Mystic Margaret- The Fictional Psychic Behind my Fortune-teller Print

Mystic Margaret- The Fictional Psychic Behind my Fortune-teller Print
08/07/2015 Jenny Cook

Hello dear friends of the internet! Today I want to talk about the process behind designing my fortune-teller print. This is one of my first forays into the medium of print design so it’s been a bit of an experiment. A lot of thought went into the process that may not be apparent from looking at the end result alone. My primary aim when creating this print, which I think will remain central to my design work as I go forward, was to create a narrative through the medium of illustration which would transfer easily onto clothing. Simple non? I started out with an idea of a tale I wanted to tell based on a personal interest. I’ve always been intrigued by mysticism and folklore and tend to get really obsessed with different types of narrative that are passed down through cultures, via word of mouth. Tales that teeter somewhere between myth and belief, which stimulate the imagination. I love the type of stories that make me feel like a kid again, hiding under my duvet at night imagining (and very nearly believing) that the red lights of the boiler in the cupboard adjacent to my room are the eyes of some fantastical creature, staring out at me from another world.

Mystic Margaret is a character I dreamed up after getting super into the short lived TV show Carnivalé. The show follows the path of a travelling carnival -a group of people that are regularly associated with dishonesty and trickery. At first it seems like it could play up to this stereotype, showing them breezing in and out of towns and fleecing punters for cash; but as the show continues it becomes apparent that there’s more to these travellers than meets the eye. More that they even realise themselves. Two of my favourite characters are a mother-daughter tarot card reading duo. The mother is a paralysed mute whose thoughts can only be heard by her daughter, Sophie. Sophie herself reads the cards, though her mother is the one who interprets their meanings and psychically relays them to her daughter from behind a veil in their small gypsy caravan. Sometimes customers receive readings that are genuine, based on visions that the mother has sensed through the cards and sometimes the duo choose to offer false readings, or stretch them out so that they can charge more for their services. I love how the show bridged the gap between the mystic and the superstitious through these types of plotlines, by creating characters who were in ways both genuine and frauds.

I wanted to create a print for Hello Margaret! that represented this type of character. I took inspiration from posters I found online advertising bargain tarot readings and aimed to combine the trashiness of this type of imagery with more symbolic illustrations – the palmistry hand diagram and all seeing eye from which you can infer deeper, more researched meanings and a greater cultural significance than the trashy facade of ‘bargain psychic readings, $5!!’ I chose to start by illustrating each element of the print individually, by hand. I then scanned them into the computer, set up a square document on Photoshop and started layering them at random over a background I created using grey tie dye. As a rookie print designer all I really had to go on at this stage was my intuition that I had a fairly good eye for what would look kind of cool in a print for clothing. I’ve always been a doodling storyteller by nature. These are two things that I felt familiar with, and comfortable about combining. The real challenge lay in making an illustrated print that both told my story and was wearable. The last thing I wanted was to make something that looked like a kids book about an eccentrically mental cartoon witch or something. I had to find the right balance and be selective about what I needed to include. Ultimately it was trial and error that lead to me figure out how to lay out this design. I have to say, I’m really happy with the results. I shunned symmetry and ended up with something busy and cacophonic which I feel perfectly represents the character I created. I hope that I’ve succeeded in creating a design that captures your imagination too!

You can purchase clothing in this print via our shop page.

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