Somnia Tarot by Nicolas Bruno
Summary: I love it. And I can see why some folks won’t. The artwork is intense. Exactly why I decided to order.
Although clearly within the RWS realm, there are differences. Which is exactly why I like having decks by different artists. Others don’t like the variations. As shown here, the Two of Pentacles and Five of Cups clearly reflect the RWS tradition, while the High Priestess (Major Arcana II) may stump some folk. Please click on the small image here to see a much larger version.
Here’s the deck description on SomniaTarot.com:
“Explore the world of Tarot through the visions of Nicolas Bruno, an artist who transforms his dreams and nightmares into surreal imagery.
“Each artwork within The Somnia Tarot showcases Bruno’s work within the mediums of photography, sculpture, and costume design. References are made to The Rider-Waite tarot deck along with Jungian archetypes.”
The stock is adequate but may seem light to collectors who like a thick black-core stock. A visible slight curve as I open the deck. The finish is semi-gloss; not my favourite, but typical for photography with many details. I prefer borderless cards, but I knew these wouldn’t be when I ordered. The cards are a full 3″x5″, and trimming off the white borders would make them a smidge smaller than the US Games standard of 2.75″x4.75″ – and lose the names unless keeping the bottom border.
The images are very high contrast- from bright white to 100% black- so they read a bit washed out to keep those shadow details visible. That’s inevitable with photographs that include a full tonal range. See the comparison of Somnia Tarot’s Tower XVI card with the same card from The Light Seer’s deck.
Artwork collectors may focus on those details, and miss the beauty.
I connect with these images- as a photographer, and as someone with repressed memories, PTSD diagnosis and a desire to do ‘shadow work’. I suspect this is a “love it or hate it” sort of deck.
This project was conceived and completed during “the covid months” so it’s more than impressive, despite any shortcomings I (or any others) might mention.
Thank you Nicolas for sharing your work with us.
Companion Book Review
The deck ships with just a traditional ‘LWB’ (Little White Book) containing 16 pages 3″x5″. It has a ~300 word introduction, 6 or 7 key words/phrases for each Major Arcana card, and 3 or 4 for each Minor Arcana card.
Also available is the 164 page 5.5″x8.5″ Companion Book. This includes a longer (3 page) introduction, 2 pages of rough sketches plus 2 page spreads for each card. A larger (3-3/4″x6-3/8″) full colour image is opposite a single page with the card name, key words from the LWB and longer entry. Entries vary from around 75 to 225 words; some include background information on the setting or props used. I don’t know if Nicolas didn’t include more about the process because he thought we wouldn’t be interested, or if he”s protecting trade secrets- but I wanted more.
At US$28 (shipped) it’s a reasonable price for a well-made, high-quality stock, book. Not sure that I would say it’s a requirement unless you’re a completist.
Visit SomniaTarot.com to see more of the images, as well as the Companion Book and additional merchandise- soft goods and prop reproductions