Review: Art Oracles: Creative & life inspiration from the great artists

Who doesn’t need a little bit of advice every now and then? I know I do.

Especially when it’s from famous artists, presented alá tarot cards, reminiscent of oracle decks for guidance. If mysticism is indeed and alive and well, why shouldn’t there be one in the realm of art? We look to old masters (and even new talents) for inspiration, so it makes total sense to revere the ones who has left an indelible mark on the world. If you’re nodding along to this so far, then you’ll be intrigued as I was with Art Oracles, sent to me by the lovely people at Laurence King Publishing.

Gifts for artists that are interesting and unique are far and few in between (which is why there’s so few review of them on here), but I’m very thrilled to have found it in Art Oracles. The deck has 50 cards, with a helpful booklet that details each artist’s biographies and instructions on how to use them. Basically, you select a card whenever you have a question that pertains to either life, work or inspiration, and glean what you will from the history of greatest artists, painters, architects and designers via fortune-cookie style proverbs. At a glance it may seem a little simplistic, but the more I delved into each saying, the more it made sense. Take a cue from Marcel Duchamp: “Making it look easy is hard,” or the wise words of Frida Kahlo – “Externalise your internal world.” Its cryptic brevity leaves the deciphering to the eye of the beholder. Magic!

Written by Kayla Tylevich and illustrated by Mikel Sommer, it’s a beautiful deck (gold-foiled, no less) that has the ability to be light and yet serious enough to work across all creative disciplines – a perfect counterpoint to the fast-paced, mad world of art and design. Think of it like a magic 8-ball for creatives, only more aesthetically pleasing with a whole lot more range to its answers.

Even if you’re not one for new-age mysticism, Art Oracles is enjoyable and insightful, and would make an excellent gift for yourself (or a friend). I’m not the only ones who think so too – check out the reviews and get it through Amazon.

Images from Art Oracles: Creative & Life Inspiration from the Great Artists by Katya Tylevich and Mikkel Sommer Christensen (Laurence King Publishing, 2017).

Empathy cards by Emily McDowell

264-c-one-more-chemo-down-card-480x528

265-c-treatment-on-the-internet-card-480x528

266-c-died-of-lemons-card_grande

270-c-i-didnt-know-what-to-say-card-480x528

I’m always curious on what to say to people who have gone through cancer – you’ll realise that I asked the same questions in my interview with Matilda Tristam earlier. I’m not the only one who has problems expressing my feelings as it turns out, because Emily McDowell knows all too well the embarrassment and waffling about that happens when you’re around someone with a serious illness.

From Emily’s website:

Most of us struggle to find the right words in the face of a friend or loved one’s major health crisis, whether it’s cancer, chronic illness, mental illness, or anything else. It’s a really tough problem; someone we love needs our support more than ever, but we don’t have the right language for it.

I created this collection of empathy cards for serious illness because I believe we need some better, more authentic ways to communicate about sickness and suffering. “Get well soon” cards don’t make sense when someone might not. Sympathy cards can make people feel like you think they’re already dead. A “fuck cancer” card is a nice sentiment, but when I had cancer, it never really made me feel better. And I never personally connected with jokes about being bald or getting a free boob job, which is what most “cancer cards” focus on.

Emily knows this personally as well, as she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24, and was given the all clear after 9 months of chemo and radiation. And through it all, it wasn’t the effect of the illness that made it difficult:

The most difficult part of my illness wasn’t losing my hair, or being erroneously called “sir” by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from chemo. It was the loneliness and isolation I felt when many of my close friends and family members disappeared because they didn’t know what to say, or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it.

So if you’re not sure what to say to loved ones who are facing a serious illness – send one of Emily’s card their way. They’re most likely facing an unknown future, and embracing change like never before. These cards help put together words that you would like to say but wouldn’t know how to, eliminating miscommunication and the dreaded I-don’t-know-what-to-say-so-I’ll-just-not-say-anything syndrome. Once that’s out of the way, you can then concentrate on caring for your loved one the way you know how.

See the complete range over at Emily’s website.