Blog Post 2 – Autonomic Tarot


Emily Dakin

Sophy Hollington’s Autonomic Tarot

Sophy Hollington’s Autonomic Tarot is a contemporary nod to the wood-cut poster masters of the 19th century. This 30-card Tarot deck features bold lines and shapes, accompanied by flat planes of colour, that give it a pop-punk aesthetic while also having a hand-crafted feel. This deck of carefully planned cards bridges the gap between the early poster masters and contemporary block-printers through the imagery and stylization of each card. It is important to note that Tarot plays a role in the resurgence of “New Age” spiritual and religious beliefs, that have re-emerged in the 21st century and continue to gain traction. This re-invigoration of traditional images in the Tarot is important and should be included in the text book, as it demonstrates the cyclical nature of graphic design methods, while re-working it into a contemporary lens that can be interpreted by the viewer.  In a historical context, artists in the 19th century began to incorporate the use of symbolism in their art to illustrate and represent universal truths.


Though Hollington’s deck was created in 2018, it has roots in the symbolist movement of the 19th century. New theories about the nature of reality and the nature of one’s self in the late

19th century, allowed for mystical groups such as the Theosophical and the Rosicrucian’s society to turn tarot into a fad in the early 1900s. This society referred to a deck created by A. E Waite, a British member of the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn”, by the artist Pamela Colman Smith.  Like the tarot decks before it, the Rider-Waite deck pulls from various myths, folklore, divinations and religious images. Hollington’s High Priestess card, strips away any conventions of traditional tarot. Hollington recreated the High Priestess as a disembodied set of legs, with sharp, pointed heels digging into the ground. The number of the card is not obvious at first, but is indicated in two drops of menstrual blood, falling between the legs. Traditionally the High Priestess is depicted as a woman who looks like royalty, with the moon and a scroll in hand; and the card can be taken at face value as an allegory to illustrate feminine power. Hollington re-imagines what feminine power looks like in her illustration of The High Priestess, and this fusion of punk- aesthetic in the colour palette, style and patterning in the illustration, with the literal depiction of high-pointed heels, places the reader in both veins of tarot, the mystic and the physical world and bridges the gap between early European Renaissance tarot and contemporary tarot. Hollington’s symbolism in this graphic design rejects traditional notions of femininity, while also maintaining 19th century ideas and implementations.


tarot-highpriestess unknown

Work Cited:

Latham Phillips, Emma. “Sophy Hollington’s Striking Tarot Deck Combines Mysticism with a Glam-Punk Contemporary Twist.” It’s Nice That, 16 July 2018, Accessed 26/10/2019

Penco, Carlo. “Dummett and the Game of Tarot.” Teorema: Revista Internacional De Filosofía, vol. 32, no. 1, 2013, pp. 141–155. JSTOR,


Bartlett, Sarah. The Tarot Bible The Definitive Guide to the Cards and Spreads. Godsfield Book, 2006.


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