True Black Tarot Review
It is only in darkness we can see the stars
Flippin’ heck this deck is gorgeous. The passion project of Arthur Wang, the True Black Tarot kickstarter was first posted on the 17th of September 2017 and soon barreled right past the required amount as people fell in love with the impeccable craftsmanship and opulent artwork of this stunning deck. Every aspect of True Black is an experience, it is no over exaggeration to say that this deck, like the Fountain Tarot before it, represents the pinnacle of craftsmanship in Tarot and Oracle design. It’s amazing, I love it, here’s why:
The design of the box itself is exquisite. Matt black with the name of the deck and a beautiful startmap embossed on the box in black foil, it’s a work of art in its own right, and instantly eye-catching sitting on any shelf. The inside of the magnetic-close lid continues the starmap design with the now customary “premium tarot deck quote” added, this time claiming “it is only in darkness we can see the stars”, its just perfect. The box is a solid build, and is sturdy enough to protect your cards from being scuffed, but you won’t be risking damage to this beauty, believe me.
Running at 112 pages the little white book (or should that be little black book?) that comes with the deck is compact, tactile and informative. With the same matt finish and black foil embossing as the box, the true value of this little book is in its exploration of the cards. Each of the minor arcana cards are given a page to themselves, with four keywords outlining their main themes, a small black silhouette image and a short passage exploring the symbolism and meaning behinfd each card. Each of the major Arcana get the same treatment as the minor, with four keywords, a small silhouette image and passage about them, this time with an extra page for each of them detailing the hidden meaning of the embossing on the cards, something that is essential if you want to delve into the hidden depths of this opulent deck.
Just handling these cards is a sensual experience, I don’t know what kind of finish is on these cards but they feel fantastic, with an almost rose-petal like sensation to them. The cards are hand edged in black, according to the website they are printed on 18pt stock card, and while have no idea what that means, I can hazard a guess and go with “sturdy” and “thick”. This deck is BIG, running at twice the size of a conventional RWS deck. The cards are also supposedly scratch, chip and splash resistant, and while I am never going to risk trying those claims out it’s comforting to know this deck is going to last.
The back of the cards are fully reversible, with a matt black colouring featuring True Black’s embossed foil starmap design, creating a subtle and stylish visual. However it is, of course, the images on the cards themselves that truely cement this deck as a Magnum Opus.
Arthur Wang’s vision was to design a timeless work of art, as he explained in his Kickstarter description:
“True Black’s inspiration is timelessness. Tarot is a compendium of mankind’s omnipresent hopes, fears, and dreams, and a tarot deck should feel as everlong and constant as our human nature. The figures, styling, and clothing are designed to be enigmatic in presence, unable to be placed in any specific time or place, though simultaneously colored with facets of both the past and future, an artifact of our collective consciousness.”
Each image is flawlessly surreal in this regard, depicted in an almost dream like context, they shine from the darkness bathed in the glow of a golden spotlight, almost as if they are being displayed in a museum, or performing on stage. This quality almost immediately brought to mind the staged feel of the images in Rider-Wait deck, the influence of Pamela Coleman Smith’s work in stage design influencing her painting.
The Human figures in the deck continue this dream-like quality. Their faces obscured, their bodies perfectly formed and marble white, they appear not as people but almost as grecian statues, artifacts of humanity itself. painted in opulent tones of ivory white and luminous gold, with some cards sporting the occasional punch of fiery orange, emerald green, blood red and the merest hint of sapphire, all soaked in a delicious degree of chiaroscuro, these are truly a sight to behold.
Each of the Major arcana cards feature an embossed uv foil design that accentuate the symbolism of the cards. From a topographic map of the Mariana trench behind the High Priestess, to a representation of Milgrams experiment surrounding the Devil, each of these extra elements are replete with added imagery, deepening insight into the cards.
There is simply not enough praise I can give this deck, it is perfection, I loves it, you know you wants it, Find it at https://trueblacktarot.com