Concept Drawing for “Page of Cups” - This is how I communicate with my artist! At first, I was having a hard time describing where things are going to be and how everything is going to be positioned in relation to the panda. Eventually I was like, hey, I have a graphic tablet - why don’t I just doodle over the panda photo!? So I did. What I would do is - I would look for a photograph of a panda in real life that I want to use for the particular card I am concepting - and then I would doodle over it to convey my idea to my artist. Sometimes I would include pictures of clothing items (as you can see above) for the panda to “wear” in the final illustration. Page of Cups is the cutie-pie, and as soon as I saw this photo of a panda cub close-up - I knew she was going to be my Page of Cups. I remember telling my artist: “Emphasis on the CUTE NOSE, her nose must be REALLY CUTE.”
“Suit of Cups” - not all the cards from the Suit of Cups are shown in this picture. The Water Pandas have a special place in my heart (well, all the pandas do, but the Water Pandas are the closest to my heart because I’m a big Water Panda myself). When I first started working with my artist on this suit, I knew there was going to be lots of fauna - flowers, grass, vegetation - it’s like the pandas are going to be surrounded by nature’s sensitivies in the form of gardens and flower bushes. Oh, and also butterflies. They convey tenderness, and the catharsis that we can have when we hold space for our emotions.
The “Suit of Wands” - or Fire Pandas!
Artist Sketch for “3 of Wands” - the panda with a magical unicorn horn is surrounded by sparkly crystals, looking excitedly into the future and ready to manifest his dreams. Pamela Chen (creator of Crystal Unicorn Tarot) is one of the people that inspired me to begin creating this deck and I am grateful that she helped me unlock the panda potential for this deck. This is the artist sketch done by Celia - after I conveyed my concept to her!
This is one of the pandas that - sadly - I didn’t get to use during the creation of this deck. I originally wanted to use her for Page of Swords or maybe Page of Pentacles - but the posture and the overall vibe just didn’t really fit with what I had in mind. So alas. I just wanted to show it to the world somehow - it’s so cute! Maybe she should be a bonus card. From @panda_crew_official_
“King of Cups” - This is the first edition of King of Cups (note - it’s NOT in the deck!)- rushed to the front of the creative line by a special request and one of the first two cards (along with the Magician) to be created for this deck. This version is inspired by my late father - he has always been the King of Cups for me: loving, kind and generous towards his family. He wasn’t very good at expressing his emotions, but his actions spoke volumes about how he valued his family. Later on, when my artist and I got to the Suit of Cups - the court cards sort of evolved into a different “style” and the King of Cups didn’t really fit into the landscape with the rest of the cards, so we decided to redo it. But this King of Cups remains a gorgeous and sentimental card…an amazing portrait of a panda lost in his thoughts and musings and perhaps his feelings.
The Air Pandas (Suit of Swords) are the nerdy pandas! They are introspective, reflective, philosophical and love a good debate. They’re not as drama-prone as the typical swords energy, but they have their fair share of arguments. In the 2 of Swords, the panda is contemplating over conflicting ideas over a cup of tea.
The Suit of Swords…speaking of “arguments”, you can see the 5 of Swords panda really going at it.
As soon as I saw this picture from @happy_pandaland I knew they are going to be the Lovers card. I remember I immediately tagged my artist, Celia, and I was like, THIS IS OUR LOVERS. YOOOO!!!
The Suit of Pentacles - Earth Pandas! This is the suit where I knew was going to carry some “Eastern flavors”. Throughout this suit you can find hints of Chinese-sque images such as the red string, the lucky knots, bamboos (of course) as well as the “fisherman hat”. It’s not distinctively a Chinese thing…but I definitely wanted to convey the “earth vibes” with some Eastern flavor.
King of Pentacles Progress Pic - taken by Celia. You can tell she’s better at taking photos than me, haha! This is one of my absolutely favourite cards - the King of Pentacles panda looks so content with his bamboo treasures…ready to share with the world!
The concept drawing for “Judgement”…instead of the usual solemn and slightly religious tone, Judgement for me has always been about awakening and divine timing. It may come as a surprise or even a disaster - but it is always aligned with our highest good.