The Architect's Tarot

Our latest interview is with Yousef Bushehri, the creator of an architectural themed tarot deck. Each suit of the deck is inspired by a landscape theme and the cards of each suit can be lined up to create a single panoramic image. The combination of architectural imagery with the soft visuals of watercolours creates a deck that blends reality with fantasy.

Kickstarter - The Architect's Tarot

Where in the world do you call home?

That’s a complicated question for me. I was born and raised in Kuwait, which is where my entire family lives. I moved to the United States when I was 17 and have been here for 13 years. Right now I live in Atlanta, Georgia and I feel very settled here and have put down roots. I live the majority of the year in Atlanta but need to go to Kuwait at least once a year for a few weeks to be with my family. I guess I would call my home both Kuwait and Atlanta simultaneously.

What was your first experience with oracles and / or tarot and when did you fall in love with it?

2 years ago I was having a hard time sleeping for a few months and a dear friend brought me an amethyst and told me it would help. Even though this wasn’t anything I had ever explored, this was a person I trusted deeply and so I trusted her offer as well. The amethyst helped and it opened me up to a world that I hadn’t explored which included oils and crystals and herbs and, eventually, tarot.

I’m a big time gardener and I love giving and receiving seeds and plant cuttings and plant knowledge. it feels so anti-capitalist and empowers people’s independence and self-reliance. I think for that same reason I fell in love with tarot and the democratic nature of it. Unlike many large organized belief-systems, where the rules are passed down from established authority, this world of magic wasn’t owned or controlled by anyone and was open to everyone and however they choose to participate in it.

What made you want to create your own tarot deck? What was your inspiration?

I’m a trained architect and designer and my aunt taught me to paint as a child so visual art has always been a part of my life. After discovering tarot I began searching for an architectural tarot deck – one that plays with architectural themes like scale, procession, path, and entry – and wasn’t able to find one. At the time I also began exploring watercolour. One day while laying on the couch watching TV it occurred to me that I could practice watercolour and illustration by creating architecturally interpreted tarot cards. I did maybe 5 or 6 and I posted them online and people asked me when the deck would be complete because they really wanted one. Keep in mind I was only doing this as an exercise and did not intend to create a whole deck. But here we are.

I’ve drawn inspiration from lots of places - Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass, Greek temples, significant buildings around the world that I’ve visited, specific moments of my life, dreams I’ve had, videogames, literal representations of what the card is meant to signify. All sorts of places. My phone’s photo gallery is mostly images I’ve collected to base my cards on (as well as photos of my cats of course).

Aside from your own deck, do you have a favourite deck? If so, which one?

I have a copy of the Ethereal Visions Illuminated Tarot and I think its my favourite that I’ve come across. The level of detail is amazing and I continuously discover new things in each card.

I feel like there are 2 types of movies (this is relevant, I swear): in one type, when a character coughs, their cough will be relevant to the plot, in the other type of movie the characters cough for no reason other than to flesh out the world and detail it and make it realistic. I prefer the second type. I feel like the Ethereal Visions tarot fits under the second type if it were a movie.