Eight Coins' Tattoo Tarot by Lana Zellner

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Being a lover of tattoos and Tarot, it was inevitable that I would have to get Eight of Coins' Tattoo Tarot and, luckily, the UK release coincided with Mother's Day. If you haven't heard about the deck yet, let me take a moment to fill you in on its background.

Lana Zellner was a professional architect who liked Tarot and tattoos. In 2014 she relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Montana and felt it was time to make some other changes too. She was no longer satisfied with her career and her 'Tower moment' came when she lost a big contract, and realised she'd had enough. 

Inspired by the wall in the tattoo shop, Lana found her solace in art. She hadn't drawn for many years and decided that one drawing a day would help her get back to it. Within a few months she realised that she wanted to become a tattoo artist and set herself a new goal: a big project with a cohesive theme. She says "I wanted a project that would force me to remain introspective and thoughtful as I grew."  What better theme than to design a tarot deck. 

Knowing that her skills and style would develop as she worked, Lana decided to work on the cards in the order dictated by her tarot deck - she (or someone else) would shuffle and pull a card which she would keep in her heart as she worked on her own interpretation. 

The result is a stunning deck which incorporates iconic tattoo imagery in the Neo-traditional style, and hand-painted (with watercolour and spit-shading) without digital enhancements. As planned, the images show Lana's journey as an artist over a two-year period and have a very cohesive feel, despite some being technically 'better'. (The 'Drawing No' is lightly printed on each card, if you're interested in seeing the progression.)

It's a great testament to the artist's work that only four drawings needed to be redone for this new mass-market edition, printed by US Games. I have a number of tarot decks from the same publisher and have to say that I was shocked to see how beautifully this one is presented, in comparison. The others all came in a basic cardboard flip box (the kind that tears within a few uses and does little to protect a working deck) with a tiny 'little white book'. This one is very different. It has a solid sturdy two-part box, and a proper full colour book! 

As the deck is very closely based on the Rider Waite Smith system, it isn't really necessary to consult it if you are already familiar with the traditional cards and archetypes but you might want to anyway. With glossy pages and artwork which is bigger than on the cards, it's a great addition. It's well written too - in fact, I think it makes this a great 'first deck' contender and I suspect it might even attract more people to Tarot through the art, in the same way that Kim Krans did with The Wild Unknown.

The artist has made some interesting choices in her images and it's good to be able to read about those. For example, rather than the traditional wands flying through the air in the Eight of Wands, Zellner's version shows clouds splitting, with light shining down onto a colourful mandala.

In the guidebook, the card is described as discussing the "glorious synchronisation of passion, skill, hard work and opportunity". It talks about the growth and balance symbolised by the mandala and how everything is in sync: 
In order for a goal to be achieved, the universe must bless us with all of these qualities being timed perfectly together. This card tell us that moment is not far off for us. / The blossom of the mandala opens wide, symbolizing the growth of our ideas and goals. Eight wands point inward, in perfect balance with the petals of the mandala. The clouds open, the sun shines through, and the divine lights the path below. Everything is in sync, and now is the perfect time to push through to the finish line. / The universe is sending you an opportunity to move forward with ease. All the cards are on the table, and it appears luck is on your side. Embrace the perfect balance and synchronisation of success's many facets aligning in your benefit. Now is the time. Move forward with gusto!
While the message is familiar, this is a lovely take on it. Other images are much more familiar and similar to other artist's renditions, but are no less appealing.  These are the two I drew on Sunday after getting an unexpected 'message'

As I've only had the deck a few days the opportunity to use has been limited so far, but whether I've simply pulled a few cards or used it for a spread, it's been really easy to connect with and to read. My daughter has declared it her 'favourite' and my sister - who isn't the slightest bit interested in tarot but loves tattoos - declared it to be "amazing". Yes, I think this will be very popular with readers, but also with people who just love this style of tattoo art and would like to have a box full of it.

The deck is available to order from Amazon and most other booksellers, and directly from US Games if you're in the US, although some stockists are showing it as being on back-order. If you have it (or you want to!) let me know what you think in the comments.  


  1. Thank you for writing this and for showing my deck all of this love and appreciation :) so glad you like it!

    1. You're welcome - the deck is really great and I love the origin too - it's a really good lesson for us all.

  2. Thanks for this fab review -- I've seen lots of buzz on FB about this deck but hadn't known about the background. I'm deeply interested now -- thank you!

    1. I didn't know about it either, and I really think it adds to the charm of an already lovely deck!



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