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Pamela Colman-Smith Is The Illustrator Of The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

Updated on August 24, 2017

Many People Think The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck Was illustrated By Rider & Waite Themselves But Pamela Colman-Smith Is The Illustrator

The Rider-Waite deck of Tarot cards are probably the most known about and definitely the most popular and widest-used deck today. So I am writing this lens which is about the illustrator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck who was Pamela Colman-Smith...and not Arthur Edward Waite who most people wrongly think drew the set of 78 cards due to the deck having his name and no mention of Pamela Colman-Smith anywhere.

The Rider-Wait Tarot deck dates back to 1909 and is the conjoined work of both Rider-Waite and Pamela Colman-Smith...working as a team where Pamela drew and painted the amazing 78 cards according to how Arthur Edward Waite specified to her how they should look.

The Early Life Of Pamela Colman-Smith

Corrine was Pamela's given christian name.

Corrine Pamela Colman-Smith was born on February 16th, 1878, in Middlesex, England but both her parents were wealthy Americans, it is thought, though not absolute that Pamela was an adopted child. They spent her early childhood years travelling between London, New York and Kingston.

During her teenage years she preferred to be called, travelled the length and breadth of England with Ellen Terry and Henry Irving's popular theatre company as a set designer and props maker, putting on shows in all the major towns which often played to full-houses..

Sometime around 1891 Pamela moved across the Atlantic to study art at the Pratt Institute in Boston USA where she graduated in 1897.

Some of Pamela Colman Smith's Work Can Be Found On Amazon.

Of course Pamela Colman-Smith's most known work is the Rider-Waite deck of Tarot cards, these are available to buy on Amazon alongside a few books which also include some of Pamela's much lesser known artwork.

The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

In 1903 Pamela joined The Order Of The Golden Dawn where most of her time was spent drawing pictures of the visions that came to her whilst listening to her favourite music. It was after seeing some of her mystical artwork that Arthur Edward Waite asked her if she would join him in latest venture of making a rectified deck of Tarot cards, which of course she accepted to do gladly.

The deck was completed in 1909 and had full scenes on each and every card which exemplified the mystycism, fantasy, imagination and deep emotions of Pamela. All of the 78 cards were drawings and had no colour as they have today...the colour being added much later.

Arthur Waite then had the cards published by William Rider and the deck became The Rider-Waite Deck ...with no mention of Pamela Colman-Smith as Pamela had hoped.

Some of Pamela Colman-Smith's work can be viewed on Youtube

Pamela Colman-Smith was highly influenced by her Mum's roots of Jamaica which clearly shows in some of her earlier artwork. As a child travelling between America, England and Jamaica Pamela would spend hours reading books bought whilst in Jamaica and would then draw lots of pictures using the same techniques and style as the illustrations she adored in the pages of the books.

Pamela Colman-Smith: 16.02.1878 - 18.09.1951

Pamela Colman-Smith never married or had any children, choosing instead to devote her life to her love of art hoping one day she would produce a masterpiece and astound the art-world and the rest of the world with her work.

Pamela Colman-Smith died alone on 18th September, 1951, she was penniless and saddened that she never reached her lifelong ambition of becoming a famous artist.

I think that Pamela would be astonished and gladdened to know that today the tarot deck that she drew as a young lady for which she received no recognition whatsoever when they were published are now the most known and most popular of all the tarot decks and that now her name has become famous the world over for being the artist who illustrated them, her life-long dream has finally come true and she will be remembered as an exceptional artist forever.

Have You Ever Had A Tarot Card Reading?

Many people use Tarot cards to give them advice when facing difficult situations in the future or when they are looking for answers to certain questions.

I am a Tarot Card reader myself and am very proud of the fact that my clients return for further readings saying that everything I had seen in their previous readings were absolutely "spot on" and that the advice I gave them had helped them in some way and given them the right direction when faced with the difficult situations which I had seen in their readings.

As well as the many people that believe in the tarot cards I also know that there are just as many people that are sceptical about them and would never rely on them, disbelieving what they can reveal.

Please take part in my duel about Tarot card's just for fun and I shall not hold it against anyone for being a non-believer nor judge them in any way...Love Today!

Do you believe that Tarot cards can really reveal things about your life and you would have your cards read.

Please let me know that you were here today by adding your name to my guest-book and please feel free to leave me a it in my favour or not as I enjoy hearing my readers views about the content and the subject of my lenses and always take on board any ideas about how i may make improvements to them. Criticism is just as good as a commendation as long as it is healthy and just and I welcome your feedback ...all of it!

Live, Laugh, Love.

Love Today!

I'd like to know that you dropped by lens today!

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    • SacredCynWear profile image


      8 years ago

      great lens, this was my very first tarot deck (many other people's too I'm sure)

    • Alfiesgirl LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfiesgirl LM 

      8 years ago

      @justholidays: Thankyou for your kind comment on this lens also for your great advice on another of my lenses which I have spent some time updating that you may like to see again Love Today!

    • Alfiesgirl LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfiesgirl LM 

      8 years ago

      @justholidays: Thankyou kindly...I am now on my way to visit your Tarot card lens and I shall also lensroll to this and my other Tarot card lens..Love today !

    • Alfiesgirl LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Alfiesgirl LM 

      8 years ago

      @aka-rms: I always say to people that are a little sceptical to write down the information offered to them by the reader...especially any information that sounds totally out of place for them and to take another look at the notes after 6 months to see if they then make sense for them, if they don't make any sense whatsoever even after that time then maybe the reader was talking nonsense. Thankyou for reading my lens I appreciate your feedback very much...

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      8 years ago from USA

      Interesting stuff! I've had my cards read in the past. Not sure if I believe in it but it was fun. :)

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting lens here. I read the tarot cards. Lensrolled to my How to Read the Tarot cards lens.



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