Date of Award

December 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Robert C. Dacey


Illustration, Tarot

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This thesis paper aims to describe how using tarot aspects outside of the tarot context can spark visual metaphors in illustration. Tarot, while famously known for as a tool of determining one's fate, is also a source of the many intricacies of the human experience. The 22 Major Arcana cards' meanings were analyzed, and key phrases from those cards were used as prompts to illustrate. The intention was that the key phrases from the tarot cards could help initiate creative thought and ideas for developing illustrations. The thesis starts with an introduction to common struggles that illustrators have with coming up with original ideas and how tarot may be a way to help with those struggles. The thesis then transitions into a brief history of tarot and its art to give context to the discussion. The next section dives into the creative process for illustrators, describing how intrinsic and extrinsic motivations create original content. The thesis paper's main body shifts to personal examples of how using tarot cards' key phrases can generate original ideas that are a product of intrinsic motivations. Phrases like "…a sprouting seed and the need to let go" or "confronting one's inner demons" are general enough that each person could think of an own personal experience that ties into those phrases, resulting in original ideas and illustrations. The final section of this thesis gives examples of how this process could be applied to editorial illustration and describes a successful application of this process in an editorial class. It concludes by stating that the project successfully sparked original content and promised to apply it to personal work and editorial work.


Open Access



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