The Urban Tarot is a lovely departure from 'classical' imagery and fantasy style art, instead focusing on the grit, grime, spit and shine of city life, and uses urban imagery to its advantage!
The basics first...the deck is Thoth-based, and so RWS-readers will need a little mental gear shifting to incorporate some of the imagery smoothly. The cards are a comfortable size for the hand, measuring in at a healthy 4 1/4 by 2 3/4 inches (10.7cm by 6.9cm), and have a white border with grey line detail, numbered at the top and with the card name at the bottom with an ouroboros, for Majors, and an alchemical symbol for the suit and associated word, for Minors.
The cards are presented in a two-part grey and white box, with a fresh minimalist feel to its design, plenty sturdy enough to withstand a knock and keep the cards protected, and it also came with a fuzzy purple draw-string pouch, both with the Urban Tarot logo on, to drop the entire box into (with plenty of room for a couple of crystals to go in there too!) - I do like a good bonus pouch!
I was a little distracted at first by the guide words on the minors, as I find they gear the brain into a single association, before intuition has had a chance to feel its way around the message from the cards, but I've got the knack of filtering them out now. I understand it's 'the done thing' with a Thoth deck, and that it's very useful for readers who are new to Tarot or who are unfamiliar with Thoth card associations, but it's the one aspect of the deck that I find I need to 'work around' in order to feel as if I'm getting the connection with the message, rather than finding myself half-way down a blind alley following the guide words rather than trusting my own connection.
The cards are self-published, and, consequently, are printed on excellent card stock, coated and quite shiny...possibly a little *too* shiny, as they can be a bit fast out of the hand - they shuffle extremely well, and beautifully smoothly, but they can also be a bit 'quick' out of the deck, like a ninja throwing star if you haven't got a good grip on the deck, so should be shuffled and dealt with caution until you're used to the lack of friction...otherwise you'll be reading more 'flippers' than you'd ever thought possible!
The deck backs are a lovely design, done in an urban street-map style, fully reversible and with a narrow white border to match the card fronts - stylish and quite 'metro' in their design, they help to lend that modern-world feel to the deck, before any of the card images are actually revealed.
The majors are beautiful examples of the harsh reality and stark beauty of city life - some gorgeous representations of 'real world' imagery and associations, with some of the finest ever examples of the major arcana that I've ever seen in cards like The Devil, The Hierophant, the Emperor and the Fool - their modern, yet art-deco style are refreshing, familiar, clear and expressive.
The courts are a hodge-podge of body styles, ethnicities and 'types', some of whom are gloriously unlikeable, with the kind of faces that deserve a good punch, and yet which maintain that sense of expressiveness and association with their core message! Meanwhile the minors vary between 'expressive pips, set in context' and 'full-scene images, akin to the majors' - compare perhaps the 6 and 8 of Swords - their pip-style set against an expressive background or embedded into their surroundings without any human or animal characters to distract the reader - against the 4 and 10 of Cups, with their honest and realistic imagery, dark and expressive for the former, and bright, light, colourful and full of joy for the latter.
While I'm not usually a fan of mixed-media decks, finding them a little flashy, distracting or like some random collage of cast-offs from other arts and crafts projects, Robin Scott has skilfully blended overlayed suits, original artwork, stylised and contextual textures, and computer aided design - layers upon layers of gorgeous, stark, beautiful, angry, raw content, that enable the eye to jump from detail to detail, feeding a reading with intuitive 'clicks', leaps and points of association (the glass in the 5 of Cups is so vivid and breathtakingly realistic, and the colours and layers in the 10 of Swords are so beautifully rendered - just two examples of the wonderful quality in the artwork of this deck!).
It's not necessarily a deck whose style I would have picked out for myself, but I'm so glad that I did - it's gritty realism, honest depth and masterful use of colour and texture, sets it apart as a 'real world' deck, filled with all the joys and disappointments that the world is capable of delivering into our lives.
The Urban Tarot deck is created and self-published by the immensely talented Robin Scott, and the deck is available from her website...check out her site, some of her beautiful artwork, and give her a nudge to complete that black and white Equinox Tarot deck that she's started - it's achingly raw and beautiful!