My great plan was to design my own tarot deck based on the Rider-Waite tarot deck. But, as I made a couple and realized it will be very boring to repeat someone else’s work, I started to experiment with the tarot card designs…
Tarot cards are just a deck of playing cards used to play card games such as briškula or trešeta (well, those are the two I know how to play). In the 18th century, some of the decks were used for divination and later special cards were made for such occult purposes.
Jean-Baptiste Alliette, better known as Etteilla, was the French occultist who was the first to popularise tarot divination to a wide audience (1785), and the first professional tarot occultist who made his living by card divination. He was the first to issue a revised tarot deck specifically designed for occult purposes (1791).
The tarot deck used for divination consists of the Major Arcana (the greater secrets, 22 cards) and Minor Arcana (lesser secrets, 56 cards). Some Major Arcana decks exist primarily as artwork, and I can see why – the symbolism and artists interpretations can be quite beautiful! So yes, I wanted to do something so many artists have done before… and that became a problem – so many have done it before…
My first Tarot card designs
– The Devil
Well, since I do create somewhat evil and dark art, it was obvious I would choose The Devil or Death as my first tarot card design. So I chose The Devil, based it on Rider-Waite tarot card artwork, and this is the result:
The Devil (XV) is the fifteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Devil is derived in part from Eliphas Levi’s famous illustration “Baphomet” . In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Devil has harpy feet, ram horns, bat wings, a reversed pentagram on the forehead, a raised right hand and a lowered left hand holding a torch. He squats on a square pedestal. Two naked human demons (one male, one female) with tails stand chained to the pedestal.
I have changed a couple of things, like the Devils’ head – made it more goat-like, added the Leviathan cross on the bottom and I didn’t want to make an exact replica but wanted to keep it similar to the original and familiar looking.
The card represents: Being seduced by the material world and physical pleasures; lust for and an obsession with money and power. Also: Living in fear, domination, and bondage; being caged by an overabundance of luxury; discretion should be used in personal and business matters.
I was never 100% satisfied with this one, but thought it will get better. Next one was Death…
Death (XIII) is the thirteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional decks.
I’ve done this design in my own style but kept some of the elements from the Waite-Smith deck.
This Death card shows a messenger of Death – a (part) skeleton covered in black, riding a white horse. Death is wearing a tall crown to show his power and the fact that he, in a way, rules over the living (for, what is life without the fear of dying?).
The skeleton represents human remains that stay unchanged long after death. Black symbolizes mourning and the mysterious, while the horse is white and represents purity, strength and power. The card is decorated with two white, five-petal rose, reflecting beauty, purification and immortality. The number five represents change. Death isn’t just the end of life, it represents endings and beginnings, rebirth, transformation, and change.
A king is dead on the ground, while a bishop pleads with the skeletal figure to spare him. But, Death spares no one.
As you can see, I started to change more about the cards. It’s not because I can’t reproduce the original, but because I can. I really love the symbolism and how they can be interpreted, but I also have a strong need to make something that has not been done so many times in the past 100 or so years…
The weird tarot…
– Pizza demon
One day I was thinking about how much I love pizza. Also, how weird it would be if pizza was alive… and EVIL! That is what inspired my first fake tarot card, The Pizza Demon, based on the previously done The Devil card.
Well, it is basically an eyeball – mushroom pizza with horns and inverted pentagram. I’ll let you in on a little secret – it has the number 666 written in Roman numerals on the top.
– The Moon
The Moon is actually a real Major Arcana card, but mine is different. I did keep some of the original elements, but I did not let that to constrain me…
I was thinking about ancient Egypt and the idea that maybe cats are aliens? That is why I have the Moon card with creepy alien cats instead of dogs and some UFO-s that came out of nowhere to bring the cats as a gift for humanity. The Moon is a symbol of intuition, dreams, and the unconscious. My moon is a skull, so it might be a symbol of nightmares?
I’m still not sure about the interpretation of the fake tarots, but they are so fun to make!
– The Goat
It’s a happy goat on a broom! Because goats make good familiars and this one loves flying around!
Also, I made it look like a false tarot card, it’s just a thing I like to do. It has a roman numeral 99, because in China number 9, as the highest single digit, it represents the maximum level of mortal happiness, longevity, and good luck. And that is what I want this goat to represent and to bring to whoever it wears it! Also, I really love goats!
– Tentacles of pentacles
Today I made a new fake tarot design. I originally wanted to do a pentagram design, because I love the symbol, but everything I did looked unoriginal and boring. Then I remembered that some tarot decks have pentacles instead of coins or discs, so it all of a sudden was clear what I needed to do:
It could actually be two of pentacles, but Tentacles of Pentacles rhymes and I couldn’t resist the opportunity!
It is skulls and skeletons and crescent moons and some moon phases… All the elements that make the design von Kowen-y!
In occult and divinatory usage the suit of coins, that may alternately be known as “Pentacles”, is connected with the classical element of Earth, the physical body and possessions or wealth. Coins as a Latin suit represent the feudal class of traders, and therefore to worldly matters in general. Associated physical characteristics include dark hair and eyes, dark complexion, and sturdy build.
In the Rider-Waite tarot deck and derivative decks, the suit is called the suit of pentacles, and each card incorporates one or more discs each displaying a pentacle.
I did not expect to enjoy making these designs so much, but I love it, and as far as I can tell, people like them too! That is why I’m planning to do more of them and MAYBE when I design enough of them, I’ll make a real deck some day! Also, I’ll figure out how to use them for divination and write that down too! But that is a big future MAYBE!
For now, please do enjoy my weird Tarot card designs as I make them. Also, you can support my work by getting fake Tarots or other designs on cool stuff in my SHOPS!