Rubber Stamped Tarot cards?


Ten years ago I was very active in 'mail art.' My experience of exchanging [mostly] handmade mail art was extremely enriching, as I was exchanging up to 75 pieces of mail a week. IMHO, I am artistic, but am too lazy to develop the skills I'd need to be a graphic artist. Rubber stamp collages suited me nicely. There are some techniques using rubber stamps that can be used to create some actually complicated pictures. One, called 'masking,' was stamping an image onto a piece of post-um note, cutting it out, and then positioning the 'mask' over the stamped image so that any other stamp stamped over it, would appear as if it was behind it. 3D imagery is quite impressive using stamps.

I still have a HUGE collection of stamps, probably close to 2,000 stamps but had to quit when I started developing carpal tunnel problems from the hours I spent stamping. I haven't stamped in years, but certainly miss it!

Rubber stamps seem a natural for creating Tarot and I'm curious if anybody actually created a deck, at least the majors, using only rubber stamps, or perhaps rubber stamps and cut out images? I noticed that HudsonGray posted something about rubber stamps earlier this year Mari_Hoshizaki, so there is at least some rubber stamp awareness in this group.

I love to hear about, but more to the point, SEE, a deck created with rubber stamps.


I'm with you: I would love to see (and own) a Tarot deck made with rubber stamps. The biggest challenge would be finding or making stamp libraries would add up to individual card images. How would you do that? The finished pieces would probably have to be scanned so they could be printed in multiples.
You come across as having the knowledge and talent to do it. Heaven knows I've seen some stamped pieces that were wonderful, and stamped pieces that were *awful*.


I am no longer able to rubber stamp. However, I still enjoy rubber stamps. There is a rubber stamp magazine, Rubberstampmadness, that might be of some help. I wrote (freelance) for them for a short while.

Here something I found online:

Here are some instructions for doing a deck in rubber:

A group called YahooTarotCreation had some messages about making a deck with rubber stamps!

And some tips on making tarot card collages:

And here's a link to the Inner Vision Tarot, 26 diff artists, with definite collage techniques, and when I searched with the word "Rubber Stamp," this was a hit. So I'm thinking at least one of the cards was made with stamps. You can see a few cards at (click on Sample Cards):

And here is a link to six full images (WRS) available as rubber stamps:

Actually, after I started searching for: tarot +"rubber stamp" I found quite a few hits. Perhaps if anyone else finds some interesting links, they will post here.


Wow - interesting idea. There is a rubber stamp shop just down the road from me and I found out how much it would cost to have a rubber stamp made up from my own tarot designs. Kinda' neat idea but it would have worked out to be *very* expensive... (about the cost of a Llewellyn deck per two card stamps. :p) So I gave up on that idea. The idea is that I would print my own decks and they would have that real indidual touch. :) Maybe one day...


Kayne, there's a MUCH easier & cheaper way to get your own stamps made up! Check around your town for a store that sells rubber stamps. Ask them if there's a stamping group that meets, and where/when do they have their next meeting. Go to it & ask if anyone there has their own small rubber stamp company (our old group had 2 people who were doing it). Then just ask them if they could add in your design next time they ran off a batch, or (better yet especially if you're an artist) ask if they need artists to draw for them.

The two people in our group couldn't draw worth a damn so they 'bought' art from those who could do black & white line drawings. You get about $4 per drawing AND a rubber stamp of each one they bought. Nice deal! If you sell to the larger companies, prices vary from $4 to $15, depending on complexity put into the art.

Those places that say they can do it for you charge mega bucks -- I looked into them a few years back & I bet they jacked prices up higher since then.

The magazine Rubber STamp Madness has a lot of stamp companies listed, I think something like 20% are one person companies working out of their kitchen. The two who I sold some art to are Cow Town Stamps (she's online, lives in New Holstien, WI - hence the name) and she's looking for artwork. The other was Stamp Off The Old Block I think, not sure if he's got a web site though, his name is Jeff, lives in Milwaukee, WI. He likes more realistic art, but the lady at Cow Town likes humor & a wide range of styles. The way to go about seeing if they're interested is to email a design or send it by mail. If they want to buy it they send you the money (you won't make big bucks with it, but it is a nice side income if you do up 10 or 12 sketches they like).


Wow - thanks for the info HudsonGray. Amazing that one group will charge mega bucks and another will pay *you* for your art... :p Will have to check it out... :)


I own the Artist's Inner Vision Tarot, and I gather that many of the cards are made using rubber stamps. Each of the collaborating artists has a short bio in the back of the book, and most of them include a reference to the artist's rubber stamp art.

I had thought up to the point I got this deck that rubber stamping was a way to cheat if you couldn't draw "for real." But the quality of the art and composition on these cards is great. It's sometimes hard to tell if stamps have been used in the design or if the whole thing is hand-drawn.

-- Kyrielle


I believe many people who do tarot collaging have also looked into things such as mail art, rubber stamps, quilting, role-playing games, storytelling, history, etc.
Ophiel and others who I admire have spoken of B.O.T.A related teaching, so I ordered the color-your-own set...yes, I'd love to see B.O.T.A majors from carved rubber stamps and Marseilles stamps. I also understand about wrist injuries, as my paid work requires me to be careful about my two-inch wide wrists. I had to give up Japanese woodcarving hobbies and intensive graphic design studies while recovering from lingering pain. (It got so bad that carrying a laser printer cartridge box with my two arms hurt horribly afterward.)
My gentle myth is that modern tarotists seem to be creative minds in search of expression. I think that they first relate to first to visual keys in tarot, then they search their minds for a parallel physical memory key. Then how they relate it by talking, writing, art or sensory expression is related to their expressive, unique wiring.
Perhaps in tarot we all sense a human need for storytelling. It could be in the West, we believe tarot images as symbols does give structure and personification to our experience. The learned process of taking in images, doing a parallel allegory or metaphor to our own experiences and then wanting to express or relate such work with others seems to have a common trait to many artists and writers and other creative types.
By the way, a great example of Asian printmaking and tarot is the Ukiyoe Tarot by U.S. Games, Inc. It really drew me into tarot and my grandparent's culture...hope this is related % ).

Insomnia Turtle

I used to have a stamp craze myself, only I would make the actual stamp. It actually pretty cheap to make them if you know where to go, but it is VERY time consuming. Look around local arts and craft stores and see if you can find just the rubber. Two years ago I could get a 81/2x11 sheet of that delightful orange rubber for around 5 bucks, which could sound a bit expensive to some people, but after you cut it into 4 peices (even more if you make smaller stamps) you are only paying $1.25 per stamp. You can get cheap carving tools as well, in sets even, for around 6-10 bucks if you look around carefully. If you take good care of them they work just as well as the expensive kind (learned this the hard way :)). Note that this method can get very expensive if you are trying to do stamps in a woodblock print style, but for individual stamps, compared to most prices, it's not so bad.

Another thing I would like to mention is the dangers of selling your design to a stamp company. I am not saying that all stamp companies do this, but make sure you get some form of contract and READ IT THOUROUGHLY (sp?)!!! Remember, when they pay for your design, unless you sign a contract that says otherwise, they own it (thus the importance of contracts in the art world). Sure, they might give you a free stamp and some cash in return, but they also usually attatch a usage rule as well, and they don't always tell you it's in effect either.

The usage rule goes like this:
You are only allowed to use and sell anything which includes the stamps design a certian number of times (usually around 40 or 50 times). Then you are not allowed to use it for selling purposes anymore unless you buy another of the same stamp or pay the company directly.

I know that most of you are either laughing "There's no way this is true" or saying to yourself "well, I'm not planning to use my designs on anything I would sell anyway". First, I would like to say that I am speaking from experience here. I was almost sued because I didn't know this rule. I know people who have been sued by multiple stamp companies because they were not told the rule either. And all they were trying to do was use their own stamp design. For those of you thinking that you would never sell anything with your stamp design on it, if you are going to make one stamp I could see that being true. Now try making 50, maybe even a hundred stamps. Maybe people are asking if you would ever consider selling them cards with your stamp on it. See what I mean? Everyone wants fair compensation when it comes to their craft. It is only fair.

Thus, I come back to my original point. Always ask for a contract to be written, and be sure to tell the maker what you want out of it, like rights to your own stamp. And always read every line of the contract! I know that this is only the opinion of a person, me, who has been screwed over countless times when dealing with art publishers (and by that mean any orginization who offers to reproduce your work in any form, including stamps), but please at least think about what I have to say.

I would also like to mention again that, yes, I know there are many companies that don't do this, but there are more that do.

Well, I've rambled enough. I hope someone out there benifits from this.


I've found that most rubber stamp companies only buy the 'rubber stamp rights', which means the DESIGN is yours, to put on a greeting card, t-shirt, mug, calendar, anything else EXCEPT another rubber stamp (ie: you can't turn around & sell it to a different rubber stamp company or make rubber stamps of it yourself).

Most companies are pretty straightforward about it, all you need to do is ask what rights they're buying. Usually it's for immediate use as a rubber stamp only, for them to make it in this country (international sales are pretty rare for rubber stamps).

If they retire the design, then after about a year the rubber stamp rights revert back to you (check with the company, this varies, their 'pull time' can be either immediate or a 1 year wait or such). At that point you can turn around & resell the design to another rubber stamp company.

There's also a growing number of 'angel' companies, which allow you to rubber stamp greeting cards & sell the cards with the rubber stamp designs on them without violating any copyright. It didn't used to be that way--if you bought a rubber stamp, you couldn't sell the item you stamped with it (it's complex). Or xerox the card you made & sell multiples of those, because the origional copyright was held by the artist & company. All rubber stamps were for personal enjoyment, not to make money off.

However, a lot of that's relaxing & the angel companies even put it right on their catalogs that you can sell anything you stamp with their designs, you just can't make copies of the rubber stamp itself (ie: more rubber stamps) & sell those.