The Other Side Of The Animism Tarot – The Back, Of Course!
When I was nearing the finish line of the artwork for this tarot deck, I still had one very important piece to work on: the back of the cards, of course! I’d like to say that I saved the back for last, but it was last mostly because I had no idea where I wanted to go with it. This was another huge challenge for me, and it was made even more overwhelming when I started to look into other tarot back designs. How intricate do people make the back of their tarot? What kind of style do they aim for? Do they make it a reversible image or create something entirely different? Is the back all that important – I mean, it’s the first thing that’s noticed when you see a deck, or do tarot readers not really care?
I looked around for inspiration and to get a feel for what other tarot backs were like. Styles and level of complexity varied wildly of course, from the very traditional, simple playing card backs to intricate Celtic knot designs and layers upon layers of details. I tried several different sketches, random designs, shapes, swirls, symbols, some animal-based ideas, some focusing on the elements. To me, the back of the tarot was sort of like the cover of a book.. I wanted it to be a visual summary of the rest of the deck. After a while, it felt like I was trying too hard with stuff that looked really different from the rest of the cards. So I went with something much more straight forward – something that actually made sense to me!
The skies have played a big part in the images of this deck; so it seemed fitting that night and day would be the focus of the tarot back. And with animals being at the center of it all, it was perfect to have the animals in the moon and the sun tarots take their place on the back.
I was always fond of the thin borders in the paintings; so that was brought into the image and helped define the night and day scenes. Though I don’t personally focus on reversed tarot cards (at the moment), I did want a reversible image for those that would prefer it, and as a result, there’s a sense of time passing in the picture that reminds me of the Wheel of Fortune, moving around and around.
I think I’m happy with the final piece.What do you think? Are backs all that important when it comes to a tarot deck?