A lot of work goes into creating a beautiful and compelling tarot deck. Of all the kinds of card decks designed, it’s arguably one of the most detailed and complex creative endeavors a creator and designer will undertake—the devil is in the details (pun intended).

If you are looking to make a tarot deck, this how-to guide is going to show you everything you need to take into consideration as you embark on the design process.

11-Step Process

  1. Preplan your tarot project
  2. Design your cards
  3. File for a trademark
  4. Source a printer
  5. Order a prototype
  6. Fund your deck on Kickstarter
  7. Print your cards
  8. Setup a storefront and join a marketplace
  9. Ship your cards to a retailer or fulfillment center
  10. Prepare to be a real business
  11. Listen to your customers

Preplan your tarot project

There’s some preplanning work that you will find helpful to consider before you start designing and printing your tarot deck.

Determine how your cards will be different

When creating a tarot deck differentiation is key. There are many brands and styles of tarot and fortune-telling decks on the market. And while these decks follow the same structure in how they are organized (e.g. Tarot, Lenormand), the style and design of the deck usually make it unique—though there are many designers having a lot of fun (and success) just reinterpreting the Rider-Waite deck now that the artwork is in the public domain.

When tarot designers create a deck, they often draw on some inspiration; something they may feel is lacking in the market that allows them to answer an unmet need, a new opportunity, or a unique spin on old ideas.

Here are a few interesting tarot concepts just to give you some ideas:

As you think about designing your deck, the biggest question is, what do you want your deck to be and why?

Do some research

Before you start making your tarot deck, it would be wise to do some research to understand the competition, what customers are saying decks already in the market, how they are using them, their price point, and any insights you can gather about the overall demand of the deck.

First, let’s discuss the competition. How crowded is the tarot deck market for the particular type of tarot cards you want to develop? Are there are a lot of manufacturers making similarly-themed products? There’s a lot of Rider-Waite-themed decks out there that have taken advantage of the artwork now being in the public domain; some do well because they have a unique value proposition, others less so.

If the market is crowded then you may have difficulty entering the market for that particular product. However, if you have a unique and interesting spin on a familiar idea, then you may receive a lot of interest from potential customers.

However, this is where customer feedback can be helpful. Mining customer reviews for tarot cards can provide you a wealth of insights around customer sentiment and what customers like and dislike about the product, and how you might make your tarot deck different or better. It’s one of the best ways to do research about what’s missing and needed in the market.

Next, think about the price. Most tarot decks retail between $15 and $30 USD, with some specialty decks selling for $60 or more depending on the uniqueness of the product. If you plan to design a premium tarot deck with a lot of specialty finishes (e.g. holograms, gold or silver foil, embossing, etc.), these decks will cost more per unit to manufacture, and you’ll likely need to sell the deck for a higher price point.

Extend your brand

If you’re a professional tarot reader, psychic, or mystic using tarot cards regularly, then designing your own tarot deck is not only a wonderful extension of your personal brand, but it’s also an additional revenue stream for your business.

Think about how designing your own deck could be integrated into your current business? How could you create visibility for your own deck during your readings (versus someone else’s)? If you’re reading on platforms like Oranum or other sites, then these spaces give you an opportunity for greater exposure to your own tarot deck.

Design your cards

When you design tarot cards there are three key parts:

  1. The tarot cards: a total of 78 cards with faces (22 major arcana, 56 lesser arcana) and backs
  2. The tuckbox: the box that the cards are encased in when they are not in use
  3. Instruction pamphlet: foldable paper instructions

But before we break down the parts of a deck, let’s first review your creative inspiration and how to find a designer to work with to bring your creativity to life.

Identify your inspiration

You may know exactly how you want to design your card deck already; if you’re in this camp, then you can skip this part. However, you may not know yet, and that’s okay. Often the inspiration for the design of a card deck can come as a fleeting thought or it may be rooted in your hobbies and interests. Think about the things you like to do, to read, to explore, and you’ll likely uncover a lot of great ideas for card decks—even things that might seem obscure or entirely random. Here are some examples…

Say your favorite childhood story was Alice in Wonderland. You could create an Alice in Wonderland-themed deck. Now, you can’t use Disney’s version of Alice In Wonderland (1) because they own the copyright to their expression of Alice and Wonderland without getting their approval, and (2) they already have a deck on the market, so there’s that.

Works generally receive copyright protection for 95 years from the date of their publication (in the USA). This means Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland won’t be in the public domain until 2046 (assuming Disney takes no action on the copyright, which is unlikely). However, Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland, was written in 1865, and Disney doesn’t have any rights to that, other than their creative expression of the story. In fact, the original Alice in Wonderland book has been in the public domain since 1960.

This is why there have been so many remakes of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The original artwork was drawn by Pamela Colman Smith in 1909 under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite. Anything published prior to 1923 in the USA is already in the public domain. For the rest of the world, copyright generally lasts the life of the creator plus 70 years, which means the artwork from the Rider-Waite deck entered into the public domain globally in 2013 (and many designers have taken full advantage of the public domain).

Find a designer

Unless you are already skilled in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, you will likely need to find a highly-skilled graphic designer to bring your creative vision to life. And the great thing about graphic designers is that there are many of them, all over the world, so there’s quite a large candidate pool to choose from.

However, not all graphic designers are equally skilled, so you will want to do your due diligence to make sure that the graphic designer you select can you meet your creative expectations. Ask to see a portfolio so you can get a sense of the artistic style of the graphic designer. Does that style match what you’re looking for? Is the designer flexible and skillful enough to create artwork the way you want it created? Ideally, you’d like to find someone who has designed a tarot deck before.

There are a number of places where you can go to find a good card game designer. I have written an entire article on the topic: How to Find a Card Game Designer.


Faces, also known as the front of the cards, are the side of the card that features all the unique artwork, and for a tarot deck that will consist of 22 major arcana and 56 lesser arcana cards; probably the most common pattern used on the card faces is the original Rider-Waite pattern or some new derivative of those older designs. It’s also important to point out that the format and design of tarot cards can vary by regions, like Italian- or German-suited decks.

The faces create a great opportunity given that there are 78 cards in a deck, so there are 78 unique opportunities to create custom artwork to showcase the talent and creativity of the designer.

Most tarot card printers will provide you with a design template file to design the faces of the cards. In some cases, some printers allow you to upload artwork directly to their website.


The backs are exactly that—the backside of the card. This side of the card often features a consistent pattern of some unique artwork that embellishes the overall artistic style of the deck.

Often card designers will use the backside of the cards to feature icons, symbols, patterns, or illustrations that reinforce and tie together the style of the deck.

Most tarot card printers will provide you with a design template file to design the backs of the cards. In some cases, some printers allow you to upload artwork directly to their website.

Tuck box

The tuck box is the box that holds the tarot cards. If you’re planning to sell your deck of cards, the tuck box is really important because it’s what your potential customers see first, giving them clues about the style and design of your deck.

Stylistically, the tuck box features a pattern that matches the style and design of the deck. For most tarot card decks, the front of the box features the overall theme and style of the deck, while the back of the box will feature additional details about the deck. The bottom of the box will usually feature a copyright notice, a barcode, and the location it was made, the “made in” mark. If you are importing cards you designed outside of the country you live in, be aware your local customs may require that your product be labeled with where it was made before you import it (which is why you should just have it printed on the box vs. having a sticker appended later).

Most tarot card printers will provide you with a design template file to design the tuck box. In some cases, some printers allow you to upload artwork directly to their website.

Instruction pamphlet

Most tarot decks include instructions with the deck that provide an introduction to the deck, its designer, details on the meaning of each card within the major and minor arcana, along with instructions on how to practice tarot divination (how to spread and read the cards)

Most playing card printers will provide you with a design template file to design the instruction pamphlet.

Card size

Standard tarot cards adhere to a consistent size: 2.75″ inches by 4.75″ inches (70mm X 120mm), and are often referred to as tarot size.

However, you can technically make a tarot card in any size you want. There are mini and jumbo size tarot decks on the market today that are also popular.

Materials & Finishes

Tarot cards are made out of a certain type of paper that is essentially a thick cardstock of two sheets of paper that are glued together. The paper may feature certain kinds of weaves (linen or smooth) or finishings (matte or glossy) to enhance the quality of the deck.

The cardstock weight is measured in grams per square meter (GSM). This cardstock commonly ranges from 270 to 350 GSM. For tarot cards, you’ll often see those cards made from 350 gsm paper. The higher the number the thicker the card (and this durability may be highly desired if you’re frequently using your cards, but it’s also good to order prototypes to break in your cards and practice shuffling; each GSM offers a different feel). To put into perspective, casinos use cards in the 300 to 310 gsm range.

If you’re going to be sending your cards to a fulfillment center or Amazon to store your products, you might also consider getting plastic or cellophane wrap for the outside of the tuck box and prevent damage to the box.

File for a trademark

If you are going to be selling your cards, you may want to consider filing for a trademark. A trademark provides you with some protection for your brand name. If you plan to sell with Amazon, you will absolutely need a trademark (you have to register with their brand registry and upload your trademark documents).

One thing to consider is that you not only need a trademark for your company brand name, but you may also want to consider a trademark for any product brand names too.

If you are planning to fund your product on Kickstarter, it’s wise to make a trademark filing prior to your campaign launch to prevent anyone from attempting to hijack your brand in the event your campaign goes viral.

Also, there are global trademarks. Your trademark is only good for the country you filed it in, but this is likely all you need. The cost of filing for a trademark across several countries is a pretty expensive endeavor. If you hit a million dollars in sales, then maybe give it some consideration.

Approval of your application will also take some time. In the USA, a trademark application would be submitted to the USPTO, and you should expect to get your trademark application approved in 6 months. We walk through this in detail by screencast in our training course.

If you are going to attempt the application yourself, there are a couple of key things to point on that may confuse you on the application:

You’ll need to file your application under a specific goods and service category. For tarot cards, that category will be as follows:

IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: Printed tarot cards

You’ll also need to declare a filing basis on your application that indicates the reason you are applying for the trademark; this will be indicated by one of two codes: 1(a) or 1(b).

If you are already selling your product then you will need 1(a). If not, then 1(b). If you will be doing any crowdfunding for your deck via Kickstarter, you’ll ideally want to file a 1(b) application before your campaign starts.

I also cover this more in my course, How To Make Cards Games You Can Sell.

Source a printer

You will need to find a printer to produce your tarot cards. You may find that some printers may offer to print your cards but don’t really have experience in printing tarot cards—we recommend avoiding those companies.

There are several, well-established playing card manufacturers across the globe. Check out the complete List of Playing Card Printers to start getting quotes.

Even though these printers may be based in certain countries, they may have multiple office locations throughout the world. Many playing card printers have acquired competitors in other countries.

Not all card manufacturers have the same quality. When you are evaluating printers it’s a good idea to order samples of their cards and in different finishes. I’ve had printers send me cards with patterns that weren’t even printed straight, so it’s always good to lay physically lay your hands on sample cards.

Order a prototype

A proof of concept is when you send your unique card artwork to the printer and have them print a prototype deck for you.

Before you start selling your deck, you may want to order a proof of concept so you can make sure that it looks and feels the way you want it to; it’s one thing to have a graphic designer design a deck of cards on a computer, and it’s another thing to actually hold that design in your hand.

Professional playing card printers will allow you to order a proof of concept of your deck. The price may be a little higher because of the preparation work the printer needs to do upfront to print your deck (since it’s not a high volume print run). These fees can range from $50 to $200, depending on the printer you work with.

If you’re planning a Kickstarter campaign and just need a prototype for campaign artwork or to show other prospects, you can easily order one through MakePlayingCards.com (that’s where I ordered all my first prototypes when I just needed something to hold in my hands).

Fund your deck via Kickstarter

The wonderful thing about designing tarot cards is that if you’ve got a great idea, someone else will give you money to help you get it created. This is done through crowdfunding with platforms like Kickstarter. There are some tarot card campaigns that have raised some serious cash.

I have successfully funded several decks on Kickstarter. I find there is a thriving community of card enthusiasts who love to purchase new cards, especially playing cards and tarot cards.

Kickstarter requires that you have a physical prototype before you launch a campaign, so you’ll need to have a sample deck of cards before you launch your campaign.

When you launch a campaign (usually for a 30 day period), customers on Kickstarter will agree to provide you a monetary pledge in exchange for your product. You will set a minimum goal for your campaign, and if your pledges reach that goal or higher, Kickstarter will charge the credit card of all those who pledged, collect the funds, take their cut, and then route you the money to fulfill your project and deliver your product to your customers.

The other nice thing about this approach is that the money you collect will often be more than you need to fulfill the pledge’s orders; you’ll have extra money left over to increase the order size with your printer so you can order additional units to send to an online retailer like Amazon (plus this brings down the price per unit).

Print your cards

Once you’ve selected a printer and completed your Kickstarter campaign, it’ll be time to get your cards printed.

At this stage, you want to double and triple check your artwork before you send it to your printer; it’s also advised that you have a separate proofreader review your deck as well.

Most professional card printers need some lead time to get your playing cards printed. Typically orders are fulfilled in 2 to 4 weeks with most card printers (sometimes longer depending on the volume).

If you’re running a Kickstarter campaign, it would also be great to use a printer that is also willing to ship your pledges their cards. There is a handful of card printing companies that offer this for a fee (and it’s well worth it).

Setup a storefront and join a marketplace

You’ll need a way to sell your new cards. You can create your own storefront by building your own website through tools like WordPress or Shopify. You can also join a marketplace with retailers like Amazon and Etsy.

If you already have an audience for your work, you may do well with building your own website. However, if you don’t, then tapping into a marketplace where there are already tons of customers will give you an opportunity to put your product in front of other people in a short period of time.

Speaking from personal experience, Amazon is an incredible platform for playing cards. There are tons of decks on Amazon making several thousands of dollars a month, so it’s a great place do give your new tarot card deck a jumpstart.

Ship your cards to retailers or fulfillment center

Once printing is done, you will need your printer to ship your inventory to a fulfillment center that can help you fulfill your orders from your own website or from sites like Etsy and Shopfiy. There are several fulfillment services like ShipBob and Deliverr. Some card printers, like ShuffledInk, also offer fulfillment services.

If you sell on Amazon, you can ship your cards directly to them, and they’ll store them in their fulfillment centers for you. This is probably the most efficient method because not only can Amazon ship your product from orders they receive from your website, but you can also use them to ship orders that did not originate on Amazon by initiating a seller fulfilled order (taking full advantage of all the benefits of Amazon shipping).

And, of course, you can also opt to just ship the items yourself (but fair warning, if you have a popular product, it’s a lot of extra work).

You may also be looking to get your product into other big-box retailers, you’ll need to find a distributor. Services like RangeMe may be able to help you.

Prepare to be a real business

Making tarot cards is addictive. Once you make one deck, you’ll want to make another, and then another, and then another. Before you know, you’ll have a full-fledged business.

With this in mind, it’s also time to think about starting a bonafide business. If you’re going to sell on Amazon you’re going to need a business license and own your own brand trademark. However, navigating the technicalities of running a business is a lot of work and can be very overwhelming to figure out where to even start.

There are a few services that can help you get started:

My Kickstarter made about $12K USD during the launch of my first campaign. My sales on Amazon have been reaching upwards of $5K a month (and still growing), so keeping track of all your sales and the resources you need to properly run a business is definitely important.

To add to your inspiration, I want to share with you the Amazon performance (according to jungle scout) of some of the tarot card products I mentioned earlier, just to give you a sense of the number of sales and amount of revenue earned on some of these cards (and keep in mind these estimates are for one month only: December 2021).

Original Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

Disney Villains Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

The Modern Witch Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

Labyrinth Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

Everyday Tarot Mini Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

Cat Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

MagicSeer Rainbow Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

Miriyan Classic Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

Mystic Mondays Tarot Deck

This tarot deck sold around X units at a price of $X in December 2021 with revenues totaling $X.

Are you feeling inspired now?

Listen to your customers

Feedback is a gift. It helps you improve your product. As you start to accumulate sales for your new tarot deck, then you can expect to receive reviews from your customers.

It’s such an awesome feeling when you get 4- and 5-star reviews and people absolutely love your product. However, there’s always going to be someone who feels a certain kind of way about what you’ve created. That’s okay. Take the feedback and if you feel it’s actionable, then incorporate it into your next printing cycle.

Customers will always tell you how you can wow them; either they’re looking for a certain price point, a certain kind of quality, a certain kind of design aesthetic, a certain kind of utility, or a certain kind of support. Let’s break down each of these.

If you’re new to designing tarot decks, check out my course How To Make Card Games You Can Sell.