Art of Life Tarot Deck

Review by Terri Clement


Art of Life Tarot Deck by Charlene Livingstone

Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.,

ISBN:  978-1-57281-715-9

Looking for something very different in the Tarot world? Something that isn’t quite Rider-Waite-Smith, not a Marseilles and definitely not Thoth…  Are you a fan of artwork from around 1900? Then the Art of Life Tarot Deck might be right up your ally.

These oversized cards measure 3” wide x 5” tall. The border around the card faces are white with the top border measures ½” wide, side borders measure ¼” wide and the bottom border is 1 ¾” wide. The card backs are not reversible friendly and feature the The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt; 1909 from Stoclet Palace, Brussels, Belguim. The cards are very flexible with a light lamination and they fan beautifully. The cards and little white book were sealed in plastic, inside a very unique style box. Upon opening the deck I noticed an inky smell and noticed sharp edges, however both will remedy easily with use.


The box itself is quite cool. The lid pops up and folds into notches on the sides of the box, creating a picture frame, so you can place your card of the day in the frame. Very fun idea!

The title for each card is in the upper border portion on the card faces. The Major Arcana are un-numbered but are traditionally named. The suits are Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles. The Courts are King, Queen, Knight and Page. Underneath each image you will find information about the image such as who is in the piece, the artist, the year it was painted, and where the original is located (all in small print). In larger print you will find a quote that relates to the energy of the card.

Whilst you will find some Rider-Waite-Smith symbolism in the Majors, some cards would require more study for a new reader. The Minor Arcana will require much more study, unless one focuses on the quotes and titles for each card. Someone more familiar with the chosen artwork for each image, may have an easier go of learning the deck. For myself, if I were to remove the borders of this deck, I would not know what artwork would represent which card.


For example, The Sun features a painting called Banks of the Loire, by Joseph Turner. The quote on the bottom border says “Precisely the least, the softest, lightest, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a flash, a moment – a little makes the way of the best happiness.”  - Friedrich Nietzsche.

Another example is The Queen of Wands, which is a painting of Madame Heriot by Pierre August Renoir, 1882. The quote for this card is “The greatest good you can do for another is not just ot share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”  - Benjamin Disraeli


There is a 31-page Little White Book that comes along with the deck. When reading through the Introduction, you quickly realize that the author of this deck wants the reader to have a positive and uplifting feeling when working with the cards. The LWB goes on to give keywords for the Majors and moves forward to give a few key words for the suits, the numbers and courts and then goes through the suits giving key words for each card in each suit.  It also contains a 5-card spread titled “Creativity Spread,” along with a sample reading.

While I would not necessarily recommend this deck for the new reader, it is definitely unique and not quite an easy to read out-of-the-box deck. Those who are interested in early artwork (ie. late 1800’s – early 1900’s), this might just be the perfect deck for you.

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