So You Want to make your own Tarot or Oracle Deck?
THE FACES BEHIND THE CARDS
As Diverse and inclusive The Spiritual tools are becoming with more and more decks including body positivity, LGBTQIA+ inclusive language and imagery as well as being culturally diverse. More often than not, the faces behind these designs are not quite as inclusive as the deck themselves.
If tarot and oracle decks are becoming more and more inclusive but the markers behind them are not, then it's simply the same problem repainted and repackaged. There is of course nothing wrong with someone wanting to create an inclusive deck but it's important that people behind these cultural and societal identities also have their hand in telling their own stories as well.
An Authentic voice behind a project speaks far more volumes to me than anything else. The connections are far more genuine and people who resonate with those stories will feel a far greater connection with the divination tool in general.
With that introduction out of the way let's get into the ways that you can bring your own creations to life.
There are many ways to make decks in regard to the art, photo editing of royalty free images, collages, paintings or drawings. For traditional art, you upload the scanned images and apply them to a template provided by the manufacturer.
For digital art consider the type of art style you want your deck. Experiment with multiple styles. Consider what inspires you and what kind of deck do you desperately want to see but do not yet own?
If you want program suggestions: I personally use ClipStudio Art Pro, but other great programs include Procreate (for the Ipad), Medibang, Paint tool Sai and of course Photoshop and Illustrator.
For traditional artists I would recommend getting a good quality scanner and paper so that your work from traditional to digital isn't lost when trying to upload the files for printing process.
What inspires you?
What is driving you to create this deck? do your ancestors want to be involved? your spirit team?
Do you want to dedicate the deck to something or make an aesthetically pleasing deck for yourself?
Ask yourself these questions even if no one else sees these cards but you. You never know what kind of answers you may find.
How long do you want to spend on each card?
Remember, this will be a deck that will likely be hours and hours of work regardless of the style you choose.
Traditional artists especially should take notice of this especially when utilizing mediums that would require time to dry.
I highly recommend that unless you're perfectly okay with slowly crafting your deck over several months or years, to set a personal timer or goal you want to spend on each card. When working on my decks , the amount of time allocated per card was dependant on how many cards each deck had.
For the 1st and 2nd Edition of Storm Roots, I allowed 2 hours per card because it was an 80 and 90 card deck respectfully, that would easily close in at over 160-180 hours of work. All while I was working 1 FT time job and 1 PT job.
For When Life Gives you Mangoes since it was a coloured deck I had to bump it up to 3 hours per card and then for Lily of the Garden the maximum time each card would have would be 3-4 hours maximum. This means on average I finished 2-3 cards a day.
So ask yourself that question! and if you are outsourcing your art, be sure to realistically calculate how long an artist would require to do art of that caliber for your deck and what the respectable amount of pay would be.
To Guidebook or Not to Guidebook?
Guidebooks give the reader an insight to your thoughts. They now understand fully why you chose the imagery or words you did for your deck. That being said, guidebooks can also increase the cost of production : )
I print my guidebooks using Mixam and they are available in the UK, US and Canada. You can print books in general using Mixam and I highly recommend as I also use it for my comics.
Alternatively you can create decks that can be used intuitively and release a guidebook digitally. In the form of a PDF or QR code
Or even allow the guidebook to be something sold separately within your store.
How Many Cards?
I like big decks and I cannot lie and when it's your own personal deck, the options and even shapes are infinitely yours to chose from. If you have lower card count which i believe is < 40 cards. This allows for more budget to be used on customization.
Are you going holographic cards? gliding? do you want an art book or something else special to come with your deck? The choices are yours.
Why are so many Indie decks so expensive? Will My Deck be Expensive?
Time. Manufacturing Costs and the love of the labor.
One of the reasons why many people kickstart their decks is to absorb the weight production costs, customs, goodies and accessories off their shoulders, but that doesn't mean they'll always see a profit from the deck yet.
Print on demand decks especially have this problem, where creators can see less than $5.00-$10.00 profit per deck on their sales simply because the base price of a single deck is incredibly high.
This guide is a walk through on using Print on Demand Decks, with another blog post coming about utilizing manufacturers directly coming many months from now.
You have to believe that what you made is worth it. Above all the costs, your time is valuable as well. Those who resonate with your work and journey will come to you. Do not attempt to undersell your deck simply because you're worried no one will get it.
Your deck will likely run far higher than a mass market deck. That's okay.
For Lily of the Garden, Storm Roots Edition 1 and When Life Gives you Mangoes I used Print on Demand Decks.
That means there is no minimum order to the decks you can order from these websites. You can order 1 deck, 2 decks, 200 decks , more, less and anything in between.
o No Minimum Order [Can order 1 deck, 20, 500, or 112, any number of decks you wish]
o Ease of Use (Readily available templates and upload)
o Good Quality
o Fairly shorter Processing Times
o Customization Fairly Limited (Only 2 Gilding Colors, No Magnetic Boxes, Embossing etc)
o Low Quality Tuck Box
o Limited Guidebook Pages
This is how a lot of deck creators I followed got started, they order in bulk the cards to themselves and that way they can personalize the packaging. They are constantly upgrading their options yearly making the experience far more expansive than when I originally began making my own decks back in 2017.
Things to remember:
o Always check to make sure the images you use are royalty free or buy the rights to use the image.
o This also goes for drawing an exact replica of a photograph You can use it as reference but directly copying isn’t a good idea. Utilize multiple photos so that you can create an image inspired by pieces and is now uniquely your own.
o Use Free Fonts or Buy the Rights to Fonts to Use for Commercial Use Great Website: Include: Dafont.com and creativemarket.com. Keep a folder with the names of the fonts you've purchased or got for free so that you don't forget them for future projects (Learn from my mistakes)
With that out of the way everyone : ) Get to Creating : ) I can't wait to see what decks you guys bring to life over the coming months and years . Be kind to deck creators out there.
We're just trying our best
Take care everyone!