The Major Arcana Paintings by Zeke's Lunchbox

Reflections on making an indie tarot deck: Part 1

This is the first blog post in a series on making your own tarot deck. You can find part 2 here

Wow, It’s been a year now since we launched the Zeke’s Arcana Tarot deck via Kickstarter! We’ve gotten so much positive feedback since then. Some people have even reached out to us, asking things like “how do I make my own tarot deck?”.

Between all of the feedback, and my own thoughts on the deck, I believe that there are some great learnings for anyone interested in how a tarot deck comes together. So let me share those learnings in no particular order.

Be yourself

Let’s start with the obvious: Zeke’s Arcana is a pink tarot deck. That might sound sort of trivial, but I don’t think it is. If you have a look, there really aren’t that many unashamedly pink tarot decks on the market. It’s full of eye popping pink and pastel tones. To be honest it might be a bit too much for some people. In fact I know it is, because some of my close friends have said as much! And that’s fine by us. There are so many awesome Tarot decks out there now, there’s something for everyone. I think that if you want to stand out you need to really double down on what your deck represents! Be yourself, and I’m sure those who are meant to find your deck will.

Zeke's Arcana tarot card spread

Be high quality

Zeke’s Arcana is a high end deck with high end production values. Some people have called Zeke’s Arcana a luxury Tarot deck. I’ll take the compliment! When I was scoping for card manufacturers, I wanted to make sure that the production values of the deck matched the quality of Zeke’s hand painted artworks. All of the Major Arcana in our deck are originally hand painted. There’s a lot of texture and richness of colour that is quite hard to capture with lower-end printing methods. So we didn’t compromise on quality. Everything is offset printed, which preserves the exact colours of the original artwork. The cards are on extra thick card stock. We even added in some arguably unnecessary flourishes, like the gilded edges and holographic foil printing. You might be thinking “that sounds great, why doesn’t everyone do that?”. The answer is cost. Things like a hard cover box, high end printing, and metallic embossing all add to the per unit cost of manufacturing a deck. And we have charged accordingly for the deck. But on the brightside, this deck is something that Tarot readers will be able to keep for the rest of their lives. There’s certainly space for cheaper decks, and maybe one day we will make one. But given our small print run, and the content of this deck we just knew that Zeke’s Arcana had to be a high-end tarot deck.

Engage a professional artist

I’ve seen some great decks that are made by amateur artists and some of them are very charming. I can guarantee you that if I’d tried to make my own deck it wouldn’t have been! Zeke is an established artist who works in a bunch of mediums, and she knows what she’s doing when it comes to composition, colours, anatomy and so on. I think the fact that Zeke’s Arcana is an artist-made deck gives it a really unique aspect that is hard to imitate. Even now, with some people trying to sell AI generated tarot decks and the like, I don’t think anything comes close to what a real artist can make. If anything I think genuine art is becoming more sought after now!

I want to emphasise that this shouldn’t be a discouragement to anyone who wants to make a deck on their own. Like I said I’ve seen some great amateur work. This is just what worked for us.

The Major Arcana by Zeke's Lunchbox

Tap into a theme (in our case it’s millennial nostalgia)

When people read cards, they don’t just go by the established Tarot lore. If that was the case we wouldn’t need artwork on tarot cards, we could just have blank cards with the name of the card on them! No, people take cues from the artwork. They tap into the vibe of a particular deck. Zeke’s Arcana is a nostalgic, kitsch deck with a lot of references to being a kid in the 90’s. Some people have said that Zeke’s Arcana reminds them of Lisa Frank. That’s another compliment we’ll take (even though I think Zeke’s work is a lot less PG). The deck is full of cute animals, and big fluffy clouds. The wands and swords look like they’re straight out Sailor Moon and you’ll even find some 90’s style Trolls in the deck. Again, this sort of stuff isn’t going to be for everyone. But the people who get it, really get it! It doesn’t hurt that Zeke’s work is always cheeky and raunchy, so the nostalgia comes with a bit of an edge.

There’s some more things I will talk about, but that’s it for now! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, go over to the shop and do so. If this is the first you’ve heard of Zeke’s Arcana or the artist Zeke’s Lunchbox, then you should check out her Instagram @zekeslunchbox.

And of course, if this post has piqued your interest then you can purchase the Zeke's Arcana deck, and other work by Zeke's Lunchbox, here.

The Zeke's Arcana Tarot Deck

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