Calling all artists!

Alyc Helms and I — the two halves of M.A. Carrick — are looking to recruit an artist for an upcoming Kickstarter to fund the creation of a pattern deck, the divinatory card deck featured in our Rook and Rose fantasy trilogy. Feel not only free but actively encouraged to share this post where artists might see it; we’re trying to cast as wide a net as we can!

The scope of the project is sixty-seven cards, plus an image for the card backs. You can find a description of how pattern works here on our site, along with a full list of the cards in the deck, and even an online widget for performing a pattern reading — currently with no art, but we hope to change that soon! We may divide the deck up between different artists, depending on logistical factors (since that will make it easier to deliver the complete deck more rapidly), but we are also open to working with a single artist for the whole project.

Below are some details on what we’re looking for; if you’re interested in submitting your portfolio for consideration, instructions for how to do that are at the end. (But please read the rest of this first!)


The deck should ideally look like something that could exist in the world of the story, which is to say the general appearance of being either hand-painted or woodblock printed (color, not black and white). While we enjoy a wide range of art styles, particularly modern-looking things like collage, anime, highly digital effects, etc. aren’t really suitable for this project. That having been said, we are open to a range of aesthetics within those broad types; to help show that, we’ve put together a Pinterest board with some examples we find appealing. The novels and short fiction have yet to really address what Vraszenian visual art looks like, and since our worldbuilding overall springs from a medley of inspirations, there is room for the artist(s) to bring in a fresh vision.

We are actively interested in submissions from BIPOC artists, whether working within the tradition of their heritage or otherwise.

We are not interested in AI-generated art, even if it has subsequently been retouched.


The deck consists of three broad groupings (again, you can find the full list here). If we divide up the deck between multiple artists, it will likely be along one or more of these lines.

  • Face and Mask cards: these depict either a stylized face (with eyes) or a mask (without). There are twenty-four of these.
  • Regular cards: might show objects, people, scenes, etc. There are thirty-six of these.
  • Clan cards: might show personified animals. There are seven of these.

The images might end up including a border/frame and a place for the name of the card. The back of the card will show a drop spindle, a weaving shuttle, and shears, probably in a generally triangular configuration.

For some of the cards (particularly the Faces and the Masks) we have a decent sense of what we want them to depict; for others, there will be much more flexibility for the artist to design whatever the card name and significance suggest to them.

Logistical details

Once we have selected an artist, we will contract with them to produce three sample cards plus the backing art, for use in the Kickstarter campaign. Pending successful completion of that campaign, we will then contract for the rest of the project.

We are still working on the specific language of the contract, but to give you a sense of the rights we’ll be asking for — since that affects what you’ll consider acceptable compensation — here is a rundown of the ways in which we intend to use the artwork.

  • The creation and sale of a physical deck of cards, including packaging of said deck, not just in the Kickstarter but for ongoing sales
  • The creation and sale of a digital version of the deck, ditto
  • The creation and sale of a guidebook with (small) card images and information for deck use
  • Promotion of said physical and digital decks of cards, including but not limited to the Kickstarter campaign
  • Display of images on our website as part of an interactive digital version of the deck of cards
  • Creation and sale of deck-related merchandise, including but not limited to posters and mugs, solely for the purpose of additional rewards during the crowdfunding campaign (we honestly don’t want to be selling ancillary merchandise forever)
  • Specifically for the images for The Mask of Mirrors, The Liar’s Knot, and Labyrinth’s Heart, cover or interior art for future print, electronic, and audiobook editions of the novels bearing those titles (on the assumption that at some point the books will go out of print and we will re-issue them ourselves — we want the option of using the cards as cover art or a frontispiece).

It is our intent to leave as many rights with the artist as possible, so long as those uses don’t compete with the above: you can display the art in your portfolio, sell prints and other reproductions, and even potentially re-license images other than the ones specified in that last point — just don’t sell your own copies of the deck, present yourself as a vendor of Official Rook and Rose Merchandise, etc. Figuring out how best to phrase all of that is what we’re working on right now.

The Kickstarter itself will likely run this summer, circa the beginning of August. This means we will want the four sample images in hand no later than mid-July.

How to Apply

If you would like to be considered, please send an email to macarrick{dot}author{at}gmail{dot}com. The subject line of your email should be “Pattern Deck Submission”. (Failure to title your email that way will mean it doesn’t get sorted into the right folder, which means we will probably not see it when we go through the submissions. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot!) In the email itself, please include the following:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • A link to your online portfolio. If you work in multiple styles, please link directly to, or give us instructions on how to find, the works that are representative of what you would do for this project. Links to somewhere other than Instagram are preferred where possible, since Instagram is not very accessible for those without accounts. (Alyc has one; Marie doesn’t.)
  • If you have a strong preference for doing either the full deck or a subset thereof (e.g. the Faces and the Masks but not the other cards, or the whole deck only), please let us know.
  • Previous large-scale commissioned projects you’ve worked on, if any.
  • Your bid for the work, on a per-card basis. [Edit: see below for why we’re approaching it this way, rather than quoting an offered rate.]
  • An estimate of how long it would take you to complete the work you are bidding for, so we can give a suitable delivery estimate in the Kickstarter campaign.

Submissions will be open until the end of day on March 31st (globally, to avoid any question of time zones). We will respond to artists as quickly as possible after that and will attempt to have a final decision made by April 14th, two weeks later.

Edit re: bids — We’ve had a few people ask why we’re asking for bids rather than offering a rate. The answer is complex. One reason is the above-mentioned possibility that we’ll divide up the deck; if we do that, it’s quite possible that we’ll be seeking more detailed/labor-intensive images for the Faces and Masks and/or the clan cards than from the rest of the deck, meaning that we may pay different rates for those cards. (Whereas if we hire a single artist, it’s more likely to be a flat rate across the deck, averaging out the difference.) Also, the art is going to be the single biggest expense for the project as a whole, which means this is the main determinant for our funding goal. If we get a portfolio we love from someone who has experience with running Kickstarters or other factors that would improve our chances of raising the necessary chunk of money, we’ll be able to consider paying more for the art than if we’re collaborating with someone who has less experience and reach. If we quote a rate, we’re limiting the range of people who might send their work in, which might mean we miss out on exactly the one we would have otherwise chosen.

Having said that, we will not be paying less than $100 a card, and we will probably pay more than that. If we get a portfolio we think is amazing but we also think the artist has low-balled their bid, we may very well offer more than their suggested rate. And once the Kickstarter crosses its funding threshold, we intend to share subsequent profits with the artist, though the exact percentage has to wait on us working out a lot more math about the costs of the stretch goals and so forth. So hopefully that gives all of you enough information to be going on with.

We look forward to seeing your art!

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