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Playing cards inspired by the Tarot. Arcana is a new deck of custom hand-drawn playing cards printed by USPCC.
Playing cards inspired by the Tarot. Arcana is a new deck of custom hand-drawn playing cards printed by USPCC.
Playing cards inspired by the Tarot. Arcana is a new deck of custom hand-drawn playing cards printed by USPCC.
3,199 backers pledged $190,592 to help bring this project to life.

About

Arcana Playing Cards

$190,592

3,199

Thank you all you wonderful backers!!! 

Please visit deadonpaper.com for more news and to catch some of these decks if you missed the project

The standard playing cards we know today have a history that's intertwined with and inseparable from tarot cards. I want to pay homage to that history and create a deck of playing cards with art inspired by the tarot. 

In some countries, traditional tarot cards aren't used just for divination, they're actually used for games the way we commonly use regular playing cards. Likewise, today's standard playing cards are used by some for divination—known as cartomancy. The two card systems started out as the same thing and are still inextricably linked. This deck is the first I'm aware of that takes that simple fact as the inspiration for its design.

The Art, Suits, Symbolism, and the Rider-Waite

The art for this deck is heavily influenced by the 1910 Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck—its pretty much the standard for tarot cards used for divination. Though the style of my art is very different from Pamela Smith's art, the themes and intent will be very much in the spirit of her artwork with a healthy dose of my own intent and interpretation. 

Arcana is first-and-foremost a playing card deck. Wherever possible I've pulled inspiration from the RWS Tarot, the Tarot of Marseilles, and the Sola Busca Tarot. That includes the royals, the suits, and the symbolism. That said, combining the two has meant a few tradeoffs.

Arcana isn't intended to be a full tarot deck. Playing cards printed through USPCC are 56 card decks (main cards plus 2 jokers, and 2 extra cards) while the tarot uses 78 cards. As a playing card deck, I'll be designing 56 cards, which means I have to limit the Major Arcana to 4 cards (replacing the two jokers and the 2 extra cards). The four cards I've chosen to include are The Tower, The Lovers, The Fool, and Death. I've consulted with a lot of tarot readers on this and they more or less agree that these cards are of importance to any reading and make sense to include. Additionally, these cards will not include the Page/Knave cards.

Correlating the suits was also a little dicey as there is at least a little healthy debate about which playing card suit goes with which tarot suit. I opted to go with what seemed like the most common concensus. Spades, Clubs, Hearts and Diamonds are paired up in this deck with Swords, Wands, Cups, and Pentacles respectively.

Also, just a note about my art. I take inspiration from all over—art history, found images, my own sketches and photographs. I combine all of it to create something new. I create the final art by combining art from scratchboard and images I draw on my tablet. It's all hand drawn, and I'm meticulous about making sure the final imagery works at the relatively small scale of playing cards.

The Cards

I hope you can tell from this artwork how much passion and dedication I have for the project. Each card takes many, many hours to draw, and I've been working on it for about a year. For me, the art is what custom playing cards are all about. If you backed one of my past projects, you know how detailed and unique my work is. It's a great pleasure to bring you these cards which I think takes my art to a whole new level. Please note that all images are just comps and subject to change.

Card back light
Card back light
Card back dark
Card back dark
Jack of Clubs/Wands - light
Jack of Clubs/Wands - light
King of Spades/Swords - light version
King of Spades/Swords - light version
Jack of Spades/Swords light version
Jack of Spades/Swords light version
Ace of Hearts/Cups  - dark version
Ace of Hearts/Cups - dark version
Queen of Hearts/Cups dark
Queen of Hearts/Cups dark
10 of Hearts/Cups dark
10 of Hearts/Cups dark
Ace of Spades/Swords light
Ace of Spades/Swords light
Ace of Spades/Swords dark
Ace of Spades/Swords dark
7 of Spades/Swords dark
7 of Spades/Swords dark
Queen of Diamonds/Pentacles
Queen of Diamonds/Pentacles
5 of Clubs/Wands dark
5 of Clubs/Wands dark
The Tower - one of the 4 major arcana cards in this deck
The Tower - one of the 4 major arcana cards in this deck
The Lovers
The Lovers
Death
Death
Jack of Hearts/Cups light
Jack of Hearts/Cups light
King of Hearts/Cups light
King of Hearts/Cups light
King of Diamonds/Pentacles - light
King of Diamonds/Pentacles - light

Many of the other royals are in various stages of completion. My goal is to have all the artwork finalized by the end of the funding period. That's a tall order, so it's possible completing the art might stretch a bit past the funding period. I'll definitely be posting more card images as I create them, so be sure to check back and feel free to offer suggestions.

The Box

As you can tell, there will be 2 versions of Arcana, one light and the other dark. Here are some images of the box:

Text translates roughly to 'As above, so below'
Text translates roughly to 'As above, so below'

The Prints

NOTE: Prints can now be included as add-ons for $50/ ($58 Int.)

As with my past projects, I'm making prints available of of each royal design, the card back, box front, and the aces. My process is to create plates from the original card art. I ink the plates, then run them through my press on museum-grade artist paper:

Inking the printing plate
Inking the printing plate
Lining it up on press
Lining it up on press
The finished hand-pulled print
The finished hand-pulled print
An example of the detail in the prints
An example of the detail in the prints
The finished print, signed and numbered. Please note that print rewards will not include the easel or board.
The finished print, signed and numbered. Please note that print rewards will not include the easel or board.

I think there's something really rare and special about the artistry of hand-pulling editions. I'm thrilled to offer these gallery worthy prints for about the same as what others offer mass-produced silk screened prints or even less than Giclee prints (which are nice, but really they're just ink-jet prints with a fancy name). These hand-pulled prints are a unique chance to own a limited edition work of art.

All prints will be 12" x 16" on Stonehenge paper, with hand-torn deckled edges—I personally tear down the paper myself to size. All prints will be 1 color, signed and numbered editions.

Prints can be added on to your pledge for $50/($58 Int.)

Add Ons

Adding any of the add on items below is pretty simple:

First, choose a reward tier

Second, click on the "Manage my pledge" button, and add the amount of the add-on. 

That's pretty much it. After the funding period, You'll be able to specify versions, sizes, etc.If you're an international backer, be sure to add the shipping amount if an add on has additional shipping costs (specified below).

Hardbound Illustrated Book - $28/$36 (Int.)SHIPS  DECEMBER 2015

This 6" x 9" black linen hardbound book with dust jacket will be illustrated with full page art for every major card (every card that has an illustration) and gives you a chance to learn more about what I wanted to accomplish with each illustration. It also will serve as a primer for those newer to tarot on how to read each card. It will contain approximately 150 – 200 pages. 

Please note that this is only a comp image and final art and layout is subject to change
Please note that this is only a comp image and final art and layout is subject to change
Comp image of an interior layout. Minor cards (2s-10s) will likely be ganged 2-up on a page, all major illustrations will be full page art.
Comp image of an interior layout. Minor cards (2s-10s) will likely be ganged 2-up on a page, all major illustrations will be full page art.

MAJOR ARCANA Expansion Deck - $20/$25 (Int.)

Deck with both light and dark versions of the Major Arcana tarot cards. This deck is for folks who want a complete tarot set and is in addition to the light and dark main cards. 

PLEASE NOTE THIS DECK WILL NOT SHIP UNTIL DECEMBER 2015

Major Arcana Expansion Deck
Major Arcana Expansion Deck

Tarot 2-piece Boxes - $5 each, int. shipping included
Ships December 2015

Dark version 2-part box (please note that no cards are included with the box and the design is subject to change
Dark version 2-part box (please note that no cards are included with the box and the design is subject to change
Light version 2-part box (please note that no cards are included with the box and the design is subject to change
Light version 2-part box (please note that no cards are included with the box and the design is subject to change

As promised, these premium finished boxes are being made available to you more-or-less at cost. These are 2mm thick cardboard boxes that will come in dark and light versions, will have metallic foil and spot UV varnish. These are 2-part boxes, meaning the top fits over the bottom and encloses the cards within. I did my best to mock these up, but please note the comps are for the general idea only and do not show the final design or premium finishes. These boxes are intended for folks who want to separate light and dark cards from the expansion deck and keep full tarot sets together.

Black Walnut and White Oak Inlay Wooden Tarot Box with Arcana Medallion - $45 / $55 Int.
Ships December 2015

Please note: The medallion in this image was comped, the box is a real prototype. Wooden box does not include cards.
Please note: The medallion in this image was comped, the box is a real prototype. Wooden box does not include cards.
Please note: Wooden box does not include cards.
Please note: Wooden box does not include cards.

This box is STUNNING in person, I hope the images do it justice! The white oak inlay really sets off the black walnut which has an at times reddish cast to it. This is sized to perfectly contain one full Tarot set (not included). This box can be used to protect and store complete tarot sets when used with the expansion deck. It features a swing hinge top piece that opens up to reveal the cards within. And, of course, it is topped off with an inset Arcana Silver-Finish Medallion.

30" x 30" Black Silk Tarot Reading Cloth with Metallic Silver Imprint - $22 / $26 Int.

Silk Tarot Reading Cloth. Please note design is subject to change slightly before being produced. Does not include wall or moulding, but shadows are included free of charge.
Silk Tarot Reading Cloth. Please note design is subject to change slightly before being produced. Does not include wall or moulding, but shadows are included free of charge.

 I've found an amazing source for 100% silk tarot cloths. These beauties will be screen printed with metallic silver ink. They'll make an amazing setting for tarot readings!

Extra decks - $11/$13(Int.)
No Extra deck limits, add on as many as you'd like.

T-Shirts - $22/$32(Int.)
Premium 4.2 oz. Available in S-XL (after the funding period you'll be able to select which version and size you'd like).

Arcana tree of life t-shirt
Arcana tree of life t-shirt
Arcana rota fortunae t-shirt
Arcana rota fortunae t-shirt

Arcana Uncut Sheets - $50/$75(Int.)
Uncut sheets are taken off the press as they're printed at the USPCC. They show every card in the deck, front and back. Each sheet will be signed and there is no limit to the number you may add-on. Each sheet is approximately 22" x 26.5"

Arcana Uncut sheets - dark and light versions
Arcana Uncut sheets - dark and light versions

Antique Silver Finish Coins—$12, shipping included for domestic and international

These are the same heavy-duty, 10 gauge, half-dollar sized coins I had minted for my past projects, this time with an antique silver finish. They're a great weight (about the same as 5 quarters), super detailed and have a gorgeous finish. Other coins are molded, these are minted and that's a difference you can see and feel in the detail. Nothing beats a 100 tons of pressure making every detail pop. 

Antique finish coins - this is just a comp image and art is subject to change
Antique finish coins - this is just a comp image and art is subject to change

Solid Silver Proof Arcana Coin—$55 (shipping included for domestic and international)

One troy ounce of .999 pure silver coin - note that this is just a mockup.
One troy ounce of .999 pure silver coin - note that this is just a mockup.

One of the advantages of having coins minted (as opposed to molded, don't get me started…) is that I can mint them in solid precious metals. For the first time, I'm proud to offer a SOLID silver version of the Arcana coin. This coin isn't silver plated, it is one troy ounce of solid .999 pure silver. These are "proof coins" and will have with a mirror finish. Below is a comp (since they aren't minted yet), but should give you an idea of what it will look like and how it differs from the regular antique silver-finish coin (which is a great genuine metal minted coin, but is not solid silver, it's a brass alloy coin with a finish applied).

Please note that because of the nature of this reward, outside the US it is strictly "buy at your own risk". We will under no circumstances issue replacement coins if your postal carrier loses it, misplaces it, or you otherwise do not receive it. We lose tracking ability when most international shipments fly out through Chicago, but our responsibility for packages ends when ship to you in good faith. We've experienced some fraud in the past, and this type reward opens us up to a LOT of risk, so we are also limiting orders to 5 per backer. Also, within the US these coins will be sent separately from other rewards and the USPS will request your signature for you to receive the coins.

 It's hard to comp up the coins to show exactly what they look like, but here's a picture from a past project showing the detail when coins are minted:

Actual minted coins
Actual minted coins

 Stretch Goals

50K - Iridescent pearl paper stock for tucks—REACHED!
55K - Designs/printing inside tucks—REACHED!
60K - Embossing + foil(s) on tucks—REACHED!!
65K - Major Arcana expansion deck—REACHED!!!
75K - Free print for EVERY PRINT BACKER—REACHED!!!
100K - Free gift for EVERY BACKER (over $11)—REACHED!!! 
120K - The Illustrated Guide to Arcana hardbound book released. —REACHED!!!

150K stretch goal - LE deck sleeve for every every deck, Gilded Edition released—REACHED!!! What? Yes!

This last stretch goal requires a little explanation. I want to do something very special that doesn’t require backers to add anything on—a true thank you from me to you for getting the project to this point. So if we reach this goal, I’ll include a signed and numbered sleeve for every deck that won’t interfere with you being able to open the cards up and use them. This will only be for backers—only the KS decks will come with the LE sleeve. This will make every deck in the project extra valuable, since only KS backers will ever have them.

The Gilded Edition release will be a set of all three decks with a special leather bound book box I’ll be hand binding myself (book binding is a one of my passions as you might have been able to tell from all the pictures with the cast-iron book press in this project). The decks will have edges gilded with palladium leaf. Palladium leaf is more expensive than silver leaf and has one major advantage. Palladium leaf does not tarnish, or oxidize, and maintains it’s finish under the harshest of conditions. It’s so stable in fact, that it’s used for gilding in conditions where it will be exposed to outdoor elements. Personally I think it’s more beautiful too, it has a slightly warmer tone than silver leaf. There will only be 25 (changed - now 45, also, will include everything at the $500 level too) of these very rare and special sets made available. Because these decks will be EXTREMELY labor intensive to produce, they will be a new reward tier and will cost $500. I know that sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but others sell genuinely gilded decks (not fake gilding using cheap foils) for upwards of $125 a piece. Hand gilding decks is an EXTREMELY labor intensive process requiring sanding multiple times at progressively finer grits, buffing to a glass-like finish, sizing the edges to receive the metal leaf, and then carefully applying the leaf. Truly these will be the ultimate collector’s item. If we reach the 150K mark, I’ll release the timing details of the Gilded Edition tier in advance (see Update) so everyone has a fair shot if interested in them. They will be first-come, first-serve.

Risks and challenges

This is my third project so I feel like I've got a lot of experience. That said, there's any number of things that could go awry. From printing errors (they happen sometimes), to shipping issues, to production problems with other rewards, these projects have a way of throwing curveballs. BUT, after two successful projects I think I know what to look for and how to plan as much as possible for the unforeseen. And, of course, it'll help to consult the divinatory powers of these cards to ensure things go of without a hitch ;)

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    Pledge $11 or more About $11

    EARLY BACKER SPECIAL!
    1 deck of Arcana Playing Cards. You'll be able to specify which version (dark or light) after the funding period.

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    2 decks of Arcana Playing Cards. You'll be able to specify which versions (dark, light, or combo) after the funding period.

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    3 decks of Arcana Playing Cards. You'll be able to specify which versions (dark, light, or combo) after the funding period.

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    4 decks of Arcana Playing Cards. You'll be able to specify which versions (dark, light, or combo) after the funding period.

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    1 deck + 1 uncut sheet (signed).

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    1 deck + 1 hand-pulled print. Your choice of any ace, card back, royal, or major arcana card extra. Prints are approximately 12" x 16" on fine artist grade paper. All prints are hand pulled, signed, and numbered editions.

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    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    1 deck + 1 uncut sheet (signed) + 1 hand-pulled print. Your choice of any ace, card back, royal, or major arcana card extra. Prints are approximately 12" x 16" on fine artist grade paper. All prints are hand pulled, signed, and numbered editions.

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    1 deck + 2 hand-pulled prints. Your choice of any ace, card back, royal, or major arcana card extra. Prints are approximately 12" x 16" on fine artist grade paper. All prints are hand pulled, signed, and numbered editions.

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    Pledge $135 or more About $135

    1 Arcana Brick (12 decks). You'll be able to specify which version (dark or light) after the funding period. Sorry, no mixed bricks.

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    6 + 6 Arcana mixed brick (6 light decks, 6 dark decks).

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    1 deck + 3 hand-pulled prints. Your choice of any ace, card back, royal, or major arcana card extra. Prints are approximately 12" x 16" on fine artist grade paper. All prints are hand pulled, signed, and numbered editions.

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    1 deck + 5 hand-pulled prints. Your choice of any ace, card back, royal, or major arcana card extra. Prints are approximately 12" x 16" on fine artist grade paper. All prints are hand pulled, signed, and numbered editions.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    MEGA BACKER!
    1 Arcana brick of your choice (dark or light), 10 hand-pulled prints, your choice of designs. You get one of the first prints in each edition, early numbers in editions are generally considered to be the most valuable). Prints are approximately 12" x 16" on fine artist grade paper. All prints are hand pulled, signed, and numbered editions. International backers - the shipping is on me.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    GILDED EDITION

    All 3 decks (light, dark, and expansion cards) hand-gilded with palladium leaf in a custom hand-bound leather box (with book box binding). Total edition size limited to 55, 45 of which will be made available here. Also includes 1 Arcana brick (your choice of light, dark, or combo) and 10 hand-pulled prints (see descriptions). Shipping included to anywhere in the world.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    ULTIMATE BACKER!
    1 brick of Arcana - dark or light version . 1 print folio of every print, in a hand-bound folio box. The prints for this tier will be artist proofs, signed A.P - artist proofs are the most valuable in any edition because they are used to compare all other prints to for quality. Prints are approximately 12" x 16" on fine artist grade paper. All prints are hand pulled, signed, and numbered editions. Both t-shirts in the size of your choice. One each of the uncut sheets. 10 antique silver finish coins.
    International backers - the shipping is on me.

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Funding period

- (40 days)