It’s nice to find self-published decks that experiment with different art styles, things which might not count as “fine art” in the eyes of publishers, but which are certainly elegant, creative and well-drawn. The Meta Land Tarot (Jon Law, 2016) fits in that category. It’s creator describes the Majors as “graphically textured art prints” and the Minors as vectorised art. What I notice is the somewhat manga-esque feel to the people, and the clear lines and simple colours.
This manga feel and the simple lines can be seen in the Fool card. I like that the character is naked, without being “graphic” 😉 And I love the cute little dog, over his shoulders rather than biting at his heels. It feels like he is close to his instincts, listening to them, and treating them with love and respect. He stands superimposed on one peak, with another in the distance: the world is at his feet, ripe for the exploring.
The Queen of Wands surprises me, in that she is surrounded by golden wheat sheaves on a green background. I would associate this kind of growth and verdant nature more with the Queen of Pentacles, rather than the fiery Wands monarch. Still, wheat grows in the sun, at the height of summer, which would fit.
In fact, the Court cards are unusual in several ways.
Firstly, in the fact that they are fully reversible (other than the line of text at their centre). In any case, I always see a range of possibilities in any card, and use positions more than reversals to determine whether a card is “ill-dignified”. So, not a feature that will make much difference to me, but I’m sure it could be used in interesting ways if you tried…
Secondly, the Pages are all just a pair of hands, in different positions and with different objects or landscapes around them. It’s an interesting concept – that the Page dives into their element, rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty 🙂
Thirdly, just about all the characters have grey hair, with pink eyes for the females and blue eyes for the males. Add to that the fact that all the Kings wear red, all the Queens wear blue and all the Knights wear black, and they aren’t as quickly or easily distinguishable as one might hope. Though admittedly, the backgrounds are all different.
As for the Aces, they all feature the mountain peak which is found in many of the other cards, too, such as the Fool above, or the Eight of Chalice (Cups). In each, though, the base of the mountain is coloured to match the dominant colour of the suit (seen, also, in the backgrounds to the Court cards). So, the Ace of Wands shows a green base, the Ace of Chalices a blue base, the Ace of Swords a grey base, and the Ace of Crystals a gold base. Other than that, each also has some suit emblem. In the Ace of Wands, that’s a somewhat thorny stem leading up to a rose. It works well to define the suit: full of passion, with a strong “spine”, but sometimes somewhat prickly.
Having said that each suit has a defining colour, as you can see in the Eight of Chalices this doesn’t mean that each card of the suit maintains that motif. Here, we have lots of grey, some gold, and no blue at all. The meaning, however, is expressed nicely. A path leads towards high, distant mountains, between two rows of cups. We have to travel a road often lined with emotional situations, in order to reach greater clarity and truth.
Overall, there are some incredibly clever images in this deck. The Lovers really stands out for me, for instance. And as mentioned, the Court cards are unusual. The vector art is of a high standard, and the manga style is simple yet appealing. There are interesting common motifs found throughout the cards – an unusual cross, and of course the almost ever-present mountain peaks.
Altogether, these cards have a clearly traditional underpinning, while bringing a modern feel to the images. Through their simplicity, they open up an intuitive understanding of the cards. While I’m still not sure what graphically textured art is, that won’t affect my enjoyment of the deck 🙂