Sunday, November 25, 2012

Deck Review- Tarot of the Tattoo Age

When I first saw the images of Tarot of the Tattoo Age, getting it was a no brainer for me.  I collect tarot, I love tattoos, and it was very reasonably priced.  What I did not know is whether or not it would be a reading deck for me, or another one to grace the shelves, beautiful to look at, but of no use as a reading deck.  I was happy to find it read very well for me!

Tarot of the Tattoo Age is a self published collaborative deck by Flaco Productions, LLC.  78 different tattoo artists were randomly assigned one of the cards from the Waite Smith deck and each produced their own unique take on it.  Some of the artists, I assume, had some exposure to tarot, some none, and some may even have been experts.  I imagine some of the artists delved into deep research about their card, and some just drew whatever they felt like in a snatch of a moment.  Some may have taken weeks to complete their card, and some only minutes.  The result is a diverse set of cards reflecting many different aesthetics, which was precisely my concern when using the deck.  Would I find the different art too distracting to use as a reading deck, no matter how beautiful I found the picture?  Time bore out that the imagery spoke volumes to me, and while I did notice the cards were different in style, it did not detract from my readings.
Tarot of the Tattoo Age- The Fool (s)

There are 79 cards in this deck, with two similar but different takes on The Fool by artist Tim Lehi.  Only one of them appeared for me this week, but I did leave both in the shuffle, just to see what would happen.  The box image appears above, featuring The Emperor, and all the work I have done with the deck can be found here.  A Little White Book with some standard meanings and attributions to all the artists is included, but I would not call it a conclusive read on tarot imagery or how to read, nor should it be, since this is clearly a deck for collectors, or anyone who the art just draws in, and those people are likely to be experienced readers.  If you are a beginning student but love the deck, go ahead and get it, because all decks you resonate with will tell you exactly the story you need to hear, and book meanings be damned.  There are no rules in tarot, except to thine ownself be true, and treat other with respect and dignity, as well as yourself.  Those are kinda rules for life, too, so I think you'll be all right.

Tarot of the Tattoo Age Back
Physically, the cards are large, 3 1/2 inches by 5 inches, and glossily laminated with unobtrusive white borders with a thin grey double line.  They come in a slightly thin, to my taste, flap top box, but in the world of self publishing boxes add quite a bit to production costs, so it is understandable.  I do not riffle shuffle, but the cards probably have enough give to do so and are probably sturdy enough to take it.  The 22 Major Arcana are labeled with their Roman numeral at the top and their title at the bottom.  They are all traditionally named, with Strength at Trump VIII and Justice at Trump XI.  The backs are a non-reversible design featuring a green Pentacle surrounded by esoteric symbols for each suit comtained by a green circle and an ombre coloring pattern with a criss cross design.  The Minor Arcana are mostly illustrated, although a few of the cards are what I would call "moody pips", more than just an arrangement of the suit symbols, but less than a full pictorial story in a card.  The suits contain the Ace through Ten of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, as well as Court Cards called Page, Knight, Queen, and King.  The titles of the Minors all appear at the bottom of the image.

Some of the cards are color saturated, and some are in grey scale.  Some are somber in color, and some are an explosion of it.  The Pentacles Court has three of the four Court Cards in grey tones, and more than its' share of pip cards are also in grey.  I identify myself as the Queen of Pentacles, but I did not get a lot out of her imagery.  I also did not draw this card this week, so if I had in a reading context I may have felt differently.  If I have any complaint about the deck, it is that the Court Cards could have been more evocative in some cases, but even people who have studied tarot for years sometimes struggle with the Courts, so who am I to judge some artists that may have never experienced tarot in a personal way before in their lives?  Some cards are extremely derivative of Waite Smith flavor, some a bit Thoth-y, some went down the Tarot de Marseilles route, and some I am having a hard time reconciling to any tradition that I am aware of, but that is quite all right.  It's good to come at cards from a new angle, to stretch and to grow.  I imagine that some of the artists just created whatever they felt embodied the energy of the card, and part of enjoying art is feeling the differences, as well as commonalities, of the way we and the artist experience the world.

There are some images to allude to violence, some blood, and some stylized nudity.  This deck is probably not appropriate to all audiences, so make sure you know yours before putting it on display or using it as a reading deck in public.  There is nothing I would not let my own kids see, but I let them play Halo on the Xbox and don't freak out if they see a nipple in the course of everyday activity.  If you have a conservative clientele, they may not appreciate the nuances of tattoo as an art form or the hint of buttock, not to mention the cheeky comedy in some of the cards.

The following images did not appear in my week of working with the deck, so may be all new to you, and as usual, I included both favorite and images I like less than others.  I hope they are helpful as you make your decision about this deck!

Tarot of the Tattoo Age- The High Priestess, Four of Pentacles, Five of Swords

Tarot of the Tattoo Age- Ten of Cups, Three of Wands, The Devil
Tarot of the Tattoo Age- Queen of Pentacles, Two of Swords, the Star

Tarot of the Tattoo Age- The Lovers, Ace of Wands, Two of Cups

Tarot of the Tattoo Age- Strength, Seven of Pentacles, Page of Swords

Tarot of the Tattoo Age- King of Cups, Six of Wands,The Hanged Man

I hope this review has been as fun for you to read as it, and the whole week with Tarot of the Tattoo Age, has been for me!  Please pass it around if you find it useful!

The High Priestess is by artist Chad Soner.
The Four of Pentacles is by artist Justin Lipuma.
The Five of Swords is by artist Nick Rodin.
The Ten of Cups is by artist Tomas Kesemeyer.
The Three of Wands is by artist Joey Ortega.
The Devil is by artist Chris Lain.
The Queen of Pentacles is by artist Chris O'Donnell.
The Two of Swords is by artist Dean Bodily.
The Star is by artist Dan Smith.
The Lovers is by artist Bart Bingham.
The Ace of Wands is by artist david.schmoe.ellwanger
The Two of Cups is by artist Sandi Calistro.
Strength is by artist Timothy Hoyer.
The Seven of Pentacles is by artist David Rogerson.
The Page of Swords is by artist Lisa Murphy.
The King of Cups is by artist Mike Pace.
The Six of Wands is by artist Aaron Coleman.
The Hanged Man is by artist Greg Christian.

These cards are from Tarot of the Tattoo Age, a collaborative project self published by Flaco Productions, LLC.

I have had many people who do, or choose, not to have access to Facebook ask me how to get these cards.  The best information I have been able to come up with follows, but I suggest making contact yourself.  The creator, or maybe artists wrangler is a better description, CJ Starkey, was very pleasant to work with and my money order was received with no issues and my deck shipped out with lightning speed.

They are $35 each if paying by check or money order includes shipping and handling in the US. Make payable to:

FLACO Productions
348 South State St.
SLC, UT 84111

or $38 by PayPal includes priority mail & delivery confirmation


  1. Thank you for the awesome review. I truly appreciate your oppinion.

    Best regards,


    1. It's a great deck to use, and it is going on my Top 5 decks of the year, which Janet and I will be discussing on Janet Boyer Live! on Sunday, December 2 at 2pm Mountain.

      I hope my love of the deck came through while giving it an honest review, always hard when you really love something.

    2. Oh yes and thank YOU for putting this collaboration together and making it available to everyone who will love it!

  2. I was very pleased to find this site. I have it bookmarked to check out new stuff posted regularly on Sun Tattoos.

  3. This info about “Tarot of the tattoo age” can help me to understand the major characteristics of it. I hope that you will keep sharing more unique info about tarot cards and psychic readings.

  4. I enjoyed you review of this Tarot Arcana deck, I'm sure to buy it, but I'm not usually 'amused' by the cards, personally... and yes the 'Court' cards as you've named them are rather difficult to 'decipher', and of course the numbers of the Arcana cards are mostly incorrect, but we will rectify that soon. I mean personally. Thank you for your contribution!