|Tarot cards recently have undergone a major stylistic shift. The archetypes remain the same. This is true from the ancient patterns reflected in the Tarot of Marseille to the more modern interpretations in the Rider Waite Tarot. But the style has certainly changed in the early 21st Century.
The root of this stylistic shift may be traced to growing cultural acceptance of tattoo art and manga. Also, the growing popularity of vampire movies like the New Moon and Twilight series brings increased interest in Gothic themes. And generations brought up on the Harry Potter saga have added a visually rich vocabulary to the mix. Have you noticed more graphic novels in bookstores or more folks dressing in the Steampunk fashion?
It's no accident that the world's most popular tarot decks look more like the Favole Tarot by Victoria Frances and less like Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot. Dark and gothic are the hallmarks of the new aesthetic. The publishers are shifting their focus from New Age to fantasy illustration.
This shift has not been entirely smooth. Famous Spanish fantasy illustrator Luis Royo is perhaps the best example. His first tarot was the Black Tarot. This deck simply showcased existing works much like some playing cards showcase the work of pinup artists. It arguably appeals more to fans of his work than to tarot enthusiasts. The Labyrinth Tarot was conceived from the beginning as a tarot deck and is more successful, at least as a tarot. With the I Ching Dead Moon, Luis Royo seems to have struck a middle ground. Or perhaps the illustrations are so beautiful that it doesn't matter.
It's too early to tell whether dark and gothic is a passsing trend or a more lasting influence on the tarot. The recent publication of the Anne Stokes Tarot and the Alchemy of England Tarot are encouraging signs that this is a major change. A lot of credit should go to Fournier, the world's largest playing cards manufacturer, for taking a chance and leading the charge.
House of Tarot imports Fournier cards directly from the factory near Vitoria, Spain. Our longtime relationship with the publisher enables us to sell tarot cards wholesale at the lowest prices.