02/16/17 3:09pm
Pamela Colman Smith tarot cards

Pamela Colman Smith in the early 1910s and eight cards from a 1st edition Rider-Waite deck, originally published in 1909 (photos via Wikipedia and The World of Playing Cards)

If you’ve ever seen a tarot deck, it was most likely illustrated or inspired by the drawings of Pamela Colman Smith, an England-born, Jamaica-raised, Brooklyn-educated artist. She graduated from Pratt Institute in 1897 and became a theater designer who was once hugely influential in the world of esoterica but has been all but forgotten today.

For those of you not in touch: tarot cards are an expanded, occult version of playing cards used to tell fortunes and perform other rituals. They’re believed to have originated in Europe in the late 14th century, and have since become a canvass for a variety of non-traditional illustration themes, including Lisa Frank tarot and Twin Peaks tarot. (more…)