After the sudden loss of her grandmother, grief fueled 37-year-old Latoya Marquez’s tarot passion project.

In this exclusive Shuffled Ink Card Story, Latoya Marquez, Government Mortgage Specialist by day and tarot designer by night, shares how writing self-affirmations to cope with grief sparked a fresh approach to tarot design and healing.

Now available and in-stock on Etsy here.

Shuffle Up! Tarot: A Work of He(art)

Complete with a blend of modern-day imagery and traditional Rider-Waite tarot elements, this personalized deck belongs to the beholder.

During the first week of August 2021, Latoya launched her brand Shuffled World Tarot and first tarot deck, Shuffle Up!. The idea for this project stemmed from the passing of her grandmother, Petra Torres Marquez in November 2020.

This traumatic and unexpected experience filled the artist with grief and heartache, which eventually led to sleepless nights. As a Communications Graduate from the University of South Florida, Latoya has always loved to write and often used it as a therapeutic release. But what was originally a curative method, soon resulted in an incredible and inspiring year-long passion project.

Latoya Marquez, Shuffle Up! creator, posing at a studio shoot.

Creativity is the Wanderlust of Satisfaction

Latoya’s design journey began when she requested a complimentary sample pack in order to see and feel the quality of our cards, various card stocks and size options.

“(Shuffled Ink is) all of what I wanted to experience in dealing with a local USA company,” she said. “I’ve already recommended Shuffled Ink to other creators wanting to do the same type of project.”

The Design Process:

Step 1

Latoya spent several weeks writing down ideas to illustrate on each card.

Step 2

It took a total of 60 days to sketch more than 80 cards by hand. In the early stages of the drawing process, she saw her Taurean grandmother alive and vibrant in the Hierophant card.

“She loved the color purple, lit candles, blessing her altars. A very spiritual Widow,” Latoya said.

Step 3

Thirty days to color in each sketch with a thick watercolor sketch pad, drawing utensils and quality markers.

Designing your own tarot deck means applying creative liberties as you see fit. Most tarot decks follow a standard formula: 78 cards with 22 Major and 56 Minor Arcana.

Shuffle Up! holds 78 hand-drawn, unlabeled cards as well as one dedication, which reads:

For every day we blink and breathe, the sun will always set. And when the sun rises, we have a new day to reset and be better than we were yesterday.

“One of the biggest obstacles in choosing a tarot deck is finding a great set of cards to identify with,” she said. “My format for the reader of any skill level is to identify the image and develop their own perceptions. This way, each Intuitive Reader can bond with my deck card after card.”

A Glimpse into Latoya’s 3 Favorite Cards in the Deck


She waits for the next contract to arrive. In the background, a shadowed arm lingers, eager to let new souls inside.

Exhaustion from a hard day’s work is symbolized by the removed horns which now rest on the bar beside the Devil. But the day is not over; there is still ink left in her pen.

Queen of Swords

Also known as the Hardcore Nun, she takes down names for the next man to behead as blood drips from her sword.

High Priestess

Drawn to the card’s beauty, particularly the 7-day color candle in the right-hand corner and the blended scroll of parchment at the foreground.

Connect with Latoya Marquez

The first 30 decks sold on Etsy come with a soft release bridge-sized 2″ x 2″ deck called, Shadow Affirmations. This Mini Deck is an all-in-one combined oracle, affirmation & angel number divination in a 30 count card set.

Latoya is on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook as Shuffled World Tarot. On YouTube, she posts ‘Tarotorial’ videos or in-depth explanations of each card in the deck.

Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business that specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, packaging and more for businesses and individuals worldwide.

To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom quote request form.

If we manufactured your card project and you would like us to share your Card Story on our blog, feel free to connect with our Marketing Team here.



At Shuffled Ink, we make the seemingly unattainable attainable by helping you design the playing card deck of your dreams.

Did you know that the playing cards that you’re dying to get your hands on can actually be designed by those very same hands? In just 3 easy steps, we will deliver the decks that you’ve dreamed up in your mind right to your doorstep.


Shuffled Ink follows your lead when it comes to designing the perfect playing cards. You can print any design on the card backs and faces or just the card backs. It’s up to you! And get this: You aren’t required to put a limit on the number of cards in the deck either. When we say custom playing cards, we mean it. So, let’s start by laying out all the cards on the table – to become a playing card designer, you must first come up with a concept. No matter what stage you’re at in the design process, we are here for you, from start-to-finish. Finalizing artwork? Wondering where to begin? Ready for production? We got you, whether you’re a seasoned designer or first-timer.

We offer:

  • Complimentary samples of our top-quality products (simply include your delivery address and contact phone number on your custom request a quote form
  • Readily available client support, call us at 407-298-3579 anytime
  • Full-service graphic assistance
  • Convenient in-house printing
  • Low minimums, no setup or added color (CMYK) fees
  • Ultra-fast turnaround times
  • Authentic client feedback on Facebook and Google; video reviews



Card stock is the applied finish. It protects the cards and gives them a professional look and feel. Now, there isn’t necessarily one option that hails supreme. Really, the choice is dependent upon what you think will better suit your deck. Nevertheless, your project manager will provide you with their honest card stock recommendation based on your project specifications.

Smooth finish

An indent-free finish with a shiny appearance and polished texture. High resolution and detailed artwork (such as photos), as well as text-sensitive material, usually prints best on cards with a smooth finish.

Linen finish

Linen has a textured, cross-stitched pattern and is both visible and tangible for card players to see and feel.

Matte Finish

The display is non-glossy with a sandy-like texture. Our most popular finish is semi-gloss, which doesn’t increase the cost of your cards.
  • 300 GSM Premium Paper Stock – Smooth Finish
  • 310 GSM Casino Paper – Linen Finish (this is a slightly denser and thicker card, allowing for greater “snap-back”)
  • 28MM PVC (1,000-Deck Min.) – Smooth & Matte Finish
  • 32MM PVC (1,000-Deck Min.) – Smooth & Matte Finish
  • 35MM Plastic (1,000-Deck Min.) –Smooth & Matte Finish
GSM stands for grams per square meter, meaning if you had a square meter of card stock, the weight in grams is the GSM. Both the 300 and 310GSM paper stock options contain a black core, which is a lining built inside of the card stock that limits the light that may pass through the cards. This is an extra precaution that casinos take when using paper playing cards. The black core lining also contributes to the fantastic “snap-back”, “shuffle-ability”, and durability of the cards we produce. These stocks are sourced from the most highly regarded playing card stock manufacturers in the world. As previously noted, we will send you free samples of our card products by request. Simply include your delivery address and contact phone number on your custom quote request form.


We offer a variety of packaging options so that no matter the budget or vision for your project, you’ll have the right box to hold it all together. View the entire card box collection here.

White SBS Custom Tuck Box


Marketing your product is hands down one of the most important steps in successfully designing a deck. You are creating a one-of-a-kind product, so naturally, your promotions should mirror that. The grand reveal, or lack thereof, can make or break your product, regardless of how outstanding your idea may be. While this is the third & final step, you should be promoting your playing cards well before they hit the press. If you are unable to fund the project on your own, we suggest joining a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter. This is where creators set a funding goal & share their ideas with others through mock-up photos, detailed descriptions of the project’s purpose and story & more. For those who haven’t created a Kickstarter project or backed anyone else’s before, we can assure you that from our experience working with clients who have taken this route, we’ve seen a lot of success and promise. Of course, if you already have the means to produce a project, then Kickstarter probably isn’t an optimal choice for you. Take a look at some of our clients’ awesome Kickstarters:

Marketing Perks with Shuffled Ink

We offer a vast selection of free marketing services. Don’t hesitate to contact our marketing team about promo opportunities. If the options listed below don’t align with your vision, we will collaborate with you to determine the best feature for your product.

1. Social Media Feature

Promote your product(s) on our InstagramFacebook, and Twitter platforms with links to your website and/or Kickstarter as well as tags to your media platforms.

2. Product Photography

We snap professional photos of your cards that you can use freely on your own website, e-commerce shop, social media, etc.

3. Shuffled Ink Blog

Card Story: We interview you about your product, write the article and promote it on our social media with tags and links. Client Product Links: In our relevant articles, we will include links to your product shop, website, social media, etc.

4. Client Printing Videos

Similar to social feature but instead showcase your card’s production process.

SI Playing Card Designers

“Creating custom playing cards has always been an art fantasy of mine. Collaborating with an artist friend made the process that much more fun.” – Georgette R.
“I ordered some custom playing cards of a game I reimagined that my late grandfather taught my family – and I am thrilled with the outcome. Great product, great quality and very responsive and helpful team members!” –Eric N.
“Top-quality products by caring people. You will love them as much as I do. They do an amazing job! They offered a fall art contest, which I entered. It’s such a wonderful way for artists to publish their works and to see so many fantastic works of art.” –Marna B.
“To say, ‘I love everything about this deck,’ is quite the understatement… when I requested for casino quality cards, from Shuffled Ink, they did not disappoint.” –Brodie C.
If there’s a deck you wish to possess, but it doesn’t exist yet, then you must create it. This serves as a reminder to both primed creators and the new kids on the block. At Shuffled Ink, we make the seemingly unattainable attainable by helping you design the playing card deck of your dreams. Go get started today! We’re behind you every step of the way.

Want to learn more about playing cards and how to create your own custom card decks? Click below for details!

Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business that specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, packaging and more for businesses and individuals worldwide. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Tarot Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Flash Cards at: ShuffledInk



What is the Magician’s Oath?

You don’t have to know much about magic to be aware that that there is a long tradition around maintaining secrecy, in order to preserve the secrets of magic. There is even an ancient “Magician’s Oath”, which is a kind of magician’s code that practitioners of magic are expected to uphold. In its modern form is often worded as follows: “As a magician I promise never to reveal the secret of any illusion to a non-magician, unless that one swears to uphold the Magician’s Oath in turn. “I promise never to perform any illusion for any non-magician without first practicing the effect until I can perform it well enough to maintain the illusion of magic.”

What about the internet?

This oath is understandable in a context where the only way you could learn the secrets of magic was directly from another magician. Magic was carefully passed on from one conjurer to another, and an oath of secrecy ensured that these secrets would be carefully protected. In today’s age of the internet and rapid communication, it is much harder to preserve the secrets of magic. The infamous TV series by the Masked Magician (Val Valentino) entitled Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed put many inside secrets from the world of magic directly into the public eye. Today anyone can purchase books on magic from Amazon, buy tricks from eBay or your favourite magic retailer, or watch video tutorials on youtube that teach you how to do card tricks. Within hours of a magic performance on a popular show like America’s Got Talent, videos will start appearing online with apparent “Reveals” of the method. The internet hasn’t been all bad for magic. Improved technology and communication also means that magic can be promoted in a way like never before. Streaming video means that there are new and wonderful ways for people to watch videos of their favourite TV magic, including popular shows like Penn and Teller and Masters of Illusion. Serious students of magic can also easily exchange ideas, share videos, and access content that will teach some of the very best tricks of all time. In many ways it is an exciting time for magic, because the magic student has access to the very best resources at the click of a mouse, and the latest downloadable video content instantly becomes yours with the help of “Add to Cart” and PayPal. It’s easier than ever for a new generation to discover magic, get excited about it, and find the tools to begin their own journey of learning this time-honoured craft. But this exciting time does come with challenges, not the least of which is the danger of exposure, and of using these new tools to hurt magic as an art-form. On balance, is the internet hurting magic more than it is helping it? You don’t need to take a position on either side of that debate to recognize that in this new territory it is important for everyone with an interest in magic to think carefully about the ethics of magic, and to work with the underlying principles of the age-old Magician’s Oath in our modern day.

What does this mean for you today?

Ultimately the solemn and ancient pledge of magicians aims to uphold the secrets of the art of magic, in order to help promote and defend it as a unique performing art. If you enjoy doing card magic, even just as a hobby for family and friends, here are five things you can do to apply the underlying principles of the Magician’s Oath today: 1. Guard your secrets Regardless of whether or not you make a formal promise like this as a member of an official magic organization, the reality is that magic does have an informal code of secrecy and of ethics that is important to be familiar with and abide by. The real issue is not first of all whether someone finds out the secret of how we’ve done a particular trick, but whether we are hurting the art of magic or helping it. Exchanging ideas and secrets about magic with a fellow magician is very different from the kind of exposure that hurts magic. 2. Create magic, not puzzles The real heart of the Magician’s Oath is that it wants to uphold magic as an art-form that creates astonishment in our audiences. To cheaply reveal the method behind your magic robs them of that very sense of wonder and mystery that it’s your job to create in the first place. If we really want to give people the gift of magic, then we mustn’t turn our performances into mere tricks or puzzles that must be figured out, but retain this sense of surprise and amazement, and do everything we can to create wonder, rather than take it away. 3. Be an entertainer, not a superhero This is also the reason why magicians will typically shy away from suggesting that they have actual abilities to read minds or bend spoons. We want to entertain our audiences by means of a performing art. But that entertainment comes through creating a very believable and convincing illusion, not through making them think we have genuine super-powers. Our job is to bring our audience into a world of imagination where they can suspend their sense of disbelief, rekindle their childlike sense of wonder, and so escape the trappings of normal life for the brief time they are watching our routines. 4. Give credit where credit is due In addition, the Magician’s Oath implies that we must respect those who have gone before us, by recognizing that many magicians have worked hard to come up with the effects and routines we are privileged to perform. When we casually pass on the secret behind a commercial effect, we may even be hurting the livelihood of the creator. This is also why magicians are often so fussy about attributing moves and tricks accurately and carefully, and are insistent on preserving intellectual property. 5. Practice before you perform The commitment to practice sufficiently before performing an effect to a non-magician further confirms that the Magician’s Oath is ultimately all about magic as an art. If we are going to make magic entertaining and live up to the high standards of this art, then we cannot cheapen it by acting like trained monkeys, parading poorly practiced tricks that are full of sloppy handling and unrehearsed patter.

Astonish and entertain!

In the end, the reason we all love magic is precisely because of its ability to astonish and entertain. So have another read of the Magician’s Oath, and think about the ways that you can promote magic as an art-form, not just by working hard to create a real sense of wonder in your spectators, but also so that future generations can continue to enjoy magic just as we do today. Where to learn? If you’re interested in learning card magic, I highly recommend the terrific videos from Big Blind Media with self-working card tricks and easy-to-do card tricks. Also see our previous articles on How to Get Started in Card Magic and Recommended Resources for Beginners in Card Magic.
Other articles you might find interesting: About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on here. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Magic Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk


Shuffled Ink's father-son duo, President Charles Levin (left) and CEO Matthew Levin (right) celebrate the official groundbreaking at the site of their new production facility.
UPDATE 8/17/21: After a 5-month lapse, Day 1 of construction has officially begun, bulldozers and all. We are projected to join the Winter Garden community in Summer 2022.

October 1, 2021, the concrete foundation was laid and smoothed out.


November 9, 2021, progress was made brick-by-brick.


November 24, 2021, and then there were walls.


January 13, 2022, reaching new heights.

    February 14, 2022, inside the shell of our new home.

Feb. 6, 2021, Groundbreaking Ceremony

The Shuffled Ink Team celebrated its soon-to-be home at the Winter Garden site in February 2021. This new complex allows Shuffled Ink to further grow and diversify its high-quality custom playing cards and games. We are excited to expand our specialty box and packaging options, client fulfillment services, as well as produce paper/waterproof menus, wedding invitations and so much more for individuals and businesses around the world.  
Matthew (left) and Charles (right) congratulating each other at the company groundbreaking ceremony on Feb. 6, 2021. 
The Shuffled Ink Team at the site of our soon-to-be home. 
Charles Levin, President of Shuffled Ink (previously known as QPC Games), started the manufacturing company in 1999. Matthew Levin, Chief Executive Officer, moved back to Orlando from New York City in 2016 to help run the business with his father. Lisa Levin, Vice President of Sales, worked at the company part-time for many years but now oversees all customer services and sales. Throughout the early 2000s, the Levin family used the dining room table to create card prototypes. As sales blossomed and new opportunities arose, Charles moved the family business into his three-car garage, where marketing, sales, administration, and shipping took place. For the past 9 years, Shuffled Ink has operated in an 8,000 square-foot office production facility in Orlando, Florida.  
Levin family (left to right): Matthew, Melissa, Jonathan, Charles, Lisa and Lori.
We always tell our clients that we strive to ensure that their card visions meet reality and their success is our success. Now, we are turning that around by thanking all of our clients, suppliers, service companies, and of course, incredible staff for making this vision for our new 16,800 square foot building a state-of-the-art reality.  
Our talented Creative Art Director, Daniel Longman, designed a scale model of our new manufacturing facility and office space.

Meet the Shuffled Ink Team:

Project Managers


Graphic Designers


Accounting Department


Production Department


Shipping Department


Fulfillment Department


Marketing Department

Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business that specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, packaging and more for businesses and individuals worldwide. To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom request a quote form. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Tarot Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Flash Cards at: ShuffledInk



The History

A standard pack of playing cards, and even most custom-designed ones, hold 54 cards with two Jokers included. But have you ever wondered why deck designers continue to insert cards that are usually discarded? Let’s take a look at its origins to determine if the Joker is, in fact, useless or essential. During the 15th century, the French created what became today’s standard playing deck, featuring the four suits in two colors: black for spades and clubs and red for hearts and diamonds. But here’s the kicker. This deck carried only 52 cards. Why? Because the Joker card was not yet invented. The first-ever Joker card was designed and printed in 1867 by Bicycle Playing Cards. Introducing Euchre, the purpose for the Joker’s creation. This game deemed the Joker a trump card, or “the best bower,” rather than a discard. Oh, the irony! In regards to card games, other than being used as a wild card in a few poker variations, you may feel strongly about calling the Joker useless, but it’s important to remember that a deck’s purpose is not entirely contingent on playing card games.

Joker Card Art

Enter the world of playing cards: a community that sees cards as art; a community dedicated to preserving, discovering and cultivating cards with artistic and technical qualities. If you think about the following cards — King, Queen and Jack — their standard design most likely entered your mind. Now, think of the Joker. Not as easy, right? Well, that’s because the Joker doesn’t necessarily have a standard appearance… and this brings us back to our initial question: Is the Joker useless or essential? The Joker’s lack of a traditional design isn’t a bad thing. It actually enables playing card artists to try to create what could potentially be labeled as the standard design for a Joker — among other goals. Ironically, to become the standard, you have to be the opposite: stand out among the rest. That’s exactly what the French deck accomplished, and six centuries later, it is still the standard playing card image. Luckily, there’s nothing standard about creating cards with Shuffled Ink. We offer a wide spectrum of customization options to help you accomplish practically anything. Our card creators can personalize the:
  • Card Backs & Faces
  • Card Size
  • Number of Cards per deck
  • Card Box/Packaging
  • And More…
Here are some of our awesome clients’ customized Joker cards:

Final Fantasy IX Playing Cards

Darling Playing Cards with Morgan Harper Nichols

Incantation Playing Cards

Posse Paper Goods Playing Cards

SD Office of Highway Safety Playing Cards

Astrodog Media Playing Cards

Whether you want to design a deck with only Jokers or a card game where the Joker trumps all, the Shuffled Ink team will make sure that your vision meets reality. So, useless or essential? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below! Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business that specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, packaging and more for businesses and individuals worldwide. To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom quote request form. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk



“We see playing cards as an art and look to share our art with others.” – Portfolio 52

We are extremely excited to announce that Shuffled Ink is a 2020 Deck of the Year Awards sponsor! Hosted by Portfolio 52, this project celebrates all of the amazing decks released throughout the year. Our sponsorship will provide each category winner with complimentary production prizes. Shuffled Ink is producing 100 FREE playing card decks for the “Best Overall Deck” 1st-place winner and 5 FREE playing card decks for the 13 other 1st-place category winners!

DOTY Categories:

Every day we work alongside creative and talented designers whose playing card art finds its way on collectors’ shelves. Our purpose aligns perfectly with Portfolio 52’s: fostering the art of playing card collecting. We look forward to helping P52 build, support and guide those who share our passion for card innovation. Learn more about the DOTY Awards and our sponsorship here. Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business that specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, packaging and more for businesses and individuals worldwide. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk



Ever wonder how your favorite playing card decks are printed? The 20-second video below highlights one of the first steps in Shuffled Ink’s production process: printing the cards.


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Pretty cool, right? Well, technology certainly makes the production process appear effortless, and as you’re most likely aware, printing playing cards looked astronomically different back in the day.

Types of Printing

Woodblock Printing

Replace Xerox machines with blocks of wood and you’ll get Woodblock Printing. If it’s difficult to imagine creating playing cards with sharp tools and wood, then check out this helpful article: How to Make Your Own Woodblock Print Like the Japanese Masters by writer and art historian Jessica Stewart. Through step-by-step details, she even explains how to transfer any artwork and/or image onto the wooden surface.


Whether used to create a deck of cards or place images inside of a book, China, as well as Central and East Asia, pioneered woodblock printing.

Countries well-versed in Xylography, or the art of printing from carved wood, often transported playing cards to Europe. But once paper became available during the 15th century, European manufacturers were able to print decks domestically using the wood blocking technique.

The Technique

Relief printing is the process of cutting or etching with a stencil onto the wooden surface so all that remains is the printed design.

Woodblock Playing Cards: Photo from a WOPC article

Copperplate Printing

This innovative printing method began around the 15th century. It is a form of intaglio printing, where impressions and designs are pressed into copperplates either through engraving (direct intaglio) or acid etching (indirect intaglio).

Master E.S., also known as Master of the Playing Cards, developed this process of playing card printing.

The Queen of Flowers by Master of the Playing Cards

Attributed to The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Toward the end of the 18th century, Lithography (Latin – litho: stone; graph: write) was invented in Germany by Alois Senefelder. Many artists, as well as playing card creators, adopted this water-and-oil-based technique. Not only did it revolutionize colored impressions through chromolithographs but also introduced a cheaper printing method through limestone rather than copper.


So, what did lithography printing look like? The card’s design was etched onto limestone using oil. The ink was then applied, sinking into the design area and then transferred onto paper for production. Litho printing never truly went out of style. It adapted as technology advanced.


“El Barco” Playing Cards Created Through Chromolithograph

Offset Lithography

Also known as offset printing, this modern litho process uses rubber rollers to transfer images from plate to paper. As opposed to hand-drawn designs, offset uses a machine to create the image.

Digital Printing

We use a Xerox digital printer to produce your custom projects like playing cards and games, tarot and oracle as well as flashcards. The first digital printers arrived in the early 1990s and today they reign quite popular in the printing industry.

Right now, it may seem like we have reached or surpassed the height of playing card printing, but this is only the beginning. Whether the future will enhance our modern printing machine or invent something entirely new, Shuffled Ink looks forward to many more years manufacturing your awesome personalized card products!

Xerox Printing Machine at Shuffled Ink

How We Manufacture Playing Cards

Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business with an unwavering, decades-old mission: to provide an unparalleled experience in customer service and product quality to ensure that all clients’ card visions meet reality.

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Those of us who love customized playing cards can at times succumb to the temptation to be dismissive and cool towards an uncustomized, namely a standard, deck of playing cards. You know what I mean: your typical Bicycle rider-back deck, a set of “plain” courts and face cards. The kind of deck we’ve all seen a gazillion times, so that we consider it entirely traditional and perhaps even bland. With that perspective, it came as somewhat of a surprise for me to discover that playing cards in the 1800s looked nothing like this. Let me place an imaginary deck of playing cards from that era in your hand, and tell you what you’d see. First of all, you’ll immediately notice that the card-backs are all white. Yes really: a plain white, with no back design at all. Then you look at the court cards and notice that they are all full-sized one way designs. And as you fan the cards in your hand, you notice that there are no indices on the corners of the cards. When you finally discover the Ace of Spades, you notice that it looks rather plain and ordinary, with the ornate and over-sized design typical of modern decks being altogether absent. So how did we get from this to the “standard” deck that we know today? Let’s visit some of the historical curiosities that have played a role in shaping our modern playing cards as we know them today.

Red and Black Suits

Today were expect a deck of playing cards to have red and black suits, but that’s certainly not how playing cards first looked. In fact the original suits used in Italian playing cards in the 1400s were Swords, Clubs, Cups, and Coins, and each of these had unique artwork, which wasn’t in any way strictly red and black. These suits were changed to Acorns, Leaves, Hearts, and Bells when playing cards were imported to Germany, which became a dominant producer of playing cards on the European market. But all that changed when French manufacturers developed new techniques for printing playing cards. Already in the early 15th century, France had developed its own suits as we know them today: Hearts, Spades, Diamonds, and Clubs. But the real genius came when the French producers of playing cards divided these four suits into two red and two black, and simplified the shape of pips so that they could be cheaply produced by stencil while remaining easy for card players to recognize them. Suddenly it became possible to use stencils to manufacture large amounts of cards quickly and easily by using a single image of a king, a queen, and a knave, in combination with stencils for the suit icons. Within a short time, the French had taken over the playing card industry, simply by sheer volume of production, since this method was far more efficient and simple than using wood cuts or engraving. As a result of this important commercial advantage, the French suits in red and black became familiar throughout Europe, with only pockets continuing with the German suits. And that’s how we got the red and black suits that we still use today!

Suit Pips and Names

It is hard to imagine playing cards with suits other than how we know them today: Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades. But the four suits have actually undergone a significant evolution of artwork and of names. These changes owe much to the history of playing cards, and is closely connected with the different countries that were world leaders in playing card production in different times. Playing cards likely arrived in Europe via Egypt. The 14th century playing cards from the Mamluk period in Egypt used suits in four colours, using Cups, Coins, Swords, and Polo-sticks. These corresponded to the major pastimes and activities of the upper class, which was known to have a fondness for polo, for example. Italian and Spanish playing cards from that period also used Cups, Coins, Swords and Clubs as their suits, and are apparently indebted to the Mamluk suits that likely made their way across the Mediterranean with the help of traders. Even to the present day, these are the suits found on modern playing cards used in Italy and Spain, and are referred to as the Latin suits. When Germany became the world’s leading playing card producer, these suits changed to Acorns, Leaves, Hearts, and Bells, reflecting something of German culture and interests. Playing cards from nearby Switzerland are a variation of this, with Shields and Flowers being used in place of Leaves and Hearts.
But eventually France took over Germany’s dominance of the playing card industry, with new methods of production made possible by simplifying the deck into red and black suits, and the help of the printing press. When the capital of playing card production thus returned to Western Europe, these red and black suits then became the standard suits, using the familiar pips as we know them today, although at the time they were called Coeurs, Piques, Carreaux, and Trefles. Even though the pips that were introduced and popularized in France around 1480 are the ones we recognize today, they had not yet been assigned the names that are in common current usage. While the French word Coeurs indeed means Hearts and Piques (pikes) can be translated Spades, the word Carreaux (tiles) would best have been translated by the word Lozenge, which was the word used at the time to describe a rhombus or diamond shape. And while Trefles can be translated as Clover, the use of the term Clubs actually has a closer connection to the matching Italian suit of Bastoni, and hails back to the polo sticks of the Mamluk era. We simply can’t be sure why some of the French card names were abandoned. But what we do know is that it is the English card names that gained traction, and that’s what we still use today.
Interestingly, the English-French suits and court cards have a distinctly courtly flavour, while the Latin ones are military, and the Germanic ones are rustic. Some historians have suggested the possibility that the four suits are symbolic and represent the four classes of medieval society, which varied according to geographic and cultural origin where the decks were produced. For example, it is speculated that the Latin suits correspond to the church (Cups = chalices), merchants (Coins), peasantry (Batons = clubs), and military (Swords). Similarly it is suggested that the German suits correspond to the church (Hearts), nobility (Hawk Bells), peasantry (Acorns), and middle class (Leaves); while the French suits correspond to the church (Hearts), citizenry (Diamonds = tiled paving stones used in churches), peasantry (Clover = pig food and husbandry), and aristocracy (Spades = pikes or spearheads). At any rate, the major suits that we use today were firmly established in France by the end of the 15th century, and haven’t undergone any real change since then.

Card Backs

Prior to the the start of the 19th century, playing cards typically all had white backs. These convenient sources of paper could easily be conscripted for other uses, and were often written on and used for letters, notes, or drawing; and even used as credit notes. One extraordinary usage dates back to the 18th century in the Netherlands, where impoverished mothers left their babies at orphanages along with a message on the back of a playing card – the cheapest paper available – which would function as a form of ID, and had a message from the mother along with the baby’s name. Mothers that planned to return some day would leave just half a card, keeping the matching half as future proof of their parental connection. However the white backs also created practical problems: cards could easily become marked, and this presented an obvious issue when playing card games. Options were limited, especially if money was tight – it was costly to purchase a new deck, and returning the cards to the workshop for cleaning wasn’t an ideal or permanent solution either. Manufacturing techniques did improve in time, but the use of intricate patterns or small pictures on the back initially began as a commercially smart move to hide faults in the paper, thereby enabling producers to use cheaper grades of paper, or to minimize the issue of marked backs. There was a need to hide any signs of wear and tear, and that is what led manufacturers to print designs and pictures on the reverse of playing cards, by printing repeating geometric patterns of stars or dots. The first card backs with an actual original design were created in 1831, to commemorate the coronation of King William and Queen Adelaide. With the development of full colour lithiography, it became possible to produce card backs that were richly decorated, and these began to be produced from 1844 onwards. It didn’t take long before card backs were used for advertising and marketing, as well as artistic designs that helped make the cards more attractive or highlighted the ability of the artist and designer.

Poker and Bridge Size

Poker-sized cards may seem “large” in comparison to bridge sized cards, but originally playing cards were even larger in size than the ones we use today. The reduction in size from these larger cards to the “poker-sized” ones as we know them today is a later development in playing card history. Bridge-sized cards were first developed as a result of the growing popularity of card games like Bridge, which required players to hold large numbers of cards in their hand, and yet be able to easily determine their values. Whereas a standard poker-sized card is 2.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches high (64 × 89 mm), the narrow bridge-sized card is 2.25 inches wide by 3.5 inches high (57 × 89 mm), making them about 10% narrower, and more ideal for larger hand sizes. The designations poker-size and bridge-size simply refer to the size and don’t limit their usage to particular types of card games. Bridge-size cards can equally be used for poker, and poker-size cards can be used for other games like BlackJack, and in fact are typically used as such in many casinos. But these two sizes are now more or less standard, and date as far back as 1880s in playing cards printed by USPCC. Magicians and cardists tend to have a strong preference for poker-sized cards, due to the fact that their increased width makes them more suitable for manipulation, card sleights, and flourishing.

Tarot Cards 

Tarot cards appear to have had a separate origin from regular playing cards, and were not a predecessor to the standard 52 card deck, despite claims of some that Tarot cards existed first. In fact the earliest surviving Tarot cards date from a period much later than regular playing cards, and they appear to have had an early use as additional trump cards. They consisted of 22 separate designs with allegorical illustrations, and were added to a standard deck in order to create a larger overall deck which was used first of all for gaming. While this larger deck possibly also functioned as a means of instruction and education, these extra cards were not first of all added as a result of an interest in the occult or for fortune-telling. As part of a 78 card tarot deck that could be used for more elaborate and complex games, tarot cards were only used for occultic cartomancy for the very first time around 1750. The symbolism and significance of the original illustrations that do date back to Renaissance Italy has been lost over time, and it is most likely that the original artwork of these additional cards simply reflects the 15th century cultural fashions of the day. The Tarot deck may have gained a life of its own in occult circles today, but this usage doesn’t pre-date the standard deck.
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on here. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Tarot Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Card Games at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Flash Cards at: ShuffledInk


The Twin Flame & Love Messages Oracle Deck
Tarot is used to explore your past, present and future. The Major and Minor Arcana, which consist of 78 mystic cards, can tap into nearly any life situation, including love and romance. So, regardless if you’re single, in a relationship, married or somewhere in-between, allow these 3 suggested tarot spreads to provide you with meaningful insight this Valentine’s Day.

1. For Past Love

This spread dives into your previous connections. No matter the relationship’s duration or level of romanticism, it acts as a guide, particularly when unresolved feelings exist. The Spread: Thoroughly shuffle the deck, then arrange 8 cards into a heart shape. The questions and statements listed are assigned to each numbered card.
  1. Demise: The factor(s) that contributed to the relationship’s end.
  2. Lingering: What are you/or they holding onto from the relationship?
  3. Evolve: How do you overcome #2?
  4. Details: Describe the relationship.
  5. Feelings: How did you feel about your previous partner before/during/after the relationship.
  6. Self: Your feelings toward yourself before/during/after the relationship.
  7. Gains/Losses: Things learned from the relationship.
  8. The Future: How this experience could impact your future relationship(s).

2. For Present Love

For this spread, focus on a current relationship (official, on a break, in the talking stage or longing from afar). While conducting any of these readings, it’s important to be transparent about your thoughts on love as well as where you’re at in the relationship. This will help you to accurately understand both yourself and the other person involved. The Spread: The Goddess of Love symbolizes the number 6, so place 6 cards side-by-side on the table. The Present Love spread revolves around ideals, sentiments and connections.
  1. Your feelings toward your partner.
  2. Your partner’s feelings toward you.
  3. The type of connection you have (physical, mental, spiritual, etc.).
  4. Any past relationships that directly impact this one? Elaborate.
  5. If yes to #4, how do you overcome them?
  6. Your expectations for the relationship?

3. For Future Love

This spread channels your past and present relationship(s) to prep you for future ones. You will be using the Major Arcana (22 cards). Arrange each one to your liking. (0) The Fool: The path you wish to venture. (1) The Magician: Readiness toward the opportunities of love. (2) The High Priestess: Understanding your instincts. (3) The Empress: Readiness toward having a family (if you do not have children). Balancing partner and children (if you do have children). (4) The Emperor: Past relationship pain (mental, physical, etc.). (5) The Hierophant: Commitment to your future partner. (6) The Lovers: Most important/least important type of connection. (7) The Chariot: Balancing work with a future relationship. (8) Strength: Obstacles in a previous relationship and how it made you stronger for what awaits. (9) The Hermit: Ensure time alone without completely withdrawing from your partner. (10) Wheel of Fortune: Respect and kindness toward your partner, their family, friends, co-workers, etc. (11) Justice: What holds you back? (12) The Hanged Man: Do not fester or hold onto negativity. (13) Death: Release toxicity from previous relationships to make room for a clean slate with a new partner. (14) Temperance: How to overcome future arguments, disagreements, obstacles, etc. (15) The Devil: Weigh all options about your expectations for a partner and vice versa. (16) The Tower: Your reaction to an unprecedented event. (17) The Star: Thoughts about romance. (18) The Moon: How your dreams showcase love. (19) The Sun: Taking love for granted. (20) Judgement: How your partner perceives you. (21) The World: Openness toward conversing about past relationships with your future partner.

Design the Cards & Tar♡t Spreads

The path is far from narrow when designing tarot spreads and cards. Similar to how tarot can guide any situation, our card products can serve any purpose. Consider pairing the spread with personalized card art that pertains to your Valentine’s Day theme. As a Shuffled Ink client creator, you determine every single component: the design and style, card size and the number of cards. You can even go above and beyond by implementing custom instructions, booklets and packaging. Highlighted below are a few tarot and oracle cards created by our talented clients that may be perfect to use for Valentine’s Day reading. Click on each image to visit their website.

Twin Flame & Love Messages Oracle Card Deck by Covetalchemy

This Oracle deck was created with the classical themes of unrequited love, twin flame and soulmate energy. These novels and themes are quite relevant today, as they are loved around the world. Each card has a theme followed by a quote from famous Classic Victorian Gothic Novels. The deck is a blending of quotes from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion).

The Twin Flames in Separation Oracle Deck by Liv Tarot

Separation Messages Oracle gives you 77 messages from your twin flame or soulmate’s higher self. This deck is for those who find themselves separated from their twin flames, soulmates or partners, withstanding little to no contact. These messages reveal what may be too difficult for your love to express: their thoughts and feelings toward your connection. The duration of separation, whether it has been a short amount of time or many years, does not matter.

Gratitude Grams by Rachel Desrochers

Gratitude Grams get you out of your head and into your heart. These cards are beneficial for when you’re feeling stuck, trapped inside your own head, or feeling alone. It is a great tool to support where you are now and where you are going. Designed to remind you what a divine, beautiful being you are and how the world is a better place with you in it. These cards will help you build your gratitude practice.

Messages of Love Oracle Cards from All Things Intuitive

This 54-card, candid romance oracle deck answers questions about love, sex, twin flames, soulmates, past-life connections and more. These cards are designed for any type of relationship. Take each message as it resonates. The deck can be used alone, as clarifies for tarot or alongside other oracle decks.

Shuffled Ink is a multigenerational family business that specializes in printing custom playing cards, tarot & flash cards, packaging and more for businesses and individuals worldwide. ● Official Shuffled Ink website: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Playing Cards at: ShuffledInk ● Make Your Own Custom Tarot Cards at: ShuffledInk


Erica V. Walton, owner of Evolving Diva Inc.

“You create something and then you don’t know if people are going to want it; you don’t know how they’re going to feel about it… I’ve learned that whatever you have, and whomever it’s for, it’ll find them –Erica Walton, Owner of Evolving Diva Inc.

Walton posing in a January 2020 shoot with Vision Queen Photography

In My Hands Queen Reign Supreme

From watching family members struggle with drug abuse to being abandoned by her biological parents, Erica V. Walton has dealt with countless tribulations. Fortunately, she was not completely alone.

Walton grew up on the south side of Chicago with her grandmother, who was her primary caregiver. To help release the pain and heartache that weighed heavily on 7-year-old Walton’s shoulders, her grandmother introduced her to affirmations.

These positive reminders were written onto sticky notes as well as spoken aloud in front of her mirror. This affirming ritual followed her well into adulthood, where she decided that she wanted to share it with the rest of the world.

Through coaching and workshops, children’s novels, journals, apparel and more, Evolving Diva Inc. inspires African American girls and women to let go of and find purpose in their pain.

Walton hoped to expand her services by producing an affirmation podcast or song but plans changed when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the country into quarantine.

Rather than feel deterred, she saw this as an opportunity to create something tangible, while also keeping herself safe from the virus: create custom affirmation cards.

Speak that S— Affirmation Deck

On Dec. 1, 2020, Walton launched the Speak that S— Affirmation Deck: 30 self-acceptance cards to use while meditating and finding encouragement as well as for setting intentions.

Instead of censoring the cards with PG-rated words like others often do, this Affirmation Queen believed that affirming oneself meant authenticity in thought and language. Withal, this affirmation deck is for adult-use only.

“(My affirmations) are right out there,” Walton said. “It’s saying exactly what I want you to feel.”

A 65-year-old Bronx woman pulls a card from Walton’s affirmation deck nearly every day. During one of her readings, she felt that the cards drawn didn’t mean anything to her. It wasn’t until receiving the same three phrases consecutively that she realized the universe was clearly telling her something.

“Sometimes (@wanna_be_startin_sumthin) has moments where she feels all alone,” Walton said, having spoken to the woman about the experience. “She felt like the card was reminding her that she was strong enough to handle her current situation.”

Walton said her affirmation cards can be used for any scenario and it’s important to accept each one as you see fit. In reality, the cards are a suggested guide. It’s you, the receiver, who finds meaning in it all.

“Usually it takes a few days for someone to get back to you at other companies,” she said. “But you guys were really quick with the quote and when I had questions about the deadline and the boxes, everybody was really hands-on.”

The Speak that S— Affirmation Deck is available for purchase on her website. Be sure to follow the Queen of Affirmations on Instagram and Facebook for more information!

The Speak That S— Affirmation Deck also includes 10 BONUS cards

To receive complimentary samples of our card products, include your delivery address and phone number on your custom quote request form.

If we manufactured your card project and you would like us to share your Card Story on our blog, feel free to connect with our Marketing Team here.