Card dimensions are 70mm x 120mm. Cards are printed on 350gsm board and are finished with UV varnish. All cards are gilt edged with French gold. Cards come supplied in a specially designed tuck box.
I began designing this deck in 2008, but it took me nearly five years to complete and publish. Here's the story of the deck's creation and development.
The genesis of the deck was my ambition to create a deck which worked as a complete environment. I wanted its readers to feel they could project themselves into it - exploring it, submitting to its mysteries, and discovering its secrets. I hope that despite the long journey the deck ended up taking, and through the many revisions it underwent, that I stayed true to its original aim.
I still remember the novelty and excitement of exploring Tarot images for the first time, wondering about the messages and meanings the symbols might contain. I wanted as far as I could to recapture that original sensation: the thrill of opening the box, the experience of discovering new pictures and scenarios never before seen. My intent wasn't therefore to design a deck which reveals all its information instantly. Rather, I wanted to create a deck which delivered something of the fun of a puzzle - deck which readers needed to explore and grow to understand and know over time.
The illustrations I used remain relatively faithful to the established meanings of cards, but there are of course instances where my representatives were much more subjective. All the scenes and symbols on each card were deliberately chosen to reflect my own impressions of that card. No images were selected without meaning: the cards aren't random collages. I took inspiration from kaleidoscopes, geometry, architectural patterns, codes, and the languages of flowers and colour.
I completed the first version of the deck after about nine months, and launched a website for the deck in Autumn 2009.
As anyone who's ever investigated printing their own deck will know, printing a bespoke Tarot deck can be a complicated business - especially if the card designs are at all out of the ordinary. It soon became clear that far from being a casual enterprise, printing the deck was actually going to require significant investment from me (many thousands of pounds) and I realised that I couldn't go ahead until I'd at least got some reassurance that there was some demand for it. As much as I wanted to print the deck, the whole exercise risked being an extremely expensive and extravagant one - extravagant enough to qualify as a real financial folly if the decks didn't sell!
I therefore set up the first version of the website to allow collectors to place preorders. The response was very encouraging, and I looked forward very much to hitting the target for printing. Over 2009 and through 2010 word gradually spread across the internet about the deck and the amount of preorders slowly increased. It looked very likely that I'd be able to print the deck late in 2010, or failing that, early 2011.
Then, over Christmas 2010, I suffered a serious setback. The two hard drives I'd stored the deck designs on both failed. Although I didn't lose all the original 'finished' designs, I did lose most of the working files, meaning that I wasn't able to make any further modifications to them.
This was a considerable blow, and wasn't that easy to deal with after all the laborious preparation and thought which I'd put into the deck. I had to take a bit of a break from the idea of the deck for a while before coming back to recreate the work I'd lost: at this time, I did suffer something of a crisis of confidence about whether the deck was actually destined to 'happen' and it took a while for me to get these doubts out of my system. Fortunately, as is its habit, real life intervened. Other responsibilities provided an alternative focus for my attention, so by the time I did come back to the deck, several months later, I felt much more ready to asses what I now wanted to do.
In retrospect, I appreciate the benefit of revisiting the pack after the break. Losing the work designs was stressful, but it gave me an opportunity to reassess the designs and consider how they'd matured. Looking with a fresher eye, I realised that in my initial enthusiasm for finishing the project, I'd created certain cards which weren't as good as they could be. Some designs also no longer felt like they properly belonged, and, with the benefit to the greater objectivity the break had given me, I realised that I'd designed them under pressure - they'd suffered from my wish just to get the deck finished.
On this basis, and conscious of the necessary investment for printing the deck (going back and changing designs afterwards wouldn't be an option once it was printed) I decided to revise quite a lot of the cards and to tighten up the overall thematic consistency of the deck.
The most dramatic revisions were the Courts. I'd never been entirely satisfied with these cards, and they'd been the most difficult to design the first time around. Although I'd worked on them for a long time, rejecting many different ideas, I still hadn't managed to achieve what I really wanted.
I determined, therefore, that I needed their symbolism to be much more precise, and that I wanted them to fit more consistently into the overall deck structure. I struggled for a long time before I realised that what I needed to do was to bring out their elemental qualities: to emphasise the combinations of the elements that make the Courts unique within a deck. It was only once I'd decided upon this approach that I was really able to devise designs I was happy with. This approach also made some difference to the overall look of the deck: I rejected my original borders and brought the suits themselves more into line with this elemental approach. I also redesigned several cards from scratch to make them fit better into this unifying theme.
To explain more would possibly be to ruin the surprises and discoveries which I hope the deck will bring to its readers.
Now the deck is published, I realise the journey was all ultimately worthwhile. The first time I held the deck in my hands and saw the idea translated into a physical artefact was a thrilling and rewarding experience.
I sincerely hope that all the deck's readers have as fulfilling and interesting an experience when they use it.