A while back I reviewed the book The Cards: The Evolution and Power of Tarot by Prof. Patrick Maille. Eric Maille is his son, an artist, and the creator of the Ink Witch Tarot. Maille is an Oklahoma-based artist and illustrator whose works explore “the irony that we as humans often feel poorly equipped to live out that experience, struggling against our environments, the people around us, and our own emotions” (per his artist statement). And you’re going to find that theme at the heart of these beautiful illustrations.
The art style here reminds me of haboku, a form of traditional Japanese ink brush painting that’s done in monochrome, expressing depth through sharp uses of contrast, an art style that tends to be impressionistic, soft, and flowing.
What is so compelling about the Ink Witch Tarot is the storytelling, and Maille’s artistic interpretations of each tarot card. In Key 0, I see The Fool as the bird, who appears to be in a precarious position, but the way that cage is about to fall off the tabletop, the door will swing open and that bird will be freed. If you view The High Priestess illustration as an in-process chess game, either the other side’s pawn is about to take the bishop or the bishop is about to take the other side’s king. Meanwhile both sides’ queens are side by side in the foreground, reminiscent of the traditional High Priestess’s twin pillars.