The Tapestry Deck, The Suit of Swords

By Keith Senkowski
On April 2, 2016

As I began to plan the actual suits and design the icons for each, I stumbled on the idea of telling a story rather than showing the number of X on each card. While I have seen really clever renditions of tarot cards with 10 swords on them, it really isn’t my thing. So instead I pictured in my head a warrior woman and her journey.

I made a conscious choice to use a woman, and a woman of color in particular, as the focus of the story I wanted to tell. That choice was in one part a response to all of the male heavy driven fantasy art and in another part to challenge me as an artist.

I get dudes. I get white dudes with swords. I’m a white dude with a sword, so telling my story easy and frankly not that exciting. However, telling the story of a woman of color in a fantasy world without objectification is compelling. Who doesn’t want to make compelling art or tell compelling stories?

I wanted to start my story with something legendary, and what is more legendary than a magic rock tearing through the sky and shaking the foundations of those who witness?

It was important to me to show my heroine as a sort of everywoman, doing her own dirty work. Too often I think we forget about the dirty parts of life that feed into the epic.

Being the suit of the swords, I knew I needed to forge a singular Sword. The story wouldn’t be complete without it and she needed to be the person to do it.

I’m not religious by any mean, but I can appreciate the power of religion as a part of a story. I wanted the sacred to be an important part of her narrative.

Ok I am a sucker for a good love story, and in my mind there is nothing better than when those prospective lovers face each other as equals. You know he end up unhorsed.

While a sucker for a good love story, I hate the courtship part in narratives. I wanted to capture the courtship as something very different reflecting my hero and her dude.

The first half of the deck is filled with hope and promise, but the later half had to be tragic and dark. I wanted to do some foreshadowing, but capture their love amongst the mess.

You knew this wasn’t going to end well for our couple but I kind of surprised myself by going the zombie bite route. I didn’t want him to die in a boring manner, but in a heart breaking one.

She had to kill him. It was the only way I could see this story unfolding, with love being both the thing sacrificed and the instrument to bring about the sacrifice.

At this point I was planning the next suit and where I wanted to take it. This meant getting her out of the hot mess that is this story and towards the next story.

As a dad, I can say my kids are the perfect gift. I think they help humanize us in life and characters in stories so it was important for my heroine to walk out of this tragedy with some hope.

I like it when stories give me a moment at the end to be contemplative. Where did it start, where is it going, why the hell did I finish this at all? This card is meant to be that epilogue.