Deck Creation and Me

The LoversWhen I began this blog, I wasn’t sure which images I would use to illustrate it. The Rider Waite was my first thought and probably the most obvious choice, but on discussing whether to use it with a friend, we considered the implications of consistently using something which is copyrighted.

I am no stranger to blogging. Before Tiferet Tarot, I blogged daily about the cards, using many decks to illustrate my posts. However, my friend suggested I avoid the problems of copyright by illustrating the blog myself this time. This is what I have done, using some old tarot illustrations [which I began some years ago] as a springboard.

Time moves on and I am now half way through the creation of the deck. I am beginning to wonder if this set of silhouettes could go further. Would someone be interested in publishing it? I have always dreamt of illustrating my own tarot. But this is not my first attempt. It is far from it.

Many years ago, I worked for high street clothing stores. As an apparel print and garment designer, I became more and more proficient at computer aided design. The more I learned, my interest in photo-collage and vector-drawing spilled from my daily job into my evenings and time at home. I began digitally designing what was my first unfinished deck, the Theatre of the Moon Tarot – an odd-looking carnivalesque set of collages, where each character was made from many different pieces. It was a long, drawn out process, since I was still learning. Needless to say, it was never finished. However, a creative fire was lit within me.

Theatre Cards

Not much of the Theatre of the Moon exists anymore. I have a few printed out copies of cards and a couple probably lurk somewhere in the deep, dark corners of the web, but my originals were lost on a damaged memory stick a long time ago. It still saddens me, since it was the beginning of a long journey and I liked the cards I created a lot. Over the years, I have attempted many different ways of describing the tarot cards through my drawing and collage. A few years ago, I began to doodle in biro in a hardback sketchbook.

Pen Sketches

As well as returning to the computer, I also had a stab at water-colour pencils, inspired by the beautiful drawings by Joanna Powell Colbert. It wasn’t a medium I was used to and I didn’t continue furtherThis Child of Water was one of just a few court cards I tried out with pencil.

Children of WaterFor the creation of my silhouette tarot, I use Adobe Illustrator. I like the cleanness of line I can achieve when using it. The program became an important tool for the creation of two important steps between the Theatre of the Moon and now. Five years ago, I began 78a project which I used to illustrate an old blog, entitled Pro-Tarot. It was heavily people-based, since I used my friends as subjects for each card. You can probably see how these illustrations influenced the silhouettes I am working on now.


After 78 (another incomplete project), I’d planned to work with the cartomancer, Deborah Leigh. I cannot remember why we never got down to my illustrating a playing card deck for her, but instead, I began working on The Green TarotUsing many people I knew as models, I began to create the images. I looked into the symbolism of plants and flowers, jotting down my reasons for each one used in every card. Each illustration was painstakingly drawn with a mouse in Adobe Illustrator. Every single line. Every single blade of grass. It became another unfinished project, but at that point, it was the one I’d spent the most time on.


Over the years, I worked on other ideas, including oracles. I finished one – The Dark Beach (which I used consistently on my old blog for daily readings) – but others didn’t get much further than just a few card illustrations, such as a manga-inspired set I began.

oraclesEventually, I decided to see if I could actually finish a whole deck. The result was The Fragments of an Illusion TarotFor many years, I’d wanted to create an all-male deck and this turned out to be it. I used Photoshop to collage my images, just as I had all of those years ago with the Theatre of the Moon illustrations, shaving away every part of the many layers with just my mouse. Each final illustration comprised many different elements. I added swords to hands, sat people on thrones, created environments from many different pieces and pulled them all together. As an example, those guys on the 2 of Cups were never facing one another to begin with and were never holding their cups.

Once again, I used the set on my blog (more than nearly any other deck in my five years of blogging at that address). There are only three copies of the deck in existence. I own one, I gifted another to a friend, and I put one into a giveaway. I have two of the final illustrations framed on my wall here. It is a very dear tarot to me, since it is the first one I managed to finish.


Because I used images from magazines and the web in my digital collages, I knew it would be difficult to sell Fragmentsso my friend and I began to work on a new one almost straight after. I started to use people I knew once again and stuck to the format I liked so much with FragmentsHowever, I put a wash over the different suits, to suggest their elements more clearly.

sopkaThe deck, nicknamed the Bright-Kenny Tarotremains on the back-burner. At the time, we tried to find just the right models for each card, but getting people and props together proved difficult, which was probably why it didn’t succeed.

I have played about with a few ideas since then, but nothing really took off until I began my [still unnamed] silhouette deck. I’d drawn-up the 5 of Cups a few years ago and it stayed in a file on my computer until recently.

angelSome time ago, I’d read an interesting children’s book which used decorative cut-outs as illustrations, not unlike silhouettes. I was also inspired by the out-of-print Universal Icon Tarot, which eliminated features, gender, and race in its tarot characters. Needing to illustrate this blog, the deck was born.

I have thirty-something cards left to illustrate and I am working through them at my own pace. I am looking forward to using the set in my own physical readings when it is finished, but my dream would be for it to become published. I think it would be a great starter deck for beginner taroists, but also something straight-forward and simplistic for experienced readers to work with. Since one of my other passions is writing, I’d love to write an accompanying book for it.

Maybe my dream will come true one day.




© Steven Bright Tiferet Tarot 2014

All illustrations by Steven Bright



22 thoughts on “Deck Creation and Me

  1. This is an collection to be so proud of!!! Steve you are such a all round creative person. So many styles and media. You will get there No doubt about that.
    This is amazing 😀


    • Thanks Ellen.

      Looking through the many images I have, it was hard to choose what to put here. But looking at it all collectively (and eliminating a lot too), I am proud of what I have done. I felt it would be nice to share this side of my tarot interest, that of a designer.

      I am really happy with my silhouettes, but they are a product of all that came before. I have learned over the years that the simpler looking tarots are best for me to read, which is why I am working on the one I a currently. I really like the old ones (and like the manga styled oracle) but as I have grown, my tarot-tastes have developed too.

      I really hope that you are right. I really want to move forward with all aspects of my tarot-life and career.


      • I think the greatest difficulty will be to find the balance between your two pentacles : sewing and tarot. I’ve got the feeling tarot has the upper hand right now, but who knows the future. so for now I’ll say enjoy these passionate designer urges and keep at it.
        I always use the less busy cards for spreads and the more crowded decks for one card readings or meditation


        • You are quite right, Ellen. I should be running a course next month and I also read at my first fair recently, so yes, tarot is taking an upper-hand. I am wanting to build things up, which means sewing is suffering. I think I need to step back and see how the two businesses can work. My sewing may very well evolve too – possibly more one-off-pieces, rather than many orders.

          I like your approach to the busy cards. I have the Pearls of Wisdom Tarot, which would be good for that, since it is far too-much for a Celtic Cross. Maybe for quiet self reflection instead.


  2. For me, the Green Tarot is the one that got away. I desperately wanted that. However, I always liked the Fragments deck too and since I was generously given a copy I have used it with great success.

    I was worried that the focus on depictions of men would not work for me being a woman but it certainly does, it’s a good working deck. Which tells me that the decks you make are useable and pull things out, a good vibe.

    I remember when you started the Theatre of the Moon on the Jump the Shark forum. One deck author told you to use your own photographs (she of the constant collaged decks from other people’s art), but the Magician from that deck always scared me–this dangerous archetype came across very well.

    You didn’t show those marvelous playing cards I liked that you drew too. You are so capable in Illustrator that I don’t think people often see your hand drawn art. It’s very hard to draw figures and you do that well, something I’ve always admired in your artwork.


    • I look back at the Green Tarot with warmth. I really like some of the images but they are very ‘of that time’. I will continue to create, even after the silhouettes (probably in a different way). These days, however, I know that each new project WILL get finished. Fragments was a lesson. I know now that I can complete.

      I am so glad that Fragments has worked for you. Because of our long-term-friendship, I do think of you when I create tarot art work, so I probably unconsciously considered how it would work for more people than just myself.

      I will have to look for more of my unfinished works (including those playing cards) for another similar post in the future 🙂


  3. Lovely to see this overview of your tarot/oracle decks to date 🙂 I’m keeping my fingers crossed that, one way or another the Silhouettes will become available to more than just a select few!


    • Thanks Chloe. I enjoyed putting this post together. Sometimes, you forget the things you do, so it is nice to see a selection of some of my work all in one place.

      I am also hoping that the silhouettes will become available too. As I get nearer to the end of designing them, I will think more about how that can happen. I haven’t forgotten your great advice from before 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        • The images are simplistic and I am quite quick at using Illustrator (as I used to use it to design every day) so I can create them relatively quickly. A lot of the time, it is whether the images I draw work or not. I have had to redo a few before I was happy. With silhouettes, you can not always know if they will work until you have finished.

          Ah, I look forward to chatting soon then. Your experience and understanding is much appreciated, Chloe.


  4. I always love how you work with portraiture a lot. It’s something I’ve always admired. It was the first art class I ever took! Your decks show you love of it! I actually really dig your watercolor pencil attempt. I think you should do more. It shows a softer side that you could develop! xooxx


    • Thanks Hannah. I have always been fascinated by people and I think that is why I concentrate on portraits a lot. However, I think that in the silhouette tarot I am illustrating this blog with, I am trying to include more scenes and some without people to add balance to the deck. As much as I liked decks like the Touchstone Tarot and Tarot of the Hidden Realm, they are both a bit ‘portrait-heavy’.

      I like that watercolour image too but I was way out of my comfort-zone. I agree that it shows a softer side and has a lot of emotion involved.


  5. Where to begin commenting on all this amazing art? Your style is so varied; that’s already beautiful, and you have a knack for making everything so multi-layered and sensitive. Theatre of the Moon is my absolute favourite-why are so many bewitching decks never finished? I have never seen such cards which positively ache with magic.
    Your are like a “cajita de sorpressas” or a little treasure chest full of surprises 🙂 never ceasing to amaze!
    Bless you-it’s such a joy to belong to this blog and the one, of course, before it!


    • Your words are very special, thanks Nathalie.

      I understand what you mean about the Theatre of the Moon. Being my first, it does bring back feelings of excitement and mystery.

      And it is a pleasure to have you here as part of this community! 🙂


  6. I have really enjoyed seeing your Tarot Art Works on Twitter and came to your blog hoping to buy 2 decks – I can’t imagine the work, the blood sweat and tears that go into creating a whole Deck but goodness I wish you all the power you need to complete a deck and unleash it on the world. You have a quite unique eye and this I would like to read with your vision. My best to you.


    • Thanks so much. These kind of comments mean so much to me.

      I have had a difficult time away from here recently and have been snowed up with stuff since getting back .. but I will get around to trying to get the silhouette tarot published soon. I also have many other ideas I’d like to take forward, also.

      Great to connect with you. Look forward to talking more 🙂


  7. Hello Little Budda lol long time no hear from you since your time on the Aeclectic forum, we spent many of posts on the creation boards and i remember you creating the Theater of the moon cards, i really like your latest creation the silhouette tarot great work steven i hope you every success with it.


    • Little Buddha .. that was a long time ago!

      I’m glad to know that the Theatre is remembered. It was special to me and the beginning of much of what I did afterwards.

      I’m pleased to also know that you like the Spirit within the Shadows Tarot (the name I finally gave it).

      Thanks for your kind words and glad to speak with you again, Dean! 🙂


  8. I am in love with your graphic designs. Such an amazing body of work. I would buy all these decks. They all touch me in different ways. Thank you for sharing your art!


    • Thank you George. Most definitely. Spirit Within the Shadows is still held up due to waiting at the moment, but I have begun work on my all-male Fragments of an Illusion Tarot – I will be posting up cards here on this site as I go along.


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