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When we decided to create a set of agave I.D cards, we knew we wanted to have original illustrations. We felt it was impossible to use a single photograph of one agave to represent the entire species, as many species have morphological variations. These variations can occur when the same species of agave grows in different environments. There is also the issue of crossbreeding among different species as well as genetic variations within the same species. For these reasons we felt that having a hand-drawn illustration of each species would be the best way to visually represent them.
We invited our dear friend, artist Stephen Hall, to interpret each agave in his own unique style.
We supplied Stephen with dozens of agave images for each species. Stephen studied the various agaves and chose a “master image” as a guide while adding visual information from the other images.
Stephen used a stipple technique for shading which adds a textural depth to each drawing. By making certain choices about each of the agave pencas he drew, the space between each thorn and overall volume of the plant, he was able to capture the essence of each species. We are truly honored to have been able to work with such a talented individual!
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Stephen Hall moved to New York in 1978 and began exhibiting his work in the East Village in the early 80's. Since then his work has been featured in exhibits throughout the US, India, Japan, Korea and Mexico. Stephen has illustrated numerous book covers for internationally published authors. His work is part of several corporate and private collections and has been featured in major motion pictures, television series’, music videos, and magazines.
After Stephen sent us his drawings we scanned each one so we could begin the design process. Because no medium automatically translates when converted to another platform we had to modify and format the images.
Gabriel, our master of the universe designer, re-touched every drawing, enhancing Stephen’s beautiful work so it would translate in print. After some trial and error, we decided on the repeat pattern for the face of each card. The back of the cards fit the entire plant and all of the technical information.
We chose 32 pt card stock for its thickness and durability. We also opted for a silk laminated coating that makes the cards water repellant. The cards were printed in Brooklyn, NY.
The content is based on Tess's many years studying these incredible plants combined with Sabrina and Gabriel's research. Common names, and to some extent scientific classifications, are always in flux as new studies and new regions are admitted to the world of mezcal. We included specific informative facts, such as years to mature, reproductive style and region the plant is endemic to. We also added a fact, specific to each plant, such as a significant aspect of its appearance, its role in Mexican culture, additional medicinal uses etc.
We crosschecked each agave's many different common names with producers (mezcaleros/as) whenever possible, knowing full-well that there will always be exceptions. We intend to add agave's to this deck in the future and leave open the possibility for corrections and amendments!
We hope that these cards contribute equal parts beauty and useful information in your quest to connect with these majestic plants and the products derived from them.