It’s fascinating how the tarot world experiences these synchronistic psychic waves, where a particular theme takes hold and several decks on the same theme by different artists come out around the same time. Right now, it’s tattoo-themed tarot decks and one of the best and most marvelous specimens of the trending theme to behold is the Tattoo Tarot by Megamunden.
The Majors in the deck didn’t come ordered by key number, though you’ll see later that the Minors were. So in the two photographs of the Majors, I’m presenting the cards in the exact order they came in. By the way, random comment: I appreciate the modesty in The Star card, without compromising or modifying the symbolic significance of her nudity.
While the stated theme is tattoo-inspired, the aesthetics here remind me of medieval woodblock printing–and done exceptionally well. The artistry here is impeccable and any illustrator is going to acknowledge and appreciate the design talent here. As Marseille-based tarot decks come, Tattoo Tarot is one of my favorites, and the more you peruse these images, the more it’ll become one of your favorite TdM decks, too.
It feels like a polished version of an old, perhaps long-lost historic tarot deck, staying true to the artistic heritage of the Renaissance. The fixed color tones in each card pulls it out of modernity for me and plants it squarely in an alternate fantasy-medieval world. There are some modern interpretations of the cards, however, like the depiction for Key VI: The Lovers.
There’s an alluring artisanal quality to this deck that matches its UK-based publisher, Laurence King Publishing. I have this theory that authors get synchronistically matched up to publishing houses that echo the authors’ personality and point of view in such precise, simpatico ways that it’s like the sorting hat in Harry Potter. Here, both deck creator and publishing house emphasize artisanal quality, and yet are cutting edge in the ways they both uphold old world values in terms of creative art and design.
Professional tarot readers are going to love using for their clients. The cards photograph beautifully, with its matte finish, clean, solid lines, perfect balance between the richness of coloring and empty space of the white background. Cardstock is also high-grade, thick, though with such a smooth finish that the deck is easy to shuffle. Production value is amazing here.
The illustrations are done by Oliver Munden of MEGAMUNDEN, whose artwork has a vintage quality. Munden designs these highly-detailed, meticulously-rendered tattoo designs laced with esoteric undertones. The pip cards here feel like magically-charged sigils.
I adore the color palette where the Majors blend the color tones of all four suits, while the Minors stay within a consistent tone. So the Wands were red-dominant, Cups gold-dominant, and here the Swords are blue/teal dominant. You’ll note below that the Coins are green-dominant.
The detailing in the pip cards contribute so much in terms of aesthetic value and card interpretation. I love that the Page here is titled with Knave instead. I’ve always preferred Knave over Page anyway.
By the way, it isn’t any wonder why Tattoo Tarot so perfectly hits on all the must-haves a tarot reader would have on her list for The Perfect Tarot Deck, especially for the TdM reader: the deck comes from the intelligence, wisdom, and experience of Diana McMahon-Collis, co-founder of TABI, the Tarot Association of the British Isles. If you do a little wandering through McMahon-Collis’s archives, you’ll realize she’s a prolific writer and a damn good one at that.
The guidebook is in full-color, with glossy pages, and offers a lot of information in terms of its content. There’s a purist approach here to card interpretation, which I certainly appreciate. Had I not known that this deck was produced in 2018, I might have guessed it was a historic 1518 deck. It’s just that well done in terms of echoing iconic medieval tarot decks, though admittedly, maybe the rendering of faces is a little modern, and steps outside the bounds of the art styles actually found in the late Middle Ages.
I love the keywords artfully selected for the cards. Apathy for The Fool card, for instance, or one-man band and chatterbox for The Magician. I like the appearance of a moon goddess archetype in The High Priestess. Noting The Emperor as immature, rebellious, and of weak character is interesting.
By the way, I adore the card back design. Overall, this is my favorite tattoo-inspired tarot deck, though perhaps it’s because it’s less tattoo and more medieval woodblock print. So personally, I would have opted to market and brand this tarot deck in a different direction from the tattoo theme, especially since it hits on so many of the elements and features a TdM reader would look for in a history-inspired deck.
Yes, in a subtle, barely-noticeable way, it’s modern in the design aesthetic, but adeptly convinces you it’s of an old world long ago, each card printed by letterpress, first carved upon a block of wood by a certain Oliver of Münden, a Renaissance artist with Byzantine leanings highly sought after for illustrating frontispieces in illuminated manuscripts.
Exquisite execution, rendered in a style that pays homage to the virtuosos of the Renaissance, with beautifully complementary coloring, and brought together into a perfected package by the writings of a tarot master. Could I love this deck any more?
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received The Tattoo Tarot from the deck creator for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck set.