The Urban Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

The Urban Tarot. U.S. Games Systems, USA. Full divinatory tarot deck, Mediterranean suited, 78 single-headed cards.

Deck make-up:
Trumps: 0-21.
Disks (i.e. coins), wands (i.e. clubs), cups, swords: 1-10, knight, queen, prince, princess.

This Thoth-inspired pack is one of the few modern-day tarot decks that I like: most are too twee or lack pedigree. It was designed by Robin Scott and the designs painted over a 15-year period starting in 2003.

Initially, the deck was financed (as are so many) via a Kickstarter campaign, with the first version appearing in 2015. It was subsequently picked up by U.S. Games and then appeared, with several revised paintings, in the version shown here in 2019.

It's a "dark" deck, both thematically and in terms of the printing. In some ways, The Urban Tarot strikes me as a bit schizophrenic, as if it were two decks (or, at least two ideas) shuffled together. There are the impersonal, abstract designs (like most of the early swords denominations, for example), clearly inspired by the Thoth deck. I'm not sure these sit entirely comfortably alongside the designs featuring the assorted city people (e.g. Prince of Wands, Prince of Disks). Maybe that's just me, though?

Also – and this is an issue with many tarot decks – I get the distinct impression that the artist painted the designs considerably larger and that they were shrunk down for the cards, with some of the original detail getting rather lost to the eye at the pack’s final size. I actually noticed a lot more looking at the scans of the deck I did for this site than I did looking at the physical deck when it first arrived. Perhaps it would be better for artists to paint/draw at a size nearer to the final dimensions and only include enough ideas for that format? There is an old maxim for over-involved design in general: "Intricate designs are rarely iconic designs."

Click on any card to explore the design.

(Comments or corrections, please e-mail: Click to see e-mail address.)

Trumps

Disks (i.e. coins)

Wands (i.e. clubs)

Cups

Swords

Extras

Links to other full tarot and divinatory decks

Ancient Italian Tarot / Tarocchino Milanese (Lo Scarabeo)

Tarot: Spécial Cercle / Tarot Nouveau / Tarot A Jouer / Jeu De Tarot / Bourgeois Tarot (Grimaud)

The Golden Dawn Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

Grand Jeu De Mlle Lenormand (Grimaud)

(Petit) Lenormand / "Blue Owl" Lenormand (AGM-Urania)

Grand Etteilla (Tarots Egyptiens / Egyptian gypsies tarot) (Grimaud)

Tarot De Marseilles (Conver-Camoin)

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (Rider)

Sola-Busca Tarot (privately commissioned deck)

Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck (AGM-Urania)

Minchiate Fiorentine (Baragioli)

Le Tarot Astrologique / The Astrological Tarot (Grimaud)

Learning Tarot Cards (Witchy Cauldron)

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