The Art, Suits, Symbolism, and the Rider-Waite
The art for this deck is heavily influenced by the 1910 Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck—its pretty much the standard for tarot cards used for divination. Though the style of my art is very different from Pamela Smith's art, the themes and intent will be very much in the spirit of her artwork with a healthy dose of my own intent and interpretation.
Arcana is first-and-foremost a playing card deck. Wherever possible I've pulled inspiration from the RWS Tarot, the Tarot of Marseilles, and the Sola Busca Tarot. That includes the royals, the suits, and the symbolism. That said, combining the two has meant a few tradeoffs.
Arcana isn't intended to be a full tarot deck. Playing cards printed through USPCC are 56 card decks (main cards plus 2 jokers, and 2 extra cards) while the tarot uses 78 cards. As a playing card deck, I'll be designing 56 cards, which means I have to limit the Major Arcana to 4 cards (replacing the two jokers and the 2 extra cards). The four cards I've chosen to include are The Tower, The Lovers, The Fool, and Death. I've consulted with a lot of tarot readers on this and they more or less agree that these cards are of importance to any reading and make sense to include. Additionally, these cards will not include the Page/Knave cards.
Correlating the suits was also a little dicey as there is at least a little healthy debate about which playing card suit goes with which tarot suit. I opted to go with what seemed like the most common concensus. Spades, Clubs, Hearts and Diamonds are paired up in this deck with Swords, Wands, Cups, and Pentacles respectively.
Also, just a note about my art. I take inspiration from all over—art history, found images, my own sketches and photographs. I combine all of it to create something new. I create the final art by combining art from scratchboard and images I draw on my tablet. It's all hand drawn, and I'm meticulous about making sure the final imagery works at the relatively small scale of playing cards.
I hope you can tell from this artwork how much passion and dedication I have for the project. Each card takes many, many hours to draw, and I've been working on it for about a year. For me, the art is what custom playing cards are all about. If you backed one of my past projects, you know how detailed and unique my work is. It's a great pleasure to bring you these cards which I think takes my art to a whole new level.