Beautiful, elegant Tarot decks as an art piece
April 5, 2016 7:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in maybe buying a tarot deck as an art object. I want suggestions for beautiful, unusual, or elegant Tarot decks, like Wild Unknown. Any recommendations? An unusual deck of regular playing cards would also work.

What can I say, I like art constrained by pre-determined rules and seeing how different artists take the same imagery and tweak it.
posted by flibbertigibbet to Shopping (37 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My artsy, non-Tarot-reading husband adores the Mary-El Tarot. He says it's ruined him for all other decks.
posted by Atrahasis at 7:22 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Vertigo Tarot is the most beautiful deck I've ever seen.
posted by Jairus at 7:22 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Key to the Kingdom is a lovely set of transformation playing cards by Tony Meeuwissen. More images here.
posted by Beti at 7:31 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have the Rohrig tarot and like it a lot, but it looks like it's out of print. Also, your mileage may vary on it; its images are very dense and busy.
posted by jackbishop at 7:33 PM on April 5, 2016

Best answer: David Palladini's Aquarian tarot is full of beautiful pastel-colored drawings. I wouldn't call it elegant but it's pretty unique and many of the cards are downright gorgeous.

Satya Paul's The Art of Tarot is full of gorgeous artwork and the cards themselves have a very unique textured and glimmery quality, as well. Unfortunately, it's a not very well-known deck. There are barely any pictures of it online even. FYI Satya Paul is an Indian fashion designer and "The Art of Tarot" was one of his collections/whatever (so don't get confused if you do an online search and get a bunch of dresses), but he made an actual tarot deck. And don't worry, it's more artsy than fashion-related. Here are some pics from it that I found on Pinterest (again, unfortunately, but Google images were limited) -

Most of the major arcanas are gorgeous as well as the people cards. The pips are nice but repetitive (ie 2 pentacles looks a lot like 3, 4, 5.. 10 of pentacles, etc).

ps it looks like when you're not logged into Pinterest, all the links will bring up a bunch of pictures but the very first one is what you're looking for.
posted by atinna at 8:01 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've always been partial to the Dali Universal Tarot for the decks-as-art set.
posted by Drastic at 8:07 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could do worse than look for a pack of Jeu de Marseilles
FPP here
posted by adamvasco at 8:21 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

My friend has a gorgeous round Russian tarot set... I will try to find the name
posted by chapps at 8:23 PM on April 5, 2016

Best answer: Uusi Pagan Otherworlds Tarot or BRuT Tarot?

They also offered these as uncut posters on Kickstarter, but I am not sure if they are still available.

They have many nice playing card decks they have made.
posted by The Architect at 8:34 PM on April 5, 2016

Best answer: I have the Deviant Moon Tarot, which has a unique aesthetic. The artist also sells prints of individual cards for those who want to display the artwork.
posted by Superplin at 8:40 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Cheimonette Tarot was painted by an artist local to me. It's gorgeous, and also has an accompanying album of songs inspired by the deck.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:47 PM on April 5, 2016

Best answer: Golden Tarot?
The Robin Wood tarot?
posted by fiercekitten at 9:01 PM on April 5, 2016

The Gaian Tarot ( is far more representative than most decks but the art is also just beautiful.
posted by Sublimity at 9:25 PM on April 5, 2016

Best answer: I bought my husband the Fantod Pack, Edward Gorey's version of the tarot deck.
posted by noonday at 9:25 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Frieda Harris/Crowley "Thoth" Tarot was the most insightful design in my view.
posted by ovvl at 9:35 PM on April 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I really like the look of the Golden Thread Tarot.
posted by zeee at 9:49 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Tarot of the Silicon Dawn is beautiful, unusual, and full of interesting queer and transhumanist themes. Plus the artist is a Mefite.
posted by fermion at 10:15 PM on April 5, 2016

Argh, posted in wrong spot. I like Quest Tarot, Revelations Tarot...probably other ones not coming to mind right now.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:30 PM on April 5, 2016

I own the Tarot of the Cat People for precisely this reason.
posted by Skybly at 11:08 PM on April 5, 2016

I like the Rabbit Tarot.
posted by stinker at 1:28 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not sure if these are up your alley, but among people I know (queers, punks, activisty folks), the favourites are:
- The currently-out-of-print, but rumoured to be returning Collective Tarot
- The Southern/queer themed Slow Holler deck (very excited for this one)
- Cristy C. Road's upcoming Next World tarot
posted by ITheCosmos at 4:35 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's Shadowscapes Tarot. (Gorgeous amounts of fine detail.) You can also get prints of individual cards.
posted by modernhypatia at 5:04 AM on April 6, 2016

The Celtic Tarot by Courtney Davis is gorgeous, especially if you're fascinated by Celtic art.
posted by smirkette at 5:40 AM on April 6, 2016

I came in to recommend the Aquarian Tarot, but I'm happy to see it's already been mentioned twice. David Palladini has another deck which is just as beautiful The New Palladini Tarot. I find his artwork very evocative.
posted by Bresciabouvier at 6:21 AM on April 6, 2016

Medieval Scapini Tarot - My deck must be 20 years old at this point.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:23 AM on April 6, 2016

Osho Zen Tarot and Kuan Yin Oracle are both quite striking.
posted by worlddisciple at 6:27 AM on April 6, 2016

Do you specifically want fully-illustrated, or are decks with only the major arcana illustrated alright?
posted by curious nu at 8:30 AM on April 6, 2016

Response by poster: Do you specifically want fully-illustrated, or are decks with only the major arcana illustrated alright?

Playing card decks, partial tarot decks, tarot-esque decks, (beautiful) joke decks: if it fits a the form and is illustrated, chuck 'em my way.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:29 AM on April 6, 2016

Cheryl Fair, a Baltimore artist, did a deck recently - The Magical Realism Tarot. It features photographs of local artists and musicians. My wife and I are on the Devil and his Slaves card.
posted by jetsetsc at 9:30 AM on April 6, 2016

I love the dark and evocative aesthetic of the Bohemian Gothic Tarot by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov, and the Rune Cards by Tony Linsell and Brian Partridge.

The Bohemian Gothic Tarot is still available at a reasonable price through the artists' website.

The Rune Cards are out of print and expensive (cheapest price I found was $95 on eBay), but might be worth it if you find this unusual black-and-white aesthetic as appealing as I do. I bought the deck in 2004 and always wished the art had been made available as prints.
posted by velvet winter at 9:46 AM on April 6, 2016

I think this is probably out of print, but if you can find it - The Celtic Book of the Dead by Caitlin Matthews. The concept is that an ancient Irish poem about a journey to several mystic islands represents a shamanic journey to the next world. The cards represent the islands and are given meanings. The art on them I think is quite cool, very collage-based.
posted by dnash at 11:49 AM on April 6, 2016

Ah, and thanks to one of the sites linked above, I've remembered the name of the other one I wanted to mention but had forgotten: the Haindl Tarot. It mixes imagery from several different world mythologies. One suit is largely Norse/Celtic based, one Native American, one Egyptian, and one Hindi.
posted by dnash at 12:01 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend the Urban Tarot. It is illustrated with art inspired by New York City.
posted by Maastrictian at 7:28 PM on April 6, 2016

I really like the EISBERGFREISTADT playing cards from kahn & selesnick. Not typical suits, not typical cards. They are eerie and beautiful.
posted by taltalim at 6:32 PM on April 7, 2016

And seconding Deviant Moon - it's a really particular style, and I enjoy it. We use tarot cards as playing cards in our house, and looking at the pictures is nice while waiting during other folks' turns.
posted by taltalim at 6:34 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Finally (apologies for so many posts), depending on your interest in the cards as objects, or just the notion of the cards, this FMR book is a beautiful object, juxtaposing the Visconti deck with The Castle of Crossed Destinies, a story by Italo Calvino about people who lose their power of speech and tell their stories using a pack of tarot cards. I found a copy on Ebay a while back. It's lovely, as per FMR.
posted by taltalim at 6:39 PM on April 7, 2016

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