Last year I got it in my head to create my own oracle deck. A few months later, the prototype was in my hands, and I was beside myself. It was almost too easy, and so much fun!
There are hundreds (probably thousands, actually) of tarot and oracle decks out there, many of them independently created and self-published. It's a good thing, too. Some of my favorite decks come from indie-artists.
If you've got the itch, a vision, and some spare time on your hands, I've compiled five tips to help you get started.
1. Pick the Format and Printer First
If you plan to get your deck printed, then choosing a format (tarot vs. playing card size vs. other size) and printer first thing is essential in my book. Whatever printer you pick will likely have a template you can follow, allowing you to approach your artwork with the appropriate dimensions, and DPI in mind. This will save you a lot of time with scanning and formatting your work if you only have to do it once! Make Playing Cards is the printer that I used for the Faerie's Nature Oracle deck.
2. Study Other Decks
Assuming that you already have your concept, you will have to get into the nitty gritty of what the cards will actually be. You can take a seat-of-your-pants approach, or plot out the structure of the deck ahead of time. By structure I mean how many cards, whether there will be a theme, groupings (like Minor and Major Arcana), and progression. To get ideas for structure it can be helpful to look at existing decks for ideas. When I was working on my deck, I referenced Brian Froud's Faeries' Oracle because I recalled that it had very unique groupings of cards.
3. Share Your Progress
If you aim to make a deck to sell, share it with your friends and social networks as you work on it. This will help build up interest and momentum, and seeing people's responses to the in-progress work can make for some mighty fine motivation.
4. Test Your Deck
It’s really hard to screw up in the creation of a divination tool, but ordering a prototype and taking your own deck for a spin is still a good idea. In reading with your deck you'll quickly learn if the meanings you've ascribed are too similar, or don't cover wide enough a range of topics. You'll see if the deck is fitting your original intention, or if it might be taking you down a completely different road. You'll probably also fall in love with it. Which is kind of nice.
5. Don’t be Afraid to Ditch Your Project
If at any point in the process your enthusiasm wanes, don't be afraid to put it on the back-burner. You can always pick it back up when that perfect solution strikes you, or reformulate it entirely. Sometimes good ideas need a little while to percolate. Other times...our good ideas were never that good to begin with.
Good reasons to stop:
- You don’t like the idea anymore. It doesn't resonate, and you think you can do better.
- You like what you've done, but you're burnt out on the process. Take a break! Come back fresh.
Bad reasons to stop:
- It’s been done before. I've got news for you...everything has been done before. As long as you're not copying someone else's work, there's room for your creation in the world.
- No one seems to care. I don't think this is ever a good reason to stop anything. However, if you weren't doing the deck for you (above everyone else) in the first place, then yeah, you might want to reconsider the project as a whole. Whenever you do something, do it for you. You can't control whether or not people will care, or like it, or hate it, so the best remedy is to make sure that you care, and that you enjoy it above all else.
Looking for more tips? Kristen of Over the Moon Oracle did a fantastic guest post on how to make your own tarot or oracle deck over at Little Red Tarot.