Create Your Own Tarot header

Put It All Together

You’ve reached the end of this module… and the beginning of the rest of your project.

Now you have an outline of where to put your card ideas, and how they might fit together. Before you leave, it’s time to think about how you’ll fill in that outline. There are some general tips for goal-setting that are especially applicable to deck creation.

Justice, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, holds a sword and a set of scales. This image signifies wisely and fairly dividing things up.

Divide and balance tasks.

If your only goal is to “make a tarot deck,” it will probably be difficult to achieve. Bring in the philosophy of Justice and the suit of Swords – break things down to a finer level.

Unless you are making an exact replica of an existing deck, “create a card” is never a single task. It’s a process that may involve research, reflection, and any number of drafts.

So, after you make a to-do list for your project, try returning and subdividing each step until they are all of a balanced size. For example, you could focus on tasks you can complete in one sitting.

Temperance, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, holds a bridle and a cup. This image signifies moderation and good health.

Process over product.

It’s tempting to just focus on the payoff of holding a deck of cards that you created in your hands. But Temperance and the artistic suit of Cups caution, “don’t get ahead of yourself.”

Fixating on the product (i.e., how many cards you’ve completed) can hide your real progress from yourself. Many steps that go into creating a card have no immediate tangible output – researching symbolism, studying tarot traditions, or reflecting on your interpretations won’t give you a product to share, but they are all important parts of the cycle. Even consciously not working can be essential to be able to return with a new perspective. So, take it slow. Recognize the time and energy that these passive-yet-vital tasks take up, and give yourself room to grow.

Fortitude, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, sits on a throne with a lion. This image signifies the courage to keep on in the face of adversity.

Don’t be afraid to retry.

This tip might sound trite, but it’s important! This project will last a long time, and Strength and the suit of Batons here remind you of the importance of perseverance.

When you’re creating 78 art pieces over months or years, you’re going to learn some new things about your medium. The plan you create in this module will help keep your deck consistent in its ideas and concepts, but the look of the art is another story. Practice and experiments are the best way to improve, so don’t be afraid to get started – and don’t be afraid to redo your previous work to get the result you want. Connected to the previous point, work that you remake is not wasted: it can help you to develop your skills and refine your ideas of your deck’s aesthetic.

Prudence, one of the four Cardinal Virtues, holds a book, a mirror, and a snake. This image signifies foresight and knowing yourself and your capabilities.]

Evaluate yourself.

When you move away from product-focused goals, it can be more difficult to tell when they’re achieved. Prudence (sadly excluded from most traditional tarot decks) and the suit of Coins advise, “know yourself.”

Take time to look back at your progress throughout the project, and not just at the end. Look beyond the percentage of cards you’ve completed, to areas where you have learned or changed your perspective (tarot and divination systems, iconography, your chosen art medium or your writing skills are just a few examples). This tip can be helpful for both your own well-being and your productivity. Acknowledging how you’ve learned and grown through your work feels good (especially if you tend to be hard on yourself). But this is also a chance to examine what strategies have served you well so far and how you can apply those strategies to the work ahead!

Image source: Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France).

I learned the importance of this advice with some difficulty, as I watched my deck project seemingly become more and more complicated over the years. Even with a solid idea for most card meanings in the beginning, things evolved far more than I expected. When I began, I was brand new to the medium (colored pencil and markers). After working for a year, my way of drawing and color palettes naturally shifted, and I ended up going back to redo all my early work. It was worth the effort! Preparing for changes like this can help you get the most out of your project.

The first version of the Hermit has very saturated colors, especially red, blue, and black. It also has busy pencil strokes and heavy outlines on all shapes.The second version of the Hermit has more muted colors including purple, gold, and brown. The pencil strokes are lighter and less obtrusive.

Making a Plan

Now it’s time to plan your next steps forward. Follow the instructions in the tool below to build and save your plan.

As you work on your project, you may get a better idea of the steps in your personal creative process – or you might find that it’s different every time. Either way, you can keep refining your plan, keeping your eyes on small steps forward instead of feeling paralyzed by an unreachable goal.

What did you think?

Thanks for taking the time to complete this module! I would very much appreciate hearing about your opinions to help improve. If you have time, please visit this 10-question survey (Google Forms).