Today, I am talking about artist and illustrator Matt Hughes’ Ethereal Visions Illuminated Tarot. I was lucky to purchase my deck brand spanking new and unopened for a great price on a BST tarot Facebook group, however you can purchase your deck on the artist’s main website Matt Hughes Art ($50 USD), U.S. Games ($23-24 USD) or Amazon ($20-23 USD prices vary). That’s a big price difference! We will get to that soon; keep reading!
Matt Hughes has easily become one of my favorite tarot deck designers and artists in general. I am fond of the classical art sculpture styles as well as painting styles from the Rococo time period; so I naturally gravitated to this deck. Hughes defines his artwork as gothic art nouveau and I agree. Hughes has created this deck along with other playing card decks and is currently working towards a Kickstarter for an oracle deck in the same style as Ethereal Visions. Sweet! The question here is, is it worth the cost and what’s the difference (if any) between the limited edition signed and numbered indie deck and the mass marketed deck sold by U.S. Games and Amazon?
The packaging for Ethereal Visions is a classic, cardboard two-piece tuck box that is thick and sturdy. It features white text and a white design of what can be assumed as the tree of life. It’s plain and simple. I have the indie deck which is a limited edition run of 1100 signed by the artist himself. I’ve seen photos from Amazon purchasers of the mass produced deck and the box packaging is a two-piece box style, featuring the same color scheme and gold foil accent as the cards inside. I honestly wish that the signed/numbered version was designed this way! It is much more eye catching. I have since sold my signed/numbered deck for this reason alone. I am an aesthetic snob, I guess.
Cardstock is nice, as far as decks go. However, it could have been done a lot better in terms of thickness. Possibly, this was not a pliable idea with the gold foil accents on the card itself? I am not certain. The cards aren’t glossy, but slide over one another when shuffling, really well. A lot of thicker card stocks that have a matte finish tend to stick together, but this one is very nice and easy to shuffle.
The term LWB, or little white book, refers to the guide that usually accompanies a tarot card deck. This guide has the meaning and interpretation, as well as keywords, for each card in the deck. These books have come a long way since ancient times, and are usually great comprehensive user manuals that are well designed into an actual book. However, for the Ethereal Visions tarot, it is in fact, a LWB. It is a stapled booklet of basic card meanings. Not much else. It would have been nice to hear more of the artist’s interpretation of the cards, alas, we are left hanging there.
In short, for the price of $50 + shipping fees, I am not wowed by this tarot deck; even with the amazing cold foil accents! However, at the price point of $20-25 it is definitely a nice deck to have and works well for beginners. The meanings of the cards are depicted relatively traditionally to the popular Rider-Waite-Smith deck, and make it easy to interpret. I do plan on purchasing this deck again in the future, at the lower price point, just so I can have the prettier packaging 🙂 I will update this review once I do so!
Update / Edit
In short, this deck is exactly the same as the signed and numbered version sold by the artist. The only exception is that the box produced by U.S. Games is much more ornate and matches the overall artwork of the deck itself. The box features the beautiful High Priestess on the front lid, with gold accents just as the cards do. all sides of the top box lid have features from the deck and the bottom portion of the two-piece box is a lovely mint green. Inside came the standard LWB and deck of cards with the same quality cardstock and gold accents. I love it! Save yourself $20+ USD and order from Amazon, U.S. Games, The Book Depository or Ebay.