Illustrated Tarot cards from Pictoplasma

PicTarot is a new pack of cards released by Pictoplasma which includes a 38 page booklet and 78 7x12cm cards, of which 26 are lovingly illustrated by a host of international artists including Gary Baseman, Ian Stevenson, Fons Schiedon, FriendsWithYou, Julia Schonlau, Motomichi Nakamura and Genevieve Gauckler…

PicTarot is a new pack of cards released by Pictoplasma. Inside is a 38 page booklet and 78 7x12cm cards, of which 26 are lovingly illustrated by a host of international artists including Gary Baseman, Ian Stevenson, Fons Schiedon, FriendsWithYou, Julia Schonlau, Motomichi Nakamura and Genevieve Gauckler…

The 78 cards form a traditional Tarot deck which can be used to play a popular French game known as Tarot, Jeu de Tarot, or Tarot de Marseille. The booklet included in the pack has an introduction that charts the history of the Tarot deck – and also, intriguingly, the personal and profound experience of editors of the project Lars Denicke and Peter Thaler who met a mysterious old woman in a tiny, deserted mountain village in Corsica in 2007 who, in effect, was the catalyst for this card pack project…

The woman, who the duo happened upon sitting in the shade of a tavern, served them refreshements when they sat down and then pulled out a deck of cards, started laying them out and launched into discussion about the pair’s future paths.

“Our initial amusement soon turned to bewilderment, not only because her predictions seemed to fit our personalities, but because most of the cards seemed to depict images of characters we knew from our research and previous publications,” runs the introductory text. “We both clearly identified something similar to the character Helper by the American artist Tim Biscup, and there was something uncannily close to Akinori Oishi’s drawings on another card. Even Motomichi Nakamura’s typical red-white-and-black design appeared as The Devil, and we both were shocked to find a character by Gary Baseman symbolising The Fool. Right in front of our eyes on an island in the middle of nowhere, all the iconic pop-characters we’d been collecting and researching for years, were suddenly entangled in a strange, mystical system – predicting our destinies – as if they had been in existence since time immemorial. Could it be that famous contemporary artists such as FriendsWithYou, Nathan Jurevicius or Ian Stevenson were simply ripping off old Tarot imagery? Impossible.”

Having worked on the pack of cards they’ve just published for two years, the pair returned to Corsica last summer to revisit the old woman. No-one in the village knew of her whereabouts. That’s my favourite part of the story.

As well as an engaging and well researched history of Tarot cards, the booklet contains instructions how to lay and read the cards, information about the iconology of the Major Arcana, and also how to play Tarot de Marseilles. Here are some photos I took of some of the cards:

Above, clockwise from top left is The Fool (reprentative of a new start, re-invention, creative chaos, mindlessness) illustrated by Gary Baseman, I The Magician (determination, power, concentration, manipulation) by Klaus Haapaniemi, II The Priestess (intuition, mystical wisdom, perceptiveness, bing connected) by Koralie, III The Empress (growth, creative energy, fecundity, caring) Amandine Urruty, IV The Emperor (leadershipm discipline, endurance, power) by Tim BiskupV The Hierophant (quest for meaning, truth, trust, integrity) by Jeremy DowerVI The Lovers (deep connection, community, social interaction, helping each other) by Ian Stevenson, VII. The Chariot (adventure, new horizons, self-confidence, daring) by Ville Savimaa

Clockwise from top left: VIII Adjustment (impartiality, clarity, equilibrium, justice, self-awarencess) by artist Juan MolinetIX The Hermit (retreat, focus, meditation, continuity) by Julia Schonlau, X Fortune (change, luck, chance, fate) by Alexander Nathan SotoXI Lust (vitality, force, passion, power, dauntlessness) by Jun seo HahmXII The Hanged Man (crisis, sacrifice, catch 22, blackout) by Fons SchiedonXIII Death (farewell, closure, leaving something or someone behind) by Gaston Caba, XIV Art (balance, harmony, healing) by FriendsWithYou, XV The Devil (subconscious forces, greed, temptation) by Motomichi Nakamura

Just to clear up any doubt – this deck of cards DOES include the standard 52 playing cards you need to play poker and myriad other card games. It’s the other included cards that make it a full Tarot deck. As well as Kings, Queens and Jacks, there is also a Chanteur card for each suite. Shown here are the Chanteurs (illustrated by Guillaumit), Kings designed by Genevieve Gauckler, Queens designed by Karl Maier (Rinzen), Jacks designed by Shoboshobo.

More info about PicTarot at

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