Williams, Brian

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Ship of Fools Tarot - 6 of Cups

Tarot contribution

Famed and beloved creator of many modern Tarot classics...


Bay Area artist Brian Williams was born 30 January 1958 in Honolulu, Hawaii, but grew up in suburban Maryland and on the central California coast near Santa Cruz. He studied art history, art and Italian at the University of California at Berkeley. While at Cal he began creating Renaissance Tarot, and he researched the origins of playing cards and the Tarot for an honors thesis and Individual Major — Italian Renaissance Iconographic Studies — in the College of Letters and Science. As an undergraduate he studied for a year in Italy at the Universitá degli Studi in Padua, and returned to Italy in 1984 to take part as an invited fellow in the printmaking laboratory of the Italian National Graphics Institute in Rome, (L'Istituto nazionale della grafica, 'Calcografia'). In the '80s he exhibited etchings and drawings in Rome, San Francisco and Berkeley, including a series of thirty–four watercolors illustrating the Inferno of Dante Alighieri. In spring of 1994 HarperSanFrancisco published a second Tarot deck with accompanying book — a humorous, 'postmodern,' Tarot, called PoMo Tarot. In fall of 1994 a companion book to Renaissance Tarot was published by US Games. Including hundreds of new illustrations by the author (from the earliest Tarot cards, medieval woodcuts, antique sculpture, Renaissance paintings, baroque manuals, etc.), the book explains the symbolism of traditional Tarot imagery as well as that of Renaissance Tarot.

Brian Williams' last work was a new set of Tarot–inspired images based on the 1494 German classic, Das Narrenschiff, the Ship of Fools Tarot, an entire tarot deck of Fools. The deck and book were published in September 2002 by Llewellyn Publications.

Brian's Minchiate and Renaissance Tarot decks and books are found in stores all over the world, his PoMo Tarot (currently out of print) landed on the cover of a Sunday Section of the New York Times and in a dozen glossy national magazines and daily papers. He illustrated the Angel Journey cards for Harper Collins (currently out of print) and wrote a book to accompany Michael Goepferd's Light and Shadow Tarot, published by Inner Traditions International.

Brian died on April 15, 2002 from cancer.





To be added


Brian Williams' Website

Tarotpassages tribute page

Books on this author

[in some cases, especially for earlier writers or influential ones, books may have been written on this author - please delete this section if not appropriate]