be “the best” because in my mind these people were the best yet would never make it into the mainstream. I started to understand that sometimes the best musicians and artists are the ones you’ll never hear about. Maybe I should do a story on that at some point.
Getting back to Tolstoy, you’re more likely to hear of Tolstoy with his books War and Peace or Anna Karenina, both of which, to this day, i've never read. In the book The Kingdom of God is within you, Tolstoy speaks of the Doctrine of Non-Resistance to Evil by Force, A principle of nonviolent resistance when confronted by violence. Trust me, I know it seems like an insane concept, and most would never be able to follow it.
In recent times I think, at least by American standards, I may be more conservative leaning, but even with that I do not feel fully “understood”. I’m still at that stage of understanding that maybe it fits with God’s will that killing your enemies is acceptable, yet Christ doesn’t seem to say this, nor even allude to it. I suppose I would say that officially it is not the right thing to do spiritually, but physically it might be a necessity. I can't say. What I can say is that Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is within you certainly makes you ponder these things.
In that sense I think Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is within you is as relevant for the 1800’s as it is today, but it requires a lot of work if one wants to live it out in the real world. Then again, I can’t think of a single scripture where Christ says the walk will be easy! Well worth a read.
NOTE* Upon writing this I realise, though it had slipped my mind, that I wrote a review on Amazon about this. Apparently 9 out of 9 people found it helpful! Not bad right lol
Thanks for reading
But what if they aren’t? What if they’re still hanging around, wanting a visit, and the loved one never stays anymore than a few minutes and leaves. We wouldn’t do that in during a family visit to a relative, we wouldn’t even do it during a hospital visit. We’d feel awkward if we spent less than 5 minutes every time we visited a relative. Without the vocal interaction though we’d be forgiven for thinking we’re wasting our time. We might even feel a bit delusional to be talking to someone that isn’t visibly there.
I’ll say this. I’ve visited the grave a few times when I felt defeated and ruined. I’ve told a graveyard full of people all my worries and it felt like a weight off my shoulders. I don’t want it to come off like I am some kind of emo or goth. I don’t think I am. I don’t follow those cultures. I’m just saying that having someone to confide in that won’t cause an argument or pass judgement is one of the best feelings in the world. I’m not convinced that has anything to do with “talking to the dead”, but rather speaking vocally, in a private place, without judgement, the things on your mind. You can talk to whomever on the beach, in the forest etc. Much of Ireland is Catholic, and although I was raised Protestant, I can only guess that it’s probably similar to confessional. Ever since meeting Christine, I’ve been living in my local town as opposed to out in the country and it’s a good opportunity to visit my granma. I know my granma has passed on; it’s not that I am delusional. I know she’s not “there” in the materialistic sense we’re used to, but I like to think she’s there, maybe as some astral form. If she isn’t, well, that’s fine too. At this point it’s all a matter of faith, of belief.
So that’s a little of what I’ve been up to. Again a big thank you for the customers who give me the excuse to get away from the art table, and just remember that up until Christmas I’m going to include a free original hand sketched artwork (ACEO sized) with every tarot bag/pouch sale. Hey, if I’m at the table most of the day, it makes sense to do a few cool original artworks for you guys.
UPDATE: Since writing this article, Yoav Ben-dov, one of the greats in the Tarot community, has passed on. As is often the case in social media, we befriend people who, often, we'll never meet, and never really get to know fully. For me Yoav Ben-dov was this kind of friend. I didn't know Yoav Ben-dov too well but he liked a lot of our artworks and it has only been recently that we realised that he was actually a big deal. So we would like to take the opportunity to wish Yoav Ben-dov a safe travel!
James is the artist behind the illustrations on this site, maintains the website, writes the blogs and puts together the newsletter.