• Callie Budrick

The Design and History of Tarot Cards

Call for entries: HOW Logo Design Awards

A Friday the 13th in October seems like the perfect excuse to look into the history of tarot cards and their designs. The Major Arcana have been around for centuries and are believed to have been created as a game for noblemen and women. Generally tarot card designs blend together ancient symbols, historic events, religious metaphors and other prominent iconography from the world around us.


One of the most common types of tarot card decks is the Tarot de Marseille, which were originally printed with woodblocks and then hand painted in the 17th century. Collectors Weekly has a great article about the origins of tarot cards:


“The earliest known tarot decks weren’t designed with mysticism in mind; they were actually meant for playing a game similar to modern-day bridge. Wealthy families in Italy commissioned expensive, artist-made decks known as ‘carte da trionfi’ or ‘cards of triumph.’ These cards were marked with suits of cups, swords, coins, and polo sticks (eventually changed to staves or wands), and courts consisting of a king and two male underlings. Tarot cards later incorporated queens, trumps (the wild cards unique to tarot), and the Fool to this system, for a complete deck that usually totaled 78 cards. Today, the suit cards are commonly called the Minor Arcana, while trump cards are known as the Major Arcana.”

Read more about the mysterious cards here after ogling at some of the beautiful tarot card designs being created by designers today.

The Major Arcana Tarot Deck


Travis Pietsch, Senior Graphic Designer at USA Today; Fairfax, VA Website | Instagram

“I’ve always been drawn to the occult symbols and aesthetic of Tarot Cards. It’s been a goal of mine to illustrate a deck of my own. For this project, I illustrated the 22 cards from the Major Arcana.”

The values of Thai woman


Themush Noon, Illustrator; Bangkok, Thailand Website | Instagram

“The Illustration oracle card design project ‘The values of Thai woman’ is a design project that aims to create a new style of oracle card (i.e., Tarot rider Waite smith) based on the belief in the values of a Thai woman, Thai astrology, and science of oracle card.”

The Major Alcana


Donna Fonx, Illustrator LASALLE College of the Arts; Singapore Website | Facebook

“This art piece focuses on the Major Arcana cards that form the foundation of the Tarot deck, recreated from the popular and widely used A.E.Waite’s the tarot card designs, merging together contemporary illustration, ancient symbolism, and storytelling to make captivating and meaningful interpretations of the cards.”

Tarot Cards CN


Bill Mayer, Bill Mayer Inc.; Georgia, USA and TWG: The Weber Group; New York, NY Website | Twitter | The Weber Group

“Set of character-based tarot cards created for Cartoon Network.”

2010 Major Arcana


Alexander Daniloff, Artist and Illustrator; Lucca, Italy Website | Facebook

Acaba – Tarot for Advertiser


HINK, design studio and Selçuk Ören, comic book artist; Istanbul, Turkey Hink Website | Hink Twitter | Selçuk Ören Website | Selçuk Ören Instagram

#history #carddesign #tarotcards #tarotcarddesign #playingcards #illustration

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