Adam's Tarot Weblog|
Entries from 12th December 2008 to 29th June 2010.
Go to Archive 1 - entries from 21st November 2006 to 30th April 2007.
Go to Archive 2 - entries from 1st May 2007 to 1st November 2007.
Go to Archive 3 - entries from 2nd November 2007 to 30th November 2008.
Go to Archive 4 - entries from 12th December 2008 to 29th June 2010.
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I often get asked whether I sell items shown here, or for information on how to obtain copies. I am sorry, but I do not sell items from my reference collection and in general I cannot assist people in obtaining copies of rare or obscure tarots. I am also unable to provide valuations of tarot decks.
29 June 2010
The Erotic Tarot of the Austrian artist Rene Marcel Riviere is now up for sale as the 23rd tarot in my Art Tarot series.
Due to the consequences of people circulating print quality scans of some of my tarot decks making my continuing publishing economically impossible, this will be the last tarot I publish.
One day tarots from my Art Tarot series will, no doubt, be highly prized and collected. Only a few collectors have had the foresight to buy them. As always people wait till an edition is sold out, then bombard me with requests for copies. I get this with the four that have already sold out the Alchemical Emblems, the Aleph, the Arto and now the Phantomwise.
The Erotic Tarot was created by the well respected Austrian artist René Marcel Rivière originally as a series of large highly detailed pencil drawings. He later produced a series of oil paintings closely following the drawings with the same depth of detail. René Marcel Rivière has had a large number of exhibitions in Austria, the US and Germany. His Erotic Tarot concerns itself with that part of human life, which determines destiny in the most fundamental way: Eros, love. It is in this field that humans, entwined with each other, like the pentagram of golden bodies on the reverse side of the cards, have always felt the greatest need to interrogate oracles. In an intense and sensitive manner, Rivière let his artistry take effect within the realm of mysterious encipherment and this has resulted in a riveting, graphic representations of mental processes, enabling a better grasp of ancient mysticism in our times. His imagery is extremely powerful, surreal and inventive. One can look at one of his images for a considerable period of time and still find one has not noted all the details. For this limited edition the cards are printed as large as was possible in order to do the artwork justice.
It is however a wonderful, powerful and delightfully painted tarot on which to bring my project to a close. Some of the images I find astounding, for example, Death and the Tower. I have included the original pencil drawings as a black and white deck in the same box - so one gets two tarots.
24 June 2010
As I have now been forced to give up publishing any further Art Tarots, I have been contacted by a number of collectors asking me to reconsider. I am sorry but this is impossible. I cannot be asked any longer to take all the financial risk, at a time when people are actively distributing high resolution copies of tarot decks. I will not get any return on my investment, and as I am 62 years old I cannot expect to be able to continue working for the decade it might need to get any investment back from the sales. Those people who feel they have some right to scan and distribute my tarot decks have effectively stopped me producing any more.
I still hold out a forlorn hope that some wealthy white knight with an interest in tarot art might come forward to subsidise production, but that would seem almost as likely as winning the National Lottery.
I have come up with a positive solution. I would be willing to act as the printer for an artist. Using the methods I have developed, I would be willing to print a small edition of copies for an artist. They would have to pay me in advance the entire production costs including my labour. I would not act as the publisher and the artist would receive the copies and then have to sell them directly to their customers, though I could help with links from my web pages. They would be publishing their own deck. I would not be paying the artist any royalty or entering into a publishing contract with them. For an edition of say 50 copies, I estimate a price for printing to be in the region of £1000-1500 ($1500-2500) with possible additional costs if I am required to spend time adjusting the card images and sending back many samples. I doubt whether many artists have the funds to do this, but perhaps some could find a sponsor. Of course, I could only do this with a full payment in advance. I cannot print items with a promise of funds to come from sales. The artist or their sponsor would have to take on the full economic risk.
23 June 2010
The Pythias Sacred Geometry Tarot is a series of abstract geometric mandala-like paintings by Katenia Keller. The cards are square and though it does not use figurative forms to depict the arcana, nevertheless, in many cases these are immediately recognisable, even though in a highly abstracted form. In the little booklet that accompanies the deck it states "[Katenia Keller's] fascination with the ratios and proportions of natural forms and the geometric and mathematical patters of life inspired her to paint this series as her first tarot deck". Her paintings were recently exhibited at Belfast Coop in Belfast in Maine. The cards, which are not expensive, are available through her Etsy pages www.etsy.com/shop/kateniakeller. The titles of the deck reflects the fact that she lives in a former Knights of Pythia hall. (The Knights of Pythia appears to be a fraternal society following the model of masonry).
22 June 2010
My rather sombre mood of the last few days, which were overshadowed by my having to give up publishing tarots, was lightened today by the arrival of a single sheet of paper, a mere 11 by 8.5 inches. On this was printed the TaRat, a miniature deck designed by Nakisha. There are 78 small thumbnail sized cards printed onto this sheet of this beautiful and amusing rat themed tarot. Nakisha has previously created the Rabbit Tarot and like this the TaRat is based on her strong character drawing which she has coloured. You can find her artwork on sale through her store on Etsy or her web site www.nakisha.com/the_taRat.htm. Everyone should buy a copy of this. It is not expensive. Do buy a copy, frame it up and put it on your wall. Stand back and enjoy.
21 June 2010
I may be a fool but I have, however, published twenty three tarot decks over the last four years. Through my work I have enabled the work of these tarot artists to come into a printed form. But it now seems to have been a foolish activity, as completely uncreative people are scanning the decks I have produced and making them available on the internet. Their selfishness destroys the work of artists and publishers.
Recent piracy, and the encouragement of others to scan tarot decks at print quality resolution and make them available through the Internet has been the final straw for me and has brought my business to a halt. I will not be able to continue producing tarot decks. I will continue to sell the remaining decks, but it is impossible for me economically to invest my limited capital and time in creating new titles that will be quickly pirated. Sadly, a number of artists will now not see printed editions of their work.
I am a fool to have believed that people who care about tarot art would want to support and nourish the work of tarot artists.
The foolishness may rebound on the pirates one day when they realise just how destructive they have been. They are responsible for these artists not seeing their work published. Are these artists fools for having wasted many hundreds of hours of their time producing a set of tarot designs never to see them published? The pirates and file sharers are killing tarot. They seem to be selfish self-justifying individuals without conscience. They obviously care nothing for the impact of their activities on the creative work of others.
I leave a legacy of tarot publication, brought prematurely to an end by pirates.
It could have been so much better. I could have continued for another five years except for these uncreative, parasitic individuals.
On a positive note, I am continuing to work on producing the (now) final tarot in my series. I have almost completed the lamination and later this week will begin cutting the sheets into cards and making them up into boxes. Look out for an announcement about publication in a week or so.
18 June 2010
Today I received from Italy the Tarocchi Primitivi Africani. This is the work of the Senegalese artist Moussa Traore. It was created this year from an idea of Emilio Ortun Lieto and published in an edition of only 30 copies by Luca Vietti. The imagery is abstract and symbolic, but it is relatively easy to see the links to the ideas of the Major Arcana. There are so very few tarots with connections to Africa, so this one will have a valued place in my collection.
17 June 2010
Today I resumed work on the twenty third and probably the last tarot in my Art Tarot series. Production of these 23 decks over the last four years has required a great deal of my time, but it is now impossible to continue due to the pirating and distribution on the Internet of high quality scans of some of my decks, which severly depressed the sales. I had a number of decks pencilled in for future publication, but had not committed myself to contracts with these artists. I do apologise to them for having to withdraw, but I find I have no alternative. The publishing of art tarots seems commercially impossible without some subsidy, as it cannot stand on its own feet due to piracy.
The people who pirate tarot decks are so destructive. They have now stopped me from working in this area. Last year I had to abandon producing any more alchemy study courses as these were being openly pirated and made available on file sharing networks. The horrible torrents are often infected with viruses, trojan horses, malware and spyware, so I will have no sympathy with those who opt to download these and subsequently experience computer related problems. One should realise that the people involved in pirating are criminals and they want to make money out of this by any means. One of those criminals who pirated my study courses also distributes hacking software and virus skeleton code which users can adapt to create computer viruses. So be warned when you try and get a free copy of my work. There may well be consequences for you.
I am holding out a last gasp of hope that someone might come forward and offer to help subsidise my art tarot publications, to protect me against the lack of sales due to this piracy. The only other major publisher of art tarots is supported by sponsors of the Museo dei Tarocchi. I have one of the best collection of modern tarots and this could well be the basis for a similar art tarot museum or centre here in the UK, but I have no funds to support this. It would need considerable support and subsidy, but few people have the vision and resources to wish to do this. Sadly, people such as myself have the vision, but no funds to make this happen.
In any case, the tarot I am working on is quite wonderful. It was created some years ago by a very skilled artist. Sadly he found that publishers in his own country were unwilling to handle it because of its content. This is exactly the sort of deck I am happy to have been able to publish. If my project has to end, this will be a fitting item on which to bring my publishing in this area to a close. It should be ready by the end of this month, June.
16 June 2010
Publishing tarot is not a financially rewarding activity. One does it for the love of the art. However, publishers have to at least cover their costs, otherwise the inevitable consequences of income and expediture turn against their future work. I find this happening to me, not through anything I have done, but through the activities of people copying, scanning and distributing copies of my tarots, effectively stealing income away from my publishing project. One has to think ahead, and all I can see is my income from my tarot publishing being eroded more and more by copyright theft.
I have published 23 tarots since 2006, and I had hoped to be able to continue this, but recent distribution of my material on the internet on web sites and bundled up in torrent files, is damaging my sales to the point that I can no longer generate sufficient sales to be able to continue without some subsidy. The various people who scan my materials and distribute these illegally on the internet are effectively closing me down. They are responsible for destroying my tarot publishing project and stopping future publications. The only way I can continue would be if someone were willing to subsidise my costs, as I cannot do this myself any more. The future looks bleak for small independent tarot publishers. I am now working on the 23rd tarot in my series. It seems it will have to be the last. My project has been killed off by people using the internet to distribute my material. This last year or so there has been a massive uptick in piracy. People are making money at the expense of small publishers such as myself, through file-sharing payments, and password protected sites one has to pay to gain access. The failure of the internet community to deal with these culprits will have a powerful destructive effect on small creative individuals like myself. I cannot afford to lose my future income.
The only way I can see for me to be able to contuinue publishing tarot would be if some white knight were to offer an ongoing subsidy. I cannot bear the financial burden any more.
I find my publishing activities are being closed down by pirates - people who think they have some right to steal other people's material and income.
14 June 2010
The Twilight Realm : A Tarot of Faery by Beth Wilder is another astounding publication by Schiffer books. The artwork appears to be pastel drawings on a black board with use of underlying opaque whites to make the surface colours more luminous. The medium is entirely suited to the subject matter, with soft ethereal forms glowing out from the dark background.
11 June 2010
The Tarot of the Divine Union just arrived. From the title we might be expecting angels, spheres of light, Meister Eckhardt, Jan van Ruysbroeck and St John of the Cross, but when we read the subtitle "Artwork based on masterpieces of explicitly erotic art" and the title of the little white book "The Tarot and the Mysteries of Love and Sex" then we know we are in a rather different realm. Here Cynthia Joyce Clay has taken some of the explicit erotic art, such material as used to be locked away in the "Secretum" Cupboard 55 of the Department of Medieval and Late Antiquities in the British Museum or the "Enfer" in the Bibliotèque Nationale and constructed a tarot deck from these images. Here we find items from Rowlandson, Aubrey Beardsley, Felicien Rops, Kama Sutra manuscripts, Mihaly Zichy, and many 19th coloured engravings from Italy and France. I think these images could be better described as pornographic rather than merely erotic. Anyway the "Divine Union" seems to be all about erect penises and penetration, with a little bit of sado-masochism. I have chosen some of the very few less explicit images in the deck to show here. Strangely the Moon and Death are interchanged, with the Moon as card 13 and Death as 18 - whether in error or deliberate I cannot say. Due to the different formats of artwork, some of the images are in landscape and some in portrait.
10 June 2010
The Otherworld Tarot with artwork by Sarah Nowell arrived in the post. It doesn't appear to be very "otherworldly" to me but we have some delightful artwork with some interesting new takes on some cards. I was very taken with her Fool, who instead of walking over the cliff, instead tests the heat of a candle with her finger. This is published by Schiffer who have in recent years taken to publishing some very interesting tarots. You can see more of their publications on www.schifferbooks.com These are well distributed and can be bought through the usual tarot outlets. The deck comes with a booklet written by Alison Williams the creator of the Otherworld Tarot.
9 June 2010
HazelMoon's Hawaiian Tarot arrived today. This 78 card deck is localised to the ancient culture and landscape of Hawaii through the paintings of Katalin E. Csikos. It comes in a big box with a booklet is easily available though various tarot outlets and also direct from the artist www.myhawaiiantarot.com
8 June 2010
Pat Smith, who made the video for my Art of Japanese Tarot exhibition, has edited it to a size which could be hosted on YouTube. The full version is available on DVD with the printed catalogue of the exhibition.
7 June 2010
A week or so ago I received a copy of the Angelique Tarot book of illustrations by Marumi Yamamoto, which a fellow collector in the USA had managed to obtain for me. Angelique was a Japanese video game issued in the early 1990s. A number of tarots emerged inspired by this game, and the Yamamoto version was issued in 2000.
5 June 2010
I recently obtained the Russian version of the Transurfing Tarot which a month or so ago I bought in the form of an edition from Korea.
4 June 2010
I also found on Etsy the Tiny Tots Tarot Major Arcana by David Myriad. This is a rather sweet stylised deck, based on the Rider-Waite majors. It is printed on an inkjet printer and is inexpensive though nicely produced.
3 June 2010
A week or so ago I received a new tarot by Aya Rosen. Aya is well known for her Black Lily Tarot which she self-published and sold on etsy.com where you can find this and her other artwork on the page louchelab.etsy.com. Aya's work is immediately recognisable by her distinctive drawing style. Her new tarot is the Metro Tarot. It is a set of smallish cards and comes in a soft leather sleeve.
27 May 2010
I find I have been rather neglecting this weblog over the last few weeks. I have, in fact, been very busy doing some painting, and also collaborating with a filmaker making a short video about my artwork. I have been working on the next tarot in my Art Tarot series. This is a very exacting project and has needed a great investment of time to get the printing right. Tonight I made the final adjustments to the layout and hopefully will be able to proceed to printing and laminating it over the next two weeks. I expect it will be ready later in June. The tarot decks in my collection continue to come in and there is quite a pile of items to work through and give a mention to on this weblog. So keep an eye out for some new entries over the next days.
12 May 2010
I have just bought another tarot apparently produced in Peru. This is entitled Tarot Pactum Infernal: El Tarot de los Hechizeros and seems to have been designed by Jose Luis Lazo. There is no date or publisher shown on the packaging. The imagery would appear to be taken from various pieces of fantasy art, but the backs have been taken from Ciro Marchetti's Gilded Tarot and as this was published in 2004 we have to assume the Tarot Pactum Infernal was created some time after that. It has 23 numbered cards plus 5 others, and though it does not have an obvious tarot structure, its imagery its redolent of the arcana.
11 May 2010
This year a tarot was issued in Indonesia. I tried to buy a copy direct from shops in Indonesia but they would not send copies outside the country. Through the good offices of a tarot enthusiast in Singapore I now have a copy. It is a Rider Waite clone localised with Indonesian imagery and quite delightful. It is called the Tarot Nusantara. The cards are quite small and the designs are printed with a flattened contrast to give them a subtlety. Their backgrounds have a patina to suggest age, which is a nice effect.
5 May 2010
Le Tarot Essentiel issued by Arcadia Editions in Paris this year. It uses paintings of Andrea Wedell and has a book written by Francoise Bitton. The 22 cards are for the most part renamed, but reflect the established arcana. Thus the Lovers is here, Le Choix (Choice), The Hermit is La Sagesse (Wisdom) and so on. All is explained in the book. Wedell's artwork is abstract and in the style of Paul Klee, colourful background textures with angular and circular forms set on it. Like Paul Klee's paintings, this is not entirely abstract but still contains sufficient pointers and references to figurative forms, that one can easily recognise the arcana.
1 May 2010
I always wonder what new tarot idea Beth Seilonen will come up with next. This time it is lighthouses. We have already seen their appearance in her Maine Tarot, but now she gives them a tarot personality in her Funky Lighthouse Arcana. There really should be a Beth Seilonen appreciation society. It would be small, however, as she is very generous to those who collect her tarot cards by only printing small editions. This one is only 7 copies. An edition that small gives collectors added value. I have almost all her productions. I am sure in the years to come, people who missed out on her editions will regret not buying them. They are not expensive. If I ever managed to have a dedicated exhibition space, I would have a exhibition dedicated to her work. Looking through my Seilonen tarot drawer I see I have 27 of her decks. These show her various drawing and painting styles, and always her quirky sense of humour.
30 April 2010
I rarely buy sets of cards with no tarot structure, but recently I was tempted by a Russian deck the Tarot of Lucifer (or perhaps Luciferic Tarot) by Amanar Ingvar. It comes in a large box with a book and the set of 105 cards which are named after the demons of the Goetia, or the Lesser Key of Solomon. The imagery in fantasy art style incorporates many dragons, winged beings, naked women and multi-headed figures. I don't usually buy non-tarot structured cards, but I could not let this one get away. No doubt as soon as the edition is sold, it will be almost impossible to find. The imagery draws upon the classic work the Dictionnaire Infernal by Collin de Plancy first published in 1818, which has engravings for over sixty of the demons.
29 April 2010
I recently bought five Russian decks from a dealer in Moscow. Among these is the rather stylish Demonic Tarot of the well known tarot creator Vera Sklyarova, whose work is well sought after in Russia and fetches high prices. No longer are Russian tarots to be found for a few dollars ! I have, I believe, all of Vera Sklyarova's decks. These are an essential building block for any Russian Tarot collection. The Demonic Tarot is a 78 card deck and comes in a double-pile flip top box with a small booklet in Russian. The predominantly dark cards have some interesting imagery, such as the human form metamorphed into a tree, and the rather striking grasping hands with their male and female finger tips. Though a demonic tarot the imagery is not, to my mind, in any way disturbing, but rather classic and stylish.
27 April 2010
Marie-Claude Bouthillier, the organiser of the Tarot of Montreal exhibition, has herself produced a fine collage tarot. the Tarot of Lady McBouth. We often find collage decks can be, in some people's hands, merely a haphazard accretion of images, so it is a delight when a trained artist brings her insight and vision into the choice of material used in the compositions and thus creates a coherent set of images. The Chariot, for example, references the well known sculptural piece by Giacometti, which I remember seeing at an exhibition of his work in Edinburgh a decade or more ago.
25 April 2010
The Macrocosm Power Tarot created by Kei Nakagawara is issued as a series of cut out cards in a Japanese health and style magazine for April 2010. The imagery is diffuse and ethereal. The original paintings appear to be in gouache or water based acrylic and most have areas of opaque white dragged over to form little veils.
21 April 2010
Today I received a copy of the Tarot of Montreal which is a collaborative project involving 22 artists organised by Marie-Claude Bouthillier. The artworks, paintings, posed photographs, collaged images, and drawings are being exhibited this month at the Maison de la culture du Plateau-Mont-Royal in Montreal. The exhibition has issued a small edition of cards limited to 100 copies. A similar collaborative exhibition was recently held at the Hive Gallery in Los Angeles. I will dig out the cards and put some samples up on this weblog later.
20 April 2010
I recently obtained a Japanese book on astrological aromatherapy by Akiko Toishi. At the back of this paperback book is a set of Tarot images printed on thick card which one can press out and have as a set of cards. Some of the images seem a bit reminiscent of 1960s pop album cover art, such as used on the Beatles Yellow Submarine LP. Here the Lovers is clearly a reference to the famous John Lennon and Yoki Ono Bed-In protest in an Amsterdam hotel. What this has to do with a system of aromatherapy using astrology I do not know, but in a more relevant way each card does bear the image of an aromatic plant.
16 April 2010
The Dark Tarot Major Arcana printed in China by CaCaoBoi Studio as a limited edition, is an abstract and minimalist tarot. It comes with a book showing how to read the cards, and indicates that to the mind of the creator of this deck, Duncan, a kabbalistic system underlies his tarot designs. It is an unusual and stylish production, that will be difficult to source in the years ahead.
14 April 2010
Reality Transurfing is an esoteric system created by Vadim Zeland, popular in Russia, having sold over a million books about his system. A company in Korea issued a Transurfing Tarot in 2009. The imagery is astounding and surreal. It seems familiar to me and I spent some time this afternoon trying to remember where I had seen these images before, but without success. Perhaps someone will recognise these and let me know.
12 April 2010
Last week I received the latest tarots by the Philippine artist Lynyrd Narciso. Among these is a delightful art nouveau style deck, the Tarot Bagong Sining. This is in the form of a double set of majors, one of which is masculine and the other feminine. This deck has been limited to only 45 signed copies which will ensure its value for future collectors. It is beautifully drawn and subtly coloured. In the hands of a lesser artist the colouring could have been gaudy and overwhelmed the underlying drawings but Narciso is a master of subtlety and the two facets of his artwork harmoniously work together.
8 April 2010
Today a rather exciting tarot arrived, the Tarot Andino by Ernesto Montes Aliaga. This was published in Lima, Peru by Editorial Inti Yalamuy. I am not entirely certain of the date, but it appears to have been issued in 2000. It is a 78 card deck and is subtitled 'Le Kabbala Andino Revelada' the Kaballah of the Andes revealed. It is obviously structured around kabbalistic ideas and an esoteric view of Peruvian mythology. I paid a relatively high price for this item, but as it is so rare and obscure, I was happy to have been able to buy a copy. It will be one of the gems of my South American collection along with the Tarot Thayer, Tarot das Bruxas, Tarot Infinito, Tarot Bellavista, Tarot de Autolectura.... Heh there are too many to list !
7 April 2010
The Fuller Tarot created by Maggie Fuller arrived a few days ago with a large heavy workbook. The 22 card deck is in black, grey and white. I am a bit perplexed with her choice of imagery for the Devil card, which seems merely to show a village of houses on the side of a hill. The Magician also puzzles me, with the tree-like figure holding a boat above its head, though here we have some of the familiar symbols of the tarot Magician, pentacle, sword, infinity symbol, chalice, etc.
4 April 2010
The Infinite Visions Tarot is self published by Gloria Jean in the USA. It is a well produced computer generated collage deck using artwork from classic paintings. Most of her sources are unfamiliar to me so she is certainly very adept at finding less known works and extracting imagery from them. The production is very good being printed with high quality saturated colours nicely laminated, with rounded corners and supplied in a standard card box. You can buy them through her web site www.infinitevisionstarot.com where you can see more of her cards.
28 March 2010
A few days ago a fellow collector alerted me to a majors deck of original art included with a French graphic novel called Faery City. This was written by Mathieu Gaborit with artwork by Amandine Labarre. The imagery which is linked to the narrative of the novel is very good and it coheres as a tarot deck. The Fool is depicted as a blank image.
25 March 2010
I recently received my copy of the Sepia Stains Tarot by Bethalynne Bajema. This is a very fine example of a computer modified collaged image deck. She has gathered together disperate items and integrated them together into a coherent stylish conception. You can see many more of the 78 cards at this page on her website. It is goth deck with a retro style, though her imagery is is not dark and anguished, but stylish and celebratory. I have been waiting for this to be published for some time. I bought one of the ten prototype decks, so it is great that it is now available in the full edition.
18 March 2010
Yesterday I showed a deck produced by the Chinese card printing company, Poker Workshop, deck number 208. Today I want to show you deck number 205 from the same publisher. This is the Battlestar Galactica Tarot, a full set of 78 cards using publicity photographs from the show. Whether this is an authorised tarot is uncertain, but it will probably be of interest to Battlestar Galactica collectors. There is some attempt to associate the photographs used in the Majors with the appropriate idea of the arcana, but this seems to break down in the pip cards, though the court cards use characters from the show. I have not watched this television show so do not know the plot lines or the particular qualities of the characters. There are quite a few tarots that have been issued either officially or unauthorised in association with television shows, and this seems particularly common in the Far East. Indeed, there, doujinshi or fan art is tolerated and even encouraged by some production companies, as they see it as free publicity. This deck has will probably have little interest to tarot collectors, except perhaps someone like myself, attempting to have as comprehensive a collection as possible. Some of the cards here are in landscape format. One particularly caught my eye, the Ace of Swords, where the cast are posed to somewhat mirror Leonardo's Last Supper mural.
17 March 2010
On my weblog entry for 20 November 2009 I showed a Pili (Puppet) Tarot associated with a long running television show in Taiwan. A few days ago I received, via Baby_dream, a Chinese deck issued by a card printing company, Poker Workshop, somewhere in China. I found it amusing that the box has some web addresses from which you can apparently buy the deck. One gives an error while another is shop36346343.taobao.com. I am not sure if there can be over 36 million shops on taoboa.com ! They must sell every product in the world. No wonder the Chinese economy is so strong. I cannot generate much confidence in a outlet describing itself as shop36346343. I much prefer buying from a dealer like Baby_dream and let her do all the work accessing shop36346343. Anyway this is a full 78 card deck using photographs of puppets with elaborate hairstyles and costumes, though I cannot discern any attempt to pose the puppets to reflect the tarot image. I am not sure if this is connected with the Taiwanese TV show, though the puppets look similar and the box has 'No.208 Puppet Shows' printed on the base, so this is likely. There is also another Tarot of Pili issued by the television production company in 2004. This is a 22 card deck with different images, and they are posed as the tarot arcana. How many Pili tarots does someone need!
16 March 2010
Following on from yesterday's entry I have another fan art deck, this time for the Manga Axis Powers Hetalia. This is a deck and fanbook produced by Ryoko and Shinia. The cards are printed onto a metal coated card, which as you will see below has not scanned well. The margins should be a shiny gold colour, but the scanner light is scattered and shows up as green. I do like the Tower as a pile of television sets. I included the earlier Axis Powers Hetalia deck by Koze in my exhibition on the Art of Japanese Tarot, so I will show it below for comparison.
15 March 2010
Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen is a computer game first issued in 1993 which incorporated a tarot deck as a key component of the action. Now a doujinshi or group of fans has privately printed a tribute deck entitled TOB Memorial Petit Tarot (Tactics Ogre Battle). The cards are indeed 'petit' being only 2.7 by 1.2 inches (70 by 30mm) in size. I fully expect to be one of the very few tarot collectors who will want to buy a copy. I got these through the good offices of Baby_dream. I expect these will be impossible to find in a years time. It comes in a clear plastic box with a booklet listing all the artists. Strangely each card is illustrated in the book at almost twice the size of the cards !
13 March 2010
A fellow collector has pointed out to me that Mystical Tarot Deck of Dr. Seema Midha is actually a coloured version of the Light and Shadows deck by Michael Goepferd issued in 1995 in the USA.
13 March 2010
There are, somewhat surprisingly, very few tarots published in India. I somehow missed the Mystical Tarot Deck of Dr. Seema Midha when it was published in 2007, but happily managed to find a copy this week. This is a 78 card Rider Waite clone localised with Indian elements. Some of the card designs are close in style to the Pamela Colman Smith images, but others are quite original. If you want a copy you don't have to write to India as there is a distributor in the UK, Aphrohead of Southport.
12 March 2010
I seem to have been finding a number of circular tarots recently. The Oraculo de la Mujer Sagrada (Oracle of the Sacred Woman), also titled the Menstrual Tarot, was created by Monica Glusman between 2006-2009. This is not a conventional tarot deck. Although consisting of 78 cards, these are distributed into 6 suits of 13 cards. The suits are Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Wounds-Portal, and the Rainbow. The artwork is in coloured pencil without black outlines, and in the kind of naive style that some people might look down upon. Instead I find such artwork very interesting as the artist's ideas often transcend their ability to realise them on paper and this tension can produce imagery that is very engaging and often powerful - one recalls Cheryl Carlyle's tarot decks. One obvious influence here are the round tarots produced by the US pagan feminists around Shekhinah Mountainwater in the late 1970s and early 1980s - the Shekinah Tarot, Motherpeace, Book of Aradia and Daughters of the Moon tarot decks. Monica Glusman's deck appears to be self-published in Argentina and you can see details of it on her website. I rarely collect oracle decks with no conventional tarot structure, but I decided to make an exception in this case as it is so unusual and creative.
11 March 2010
On first glance the Foxy Arcana might appear not to be a tarot deck but an oracle. The familiar names of the arcana are missing, but when we look at the imagery and titles such as 'Enchanter', 'Guardian of Shadows', 'Termination', 'Fate', we realise that Beth Seilonen's sense of humour has deceived us again. The Foxy Arcana presents us with little tableau of the fox and the chickens in which inevitably the chickens appear to win, except in arcana 15 'Devour' or the Devil who lies on his back having consumed a considerable number of chicken victims, and 21 'Living' or the World, where our fox savours the aroma of roast chicken. This is a small limited edition of only 20 copies in Beth Seilonen's inimitable style.
10 March 2010
My tarot collection has now passed the 2000 mark.When I first started seriously collecting tarot, I never thought I might be able to amass this number. Building this collection has required a considerable investment of my time and money. How much further I can go I am not at all sure. This collection exhaustively documents the phenomenon of tarot in our age. It has been collected by an outsider to tarot itself, as I have no interest in using cards for divination. My main focus is on the artwork. Perhaps one day the artwork of modern tarot will be seen as a subject worthy of study, rather than being marginalised by the art community as it is at present. My collection is a significant resource for a proper study of tarot art. I am not sure what to arrange to do with the collection in the longer term. It would be sad if it had to be broken up and sold off piecemeal when I was older or when I die, however, I do not have the financial resources to endow this collection to preserve it indefinitely. Over the next few years this will be a pressing problem for me.
9 March 2010
There are round, square, oval, hexagonal, triangular tarot cards and now a heart shaped one. This Heart Tarot has been issued by Lo Scarabeo and comes in a solid heart-shaped box. The artwork by Maria Distefano is very original and she creates some rather interesting and novel takes on tarot imagery. She fully exploits the geometry of the heart shape with its two lobes, resisting the obvious device of merely depicting polarities, reserving this for cards such as the Lovers, the Chariot and a few others.
8 March 2010
This weekend I received the Wild Green Chagallian Tarot created by Penelope Cline, already known for her delightful Pen Tarot and her Mystic Rubaiyat cards. This new publication, in an edition limited to 100 copies, fuses together two sources of inspiration - the paintings of Marc Chagall and the wild plants of woods and fields. Thus on many cards we find visual quotations from the paintings of Chagall. It is also interesting to try and identify the plants she weaves into her images. This should not be too difficult for British people, as they all seem common plants and herbs in the British landscape. The large cards, wrapped in rather nice craft made paper, come in a fine hand produced solid box. The deck includes an extra card "The Muse" honouring Chagall's wife Bella. You can see more of the cards on the Fig Tree Press website where you can buy a copy of this delicious confection of a deck. It is always best to buy a tarot such as this when it first becomes available otherwise you may well miss out.
6 March 2010
The Tarot of the Morning Star is a small limited edition tarot of only 75 copies, created by Roger Williamson and published in the USA in 2007. His artwork is printed in a soft focus style with few hard edges, giving it an ethereality. Williamson seems primarily inspired by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, thus many of the card designs use Egyptian forms. The 'Morning Star' of this tarot appears to be Lucifer, the Biblical Angel of Light, and many of the images incorporate the interweaving of light. His Fool is a portrait of Lucifer. I am not sure if Williamson would agree, but I found some of his imagery somewhat redolent of the coloured imagery William Blake printed in the margins of his poetry. He comes up with some wonderful new envisagings of the familiar arcana. One is his Hanged Man which delightfully metamorphoses into a bat. The deck comes in a solid red box with a paperback book in which he outlines how his ideas emerged out of his study and experience of the Western Magical traditions.
5 March 2010
The Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness by Barbara Bruch arrived in a big solid box with a 231 page extensively illustrated book. The imagery for the 78 card deck is abstract, often relying on geometrical forms, and this is explained and amplified in the book. Imagery, allegory and narrative is here dissolved into pure abstraction and archetypal cosmic forms.
4 March 2010
A short break for putting up entries here, not because I had no material, but rather because my main focus over the last week has been on book production and also on my working on some oil paintings. In fact I have obtained a number of intesting tarots in the last few days. Among these is one from Australia issued in 2009. This escaped my attention , but thanks to one of my fellow collectors on the Tarot Collectors Forum I now have a copy in my hands. This is the Revelation Tarot by Jahne Hope-Willams. It is a 22 card deck made using scraperboard, an art board with a chalky white ground and a top layer of black tinted chalk. Thus one scrapes away the top layer to show a white line. It is a very expressive medium though difficult to use consistently, and almost impossible to make corrections. Here Jahne Hope-Willams has produced an astounding set of designs. Definitely a deck one cannot forget.
24 February 2010
I am currently working on the twenty third tarot in my art tarot series. This should be published in early April. After this I will be taking a bit of a break from publishing tarot, certainly for the rest of this year. I am very busy working on a number of book publishing projects and I also want to be able to spend some time doing some painting. Sales of my recently issued decks have been rather disappointing, despite the fact that I thought these to be among the best I have issued. Without significant ongoing sales, I cannot keep up the momentum of issuing three or four decks a year, but I will have to wait till sales have accrued sufficiently to replenish the capital I have invested in this project. I know I am one of the few people viewing tarot primarily as an art genre, and it seems I may have, in my enthusiasm for the art, gotten a bit ahead of other tarot collectors, who perhaps are driven more by the wish to buy decks for divination. In the long term, I believe that many of the decks I have published will be recognised as significant pieces, and once sold out will fetch good prices, but in the short and medium term, people do not seem impelled to buy my productions in any significant numbers. Probably they will wait till the edition is sold out before wanting a copy. Three of my editions are now sold out and I continue to get people asking for copies. One thing I have learnt as a collector of tarot cards, is to buy as soon as you hear of a new deck. With small limited editions, if one waits a few years hoping for copies to be sold off cheaply, one will in most cases be disappointed.
23 February 2010
In the next month or so my tarot collection should exceed the two thousand mark. I see it as a reference collection of tarot art. In the longer term I am not sure what I will do with the collection. I did think I would leave it to some institution so it could remain in its entirety and be preserved as a primary source for tarot art, however, surprisingly no library or gallery seems interested. It seems we have a long way to go before tarot cards designs become accepted as art. Sadly I don't have a long way to go, as realistically at 62 I only have 10 to 15 years of active working life left, so this is a pressing problem.
22 February 2010
I recently managed to buy a copy of the Curious Tarot by Michelle Cohen. On the Aeclectic list it is presented as deck in progress. It consists of the 22 majors and the 16 Court cards. My copy is number 8 and was produced in 2002. The rather fine black hand-bound booklet that came with it indicates my copy was originally made for Stuart Kaplan. It is a collage deck, but unlike many collage artists who pile up bits of imagery, Michelle Cohen's deck is more minimal and uses the format of fitting various heads (animal, human and mask forms) onto various bodies. My copy came in a stained black wooden box.
19 February 2010
Today I received a copy of a new self published Italian tarot, I Tarocchi della Notte. This has been created by Maria Carmen Franca. Being a tarot of the night, all the backgrounds to the cards are black. This is a 78 card deck with non-illustrated pips. In addition the pips and court cards each have a border with the various interpretations and correspondences. This is a limited editon of only 50 copies. I was lucky to buy number 1 of the edition.
17 February 2010
Some days the world comes to my door, courtesy of the Post Office. Today I had one of the few visits from Bulgaria. This is the Arcani Maggiori Tarocchi. I have absolutely no further information as I cannot read a word (or even a character) of Bulgarian. The art is in watercolour painting using quite muted tones. The imagery keeps close to the established tarot major arcana forms but with some interesting variations and new ways of representing the symbolism. The packaging reminds me of the early Lo Scarabeo Tarocchi d'Arte series.
15 February 2010
I like to keep the South American part of my collection as comprehensive as possible, so it was a great delight to be able to buy a copy of the Thayer Tarot from Chile. This was created by the artist Alicia Thayer and comes in a large box with a comprehensive book in Spanish written by Jaime Hales describing each card. These are large round cards in deliciously saturated colour. I paid a high price for this deck as I suspect it will be very difficult to source suppliers in Chile, but as it is a truly delightful work of art, I was happy to pay this.
11 February 2010
About three or four years ago I attempted to buy a copy of a tarot included in the French magazine Télé Star. It was on auction on Ebay but my bid proved too low. I then tried to source a copy from other outlets but my efforts failed, and despite my liking for the imagery on the deck, it gradually faided from my memory. So it was quite a shock for me, a few days ago, to find a copy of this magazine on sale on a well known tarot dealer on Ebay. So I now have the Kantaro tarot in my collection.
9 February 2010
The Tarots Abanita or Les Tarots du Tao, created in collage and paint by the French artist Abanita. She provides these small cards in a rather fine individually hand-painted box. You can see more of her artwork on her website www.abanitaweb.com/index.html
8 February 2010
Now you can buy an entirely legal Hello Kitty Tarot. This was issued late in 2009 by Sanrio Co in Japan. The illustrations for the cards are in the authentic Hello Kitty style with loads of pink and that rather fixed gaze that seems to appeal to children.
6 February 2010
The latest tarot in my Art Tarot series, The Goth Tarot created by the Spanish artist Winny, is now available. As is my normal custom I offer the first 20 copies at a small discount. I have already sold fifteen copies to my regular customers, so those who want one at the discounted price should click here. When the goth community discovers it, I hope to sell quite a few copies
5 February 2010
I just obtained a copy of a new Chinese version of Giovanni Vacchetta's famous 1893 deck. This has been issued in coloured versions by various Italian publishers, including Solleone, Menegazzi and Lo Scarabeo. This version by Harbin Publishing House in North eastern China, comes in a large box with a large book. For their edition they have redrawn the images, closely following the original and these are sensitively coloured with good modelling though perhaps let down a little by the background graduated tones, however, I prefer this version to the Tarot of the Masters with its overworked 'aged parchment' backgrounds.
4 February 2010
The Japanese magazine publisher, Eastpress, issues a glossy, well produced monthly magazine, a Love and Fortune Calendar book targetted at young women and full of horoscopes, crystals, palmistry and other such divination. The issue for August 2009, contains a rather stylish tarot produced by Ryuichi Izumi with illustrations by Hitomi Nagao. Luckily I was able to get a copy before this went out of print.
2 February 2010
Today I received an interesting tarot from Taiwan, the He Tu Tarot, just issued this year. The imagery is very European in influence, reflecting the medieval manuscript tradition. Some of the little figures seen on the Minors are obviously derived from such manuscripts as the Limbourg Brothers manuscript Le Tres Riches Heures (15th Century) and other contemporary works. The pips are not emblematic in the style, say, of the Rider Waite, but each has a little scene in the lower foreground set under the requisite number of swords, batons, cups or coins. The Majors are quite conventional but delightfully drawn and coloured.
31 January 2010
In a recent discussion thread on my Tarot Collectors Forum one of the contributors encouraged people to access a copyright infringing web site and download for free, copyright material, namely, images of a complete tarot deck in order to print them out and avoid paying for a copy.
It might seem a neat idea to get everything for free or cheaply on the Internet, but it does have consequences. It destroys the honest work of artists and publishers. The torrent companies and file sharing sites are making money, using the copyright material of artists and publishers, from advertising and download charges, and some are even charging for prints of pages or cards. There are a number of torrents containing many hundreds of full tarot deck images in printable quality. If these continue to be produced it could destroy the publishing of tarot.
If such pirated free distribution continues, then few small publishers will be able to survive. Also the price of second hand decks could fall if people print illegal copies and perhaps even try and sell these as originals. This dilutes the pool of secondhand copies and thus erodes the money that collectors have invested in their collection.
It is likely that all modern tarot decks designs are still in copyright, as this extends 70 years from the death of the author. So only the works created by an author who died before 1940 are no longer in copyright. Since most modern tarot decks were created post-1960 almost all modern decks are protected by copyright.
These pirates are criminals. They might as well have gone into the house of the artist or publisher and stolen a pile of their tarot decks.
It might seem a harmless activity, but the victims are the artists, publishers and collectors of tarot, and ultimately the health of tarot publishing itself will suffer as few people will want to take the risk of publishing a deck only to have it put up for free or cheap download on the Internet.
If images of the tarot decks I produce were made available in this way, I would give up producing any more decks. I am not going to waste the remainder of my life supporting criminals, and having my income stolen. So I check every week or so to see if images of my decks are being made available on these sites. If they are, I will have no alternative but to give up publishing tarot. I expect most other small publishers would do the same.
28 January 2010
Some years ago I bought a copy of the Tarot de Tattwas by J.A. Portela. These were simple geometric forms supposedly based on the Indian esoteric system known as the Tattvas, found in Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Jainism, which in the early 20th century was taken up by western occultists primarily following the Theosophical movement. Portela is a writer on esotericism primarily known in the Spanish speaking world. I was made aware that he had created another tarot based on the Tattva diagrams, but after some fruitless searches for a copy over the last few years, I finally found one on sale through a dealer in South America. It turns out that the El Gran Tarot de los Tattwas issued in Barcelona by Editado Nostradamus was drawn in coloured pencils. The images in the Tarot de Tattwas use the same symbolic elements but present these in a different way particularly in the Minors, though some designs in the Majors are obviously closely related. It also includes a 23rd major - XXII El Cometa. Frustratingly, neither of these is dated, but as the Tarot de Tattwas issued by the well known card company 'Naipes Comas' has the forms created in block graphic colour simplifying the artwork of El Gran Tarot de los Tattwas, I believe the pencil drawings are the earlier version, which was later taken up by 'Naipes Comas' and converted by Portela into the more abstract forms. I much prefer the coloured drawings, though the severe geometric purity and complementary flashing colours of the second version is also interesting in its own terms.
22 January 2010
This afternoon I finished production of the next tarot, the twenty second, in my Art Tarot series. This is The Goth Tarot created by the Spanish artist Winny. As you will see her drawing is strong and assured and her colouring a delight. As soon as I saw these images I wanted to publish her deck. Click here to buy a copy. The first 20 copies are offered at a small discount
20 January 2010
This morning a truly wonderful new tarot deck created in Britain arrived in the post. This is the Hezicos Tarot created by Mary Griffin. I have known about this for some time as Mary Griffin had created a web site www.hezicostarot.com to give her work some advanced publicity and to show her other artwork. Her paintings for the deck are beautifully drawn, subtly coloured and modelled. The 78 cards are borderless and are provided in a very strong rigid box which is illustrated to look like a parcel, making the box itself a delight. The artwork has a coherent style throughout. The majors do not depart far from the established tarot imagery, but she imparts to them her own creative slant. The Magician and the Devil especially engaged me. The pips draw on the Pamela Colman Smith images but again, translated into Mary Griffin's imaginative reworking.
19 January 2010
Today I finished laminating the printed sheets for the next tarot, number 22, in my series of Art Tarots. Provided nothing else gets in the way, I should over the weekend be able to complete cutting the sheets into cards, rounding the corners and making them up into the boxes. So tune in to this channel early next week to see what my next tarot looks like. It is quite a delight.
18 January 2010
The core members of the Tarot Collectors Forum have created their second collaborative deck. This is a 78 card deck and includes artwork created through painting, drawing, computer modified imagery, photographs, collage and other media. The imagery is, naturally, very informed and the contributors give the imagery of the card they have chosen, their own individual creative spin. As with most collaborative decks its is not for sale but only available to the contributors and a few of their close friends. I just show one card here, not chosen at random, but it just happened to strike me when I looked through the whole deck when making up this weblog entry. Another day I may well have chosen another card but this one spoke to me this evening.
10 January 2010
I now have another tarot as illustrations in a book. This one is self-published but beautifully printed as an A4 sized book (11.75 by 8.25 inches). It was produced in Taiwan, and the artwork is beautifully drawn and coloured. I know nothing about the creator of the image, but the style is similar to Les Fleurs du Mal, another art tarot issued in Taiwan a few years ago. I don't want to damage the book by forcing it flat on the scanner to provide an image for the weblog, but I do have the cover illustration in colour and the provisional uncoloured sketch for the Chariot. Copies of this seem difficult to source and it may be difficult to find in a few years time. The artist has a weblog on blog.yam.com/lmclubs
Chialing, the tarot dealer who obtained this for me, confirms that it was produced by the same designers as issued the Les Fleurs du Mal.
8 January 2010
I recently found a copy of an Italian book on the tarot by Claudio Alari published in Rome in 1973, Gli Arcani Maggiori e Minori del Tarocco. This book contains some wonderful pen drawings of the 22 Majors by Elettra d'Argo. There is, further, another set of designs for the majors. These are, in contrast, symbolic and minimalist, suggesting the idea of the arcanum by a simple glyph.
7 January 2010
There are not so many tarots issued in Mexico, so I was delighted to find another one to add to my collection. This one can name (after the publisher) the Pronaco Tarot, a 78 card Rider Waite clone, with some interesting variations on some of the card designs, especially in the Minor pip cards. There is no indication on the packaging or in the little booklet of the artist or publication date, but I suppose it to be recently published. This takes my Mexican tarot count to six decks.
6 January 2010
Today I received in the post a Spanish version of the Majors from the Sheridan Douglas Tarot of 1972. The Spanish version are much smaller than the originals and are more subtly and sensitively coloured. The underlying line drawings have been redrawn from the original making some small adjustments.
5 January 2010
Bolt Cutter Design in the USA have recently issued the Oblivion Tarot in two separate versions. Here are some images from the Oblivion light deck. For the most part this is a Rider Waite clone, nicely redrawn and coloured, but with a few rather original re-envisagings of particular images, such as the Fool.
28 December 2009
Bolt Cutter Design in the USA have recently issued the Oblivion Tarot in two separate versions. First we can consider the Oblivion dark deck. This has a palette restricted mainly to brown and red tones. The edition is limited to 100 copies. The Minors follow quite closely the Pamela Colman Smith designs for the Rider Waite deck. The Majors are a mixture of the Rider Waite imagery with a few individual departures such as the Magus.
27 December 2009
Last week I received one of the latest batch of tarots from the Museo dei Tarocchi in Italy. This is the Bologna Magica... Al Top by Mariarita Frazzoni, in a limited edition of 300 copies. There are a number of tarots issued in Bologna in the late 18th and 19th centuries, and a modern one of Luigi Mattei (1982). This new one from the Museo dei Tarocchi refers to architecture features of the ancient city, but with the artwork in a modern cartoon style, brightly coloured and highly detailed, each card having a different decorative border. Il Mago refers to the Piazza Maggiore, La Morte to the Church of San Procolo, La Temperanza to the Old Jewish Quarter and so on. I was particularly engaged by La Forza which refers to the Bologna Stone and the mysterious riddle of the little verse on Aelia Laelia Crispis. The artwork here is somewhat reminiscent of some of the designs by Amerigo Folchi.
22 December 2009
There are a considerable number of Rider-Waite clones, in which the artist holds close to the original Pamela Colman Smith designs. Some are more successful than others. Yesterday I received a Japanese deck and book in one of those wonderful solid cardboard boxes that Japanese publishers often use for their tarot. This tarot was issued in 1989 by the publisher Tairiku Shobo, though the artwork was made by Seigan Nakajima in 1975. These are beautifully redrawn, using different thicknesses of pen line which makes the imagery very crisp. Nakajima has improved the detail on the forms and added very sensitive and subtle colouring.
21 December 2009
This morning I received a Japanese book on tarot published in 1978 by Mainichi Simbun-Sha and edited by Masao Ono. It was rather expensive, but I decided to take a chance on it. The book included illustrations of many early Japanese tarot which I knew quite well. There were, however, some quite amazing designs for the majors which I could not remember seeing before. It took some time, but eventually I found it in Kaplan Vol III. It is by Nariyuki Sawaki and does not appear to have been published outside of the book. Death is truly astounding with its interweaving of the deconstructing skull with the female figure, quite remarkable for 1978. The artwork is done using fine coloured dots.
2o December 2009
There are a few gaps in my collection especially from the early period, so it was rather good to find one of these items recently. This is the Heiri Steiner Tarot published in Switzerland in 1968. I have only seen two of these on sale over the last few years. The artwork is not especially original but the cards have been drawn and coloured in a simple style and the brightness of the colours then darkened by applying thin washes of occluding browns and greys. This mutes the colours and makes the artwork look aged, a rather attractive effect.
4 December 2009
Today I received a tarot card in the post. It turned out to be the Hanged Man from the Tarot of the Pomegranates. This is one of the most unusual marketing strategies for a tarot deck I have yet encountered. The artist An-Magrith Erlandsen sends out each card as they are completed. She appears to have begun working on this deck about ten years ago. As she intends a full 78 card deck, I estimate it will cost her more to post me the individual cards, than I originally paid her. It cost her nearly a dollar to post me this card. Apart from the rather strange economics of her production, the card designs themselves are wonderfully original and beautifully painted. Her Hanged Man dangles in a womb-like form over a labyrinth set in a landscape of various religious architectural forms, a Greek temple, an Irish round tower, a ruined church, a spiral tower like the minaret of the Mosque at Samarra, and other such buildings. In the sea below are sunken cathedrals visited by dolphins and turtles. A quite astounding conception. I look forward to the next letter from An-Magrith.
3 December 2009
Robyn Tisch Hollister has produced a number of tarot decks. Her latest is the Tarot Noir, a 78 card deck based on the Tarot of Marseilles pattern. The images have been painted in grey and white using large brush strokes, which produces a rather engaging painterly effect. The edition is limited to 100 copies.
1 December 2009
The Kingdom Within Tarot has been created by Juno Lucina with artwork by Shannon ThornFeather. These appear to be created using a computer painting program. The imagery is eclectic, drawing on all sort of religious and esoteric ideas. The 78 card deck is fully illustrated and though the imagery on the pips does draw on Pamela Colman Smith's ideas, in many cases it departs from these and adopt different imagery. The Empress is classic in its simple image, the phallic Tower is struck by a flaming earth or planetary globe, while the Seven of Cups has a seven towered sand castle. The artwork is quite creative in places but the rather limited modelling of the human forms will perhaps not suit everyone.
30 November 2009
For some strange reason I try to collect all the decks given away free with magazines, often in the Far East. For the most part, they are not spectacular art, and most collectors consequently ignore them, but somehow I feel they are part of the fabric of tarot that no one else seems to be collecting. In ten years time people could well be struggling to find such items. Anyway I already have a solid collection of these items. The latest edition to this corner of my collection was issued with a magazine published in Hong Kong. These are small cards only 2 by 1.25 inches (50 by 30 mm).
29 November 2009
The titles of tarot decks are often intriguing. I could not hold myself back from buying a Taiwanese tarot entitled Extreme Rain. This is a gift tarot issued with a self-published novel of that name. Only 10 cards were provided at random with each purchase, so people had some problem in collecting the whole set. The tarot itself has some rather fine manga art. The artist uses the device of soft backgrounds with the faces of the characters sharply drawn. The imagery closely follows the estabished tarot images, with amusingly, Strength being depicted as a woman wielding a frying pan. The Moon has a bit of a departure showing a young man with a birdcage. Perhaps some of the imagery relates to scenes from the novel. This I will probably never find out.
An email correspondent has now informed me that the cards' characters are actually based on the web-manga Axis powers Hetalia . Note that "The fool" looks like the character N. Italy, "Strength" is Hungary and "The moon" is Germany.
28 November 2009
I also recently bought a copy of an early 1990's Japanese tarot. This is the set of tarot cards illustrated by Emiko Sugi and published in 1993. The cards show the tell tale signs of having been pressed out of a printed sheet, which makes me think that they were originally issued in a magazine as press outs. Emiko Sugi was a manga artist specialising in the young teenage group. Sadly she died a few years ago at the young age of only 47. Her art style relied on the strength of her fine line drawings. Kaplan's Encylclopedia of Tarot Vol IV has illlustrations of these designs on page 658 where the tarot is named Rise no Miracle Tarot and reported as being issued by Shojo Comic in 1999. This may be a later reprint. My copy bears the date 1993.
27 November 2009
More rabbits in a tarot! I just received a hand produced self-published Doujinshi tarot, the Yu Yu Hakusho Tarot. This is apparently based on a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yoshihiro Togashi later adapted as an anime. Yu Yu Hakusho seems to literally translate as "Ghost Detective" and tells the story of Yusuke Urameshi, a teenage delinquent with a punk hairstyle who is struck and killed by a car while attempting to save a child's life. After surviving a number of trials set him by Koenma, the son of the ruler of the afterlife Underworld, Yusuke is revived and appointed the title of "Underworld Detective", and given the role of investigating and solving various cases involving demons and apparitions in the human world. Strangely, this tribute deck features the main figure accompanied throughout the 22 cards by two pink rabbits ! Each card also incorporated flowers, producing a herbarium of stylised blooms. The cards are laminated in those single laminating pouches. I have been informed by the dealer Baby Dream who sourced this item for me, that the creator of this tribute deck is an artist named Juria.
26 November 2009
Kazuki Takahashi is a manga artist, illustrator and game creator who created the manga Yu-Gi-Oh! This later appeared as an anime and a number of spin offs including video games. I have obtained a small tarot deck using his artwork, published by the Shueisha Publishing Co, one of the major publishers of magazines in Japan. The original manga images are presented on a background layer of a line drawing of a wall panel from an Egyptian tomb, thus perpetuating the idea that tarot was somehow connected to ancient Egypt, a common preconception in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
25 November 2009
Taiwan is a source of many interesting and creative tarots. Just issued there by www.Looktarot.com is their Fantasyland Tarot Journal. This is a small format tarot workbook and a set of tarot cards designed by an artist called Mei. The artwork is the much underused coloured pencils which produce those rather delightful textures through the linear strokes. Mei incorporates much animal symbolism into her designs.
24 November 2009
Today I received an expensive self-published tarot from Japan entitled Neeju-Ku Tarot. This was issued by the gallery "Art Rush" with the artwork being by a female artist calling herself 5*Season. The artwork is digitally realised and has wonderful soft diffused outlines set against textured backgrounds. The figures often have the tops of their heads open, not at all in a gruesome way, but suggesting the openness to ideas and the flow of life. There is also a subtext involving the stylised architecture.
You can see a full set of the 22 cards on her website. If you want one buy one soon as I doubt these will be available for long. My copy came in an envelope with a personalised handwritten message from 5*Season.
23 November 2009
The Odell 79 (Truth) Tarot was designed by Robert Odell in 1977. The artwork consists of pen drawings which have been coloured. It is an intiguing deck as he obviously worked many of his images from the Patricia Colman Smith designs for the Rider-Waite deck, however, in many places Odell found an interesting new image, such as that for the Hermit.
20 November 2009
Pili is a puppet TV series in Taiwan which began in 1985 and continues to this day. The production company Pili International Multimedia has issued many merchandise promoting the series. They have just issued a tarot deck, which I now have bought as I like to keep my collection of Far Eastern tarots as comprehensive as possible.
19 November 2009
I recently received the Tarot Casimir, a self published tarot from Taiwan. I know absolutely nothing about it, but the artwork is very fine indeed.
17 November 2009
Kimberly Fordham is known for her Toscano collage tarot created from images in the US home and garden catalogue. Now she has turned to the Taschen art books as inspiration for her new tarot images for her Taschen Tarot, issued in an edition of 100 copies in August 2009. She includes a number of versions of some cards - perhaps she could not decide which was the better image. Thus there are 2 Strengths, 2 of Justice, 4 Deaths, 2 Temperances and two separate images for the Tower.
16 November 2009
Today a rather original tarot arrived from Spain. The artwork is by Juan Albiol. I first came across these tarot designs in December 2006 when Juan Albiol was trying to publish his images, but the project then failed to work out. So it was good to see that he had finally managed to have these printed. It is called the Tarot Trascendental and the atwork is truly delightful. The majors are relatively conventional though we are led into a strange world of alien like beings, but the Minor arcana are a riot of originality. Strange organic forms entwine around alien like beings. We are far away from Pamela Colman Smith, probably on a different planet. The detail in the paintings is amazing. This is tarot art in its essential form. No collection of tarot should be without this deck.
13 November 2009
I apologise for the long gap in the entries for this weblog. I have been extremely busy working on my next book and also getting the Lynyrd Narciso deck published.
Unlike some tarot collectors, I do not only collect printed cards, but also tarot designs printed in book form, as I am primarily interested in the artwork. So I was very happy to receive a copy of a Japanese tarot in book form, which a fellow collector was kind enough to find and obtain for me. The illustrations are by Ota Daihachi, and my fellow collector informed me that they were published in the late 1970's in a series of 18 volumes of fairy tales and culture from around the world. Another colleague has given me the following information about Ota Daihachi:
Born in 1918. Spent childhood in Nagasaki, and moved to Tokyo aged 10. Graduated from the Department of Design, Tama Art University. Has worked on illustrations for younger children's magazines and books. Winner of many awards such as the Nihon Gaka Award (1955), Shogakukan Kaiga Award (1959), domestic prize of the Hans Christian Andersen Award (1969), second prize of the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Has a great variety of styles from orthodox oil painting style to Japanese traditional painting style. Resides in Tokyo.
I have built up quite a backlog of tarots to show people through this weblog. So, hopefully, I will be able to find the time to make up the entries over the next few weeks.
21 October 2009
I have now completed production of the latest tarot in my Art Tarot series. This is a beautiful and stylish tarot by the Philippine artist Lynyrd Narciso, entitled Tarot ng Daigdig sa Balintataw. This is the twenty first tarot deck I have published. I do hope that people will buy copies and support my publishing project. Sales of specialist art tarots are very slow, and I need all the support I can get to continue the publishing work. I am one of the major independent publishers of tarot decks, though my bank balance does not seem to agree with that. I have had to invest a lot of money and time in producing tarot decks and I find that it takes years to break even on some decks. I do try to keep to high standards of production and give the artists freedom to chose how their decks are presented. This deck by Lynyrd Narciso is a luscious confection of form and colour. I do hope I will get some significant sales. To encourage people I will sell the first 20 copies at a discount. Click here to see a description of the deck.
19 October 2009
A few years ago I managed to buy a copy of the Escaflowne Tarot issued in 1997 with the Playstation game based in turn on the manga and popular anime series. I knew that there was another Escaflowne Tarot issued in the form of trading cards with Escaflowne videos. These proved more elusive, and I missed out on one a year or so ago when I was outbid on an auction. There are obviously many Escaflowne fans who want to collect these cards. However, last week I managed to buy a full set of these cards. There are 22 cards and strangely four of these are in landscape format. Each of the cards relates both to a tarot arcana and a character from the anime.
17 October 2009
Mike Indovina is a graphic artist working in the style of comic books, through his publishing company Satyr Play. He is also inspired and enthused by Greek Mythology of which he is obviously very knowledgeable. He has even gone so far as to produce a 100 page comic book entirely on this theme The Grand Tour of Greek Mythology relating the entire timeline of Greek Myth in chronological order, from the creation of the universe to the founding of Rome. He has now issued his Silenus Tarot again drawing extensively from Greek Mythology. For his 78 card deck he had very cleverly managed to find classical Greek mythological stories to link with each of the 78 cards including the familiar Patricia Colman Smith images to the minors in the Rider-Waite deck.
15 October 2009
I am now working on laminating the next tarot in my Art Tarot series. Hopefully, I should be able to complete work on it by the middle of next week. This is one of the wonderful designs of Philippine artist Lynyrd Narciso. It bears the title in old Filipino Tarot ng Daigdig sa Balintataw which translates to "The World inside the Pupil" (the black part of the eye). Of course, the artwork is wonderful with subtle muted colours keyed to a tight palette. Check my tarot website later next week to see some sample cards. Hopefully, some people will want to buy copies.
12 October 2009
I have now receive the quite delightful Rabbit Tarot by Nakish Vanderhoeven. I bought the deluxe version which is a 78 card deck of small cards that comes with a mass of extras, a large format book, a set of postcards with designs from the deck, an ACEO card and other items. The rabbit images are really well drawn and delightfully envisaged as to rival the cuteness of many cat tarots. The pips are emblematic but quite simple in form. The suits are renamed so as to be meaningful for rabbits, to Carrots, Daisies, Sticks and Tulips.
9 October 2009
A week or so ago I managed to buy a copy of a rather rare and consequently expensive Japanese Tarot. This is the Hindu Tarot by Kali published in Japan in 1986. It comes in a solid box with an illustrated book. At first sight it does not seem to have a tarot structure, as there are 51 cards, however 16 of the cards bear the standard titles to the majors while the others have a Hindu name (such as Vishnu or Brahma) or some philosophical concept (such as emotional, the past, interchange) or some other term. A table in the book shows the associations of the cards to the tarot majors. The first five cards relate to arcana 1 to 5 (Magician to Pope), the next ten cards relate two at a time to the next five arcana, while the remaining 36 relate three at a time to the remaining 12 arcana. It is a collage deck, made with scissors, paste and cut out images. The title page bears the mantra "Hari Vishnu, Hari Krishna" so I wonder if it perhaps emanated from some Japanese followers of the ISKCON movement which was still very popular and visible on the streets of most cities in the 1980s.
7 October 2009
There is an interesting illustration in Michael Dummett's The Game of Tarot. It shows a fresco in the Casa Borromeo in Milan, dated to the early 1440s. It is usually described as the 'Tarocchi Players'. Dummett explains that one can clearly see the patterns on the backs of some of the cards held by the players, and these are consistent with, though not exclusive to, early Tarot cards. The fresco sadly has deteriorated greatly though the 20th century, but a black and white photograph from 1926 survives in which one can clearly see the fronts of two of the cards, and these are the Ace and the Two of Coins. Thus this could be a set of playing cards rather than a tarot, but Dummett further noticed in the photograph that there were some cards laid face up on the table and two clearly had pictures, possibly the Fool and a Queen, thus he felt confident that the traditional title of the fresco was based on reality, and that this was possibly the earliest depiction of tarot.
1 October 2009
A colleague has informed me that the artist of E's Tarot (29th September entry) is Satoru Yuiga and it is related to a manga called "E'S" by Satoru that ran in G Fantasy from the late 1990s through 2005 (E'S refers to "Espers."). He also pointed out that the alternate card names (The Martyr, Reacter, etc) are the names of the cards from John Starr Cooke's T: The New Tarot for the Aquarian Age from the late 1960s.
30 September 2009
I have just received my first ever Venezuelan Tarot ! I am not sure if this is the only Venezuelan tarot to be published. It is entitled El Tarot de Maria Lionza and was published in Caracas in 2004. The artwork for the deck is by Jose Figueras Diaz. The Minors are conventional with non emblematic pips and simple images for the Courts, but the Majors are a series of rather fine drawings probably in coloured pencil but possibly in pastels. The imagery is for the most part conventional. It is based on the legendary figure María Lionza, the central figure in one of the most widespread indigenous religions in Venezuela. The religious cult which developed in her name is a blend of African, indigenous, and Catholic beliefs similar to the Caribbean Santería and she is revered as a goddess of nature, love, peace, and harmony. Some people believe that Maria Lionza was a real historical figure born in 1502 to an Indian Chief from the region of Yarucay. Her name comes from Maria de la Onza (Mary of the Jaguar) derived in turn from the full name 'Santa Maria de la Onza Talavera de Prato de Nivar' ascribed to her by the Catholic Church in order to obscure and Christianise her cult. She is also known by her followers as "La Reina" ("The Queen"). Her cult was revived in the 1940's when writers and artists were looking back to Venezuela’s pre-European period in response to a number of archaeological discoveries in the late 1930s and there was a conscious attempt to link her to this rediscovered past. An interesting legend has grown up around the supposed historical character:
"Yara, or Maria Lionza as she was known afterwards, was an indigenous princess. She was the daughter of Yaracuy, the chief of the Nivar tribe, the granddaughter of Chief Chilua and the great-granddaughter of Chief Yare, all great warriors and leaders. The shaman of the village had predicted before Yara was born that if a girl was born with strange, watery-green eyes, she would have to sacrificed and offered to the Master of the Waters, the Great Anaconda, because if not it would lead to the ruin and extinction of the Nivar tribe.
However, her father was unable to sacrifice her and so he hid the little girl in a mountain cave, with 22 warriors to watch over her and stop her from leaving. She was also forbidden from looking at her image reflected in water.
But one day, her guards were mysteriously put to sleep and the beautiful young girl left the cave and walked to a lagoon, where she looked into the water and saw her reflection for the first time. Captivated by her own image, she was unable to move, but her presence awakened the Master of the Waters, the Great Anaconda, who emerged from the depths, fell in love with the girl, and drew closer to take her away. When she resisted its advances the anaconda swallowed the girl, but immediately he began to swell up, forcing the water out of the lagoon, flooding the village and drowning the tribe. Finally, the anaconda burst and Maria Lionza was set free, becoming the owner of the lagoon, the river and the waters, the protecter of the fish and later of all the plants and animals."
29 September 2009
The rather strangely named E's Tarot from Japan arrived recently. The artwork is by Satol Yuiga one of the Square Enix stable of illustrators and is dated to 2005. This is a majors only deck and each have been renamed but retain their usual titles in the card design. Thus the Fool is the 'Nameless-One', Emperor is 'Actor', the Wheel of Fortune is the 'Royal Maze', Moon is 'Reacter' and so on.
28 September 2009
In 2004 the Book of Kaos Tarot was published in Australia. This has a strong foundation in 'magickal' (Crowley-Thelemite-Austin Spare) imagery and uses the powerful pen drawings of the deliciously named Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule. This was based on the earlier Bohemian Tarot from 1990 when Orryelle was the more prosaically named Geoff Day, though going by the name of Baron Vermin. I have now been able to obtain a copy of the Bohemian Tarot majors which was issued as a signed and numbered edition of 100 copies. It was published in a folder and has a descriptive booklet originally hand-written rather than typeset. The form of publication reminded me of the earlier Thelemic Tarot of Augustus Donelly from 1977. The Bohemian Tarot cards are rather large 8 by 5.5 inches (202 by 140mm) and Day indicates that it is presented as an art piece serving as an exposition of his philosophy. Many of the card images were reused some 14 years later in the Book of Kaos Tarot, but others were changed to reflect the development of Orryelle's ideas and drawing style. He includes an extra five cards. One is called Blood and thus links to the life force and vampirism. Another is The Grove, while there are three cards forming another suit, the Drug Suit, one being named Drunk, a second being Stoned and the third the Trip. The majors are not titled or numbered but here are the Hierophant, Justice and the Hanged Man, each very different from the images used in the Book of Kaos Tarot.
27 September 2009
A major exhibition of art by women surrealist artists has just opened at Manchester City Art Gallery here in the UK, entitled Angels of Anarchy. Richard Shillitoe who was the major force behind my publishing the Taro by Ithel Colquhoun a few months ago, has loaned one of the packs of the Taro as an exhibit. He tells me it looks most impressive laid out in a display case.
25 September 2009
I have obtained a rather beautiful tarot from Argentina. This is the Tarot Infinito and was issued (possibly as a promotional item) by Canal Infinito, which was a cable television channel in Buenos Aires mostly providing documentaries on subjects of mystery, occultism and on various pseudoscience and mystical subjects. I am not sure if it is still operating. However, they have created a wonderful tarot, printed on large cards in subtle matte tones, overprinted in some small areas with a glossy varnish, which produces a rather fine effect. The artwork is inventive and engaging.
23 September 2009
There are always obscure and almost unknown tarot items to discover. I have just received the Animedia Tarot which seems to have been issued as a gift tarot in a Japanese magazine some 20 or more years ago. The 22 card deck seems to be based on a game and the company may have been an earlier incarnation of the present day large multimedia publishing group e-animedia. The artwork for this earlier tarot is by a number of artists known in the computer game and manga arena, Takayuki Goto, Toyoo Ashida, Mutsumi Inomata and Hatsuki Tsuji. Some of the artwork is quite conventional tarot imagery, but I found Death and the Devil rather cute, and the Hermit seems a bit too charming to be living his life isolated on his own.
23 September 2009
I have now made up the final batch of the Marie-Claude Purro Tarot which has been unavailable for a few months as I had sold out the first 60 copies. I have now made up the final 40 copies. My apologies to people who have been awaiting copies. I had to give much of my Tarot production time recently to the new tarots the Ithell Colquhoun Taro and the Javanese Folktales tarot. I am currently working on the next tarot in my series, and also hope to print up another tarot which has been unavailable for a few months, for the same reason as with the Marie-Claude Purro deck.
23 September 2009
I recently received a rather fine self published tarot by an Chinese artist. This is the Asaph.z Tarot, and sadly I cannot find out very much about this artist. They have a weblog at http://blog.sina.com.cn/asaphmxy but as I don't read Chinese I cannot get any details. However, the black and white tarot, in the elongated style often adopted by Chinese tarot artists from the traditional format of Chinese playing cards, is delightful.
14 September 2009
I am usually unimpressed by the output of Lo Scarabeo. Their themed decks seem overworked and laboured with very conventional artwork. However, one of their recent publications the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight is a real gem shining out from the dross. I am not really sure what the deck is about, but the artwork is quite delightful and engaging. I found myself puzzling over some of the imagery, especially that on the pip cards. The artist has drawn on elements of puppetry, circus, Venetian masks, doll like forms set within surreal landscapes. The imagery coheres, and I found myself wondering if there was some story or subtext underlying the imagery on the cards. The style of the drawings reminded me a little of Shigeo Otake's Mushroom Tarot or that of Fergus Hall.
11 September 2009
Robert Place's Vampire Tarot has been in preparation for some time but at last it is available from St Martin's Press in New York. It comes in a well made box with a tight fitting lid, that took me some time and shaking to get to the contents. Inside is a set of 78 large cards and a substantial paperback book of 227 pages. The artwork is in Place's familiar clean style, with boldly outlined figures and subtle colour shading and modelling. Robert Place, I suspect, sees tarot as a medium for art, rather than primarily as a divination system, thus his cards are large and perhaps too wide for many people to hand shuffle and also the corners are not rounded. The imagery is wonderfully suited to the theme, with some humourous incidents and many references to various aspects of vampire mythology. His book is is very helpful and leads us through many of the influences which led him to represent each tarot card in the way he did. He is very influenced by the Jungian approach, which is often applied to tarot and other symbolism systems. He does not present us with a dark and intense vampire tarot, gothic and grim, but rather a cerebral and aesthetic one.
7 September 2009
A week or so ago I discovered a tarot from Finland which I had not previously known of. This is the Tarot Kortit of Anita Polkutie, published by Positiivarit. I bought a copy which arrived this morning. It is a 78 card deck with conventional pip and Court cards without any significant emblematic symbolism. The images in the Majors are a delight. The artwork is deliciously coloured with very neat and clean lines. The Fool is quite delightful. This deck was published in 2006 but neither myself nor many of my fellow collectors had heard of it. It makes me wonder how many other wonderful decks have been published which I have missed.
7 September 2009
Over the weekend a rather depressing situation emerged. The first hint of this came from one of the users of my Tarot Collectors Forum, who was having problems accessing the site. I immediately checked and as I could gain access as normal I assumed this was some temporary problem local to that user. A few hours later another user wrote with a similar tale. I went on line again and discovered that the site had indeed become inaccessible. After a bit of checking with the whois system I discovered that the domain name tarotcollectors.com had expired. This is managed by the company that provide me with the forum software. They had either negected to inform me of the immanent expiry or else their email to me on this matter had been lost somehow. In any case I went onto their automatic payment system and paid the fee for renewal. However, over a day later nothing seems to have happened, and I must assume that it requires human intervention to reset things, and it being the weekend, no one is probably working at their end. I, of course, work seven days a week! It is probably just a small matter of resetting the nameserver addresses.
It is all a bit frustrating, but these small companies set things up with automatic systems that do not always seem to fulfill all what they promise. Such things are outside my control. Why they did not collect the fee automatically, as they do the monthly administration fee, I just do not understand.
Anyway, my apologies to the users of the Tarot Collectors Forum, many of whom have written to me assuming the worse, either that I had given up my interest in tarot, was suffering some terminal illness, or even that someone had stolen the domain tarotcollectors.com from me. The site will eventually come back on line. I have paid the fee and written two email to the administrators. The domain seems to be temporarily parked with some company who puts up tarot advertising. This has nothing at all to do with me !
Sadly, I have also noticed now that all the indexing of the site has disappeared off Google. It is sad to see how instantly the internet erases you.
UPDATE ! I have received news that the domain has been renewed and Tarotcollectors.com will now gradually become available as its active internet address migrates across the various nameservers worldwide. This could take a day or so, but for the larger ISP's this should happen more quickly.
4 September 2009
A few days ago I received a copy of The Giants' Tarot. This has been created by Raven Kaldera in the USA. Perhaps "conceived and orchestrated" might be a better description of the role of Raven Kaldera, as the images for the deck were created by over twenty different individuals, which are neatly described collectively as "Many Hands". This tarot is based on the Norse myths, which has a considerable cycle of tales involving giants or Jotnar. Some of these are well known through the Norse myths but others are more obscure. Happily in the booklet which comes with the deck, Raven Kaldera gives us a little detail about each of the giant, and Raven has written (with some others) a more extensive book on the giants The Jotunbok: Working with the Giants of the Northern Tradition also published by Asphodel Press.
1 September 2009
Mage: the Awakening is a role playing game dating back to 2005. Being a magic based game some players incorporated tarot into the play. A tarot deck was issued with an earlier game Mage: The Ascension from the mid 1990's. In the last month a tarot deck has been published for Mage: the Awakening. The artwork and imagery is really quite startling and imaginative. It is a 78 card deck and the emblematic minor pip cards to some extent draw on the classic forms of the Rider Waite. The Majors are wonderful. The artwork has been created by a quartet of artists who have managed to integrate their styles to produce a coherent deck.
27 August 2009
A month or so ago I bought a new British tarot, produced as part of the SPILL Festival of Performance 2009. It is a collaborative deck featuring the work of twenty two art photographers. It was organised and coordinated by Robert Pacitti and Carla Esperanza Tommasini. The imagery on the 22 majors is a series of posed photographs of human forms set in tableau of complex symbolism. The pips and courts also use photographs this time of objects which reflect the card imagery. Photographic tarots are often dismissed by some collectors but this one is outstanding. I would place it alongside the Japanese photographic tarot of Yukinori Tokoro of 2001. The SPILL tarot is expensive, but will be an essential addition to any tarot collection whose owner takes delight in creative artwork.
25 August 2009
It is cats again. Yet another cat tarot joins my collection. This one is rather special (though, in fact, they all are) in that it comes from Finland. There are few Finnish Tarots. I have two others. I would love to hear of any other tarots from Finland. Anyway, this Kissatarot is a full 78 card deck. The pips are emblematic, but do not follow the classic Rider-Waite imagery. In each image a cat or cats often appear as curious onlookers and companions rather than being at the centre of the imagery. Strangely on some cards the cat is accompanied by a friendly raven or crow. This is a fine and subtle deck.
23 August 2009
Arcanum Paradisus appears to be a computer game issuing from Taiwan. Now a rather fine tarot has been issued with a beautiful glossy book. The artwork is by a number of different artists, but the style coheres well.
21 August 2009
El Tarot del Saber (The Tarot of Wisdom) was issued in Argentina in 2008. This was designed and illustrated by Carolina V. Garber and it comes with a substantial book by Beatriz Leveratto in Spanish and English (being translated by Anna Irene Zebel). The designs for the cards are fresh and original yet not radically departing from the traditional imagery. The pip cards are emblematic and though aware of the Rider-Waite imagery Carolina V. Garber has created her own independent envisaging. The cards have key words on them to aid those given to reading tarot. A quite delightful deck from South America.
20 August 2009
This morning while looking among a pile of papers I came across a tarot I had bought some months ago. A quite amazing tarot, in fact. A weird, surreal and imaginative exploration of tarot imagery. This is the Seeing Eye Tarot self published by Debra Klopp-Kersey earlier this year in an edition of 100 copies. She brings together fragments of images then weaves them together into a new conception. The two skeletons pulling the Chariot have their legs within a large bellied pair of trousers, such as we might expect to find on Tweedledum or Tweedledee. The boy and girl standing before the wall on the Sun card have their bodies topologically woven together by a kind of lemniscate. I think you will agree that the imagery is astounding. I am so glad that it surfaced today after a short exile among a pile of papers in a remote region of my workspace. I will now file it away in my storage drawers.
18 August 2009
Today I am rather angry. Someone, entirely unknown to me, emailed asking me to provide them with scans of tarots in my collection. Seemingly an innocent request. I politely wrote back saying that it was not my policy to provide scans of copyright material. This person immediately wrote back again asking for scans of some rare items in my collection. I was so annoyed by this. I had made it explicit in my first reply. This person seems to think they have the right to acquire scans of rare tarots that I have had to pay hundreds of dollars to buy. Who knows what they would want to do with these. Some people nowadays are just so unprincipled to think they can demand such a thing from me. Such a selfish, unpleasant, untrustworthy person to have the gall to write back to me a second time ! I expect, but no doubt will not get, an apology. If they read this posting, they will probably shower me with a load of abusive emails instead. Sometimes people really disappoint you with their selfishness.
17 August 2009
Soul Calibur is a game in the Soul series of computer games developed and produced by Namco. I now have a tarot based on this fighting game. This would appear to be a self-published Doujinshi or fan art tarot. A rather fine example of manga style imagery.
15 August 2009
Beth Seilonen has come up with yet another new angle on the tarot. Her Home Sweet Home Tarot is subtitled "Where the Majors sleep at night..." and she explores this theme in her usual interesting and humourous style. This is issued in a small edition of only 20 copies.
14 August 2009
I have just bought the two Tsundere decks recently issued by the Japanese manga company Dears. "Tsundere" is a Japanese word with perhaps no immediate English equivalent. It has come to describe one of the character types found in manga and anime, being usually applied to a female character who is "in your face" outrageous, displaying much histrionics with a high squeaky voice, and yet with a soft gentle femininity hidden underneath which only appears when needed in the plot. Dears have decided to issue two Tsundere decks - the first has female characters, while the second has male ones. These each come with a CD-Rom which purports to explain the tarot. I suppose we should really see these as promotional items. Unlike many Japanese tarot these are receiving wide distribution and are easily available.
13 August 2009
I now have another of those Furoku tarot. This time from the Japanese magazine Love Fortune 2008. These are small cards which they printed on a single page. You have to cut them out. The artwork appears to be by a graphics artist called Miroku.
11 August 2009
The Shen Zhou Tarot is self-published by a Taiwanese graphics artist who uses the name SKY. It is rather well printed in black line on a silver background, with the titles in red circles. The original pen drawings are beautifully conceived, and show us the artist's subtle sense of humour. Thus the Fool is an elephant carrying the mountain on his back rather than being about to step off a precipice. The Moon has a rabbit at its centre seeming to be pounding something in a mortar. We recall that in Chinese mythology, the Jade Rabbit was seen in the markings of the moon as a rabbit pounding herbs in a mortar to make the Elixir of life for the Moon goddess Chang'e.
10 August 2009
Today I received a copy of the Kobe Tarot. This is a photographic tarot, in which two women pose against various landmarks of the City of Kobe in Japan making some link with the standard tarot images. The Tower for example, uses the Port Tower as a backdrop for the two young Japanese women to make their phot`ographic trick of falling from the tower. It is competantly done but not a significant tarot creation, however, I was very surprised to find in the documentation that it was published in 1991, so that does give it some historical import. This should not be confused with the Kobe Tarot created by the Slovenian Boris Kobe in 1945 when he was a prisoner in the Allach concentration camp in Nazi Germany.
8 August 2009
Last night I decided to rework my prices for the tarots I sell in my Art Tarot series. Over the last year the pound-dollar price has undergone quite wild fluctuations, and my prices were becoming a little bit out of line. I have now set some new prices for the decks. In general, for customers worldwide who have to pay in dollars, the prices will be more favourable, while the prices for customers in the UK and Europe who have to pay in UK Pounds, will remain the same or slightly reduced in some cases. I have adjusted the prices down a little so that I can add on a standard charge for postage. I used to include the postage in the price, but this did confuse some customers who were expecting to pay an additional postage charge, so I have made this more explicit on the payment buttons.
One deck, the Arto Tarot is down to the last ten copies, so anyone wishing to obtain a copy should do so soon.
You can see my Art Tarot series by clicking here. It continues to grow and develop and I hope to be able to issue some further tarots very shortly. In the first year or so of this project, I opted to only print half of the edition, fifty out of the full hundred, in order not to take up too much of my time, as printing, laminating and making up decks is very labour intensive. Four or so of my decks printed in this half measure have now sold their first group of fifty and I will have to spend time over the rest of the year printing up the remaining fifty. With the decks I have produced since number 13, I opted to print the full hundred in one batch so this only applies to the earlier productions.
The main index page to my Art Tarot Project gets an average of about 50 accesses a day, so there is a continuing interest in my work, however, it does not translate into actual sales, which are very slow. I would welcome any help in publicing my Art Tarots by mentioning it in blogs or making links in websites. I am now the major independent publisher of tarot decks, and I think, if you look at the items in my series you will find some astounding tarots. I have done this without external subsidy and have tried to be fair to the artists, both financially and in terms of giving them the final say in how their work will be issued. This project can only prosper if people buy these tarots. In the longer term, they should appreciate in value as I will not reprint or reissue decks. My contract with the artist is for 100 signed and numbered copies only. Once these are sold, they will become rare items, mostly locked up in the collections of tarot enthusiasts.
1 August 2009
A week or so ago I received a copy of the Cirque de Whimsy Tarot. This was created by the american artist Carol DeVall and the original artwork for the deck, hand tinted linocuts, was part of an exhibition in Lincoln Nebraska at the end of last year. She describes her tarot as providing a way of viewing life as a circus. Certainly for her, life is a bundle of fun. She has now set up a facebook page on her Tarot.
27 July 2009
Over the weekend I bought three more storage units, as my collection had degenerated into items piled upon one another, and it was becoming almost impossible to find things quickly. The main problem was the american tarots. There are so many of these, that I really need to have a drawer for each letter of the alphabet. Today I began assembling the storage units and hopefully, by the end of the week, things will be much more organised. This will also free up my map chest, which I need to store the ever growing quantity of artwork and prints I produce, as well as a great deal of research material for my paintings. I am not just a tarot enthusiast but also produce books, prints and paintings, so space and storage is always a problem. See this page for my prints, and this page for my recent paintings on the theme of the Temptation of St Anthony.
21 July 2009
I have decided that I will no longer publish tarots by people who have a full deck in mind but only those who think in terms of a Majors only deck. I have had problems with the Tarot of the Sidhe and the Quantum Tarot, where the pre-announcement of a full deck just killed sales of my Majors only edition. In both these cases I knew from the outset that the artists were thinking in terms of a full deck, but I made the judgement that there was room for both a limited edition Majors as well as the full 78 card deck. This assessment of mine appears to be flawed.
It is, I now see, also unfair to the artist to publish only their Majors as they may end up dissatisfied that their full deck is not being published. I did think this was a good idea but I am coming to see that it only leaves the artist frustrated. Sadly, the economics of tarot publication mean that it is not possible for me to produce 78 card decks at a price people can afford. Last year I tried to find cheaper ways for publishing decks, but without any success. I made an exception recently with the Ithell Colquhoun Taro and have had to price this at £120 ($200). Only an exceptional art deck like this can support such a price.
Another factor is the many cheerleaders in the Tarot world who tell artists how wonderful their tarots are but never buy their work. When I began publishing tarots I was deceived by the feedback I received from such people into thinking sales would be higher than they were. They may think they are doing a great job cheering people on. But the only real support for an artist is to buy their work ! This they don't do. It is easy to cheer artists on, but they need more than positive feedback. They need people to buy their work. I buy almost all the independent and self-published decks and try to give them some publicity on my weblog or the collectors forum, as I want to support artists in a real way. I wish the cheerleaders would put their money where their mouth is. They can do more harm than they realise. They raise expectations without providing the only real substantial and tangible support there is - actual sales.
In future I will only accept for publication works of artists who only want to produce the Majors.
17 July 2009
The Cruel Thing Tarot in gothic style, printed in red and black, has been issued by Fournier. The artwork is by the Argentinian artist illustrator, Luciano Vecchio. Cruel Thing is a graphic novel, written by Lean (Leandra Martinez), published by Norma Editorial in Spanish but soon to be published in other languages. The tarot that has arisen from this is a 78 card deck with extremely accomplished pen drawings with a fine line, printed using red and black. This adds an intensity to the artwork.
16 July 2009
I now have a self-published tarot from Taiwan produced in a small edition called Punk's Tarot. It is a full 78 card deck with fully illustrated pip cards by Yang Xun Li. It is a childrens deck somewhat in the style of the Hello Tarot, Stick Figure Tarot, or Peanuts cartoon (as a colleague of mine pointed out). There is in fact an "unofficial" Peanuts Tarot, which I have as scans, though it does not appear ever to have been printed as cards. Anyway, like these other childrens decks Punk's Tarot is great fun. The small format cards come in a little gauze bag with a tie.
15 July 2009
I recently obtained a copy of an older Japanese tarot from 1999. This is the Sentimental Journey Tarot with artwork by Kumi Horii. This appears to be based on a short running anime of the same title which was broadcast on Japanese television in 1998. It was a collection of twelve short stories about twelve different girls.
14 July 2009
A month or so ago I received a copy of a tarot from China with rather creative artwork. This has been self published by Tran Kwang Inn. The imagery is transexual in beautifully coloured strong line drawings. This is a very fine production and will be well sought after in years to come.
13 July 2009
Two short reviews of the Art of Japanese Tarot exhibition
13 July 2009
I could not resist this fun Pringles Tarot. No great artwork, no significant message, merely a promo for Pringles perhaps given away as a free gift in Japan. It even has a little booklet on how to read this tarot, but I doubt tarot readers will get many hints on symbolism from the artwork. This is the kind of obscure tarot that will be incredibly difficult to find in a few years time.
8 July 2009
While slowly waiting for some sales of my recent tarot I took delight in one of my recent purchases el Tarot de Marcelino by the prolific tarot artists Lynyrd Narciso. Usually he has his tarot designs published by a company, but here he has decided to self-publish. He has created a rather fine production printed on brown Kraft board in a dark burgundy ink. This creates a good effect, reducing the contrast and adding the background texture. It is a full 78 card deck and is provided in a sturdy box which opens like a book. This is well worth buying. There are few tarots issued in the Philippines. I hope he produces more of these tarots. I will be publishing a tarot by Ly in the next month or so.
3 July 2009
I have now finished the next tarot in the Art Tarot series. This is The Javanese Folktales Tarot with wonderfully harmonious artwork by Andhika Wijaya. You can see details and buy it by clicking here.
This is the twentieth tarot in my ever growing Art Tarot series which was set up to allow wonderful tarot decks like this to be published in card form.
1 July 2009
Today I finished cutting up the next tarot deck in my Art Tarot series. It really looks wonderful. I will have to spent a day or so making them up into boxes and then prepare the advertising and payment buttons onto my web page. So it should be ready, say on Friday. Look out for the announcement !
30 June 2009
Here are some photographs from the opening night of my 'Art of Japanese Tarot' exhibition at Kilbirnie. This is the second showing, the first was at the Glasgow School of Art. I am the rather out-of-place buffoon in the blue Salvador Dali tee shirt, as it was so hot I just could not bear wearing a shirt and jacket. My colleague Ronnie Heeps who curated the exhibition was smartly and rather formally dressed - you can see us both in the final photo.
26 June 2009
Today my exhibition on Japanese tarot moves to a new site. A local library in the town of Kilbirnie has recently developed an art gallery space and asked if they could mount my work as its inaugural exhibition. So later today Ronnie Heeps the curator, Pat Smith who made the video and I will travel down to be at the opening.
19 June 2009
I recently received Lo Scarabeo's Tarot of the Dream Enchantress. Who exactly is she? Well Lo Scarabeo don't even seem to know. But she spends a great deal of her time inhabiting the Minors, naked or scantily dressed. In the Majors, with a number of exceptions, she shows her more demure and modest side, even dressing up in order to undertake some alchemical experiments.
18 June 2009
Today a rather delightful tarot arrived from Hungary. This was created by Martina Miskolczi and exhibited in Budapest in February. She was persuaded by the members of the Tarot Collectors Forum to make a small edition (21 decks) with an accompanying book. So I am very pleased to have been among the lucky purchasers.
16 June 2009
As this weblog was getting rather lengthy at well over 200K, I have archived a section into a new Archive 3. The total weblog amounts to over 400k of text, and 30 megabytes of images, so it is already a significant and well visited resource with between two and three hundred visitors a day.
15 June 2009
A week or so back I received a copy of a 78 card Rider Waite clone from Poland with artwork by Robert Lichodziejewski. It is a rather nice production with large cards, is inexpensive and easily available internationally from various Polish online bookshops. It sticks close to the original images with a few quirky additions - I especially liked the aboriginal angels playing didgeridoos on Judgement. The minors mirror the emblematic forms on the Rider Waite.
13 June 2009
I also received another circular tarot in the last few days, this time from Argentina. This is the Tarot Egipcio Circular from a company called A.G. These are large 4.25 inches (110mm) diameter circular cards. Each of the 78 cards is printed with the face of one of the Gizeh Pyramids with the central space being occupied with a kind of cartouche form, more oval in shape than the usual Egyptian cartouche. This is divided into three zones, the central having a drawing in the style of the incised figures from the walls of Egyptian tombs, with some influences from the Wegener-Falconnier Egyptian tarot. These are, in fact, a repainted version of the Egipcios deck issued some twenty of so years ago by Editorial Kier in Argentina and U.S. Games.
12 June 2009
Beth Seilonen had done it again - surprised me with a new tarot. She is so inventive. This, the Goddess Round, consists of circular cards. She has issued this as a very small edition of only five decks. I find myself the proud owner of number 1. I can see why she has limited the edition to this size. She had to cut out the cards by hand ! I can imagine her working long into the evening for a few nights at the rather boring task of cutting out the circles.
12 June 2009
One of my fellow tarot collectors has now informed me that the Let's Tarot Nintendo game was supplied with the cards, and these were thus an integral part of the package and not an associated promotional item.
8 June 2009
Nintendo issued a tarot system, Let's Tarot, for their game platform in 2007. This was issued with a tarot deck designed by Midori Fujimori. The designs are entirely conventional, but have a very high quality line art with sensitive and harmonious colouring. Sadly, for some reason they chose to print the cards a few millimetres too large to fit within the case. This makes me think that these were supplied as a promotional gift, and not issued with all the game cartridges.
7 June 2009
I have today just completed the production of the Taro of the British occultist and surrealist artist Ithell Colquhoun. This was recently discovered by Richard Shillitoe who worked with me in making these strange abstract designs available in print for the first time. They were exhibited briefly in 1977. She was a painter and writer and along with Eileen Agar and Leonora Carrington, was one of the best-known English women surrealists. A friend of André Breton, she was also associated with Aleister Crowley. Her Taro is an example of a kind of abstract surrealism. She was deeply studied in the Golden Dawn tradition of magic, and wrote a well known book on the subject The Sword of Wisdom, 1975 as well as a strange allegorical novel or gothic fantasy The Goose of Hermogenes, 1971, and other works on Cornwall and Ireland. This is the nineteenth tarot that I have published
6 June 2009
I have now received an Egyptian Tarot produced in Brasil, the Tarô Egipcio. The watercoloured paintings are by Auri Campolonghi Gonella and appear to be based on an interpretation by Marco Daffi of the symbolism of the Bembine Table 'Disposizione dei Trionfi in rapporto alla Tavola Bembina' Kemi-Hathor, Volume 14, N. 79, January 1996. The artwork is rarther modern and I cannot immediately see the connection with the Bembine Table. The 22 cards are not numbered and do not bear the traditional arcana names, but instead are labelled "Renovacao-Neutralidade" and so on. Some are immediately recognisable as tarot arcana but others are a little more obscure.
3 June 2009
Evangelion is a major Japanese manga having been running for over a decade and now as an anime. Earlier this year they issued the Evangelion Tarot deck drawn on the characters in the series. The imagery has been conceived and created for this tarot project rather than merely been lifted out of their existing stock of images, as has been done with some other such promo decks.
3 June 2009
One of the most tedious stages in making up a tarot is lamination. One wishes one could dispense with this but it is essential if cards are to be handled. Sadly there is no automatic way of doing this available for the low volume user. Also is it not just a matter of pushing them through but one must keep focused and concentrated, otherwise the images can get creased, or waved, or bubbling appear under the laminate. One needs to constantly check the temperature and smooth the final four or so inches entering the machine to avoid waves and creasing. I have two lamination machines, and sit feeding them at the same time. Even so it takes ages to do 1000 sheets. It is so, so, so boring. After about a week I am halfway through laminating my latest tarot. Of course, I have to get on with all the other things I need to do at the same time so can't spend more than a few hours each day on this. I have also been working on a very detailed painting which has taken up a great deal of my time for the last three weeks.
1 June 2009
The latest issue of the Tarosophist International edited by Marcus Katz is now available. It includes a review of the Art of Japanese Tarot exhibition. You can buy a copy from the Tarot Professionals website www.tarotprofessionals.com. This has a cover featuring Emily Carding's artwork for her Tarot of the Sidhe which I published a few years ago. The full 78 card deck is now to be published by Schiffer books. I still have a few copies remaining of my limited edition of the majors. I expect this will now become quite collectable. You can see copies here.
28 May 2009
In the last few days I have begun work on printing and laminating the next tarot in my series. This is the amazing esoteric and art tarot Ithell Colquhoun created in 1977 when she was 71 years old and about ten years before she died. This is the first 78 card deck I have ever done, and judging by the amount of time it will take to produce, probably the last. It requires four times the number of hours I have to invest in making a majors only tarot. I am going to do the work in two batches of 50 decks, to cut the amount of time. Even so, the lamination and cutting of 50 decks will, I expect, take over two solid weeks of work. I was very lucky to have been in touch with Ithell Colquhoun back in the early 80s when she contributed a couple of articles to my Hermetic Journal magazine. Producing her Taro is a kind of tribute to this amazing surrealist artist, writer and esotericist. Sadly, I expect sales to be slow. No one seems to be as excited about this publication as am I and the editor Richard Shillitoe. I suspect, however, in five or six years time, when the edition is sold out, I will get moaning letters from people wanting copies. People always seem to leave it to the last minute when buying limited editions, as I find with the books I produce.
27 May 2009
Robert Place has produced a number of well known tarots - The Alchemical Tarot, The Tarot of the Saints, The Angels Tarot, and The Buddha Tarot. Now he has issued the Annotated Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery. This is in the form of 22 large 'cards' 8.5 by 5.5 inches (216 by 140 mm), intended more for instruction than divination. The inspiration for the designs was the Pre-Raphaelite painter Burne-Jones. Each of the Major arcana is symbolically explored through a focus on the seven classical planets, and the various symbolic components of the design are labelled with their esoteric meaning and significance.
26 May 2009
Today I received a Japanese magazine containing a rather fine furoku or gift tarot entitled The Particle Tarot. This was produced by Ryuichi Izumi with the artwork by Ken Kumagai. The tarot is printed on thickish card bound into the magazine and one has to cut these out. The designs are rather interesting using a dominant black outline with strong colouring.
25 May 2009
I just bought a copy of the Motherwell Tarot created by Canadian psychic Dickie Motherwell. The designs for this full 78 card deck are quite simple. They are perhaps designed especially to help the reader as they have keywords on the four sides of the card face.
20 May 2009
Beth Seilonen never ceases to amaze us with her creative invention. I try to keep up with her output. She never tires of exploring new ways to work with tarot imagery. Recently I bought her Fishy Tarot, which is a 78 card, fully emblematic deck. Here the suits are Hooks, Masts, Pearls and Shells. As always, Beth brings her subtle and gentle humour to her designs. This one I will place in the Beth Seilonen drawer of my tarot collection, alongside her Isabel Snail, Frog and Sun Conure Tarots. Every tarot collector should try and buy some of her decks. They are usually limited to a small number. I have just bought two of her new issues, and will present them on this weblog over the next few weeks.
18 May 2009
Chialing Huang, from whom I bought the The Destiny Light Tarot, tells me that its creator, Max, loves photography and 2D/3D drawing. Photography is the foundation of and inspiration for his creative work. So it seems likely that this deck was created using a computer graphics program.
15 May 2009
Hopefully, now my tarot exhibition is over, it will be back to business as usual on this weblog. I have a batch of new items from the Far East to being to your attention. First is a new item from Taiwan, The Destiny Light Tarot, 2009. Like many Taiwanese and Chinese tarots this comes in a big box, here with a heavy book and a notebook. It is a 78 card deck with fully illustrated minors. The artwork is derived from photographs. They look like paintings but I am not entirely sure if they were not made using a graphics program. I can almost see the brushwork in places, but that can sometimes be mimiced. In any case the images are sometimes quite startling and original.
11 May 2009
Sadly, I have not been able to find much time over the last few weeks to write up my tarot weblog. I will try and enter some of my new acquisitions onto these pages over the next few days.
I have now finished one of the spin offs from the exhibition a video. This DVD format video was created to be a record of my exhibition at the Glasgow School of Art in April 2009. Curated by Ronnie Heeps and Adam McLean, this exhibition in the Rene Mackintosh Gallery was drawn from my collection of original cards and documents the evolution of tarot art in Japan and simultaneously opens a window onto Japanese popular art and its contemporary culture. This professional quality 18 minute video documentary was filmed and edited by Pat Smith. It is written and presented by myself. It gives a good overview of the exhibition and I give a commentary on many of the exhibits. You can buy a copy here.
The exhibition now moves to another venue, the new exhibtion space at Kilbirnie Library in North Ayrshire. It will open there in June.
27 April 2009
Last Friday and during part of this week I am working on a video of the Art of Japanese Tarot exhibition. This provides a walk through of the exhibits with a commentary by myself, a piece by Ronnie Heeps and some material shot on the opening night. The response to the exhibition has been very positive. Its situation within the Glasgow School of Art, means that it is primarily reaching an audience interested in the artwork.
21 April 2009
The Art of Japanese Tarot exhibition opened on Friday evening. There was a good attendance and the event seemed to go off well. The audience for the opening was primarily composed of people from the art world, but there was also a modest group of tarot enthusiasts. The event, in the prestigious Mackintosh Gallery of the Glasgow School of Art, was opened by the Director and the Japanese Deputy consul, who attended with one of his colleagues. The audience was then subjected to a mercifully short introduction from myself.
These photographs were kindly supplied to me by Marcus Katz.
This is one of the first general tarot exhibitions to be held within an art gallery. There have been many exhibitions of the tarot paintings or prints of an individual artist, but as far as I know almost none presenting the whoile tarot phenomenon as the subject for an exhibition.
The exhibition catalogue is now available. You can buy copies here.
7 April 2009
After much work, finally the catalogue for the Art of Japanese Tarot exhibition is finished. I have printed and bound up two proof copies, one for me and the other for the designer and curator, Ronnie Heeps, so we can make sure that no mistakes remain. Once everything is checked yet again, I will begin printing copies which will go on sale at the opening. I will also sell some copies through the Art Tarot website.
27 March 2009
Today I obtained a copy of the Cocktail de Tarot. I have had some scans of this for some time but I was pleased to get the original cards. Scans hardly do justice to tarot images. Now I can see all the detailed texturing of the sculptural clothes which the figures wear. The imagery was created in 2000 by the Japanese artist Shemay (or Shimmei) using a computer graphics program. It is computer collage using photographs for human faces, and ray traced and rendered forms for the clothes and various objects appearing in the card designs.
26 March 2009
Today a big envelope arrived from the Post Office announcing their latest price increases. These are quite high at about 8%, so I will have to start thinking about revising my prices, otherwise I will find these new postal costs erode my income from the sales. I have adopted a policy of including the postage costs in the price of the tarots I sell. I now wonder if this is a correct strategy and that I should perhaps quote a price for the tarot deck then the costs of the postage. The real postage costs, of course, include the not inconsiderable cost of the packaging and the fee I have to pay to have the Post Office to uplift mail from my address every day, as well as the actual stamps. This would have effect of making people aware of the true costs involved and appear to reduce the price of my tarots. I think most people expect to see the cost of postage when they buy items. When I sell a tarot for 40 pounds then up to 5 pounds can be the post and packing charges. When I have the time I will begin moving over to this new way of working. So, when you see the prices of my tarot decks fall, then please remember there is postage on top of that ! You will still be paying approximately the same amount.
I have already implemented this for the Diary of a Broken Soul and will gradually apply this to the other items as I get the time.
26 March 2009 The last few days I have devoted mostly to tarot. An exciting project has arisen through the discovery of the Taro deck created by the writer, Surrealist artist, celticist and occultist, Ithell Colquhoun (1906-88). This was created in 1977 but only recently uncovered amongst her possessions. The artwork is abstract and consists of a full set of 78 cards, Major and Minor arcana. These are renamed to reflect the influence of the Order of the Golden Dawn. The images were glued onto a white paper which has rather faded in the last decades so I have had to make a lot of careful adjustments and hand corrections to this, which is very time consuming. When I eventually complete this I will set it up for printing, though will probably not be able to do this till after my exhibition in April. This deck will be a real treasure and very collectable. Today I am also spending time on the final proofreading of the catalogue for the exhibition. It is looking good but just needs a few corrections to make it perfect.
23 March 2009
20 March 2009 Having published tarot cards for three years, I am only too aware of the problems of producing and selling tarot, which have been additionally impacted by the recent uncertainties in the global financial situation. Understandably, people cut back on their spending and for many potential customers, purchasing a set of art tarot cards is something they can dispense with or delay to the distant future. In recent months my sales, though always slow, have dropped to a mere trickle of orders, so it has become necessary for me now to reassess my tarot publishing business.
My eighteen publications to date have been custom produced to fit the artist's requirements. This means custom sizes, custom boxes, and a great number of my man hours spent producing the decks. This results in my having to set a high price for the decks. It has become obvious to me that I had to try and find a less costly way of producing tarots, which would enable me to reduce the price of the decks.
I have now found a printer able to undertake small batch production without loading up the costs. This does mean I have to work within a fixed standard format. There remained the problem of boxes. The custom made boxes I use at present are very expensive, and there is an additional cost in terms of time in fixing an image to the top of the box. I have found a solution in the form of a rigid transparent plastic lidded box. This would mean that I did not have to attach an image as the title card on the pile would show through. These are rather attractive and I will use some of these boxes for storing tarot cards from my own collection which were not supplied in boxes. There are some other costs I can avoid if I myself, as publisher, sign the limited edition cards, rather than sending them off to the artist for signature. I would plan to issue these in smaller editions of 50 copies and unfortunately this means paying the artist a much reduced fee. The end result, however, would be professionally printed tarots in smaller editions at around half the price of my existing publications, which will be very collectable as they should sell out within the much shorter time span of a few months.
I will, of course, be able to continue my original custom made cards for those designs which cannot fit into the standard card format.
Unfortunately, as there seems to be almost no one, apart from myself, enthusiastic enough about modern tarot art to be willing to invest their own money in the production, I have been forced to consider shifting away from a custom solution fitted to the individual designs to this more practical and less expensive (both in time and money) production method. It will give me the opportunity of offering artists the possibility of having their work published in a small edition and realising this in a relatively short time span. It should get a number of designs into print form and augment the collections of the few serious collectors of tarot. There are so many wonderfuly tarot card designs out there that should be made available in a printed form. Sadly, most of the artists themselves cannot manage to do this, so their work is occluded and invisible. I hope my publishing project will be able to get some of these into printed form.
19 March 2009 In the last few days I have received the imagery for Ly Narciso's latest tarot which I intend to publish as the next in my series. There is quite a bit of work to do on this and my ongoing work on my forthcoming tarot exhibition will, no doubt, preclude me being able to work further on this till after the exhibition closes, however, it looks like a wonderfully stylised tarot.
18 March 2009 I recently managed to purchase a complete set of the Mahotarot. This is based on Mahoraba, a manga series by Akira Kojima, which was later adapted into an anime. The cards, bearing the characters of Mahoraba placed in a tarot format, were individually issued with the Gangan Wing comic books, from 2004 to 2006. They were never issued as a complete set, so it is apparently rather difficult to acquire a full set. Luckily, I now have one.
17 March 2009 The rather attractive Tarot de Tours, by the French painter and sculptor, Sylvian Badina, arrived today. It is rather minimalist, reducing the figures to simple forms, while also using a restricted muted palette of greens and browns. The cards are, for the most part, renamed, but the imagery is classic tarot. Needless to say, the artist lives in Tours.
10 March 2009 Tarot collecting is often a serious business, but sometimes it has its amusing moments. Some years ago I saw for sale some beer glasses made for Pete's Brewing Company of Palo Alto in California. I decided not to buy them, but a few days ago I found instead four beer mats (or do they call them 'coasters' in the USA). I managed to buy all four for a few Euros. Pete's Wicked Ale seems to have adopted four tarot cards as emblems for their beer. The mats I now have are, I am glad to say, unstained with the usual rings left by beer glasses.
9 March 2009 One of the readers of this weblog has kindly let me know that the tarot I mentioned earlier is a French version of the Truth Seeker's Tarot by David Fontana, issued in 2008.
9 March 2009 Today I received a rather fine French tarot. This was sold to me as a Tarot of Marseilles but it does instead follow the Rider Waite pattern, though the pips do not use the emblem forms from the Waite deck. The colours are rather vibrant and are beautifully heightened with gold foil. The title artist and date of publication are entirely unknown to me. A delightful mystery deck. Perhaps someone who reads the weblog will enlighten me as to its title.
4 March 2009 I have made some progress on creating the exhibits for the forthcoming exhibition. I am using large frames (50 by 70 cms) in which I can show examples of cards from decks on related themes. There will be about 30 of these together with a number of glass cases, within which tarots in books and layouts of full decks can be placed. Setting these up is exacting work and will take probably up much of March as I always have so many things to do, binding books, sending out packets, trying to squeeze in some painting time, researching alchemical works, studying emblems and paintings and of course looking for new tarots to collect.
28 February 2009 There are not that many self-published Japanese tarots, but another one fell into my hands recently. This is the Ninja Boy Tarot published in 2008. The imagery is rather cute and keeps close to the established tarot archetypes. Here are the Fool, the Tower and the Sun. I am not sure if it is based on a particular version of the computer game or some manga based on it.
25 February 2009 Today I picked up from the Post Office a packet containing an Italian tarot in a rather naive style of artwork, the Tarocchi Carlotta, issued in an edition of 100 copies. This seems to be based on the Oswald With designs. The 22 Majors have been painted in watercolours by the clairvoyant and tarot reader Carlotta.
24 February 2009 There is a growing body of Korean tarots. Many of these are directed towards a younger audience. The Tarot Card Diary is such a production, consisting of an illustrated diary together with a set of 22 tarot cards. The images are rather sweet. I liked the image of the Hermit in his glass jar, complete with a light bulb. Death is nicely represented as a checkmate, while the Sun has a sunflower.
23 February 2009 I have now acquired a copy of the Tarocchi Buddhisti, issued in 1995 in Turin by the Libreria Editrice Psiche. This was created by three people, Sandra Parolin, Paravarto Viglierco and Gianpaolo Fiorentini. It is not a standard tarot, as it has 33 cards and though some cards echo the image of the Tarot, others are entirely different in conception. The first 22 cards are emblematic, but the final group of 11 follow a different symbol structure. I am not entirely sure what is essentially Buddhistic about the imagery on the cards. It supposedly maps out the path of liberation in Buddhism, and the cards were not intended to be used for fortune telling but for exploring the path to enlightenment. Here are three of the cards which reflect tarot imagery.
20 February 2009 Last summer I got a small free gift tarot given away with An.An, a Japanese fashion oriented magazine for young people. I now have another gift tarot from An.An, this with the title The Tarot for Better Fortune. The images are what some young people might be tempted to call 'cool, but in a rather retro way.
13 February 2009 I have been working for the last three weeks almost exclusively on the catalogue/book to go with my Art of Japanese Tarot Exhibition. Thankfully, now most of this is now completed. It is extremly difficult for a non Japanese speaker to research this material, and even to identify the artist/illustrators. I do have many rather obscure Japanese tarots that one just cannot locate any information about. Working on this exhibition has been very useful for me, as I have been able to appreciate in depth the amazing breadth and quality of the artwork to be found in Japanese tarot. Even giveaway decks in magazines can exhibit great skill and original thought on the part of the artist. By early next week the catalogue will be in the hands of the designer and I will have to start making up the exhibits - a considerable task as sample cards from many decks have to be mounted in frames, which could take up much of March. This project has been about as large a one as I can undertake without substantial help. It has absorbed hundreds of hours of my (unpaid) time). I hope it will make some impact on the art world and enable art historians to look at tarot as a vehicle for art, and also to see tarot art as documenting the social history of our era. Of course, an exhibition is a fleeting ephemeral thing, and will rapidly fade from view, but I will be left with the catalogue. I know many people in the tarot community see me as an outsider to tarot, as I have no interest in divination, and I don't expect this exhibition will endear me to them, but I do want to make it known that tarot is not just a fortune telling game with cards, but a vehicle and medium for art.
3 February 2009 I recently obtained another cat tarot, the Mystical Cat Tarot by Debra Klopp-Kersey. This is a limited edition of 100 copies using Debra's paintings. In a year she has produced three tarots the Crow Tarot, the Clown Tarot and now her new cat tarot. She is a prolific artist and creates dolls, sculptures as well as some rather wonderful surreal paintings as well as her tarots. People should check out her website at www.nannynortonprims.com if they want to see her artworks and buy one of her tarots.
2 February 2009 Over the last week or so I have been very gratified to have received sponsorship for my forthcoming exhibition on the Art of Japanese Tarot. In 2007 I had an exhibition on the theme of alchemy and during the preparation for this I received sponsorship from an american supporter which subsidised the cost of producing the book or catalogue. As I managed to sell a few items in the exhibition, overall I only made a small loss. With the tarot exhibition there is no possibility of selling items (apart from the catalogue), so it potentially could have cost me a considerable amount of money as well as all the time I have had to invest in this essentially educational project. So it was very heartening, last week, to be offered some funds to cover the costs of producing the catalogue/book that goes with the exhibition. One must do a catalogue, else the exhibition disappears entirely from the world the moment the pieces are taken down from the walls of the gallery. One of the other main costs was that of framing the exhibits. One must use quality frames for an exhibition in a major gallery such as that of the Glasgow School of Art. This amounted to about £800 ($1200). In the last few days two individuals have come forward to help with this.
I have been working most of last week writing the catalogue and this should also take up much of this coming week. Then I will have to spend quite a few weeks making up the exhibits into frames. It will be a very worthwhile project as it is one of the first opportunities to present tarot as art within a gallery with substantial art historical credentials. It has long been my wish that people would see more to tarot than mere fortune telling, but that they would value it as an art format and see the evolution of its forms as reflecting society and thus documenting social history. Japanese tarot is a coherent body of material that wonderfully demonstrates this. One day, in the not too distant future, I hope some enlightened gallery might wish to commission me to create a travelling exhibition on Tarot as Art. Thie present more modest and focussed exhibition will be a good foundation for that.
28 January 2009 That part of my shelf space devoted to Chinese and Taiwanese tarots is crammed with lots of those big-box tarots. Anyone who buys these decks will know what I mean. A big strong solid box with a magnetic fastening flap, inside lined with a satin like material, containing a small paperback book and the deck of tarot. This one is entitled The Fantasy treasure tarot box and is a 78 card deck, with the familiar elongated format that the Chinese seem to prefer, based, no doubt, on their playing card tradition. This present tarot, like a number of others I have, presents fantasy artworks on tarot cards. It is a compilation from different artists. These artists do not seem to be credited. The pips do not have any emblematic artwork. The choice of images for the Majors is quite apt.
27 January 2009 Today I made some progress with writing the catalogue/book for my forthcoming exhibition on the Art of Japanese Tarot. As always, I like to get thing done well in advance of the event as one never knows what can turn up at the last moment to divert one. It is quite exciting to see the exhibition beginning to take shape. I have had a clear idea of what I would do from the inception, but it is very gratifying to work through the details.
26 January 2009 I had a little website drama over the last two days. My Tarot Collectors Forum www.tarotcollectors.com suddenly went offline on Sunday. Although I operate the system, the forum is physically sited in the USA, so I had no direct control over the situation. Eventually the engineers did whatever was necessary to get my site (and the hundreds of others hosted on their system) up and running again after a 24 hour loss of service - not too painful. Luckily all the information, the members logins and passwords, the archives of postings and images, was preserved intact.
26 January 2009 The Fifth Tarot is a new age syncretic deck that seems to meld together various earth religions, and introduces a new suit to the standard tarot, the fifth element or ether. Thus it has 92 cards (the standard 78 plus 14 for the suit of ether). The production is excellent for a self-published deck, being similar to the output of a publisher such as Llewellyn. It comes in a box with a 336 page book. The large cards are well printed with a glossy protective varnish. Thus they feel like any other professionally produced deck. The pip cards are emblematic, but with no relationship to the standard Rider-Waite imagery. Some the Majors are renamed, as are the suits (Fire, Feathers, Shells, Stones and Lotus).
25 January 2009 Thanks to the help of a fellow tarot collector, I managed to obtain a copy of a new tarot published in Japan in 2008. This is the Original Tarot of Kiyoshi Matsumara. Although this is published by a Japanese company named 'Oregon Farm', they seem unwilling to sell this outside Japan, thus I had to call on the help of a fellow collector with contacts in Japan. This is a full Majors and Minors deck, with an additional four Majors, numbers 22 to 25, bearing the rather obscure titles 'Reorganisation', 'Traffic', 'Endless' and 'Lock'. The Minors are emblematic, though only a few cards follow the well known Rider-Waite imagery. The artwork style created within a computer graphics program, but the artist seems to have purposively adopted a retro look, harking back to 1980s computer graphic art with its 'jaggy lines' with stepping, and the use of solid saturated block colours.
23 January 2009 Comics Fans, is a Hong Kong based magazine aimed at girls, published by Jonesky Publishing Limited. I have acquired a rather nice promo tarot issued in 2008 with Comic Fans. The imagery is rather amusing. I must say I rather enjoyed the Tower as a layered cake and the Moon card is also a bit of a hoot.
21 January 2009 The countries of South America have produced a number of interesting tarots, though these are difficult to source and obtain. Today I have in my hands the Oraculo de los Orichas by Nancy Silvia Mascialino, apparently self-published in 2007 in Argentina. Despite its title, this is a genuine tarot, with the Majors printed in a terracotta colour with the Minors in black ink. Each minor has a drawing in white on a black background, which looks like scraperboard, but could well have been done in some medium imitating this. The imagery of the Majors is quite original, though influenced by the indigenous art of the Pre-Columbian period.
20 January 2009 There must surely always room in ones collection for another cat tarot. I must have about 20 or more - one day I must count them. In the last few days I have acquired two more. One is a Cat Tarot from Taiwan, created by Tia, accompanying a book by Alice Chen. This is a 78 card deck which comes as a series of press-out printed cards packaged with the book. It is a Rider Waite clone, nicely drawn and painted. For the most part the cats are anthropomorphised, but with a few in their natural form.
18 January 2009 Tarots can be among the most obscure of artworks. One can usually find information on the internet about any, even a quite poor, novel or piece of music, but some tarot creations remain intractable and almost invisible. I recently bought a rather beautiful art tarot, which I assume was self-published by the artist, entitled the Poetry Attitude Tarot, created in 2008 by Jack Chang in Taiwan. The artwork has some simple line-drawings (seemingly using a brush) with some strong unmixed watercolour (or water based inks) applied in the background on wet paper so as to produce beautiful featherings. I found it rather delightful and immediately went to Google et al, to find out more about this deck and its creator. Zilch! So I have this rather wonderful deck, but know nothing about it.
16 January 2009 I recently obtained a rather obscure tarot produced in Germany. This is the Wendy Tarot, and is intended for children. The cards are small and almost square in shape. I am not sure of the exact origins of this deck, but it is produced by the Egmont Ehapa Verlag, and is possibly a deck given away as a gift with a magazine produced by this company. The artwork is not especially skilled or original, using photocollage and a computer graphics program to colour and modify the images. Some of the images seem familiar to me, though I cannot recall in which deck they could have appeared.
15 January 2009 Today I had a meeting with the designer and artist Ronnie Heeps and the Glasgow School of Art to finalise the schedule for my forthcoming exhibition The Art of Japanese Tarot. This will open on Friday the 17th of April and run for three weeks. This exhibition celebrates the diversity and creativity of the Japanese artists, graphic designers, writers and publishers who took hold of the European tarot structure and began to work with it in their own particular way. It is based on my own collection of over 160 tarots from Japan. Of course, few people, outside Central Scotland will be able to attend the exhibition, but I am going to publish a fully illustrated book based on the exhibition which will provide a comprehensive survey of Japanese tarot. I have some funding for printing this but it does not cover the full costs, thus I am looking for some additional funds. If anyone would like to be a sponsor and assist in funding the printing costs, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org A year and a half ago I mounted a similar exhibition on the theme of alchemy and issued a large format book. This will be in the same style.
13 January 2009 I just bought a copy of the Urban Tarot from an artist, Ryan Feddersen, going under the name TheWesternSky on Etsy. Well worth buying, but as they are hand made to order there are not always copies immediately available. She describes the cards in this way.
This full 78 card deck with all original illustrations was created using traditional card interpretations with contemporary graphic symbolism. I worked hard to create a set of imagery which accurately communicates the traditional meanings but does so in a way that is aimed for us to connect to now - not 400 years ago. One of my favorite examples is the Chariot. The traditional interpretation reads "The Chariot is all about the concentration, willpower and determination it takes to control those (proverbial) horses and keep them steadily on the path that leads to your goals. The card stands for resolving conflict within yourself and finding the necessary balance to accomplish your ambitions." My chariot features the Cadillac. Owning a Cadillac has been the dream of many americans for decades. They've saved up, worked hard, and focused not only because they are beautiful well made cars, but because of what they represent. A cadillac shows that you have made it, it's a material manifestation of your success, the realization of your goals and fulfillment of ambition. If you don't understand any card right away, consult any website or book on tarot, and it will help you fully understand the symbolism I have chosen. I like Tarotpedia because they are crisp and clear, while being thorough. The deck features 78 cards with 26 original drawings. 22 for the Major Arcana and 4 for the suits of The Minor arcana, which are formated so that they can double easily as playing cards. They are all hand screen printed and painted, some cards, which are often my favorites, have a little extra character like interesting splotches or streaks from the spontaneity and intentionally random nature of my process, but all cards are easily readable. Every card and deck is completely unique.
2 January 2009 Anna Klaffinger has created a rather wonderful tarot. The artwork is very detailed and the figures so beautifully modelled and formed, that it must have taken her many hours on each card. She has produced a 78 card deck with the emblematic minors, based on the Rider Waite images, though rendered in her own style. So we get 78 pieces of delightful artwork for only a few Euros (the deck is professionally printed in Austria).
1 January 2009 I don't often buy original tarot works as usually these are well beyond my budget, but occasionally one comes before my view and I am able to buy it. A few days ago I received Laraine Atherton's collage deck in 'day of the dead' style. She produced this hand made collage deck back in 2004. The card background is sprayed with gold paint and each card has the same image of a skull set up on it and an engraved image of two dressed skeletons. This provides a coherent structure on which she collages the various images that relate to the meaning of the particular tarot card. Each card also has a naked or nearly naked pin-up, in classic 1920's style. The thick layers of the collage are then sealed in using pva glue. Many people are rather dismissive of collage, but I found this deck quite delightful and well made.
31 December 2008 I sometimes wonder if I am not the most obsessive of tarot collectors. Sometimes I get rather engaged by a particular deck and try hard to find a copy. Often these are not especially collectable, nor of great artistic merit and seem to have little perceptible value. One of these I have been looking for over the last few years is a deck issued free with the Spanish magazine Superpop. Now there is a well known Superpop tarot and it is relatively easy to find, but Superpop issued another deck El Gran Juego del Amor ('The Great Game of Love') which proved quite elusive. I finally managed to buy a copy from someone in Spain and it arrived today. It is one of those press-out tarots, printed on thickish card bound into the magazine - even the box is a press-out. It is surprising how decks like this, given away free in magazines, are so very difficult to find. I have many such from Japanese magazines, where they are called Furoku (gifts). Although at the moment these have little perceived value, as collectors tend to assign high prices to better known rare decks, such as the Greenwood, but I expect, in the years to come, as people expand their collecting vision, decks such as this from Superpop will acquire a more realistic value. The artwork, in watercolour, is bright, using large areas of colour.
23 December 2008 In my entry in this weblog for 25th May 2007 I showed some illustrations of tarot designs, Le Tarot d'Amour, by Christine Lesueur in a large format book published in 1985. Today I obtained a set of 22 postcards of Le Tarot d'Amour by Christine Lesueur also published 1985. Strangely, though in very similar style, the artwork is different for each format. The images in the book are dated June and July 1984. Here is the image for the Fool, on the left from the book and on the right the postcard version.
18 December 2008 After a bit of a hiatus, I have suddenly discovered, through my contacts, a number of new tarot publications. I have only bought a few items over the last month or so, but now, all of a sudden, I have about ten items on order. Unfortunately all are from outside the UK and the recent fall in the pound has meant that the costs have increased substantially for me. Still, I must keep my collection up to date. If you miss one of these small edition tarots, you are unlikely ever to see one again.
17 December 2008 A few days ago I experienced a bit of a computer disaster. The database I had painstakingly built of Japanese tarots, which was the main research resource for my forthcoming exhibition in April, became internally damaged. How this happened I don't know, but as the database stores the information in a complex file structure and not as simple readable text in a file, one can only access the information through the program. Unfortunately the internal damage meant that some records could not be accessed and as a result one could neither search the database nor edit it in any way (nor save changes) as the program just put up an error message saying "internal damage" when one tried to do this. After a few cups of tea to try and revive my fallen spirits, I came up with a rescue strategy. I managed to open a new blank database and ran it at the same time as the damaged one. I was then able to laboriously cut and paste the information into the new database. I was able to skip around the area which was damaged and so only lost a few records. It took most of yesterday to fix it and I now have access to the information and research again. It would have taken weeks to reassemble all the data.
12 December 2008 This week I have received a number of tarots. Amongst these is the Bifrost Tarot of Jeremy Lampkin. This is a full 78 card deck based on the imagery of the Thoth - Crowley - Frieda Harris Tarot. The title "Bifrost" refers to the Rainbow Bridge of Norse mythology, and indeed the rainbow makes an occasional appearance in some of the card images. The edition is limited to only 72 copies.