Have you ever had a tarot card reading? There are some beautiful tarot cards out there, but I’ve never seen ones with such richly coloured, detailed botanical illustrations, like these!
Kevin Jay Stanton is an artist living in London, whose love of plants influences his stunning illustrations. Here, he talks about his range of botanical tarot cards and how he creates them.
My name is Kevin Jay Stanton, and I’m an illustrator with a green thumb. My dream project is the tarot deck I’ve been working on for a couple of years, Botanica Tarot. It’s a tribute to my love of symbolism and obsession with the language of flowers.
Each card is painted on a wooden surface with acrylic and ink. I’ve currently finished the Major Arcana and will be finishing the Minor Arcana this year, as well as a book that goes into the reasons why I picked specific plants for specific cards (which is almost more exciting for me than the paintings themselves!).
Here are a few of my favorite cards and the stories behind them:
Like the floating seeds of a dandelion, the Fool sets out on their journey full of hope and the promise of new growth. The road meanders but moves ever forward. Because the Fool’s journey is so integral to tarot, I also made the back of the cards inspired by dandelions:
The card for Death can represent endings as well as renewal, and sometimes the growth that comes after destruction. I chose Pinus contorta to represent it, because it’s a tree whose seeds are only released and spread after a wildfire, when the cones are exposed to high temperatures.
The Lovers symbolizes emotional decisions and the union between two independent and equal partners. I chose peonies for their flamboyant blooms that are perfect flowers (capable of self-pollination). In addition, peonies exhibit a generosity that I think represents a healthy union, in their symbiotic relationship with ants and the sugary dew their buds secrete.
I’d tried making two other decks before this – one in college for a thesis, and one right afterwards. Admittedly I didn’t make it past 4 cards in those attempts because they didn’t feel quite right. But when I started Botanica, everything seemed to gel. I realized it was because I’d stopped trying to shoehorn floral symbolism into pre-existing imagery and just focused on the flowers themselves, and that’s what I’d always wanted to do deep down. Doing the research on the plants, poring over book after book of tarot symbolism, finding the right match for each card – it’s been an exhilarating journey of my own that I’m excited to continue!
If you’re interested in following the progress of Botanica, please consider my Patreon (patreon.com/kevinjaystanton) where I post process videos and make wallpapers based on the cards like the Knight of Cups pattern above. You can also grab a deck of the Major Arcana from my online shop (kevinjaystanton.bigcartel.com) and follow me online (Instagram, Twitter, tumblr). If you have any questions/comments about the deck, please reach out!