Why a new Life Design card deck?

Why a new Life Design card deck?

So what’s going on?

I’m on the brink of launching a re-work of the Life Design cards. I didn’t think this would happen as I was feeling uncomfortable about the circumstances around the decision to re-make it.

After all, the First Edition deck was beautiful, accessible, and connected with my customer base. I love the fact that it is a problem-solving deck that can function independently or blended with other card decks for a different perspective.

”So why did I withdraw it?

On the face of it, it was not the most cost-effective deck. Having a booklet and differing colours/patterns at the back of the cards made the printing cost much higher than the other cards I have created. It also divided into four different visual styles, which did not help to create a cohesive looking format. On reflection, its instructions for use and numbering were needlessly complex to follow.

But, alas, these were not the reasons I took the product from the market. It was for a much more personally upsetting reason.
About ten years ago, I had undergone a two-week training in Permaculture Design. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and had fun applying the principles to my daily life and garden design. With a background in coaching, I could see how the questions raised within Permaculture could be used in many aspects of life. So, I was inspired to incorporate the principles and tools into a card deck that would find a new audience.

So, I added the twelve design-web anchor points and Permaculture Principles into a newly formed deck along with 24 additional prompts. I tried to honour the original design web-tool by numbering it in a specific order and created spread ideas around the tool (cards 1-12) and Permaculture Principles (cards 13-24). I referenced the origin of my Permaculture web-tool at the back of the enclosed booklet: linking it to a number referencing system in the title of the relevant booklet section.

One day last year, I received a ‘heavy-handed’  email from the publishers of the Permaculture web-tool creator, instructing me to stop selling immediately and to enter into negotiation about a way forward. The email implied I was someone who had deliberately stolen the author’s work for my benefit (it was also cc’d to a host of other people). My referencing was not of a standard they expected.

What happened after?

I have a history of social anxiety disorder, which creates a sense of fear of judgment from authority figures. There is no way on earth I would have intentionally created this harm to another or actively brought this humiliating experience upon myself. I naively thought I was referencing her work and applying it in a new format. Obviously, with the benefit of hindsight, I see what a stupid fool I was to think that. I also completely understand their point of view.

However, I could not escape my perceived harshness of the tone. I was unable to view Permaculture in the same positive light as I had before. Earthcare, Peoplecare, Fairshare had a hollow sound to me for some time afterward. So, I shrunk away from view for a while, licking my wounds, reflecting and pondering what to do next.

Although a workable solution of a way forward was suggested, I did not want to be tied by another party or feel I would have to continue to compensate in the future financially. I want to retain my independence as an artist. I also do not want to create anything from a place of disapproval. It is mortifying to a sensitive person like me! So, I decided to take the deck out of print permanently and move on.

But, email requests for the deck kept trickling in. I remember some warm and beautiful email exchanges when I attempted to explain what had happened. People could understand that it was human error on my part but that all was not lost. There was much more to this deck than twelve cards. They planted the seed for me to gather the confidence to find a way through.
With time, I could see a way forward. I still wanted a thread of the Permaculture Principles to run through it and have done my best to interpret them (for a personal development card deck) with references on every card. I also wanted to remove the twelve-step Design-web tool. After all, the tool was unnecessarily complicating the deck format. When I deconstructed it, it was the headings that many of us use every day (like rest, reflect, obstacles, etc.) I also had many more personal prompts within the rest of the deck, plus a few extras I had collected on the way. So, mixing all the cards into a random fashion made it behave more like a regular deck and took away the strict numerical order that the tool placed on the deck. After all, who keeps a card deck in their exact order? Card decks are to be mixed up and random.

The New Life Design Deck 2.0

I include new visual themes that we are all collectively dealing with in difficult times. So, the Life Design Cards 2.0 is a new deck to reflect these times and evolves into something much more expansive. It is a collection of all that I am, based on experience, skills, and knowledge accumulated over time. I think the new deck is now much better than the old one. It is a grown-up version with a cohesive vision that incorporates Nature, Permaculture, Environmental topics, and the vulnerabilities of being human within a problem-solving deck no matter what subject you wish to investigate. My visual representations are a small aspect of what each card can mean to a person. They provide a visual narrative to help the cards sit well together. They look fresh, and I see myself reflected in them.

So, I hope you can forgive me for messing up. I hope this new deck reflects my intention to create cards that are kind and realistic and that fit nicely within the other three decks I have designed.

Onwards and upwards!

The making of The Textured Tarot…

The making of The Textured Tarot…

I’m not always comfortable talking or writing about the process involved in the making of my card decks, because I don’t know how to articulate what I do: intuitive art. It’s not that I am criticising my cards in any way. I love them and am delighted to have brought them into the world. It’s more that each card deck journey is so intuitive in-the-moment that I often have no idea how I get to a completed card design, or why certain decisions are made (apart from the specific meaning of a card). After my tarot card research, I have a basic visual outline of what is needed and seem to know what I want to do without always having a finished picture in my head. I am kind of artistically layering the story (about each card) that is in my head. I don’t worry if the ideas aren’t flowing; they come when they are ready. Between these productive times, I am comfortable with my blankness, reflection, or churned up mind. I am confident that the art inspiration will come. Then, I get caught up in its waves and don’t recall how I got to my final destination…ha ha…: bliss..;)

I will try and expand a little more in the next few sections…

Preparation and process

Although I research a lot, I tend to spend minimal time preparing my actual art. There are no demo sketches, or journal plans. I really don’t work that way. It snags me up somewhat: I feel a turmoil of impatience to start the actual card design as my body feels primed to just start. I just know what I want to do. I catch glimpses of a look or feel of the card with a basic outline of what I want to convey: there is a spontaneous response to the words that I read.

I often forget to photograph the key stages of my tarot card work in progress because I get so caught up in the magic of it all. I create spontaneously with the information and materials that are available.

I try not to alter the final image created, but sometimes I make minor adjustments if something rubs with me for the wrong reasons, or I am concerned how my card will be perceived. Sometimes, a social media comment prompts a change. Although I am hermit-like, I don’t mind sharing the rustic side of my art in social media and am open to constructive feedback. My social media style is ‘rustic’ and I am okay with that now…

Limitations embraced!

I would describe my current work as mixed media, digitally collaged art. Plus, it is art created out of limitations of skill and space. I wholeheartedly embrace those limitations! I see them as my power tools!  You see, I am a self-taught artist who has no desire to create perfect fine art representations of Nature etc. I like to flirt with the edges of my limitations: that is where the gold is and where unique art finds a way onto the paper. Of course, I love to develop my skills, but only in the service of my imperfection. The quirkier the art, the better. I often find my best visual representation when creating my art through the eyes of the ‘beginners mind’. I embrace my random curiosity and my art-style evolves over time. My technique is not practicing until things are just right…I just do it! I know that I am inspired by my surroundings (like we all are). For the tarot approach, I was motivated by textile art exhibitions and feeling the pull to bring more needlework to my art process

Some of my limitations have been practical. Since moving to London, I have lived in small flats where work and everyday living combine. With only a small table, art trolley, laptop and printer as my craft area, I have become used to working in small spaces. That is where my Photoshop collaging started. I scan in my paintings and drawings and collate them digitally to utilise and arrange on my card designs. I don’t have room to keep/store all my paintings and drawing layers. I just keep my favourites.

A downside for my business, is that I have difficulty staying with a product once I have created it. What I mean by that is, the continued re-invention of presenting a product in different ways such as mugs, cushions, fridge magnets, calendars etc, or marketing doesn’t appeal to me. Once my project is done, I prefer it to stand alone and organically move out into the world. 

However, I might entertain the idea of digital prints of the tarot cards as there are always favourites that we relate to. But, I am usually catching the tail of another creative idea that distracts me from staying with one thing. 

Research of the tarot

I wanted to find out more detail and background. I bought many books (a few favourites are represented in the photo on the left). The majority of my reading was about the Rider Smith Waite tarot. I had settled on that because I wanted to create a deck from the perspective of a person, like me, who is relatively new to tarot.

I started with the Majors, followed by the Court cards and finished with the Pips. I would spend a day or two with each card and read across a range of texts to get a sense of the meaning behind the card and what felt true. I would look at the imagery of some tarot decks that I own. Sometimes, I did not understand the visuals, so it was important for me to try and create a deck I could easily connect with. A deck where I felt represented and that was inclusive of diversity and infused with Nature. I seem to struggle to connect with single-themed decks.

Viewing other decks, I remained open to noticing how they made me feel. Did I feel repulsion, attraction, emotion etc? I questioned why I responded in the way that I did. I was very much connecting with the feeling of each card, how it moved me. Then my own imagery would start to enter my head. It is important to me to inject kindness into all my card decks. We live in  a world where harsh criticism is normalised: which is toxic to wellbeing and meaningful connection.

The name ‘The Textured Tarot’ came to me after a visit to a textile exhibition. I wanted to convey the texture of materials and collaged art, against the backdrop of one’s complex textured life (the woven threads of life).

How did I work on the cards?

The cards are a combination of  drawing, painting, stitching and collaged fragments of digital imagery (from e.g. Wiki Commons, licensed stock photographs and online digital photography) that fitted with what was in my head. I quickly developed a flow with the work. I would digitally collate the layers (scanned in or from online) into Photoshop and then mix them around in layers. It was my continued intention to use collaged fragments of digital photographs mixed in with my own handmade work to create something totally new and original. I love how photography meets textiles and my artwork in the Textured Tarot. My other card decks are  made from a patchwork of my own handmade work. I will most likely return to that style next time.

I get super excited when collaging the layers together in Photoshop….adrenaline flushes through my bloodstream. I tend to keep going until the card feels completed. However, the details of the typography would be initiated after all the cards were finalised.

Unfortunately, after completing the Majors and Court cards, I hit a brick-wall. I was having health difficulties at the time and the volume of sewing  for my Etsy shop pouches and wraps made using my hands difficult. I spent many months not able to function well.  I was also grieving:(

So, now I had a new limitation to add into the mix: a limitation of functional ability!  Back then, I remember spending much of my time playing with acrylic paints on Yupo paper. I have used this art for the backs of my tarot decks and the box (nothing wasted).


For the Pips, I had to take a different route, or the deck would remain unfinished for a long time: I needed to embrace the pivot! So, I decided to simplify the imagery a little more, injecting a more contemporary feel (by recycling scanned images of previous machine-stitched textiles), combined with patchwork photography. I like the way the cards have a different feel (whilst still remaining harmonised by the recycled textile fragments and colour choices). The deck certainly reflects my journey through the tarot with its many ups and downs through  ebb and flow of life. I feel, the deck has ended up exactly as it is meant to be. I hope that the challenges and artistic approach facilitates your connection with the cards.

On the left here, you will see a video of how each piece of The Star collaged card was built. The two ‘jugs’ layers were merged in Photoshop to reduce the size of the file (they were made up of a mosaic of patterned fabric pieces). So, not all the stages are shown here in the video. I think it provides a general sense of how I put my artwork together.

The Booklet!

Writing is not within my comfort zone, but I understood how people appreciated a little guidance. I decided to work within my limitations again, without trying to be something I am not. I chose a simpler route by accumulating words and phrases that particularly stood out for me, as I researched across many books. Sometimes there was a conflict in the words and interpretations. I left them in as I trust the reader will know intuitively (and in relation to the other cards pulled) what each card is trying to communicate in-the-moment.

On some of the cards (particularly the Court cards), a few weaknesses of the Court card are highlighted towards the bottom. No personality is one-sided right? We are a paradox of complexities!

Structured graphic design is not a strength of mine. Familiarising myself with InDesign and thinking through layouts and typography etc is an ongoing struggle. I looked for simple solutions in how I present my work. Nothing more, nothing less than that. 

My (practical thinking) partner Paul is on hand to edit my written work. I tend to approach the writing in an overly self-critical way (he doesn’t edit my blogposts though!). I almost apologise for having a go at making a tarot deck: it must be that imposter syndrome again. He questions any negativity within the writing and gently coaches me to a shorter and more uplifting style. I trust that helps.

The Tuck-box

This is an extension from the booklet. I use a simple layout and try to describe the essence of what the deck is. I was not afraid to experiment with the background here. I must have created 5-6 different box background ideas (which is unusual for me). However, I will add that I went with my initial idea in the end.:)

Black and white signifies the dark and the windows of light with the never-ending grey of life…I love to see all the little faces in the tuck-box and on the back of the tarot cards. I don’t know how they got there, they just emerged through the layers of the artwork. The Yupo paper and acrylic ink paintings from last year was my background. I  then selected one section of interest, duplicated it four times or more as a mirror reflection and then turned it greyscale in Photoshop. Then I added a diamond shaped variegated wallpaper texture and a photograph of lace was over-laid over the top. Voila!

Anyway, I hope you think my blogpost is useful in some way. I have enjoyed reflecting my thoughts and putting them down here. My tarot deck is currently on pre-orders in my Etsy shop, but my first stock is due for delivery on 30th May 2018. I would like to thank all of you who trusted me and have supported my opportunity to release this deck into the world. Thank you for actively promoting my work time and time again. I am deeply honoured.

The Textured Tarot is eclectic, a bit rustic, unpolished, full of love for life and a deep respect for the human experience in all it’s manifestations. Onwards and upwards my friends!

This is a short video demonstrating the Majors and the Court cards. There has been some minor adjustments to some of the cards since, particularly The Hierophant, The Lovers and The Star. Enjoy…


The Textured Tarot important update #2…

The Textured Tarot important update #2…

This is a brief update to announce when The Textured Tarot is to be available for pre-order. It’s turning out to be quite an eventful journey! For reasons I am not aware of, this deck does not want to be advertised yet. Perhaps it’s ‘Mercury Retrograde’? I dunno….Yet, despite my and my printers best efforts, the test deck has not been able to get to me safely. Six postal disappointments on and I am simply surrendering to this madness!

I have made an executive decision that The Textured Tarot will be available for preorder in my Etsy store from Monday 16th April. It will remain on pre-order for up to 8 weeks. I will print as soon as I have enough orders. This allows time for me to iron out the weird creases! I am no longer in the headspace to feel open and joyful about my launch; too many things going wrong. So, I am going to step back, take a deep breath and establish patience.

If you have signed onto my Newsletter or product update lists, then I will contact you soon with more details and a discount coupon. Thank you for your support and patience. What a ride this tarot adventure is!!!



The Textured Tarot update #1…

The Textured Tarot update #1…


This is a little update on where I am at with The Textured Tarot… I have disappeared from view lately. This is partly through moving house and location and also partly to provide myself with space to recover from a personal health challenge.

I have also been busy completing my fourth deck of cards (yes fourth! I cannot believe it). I had the courage to start and finish my own tarot deck (The Textured Tarot). Wow, what a journey I have been on with it. Through research and spending time with the cards, I have developed a deeper understanding and respect for what the tarot is about. To me, it depicts the common experiences and mysteries of being human.

The creation of this deck sprung from a desire to make something for personal growth that is accessible to understand and fashioned in a way that felt more in keeping with my values around Nature, inclusiveness, compassion and kindness. I approached this project with an open heart, as an artist interpreting the information before me.

With a beautiful mix of visual ideas of what it means to be human– it is an eclectic fusion of traditional, contemporary, symbolic and quirky illustrations. This deck taps deeply into my vulnerability which leaves me with the sense that many people will benefit from this source of inspiration. I like to think that it is an approachable gateway for people new to tarot (particularly those who fear it), or a collectors deck for the tarot card lovers. I can also see it complimenting many other tarot and oracle card deck readings.

I have just sent my final tarot deck fronts, backs, tuck-box and booklet to the printers. They will print a single copy for me to check and to  photograph for my Etsy shop. I wrangled for ages over whether to start a Crowdfunding campaign. To be honest, it feels too overwhelming for me right now, especially given my long absences from social media. The thought of a campaign became an obstacle to me finally completing the deck. I let my Instagram and Facebook audience know of my difficulties and they came to my rescue with all sorts of creative suggestions. I am so pleased that I was able to reach out.

So, I have decided to place The Textured tarot in my Etsy shop (which is now re-named as Lisa McLoughlin Art) as a pre-order advert from mid-March 2018. Once I drum up enough interest, I will be able to complete an initial print run. A more slow and organic approach feels more resonant for the introverted and highly sensitive soul that I appear to be.

I plan to share a bit more about the deck once I have the full initial print copy from my printer. I look forward to working with them. So, I hope you will join me on this tarot journey. I thank those of you waiting patiently in the wings this past twelve months. 




About time to have some soul medicine!

About time to have some soul medicine!

I am writing this blogpost straight out the gate! After all, it’s been a while and I thought it was about time I wrote something!

It has taken a mini crisis to wake me up to this knowledge (that I’m letting many things slip in my business). For the past 8-10 months, I have kept my head down making and selling lovely items in my Etsy shop ‘Whimsy of Nature’. You see, I love to create for creations sake. I am like a machine. When I get an idea into my head, it makes me feel alive and that I am contributing in one way or another. I also like earning money for what I am doing. To actually be able to buy treats and to pay bills!

But, I made the mistake of allowing my work to overload my body.

What happened?

Simply, I have overdone things whilst going through a period of increased stress in my personal life. Trying to buy a home (with a zillion protracted obstacles in the way) and overdoing what I love, has left me in a kind of burn-out state. My body is complaining and now I cannot make anything which is soooooo frustrating! I have so many ideas that I cannot keep up with my train of thoughts….All I can do now is ponder my future and take time to pause and plan next steps!

I think I was also (slightly) running away from the hurt and pain of feeling and then being rejected by a small business group I used to regularly meet up with (they had different plans and expectations for the group and my grieving 2016 year did not measure-up to what they expected from me and I didn’t feel able to keep up with their expectations…I just needed their unconditional support….(clear throat) another blogpost once processed I think!…I digress!).

I should have known

I like to view my creations as a kind of soul medicine that has been needed at some points in my life journey. The Plant Ally cards and Tree Wisdom cards are all about self-love, compassion and kindness in a world ( inner and outer) that can seem nasty and cruel at times. The Life Design cards (LDC) are medicine to restore practical balance in life. You see, I am a kind of organic-ebb-and-flow person who is a little allergic to structures, rules and practical foundations.

However, these last 6 months, I have not consulted the LDC’s–when I probably needed them most. To obtain balance, I require basic structures in place, or I can become lost and overworked in what I do…as I am never satisfied that I have done my best work etc. I checked in with the LDC before flat hunting and they were really helpful.

My partner and I sat on the floor working through the nuances and considerations to buy the best home we can, in a nature-filled location, on our restricted budget.  We balanced the pro’s and con’s of each location and finally decided upon the ideal place for our next journey in life. Fabulous. We hope to exchange very soon.

But, then I stopped using them….

Losing my balance

Without the life-balance, I lost my way again and burned out. If I had consulted the cards, I may have seen the unhelpful work patterns I was adopting whilst going through a stressful time. I would have looked at ways to maintain my momentum. I may have paid less attention to negative news in the media and focused more on catching and storing my energy. The LDC are my touchstone to balance and broader perspectives. I get that now.

What does this mean?

I find the soul medicine I need in life is often what other people are looking for too. So, whilst I create for the love of creating and to reflect on my life journey. I also love making something useful, meaningful and beautiful–that you can keep with you and utilise over time. I need to continue working with the soul medicine cards I make…..because they have a point and a gentle nudge in the right direction to well-being (especially since the world seems to be pivoting in the wrong direction at the moment).

So, if you like the idea of my Life Design cards then do take a look at them on my website or Etsy shop. If you are unsure, you can sign-up for my Nature-threads updates (see sign-up box below) and have access to a FREE e-booklet that showcases the first twelve cards–so you can get a feel for them and discover if they would be useful. I have had some rewarding feedback so far.

I sigh with relief to have written to you today. There will be no surprises if I don’t receive any comments, as how can you expect peeps to stay around if you ain’t creating anything new, right?…. I will keep posting anyways as its good for me 😉

Love and hugs xx


The mirror that shines…

The mirror that shines…

‘You will never set the world on fire girl! Look at you hiding in the shadows!’  (comment when I was 8 or 9 years old).

It’s funny how paying attention on purpose can reveal useful lessons in life. It’s funny how old memories can stick around in your mind.

Let me explain…

Archytypes to ponder

I have a monthly check-in with the supportive Amy Palko. She is one of my absolute ‘go to’ people for wisdom and guidance in my personal and business life: through the eyes of the Goddess Archytypes. Actively choosing to reflect through monthly archytypes can provide so much nourishment and reconciliation with aspects of self; overlapping with the benefit of using oracle cards. This month was no exception. 

My archytype for the month is AmaterasuShe steps forward for women when it is their time to shine, and when they need to begin a process of reclaiming their light. I can particularly resonate with this as I am a regular hermit who will hide from any attention whether it is positive or negative. I can relate to the feeling of hiding in a cave. I have launched three card decks  and make beautiful pouches and wraps. I have the most amazing community of people who support me. There are live video recordings of  experiences working with my cards and products. And yet, I cannot watch them (when they are related to my craft). I dare not to look; I hide away. I acknowledge and then disappear into my creative cave.  It’s an unhelpful pattern, but I still really appreciate and value my community and their feedback. I drink in the kindness and good will. Something around the subject of confidence in my past history and my passion for what I do, inhibits me from looking too closely. This month I notice I am particularly hiding away.

So what lesson has Amaterasu got to show me this month?

I wasn’t sure anything would manifest, other than a stark awareness of my behaviourial patterns around being in the spotlight. Yet, I made an astonishing discovery that floored me a little (in a good way).

This happened…

I have been interviewed this month by a Book Detective Leda Sammarco. She has a healthy appetite for books and also the story behind creating them. After connecting with my Tree Wisdom cards in a face-to-face networking meeting, she purchased a deck. She could see correlations between the journey to being an author of a book and to the creation of a deck of cards. This overlap fascinated her, so she asked if I would entertain being interviewed for her Podcast. After a few personally awkward video interviews, I was a little apprehensive at first.

And yet I had nothing to fear, she was the most wonderfully relaxed interviewer and I could feel her genuine interest and curiosity about my journey. She teased out many truths that were also revelationary to me. You see, I may not have listened to the recording, but the process of being interviewed was a joy. I read her emails and her blogpost about my work etc. I thought ‘Wow, what a way with words she has. She really makes me sound just like the person I want to be and feel in my business’. Her response was that she was simply writing my words. Thats when I realised. I reflected on my answers to her questions, re-read my website, looked at the descriptions for my oracle cards and witnessed the truth of my work reflect back to me. Leda had been a very powerful mirror reflecting back those parts of me I am not claiming as my own.

I understand this happens a lot when we dig a little deeper into why we admire certain people more than others. But, this was a slightly different experience, as I saw my sparkling reflection through the interview with Leda. She provided the ingredients with the perfect divine timing, a comfortable space to actively listen to my answers, an inetrview without video and her passion for my cards.

If you would like to listen to the interview, then it is available through the link here. There may be things that I say that resonate with you too. I also highly recommend that you spend time listening to Leda’s inspiring Podcasts.

So what now?

I will most likely still feel awkward about watching video recordings in which I feature, or listening to my own voice, but I do know and feel one truth. I am living my life exactly the way I was meant to. I am living and evolving into an expression of my authentic self no matter how small a spark, or large a roaring flame that I may be at any given time in this world. I can shine. We can all shine!