So having created this website such a long time after actually starting this tarot project means a lot has happened already. So the purpose of this blog post, and probably the following ones will be to document what has happened so far.

I’ve wanted to create my own tarot deck for a very long time, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I discovered the wet plate collodion photographic process (described in more detail here), and realised this was the medium I had been looking for.  There are some photography based tarot decks, some film, some digital, some based on found images, some collages. But as far as I can see, no-one has created a wet plate collodion deck. I am not saying one does not exist, just that I have not seen one. I imagine some artists will have used the tarot theme to produce images as a project for individual cards or groups of cards, but I don’t think any have become completed decks.

After a lot of thinking, and finishing up other projects, it wasn’t until 2016 that I started some serious planning for the cards. I collected information about what I wanted for the individual cards and started storing these in A4 lever arch files. This has now expanded to cover seven folders.

The theme of the deck is influenced by vintage photography from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, inspired by images of fortune tellers, gypsies, dancers, silent movie stars and film stills. Some of these images appear in the header image at the top of this page. Add to that Victorian and Renaissance paintings and symbolism and references to tarot decks through the ages from the Visconti deck to Tarot de Marseille, to the French occultist decks and onto the Rider Waite deck and then more modern decks.

My approach to card design has been in two parts.

Firstly, what do the tarot cards mean to me? What are the key elements and symbolism of a card that are the core of the meaning for that card?

Secondly, how do I incorporate those elements and symbols in an image created by the wet plate collodion process and with the aesthetic mentioned above?

In addition to these factors, I also have to consider the following:

  • Wet plate collodion has some distinct issues that need to be considered in the design stage of the image.
  •  As a photographic deck created without the use of Photoshop or collage techniques, costumes, props and accessories all need to be acquired.
  • I don’t want to use the same model on more than one card (although there is a case to do so for some cards if we consider the major arcana as a journey) so will need a large number of models.

Over the next few blogs, I will consider the above five areas in more detail.