Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tarot Art

Tarot art is still growing in terms of recognition. For example, art galleries are not all competing to host shows by tarot creators, and they do not get reviews like new books or recordings in most places, or even by art reviewers.

But a number of people who initially worked as graphic artists or commercial artists and illustrators have now created tarot decks simply because they were intrigued by the artistic challenge of being creative within a structured framework, meaning the deck of 78, with 22 major arcana, minor arcana, court cards, suits and numbers from one to ten.

There have been a few major artists, like Salvador Dali, who have produced a deck. His paintings of course, you can see in museums. But there are other artists like Luis Royo who is well known for creating comic books as well as tarot decks. Within those two mediums his work is well known, but not as much in the way of a gallery or museum show.

There are others who have done nothing but tarot and make numbered and signed limited edition sets. Some of these artists also make a standard edition set, in the more typical card size and print hundreds or thousands of copies. Some artists only sell their decks on their own websites.

Today there are artists using photoshop types of technology to create decks graphically separating themselves from the Renaissance type paintings and drawings. And there are some decks that incorporate art by classical artists in their design, so now you can see some of the masters in portable size reproductions.

Remember, when photography was a newer art form, gallery owners didn't want them either, until the popularity of people like Ansel Adams. Comic book artists are now getting more recognition because like tarot cards, lots of people buy them, read them and collect them, although gallery owners were not always willing to feature them as artists.

Tarot art is very user friendly, which is why some people buy decks just to look at the pictures, even without trying to do readings for others. It is like having your own little art gallery that will fit in a pocket or purse or not take up much space on a table or bookshelf.

Think about the times when you just want to spend a few quiet moments looking at a coffee table art book just for the sheer pleasure of looking at it. Those art books can be big, heavy and expensive, and this is not to imply any negativity there. I am just saying by comparison, tarot decks can be bought for as little as $20, and some of the more collectible ones are only as much as some coffee table art books. Only a smaller portion are up there in that very top end of the expensive stratosphere.

But if you are just looking to spend a little quiet time, enjoying visual art, you can take out a deck, fan through the images, and enjoy them simply as art. If you use them as a meditative tool or a philosophical or storytelling device, or for creative inspiration, after you are done with your brief interlude, you can set them on the coffee table or end table, or keep one in your desk for a little refreshment at work or carry them with you.

In this way, they are a very practical and affordable luxury or a very inexpensive tool that can grow with you.

One of these days, I think we will see more tarot artists get the recognition they deserve and be seen in gallery shows, museums, or on TV shows or documentaries that feature artists. It is a growing part of the art world. One of the reasons there are so many more deck designs out now is precisely because of this. Creative people are always looking for new ways to express themselves. And those who take the time to appreciate them also find a lot of benefit from this art form.

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