The Major Arcana


Tarot designs proliferate at a seemingly unstoppable pace (you can see a selection of them here) so it’s probably fair to say that the world doesn’t need more of them. However, most modern designs are pastiches or fantasy-oriented works that tend towards an elaboration even more baroque than some of the older designs. My As Above, So Below poster was an earlier attempt at presenting traditional occult schematics in a modern setting. The challenge with this Tarot design was to try and create a Major Arcana set using nothing but international symbol pictograms or dingbat sets. It succeeds for the most part although I had to cheat a couple of times (creating a light bulb from scratch, for instance) and it’s debatable how recognisable these cards would be without their labels. I was following the Aleister Crowley scheme that renames a few of the cards, and some of his designs, especially The Aeon which replaces The Last Judgment, are rather resistant to simplification.

I would have uploaded this to a new CafePress shop as a poster design but their servers don’t seem to like my big jpegs just now. Maybe later.

Update: It finally uploaded. This is the shop.

7 thoughts on “The Major Arcana”

  1. I like it.
    maybe Alan and Jose might find a use for it in their new graphic novel

    Alan Moore and Jose Villarubia are collaborating on a graphic novel about magic, combining Jose’s considerable photographic and illustrative skills.
    It is being published by a French publisher, and the pair considers it a continuation of the themes espoused in “Promethea.” There is no information if there is yet an English language publisher.

    Although the fool is missing his little dog as he’s about to step off the cliff

  2. I think I know what Jose’s project is as he contacted me a while back about something. However, I won’t reveal any details here.

    There was a dog on the Fool card but only half a one and it looked odd since dogs on signs usually aren’t barking. I might re-instate that if I can find a better way of doing it.

    The semaphore does indeed spell TAROT.

  3. Hi origamifreak and thanks. BTW, I used to be an origami freak myself when younger, still have a few of the simple folds memorised.

    The person who created the International Icon Tarot contacted me after my design was featured on Boing Boing to ask whether I’d seen their version. I hadn’t, mine was done on a whim and (still) isn’t the complete set of cards. I also tried to make my designs as minimal as possible and stick as closely as I could to actual figures taken from road and airport signs and other modern iconography.

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