About Arnell Ando

During the mid 1980's, I began my studies of Tarot, while in my early 20's and living in Japan (feeling quite cut off from my Western philosophical, religious background). Always fascinated by mythology, symbology, and the unknown mysteries, it was a natural direction to explore. I was hooked at once, spending endless hours journaling and studying any Tarot books I could find in English (long before the internet). Many strange synchronicities, dream prophesies and other bizarre occurrences both frightened and enticed me to delve deeper.

Returning to the U.S. after a decade abroad, divorced with two young sons, I began a new life. I got a Masters in Psychology but found it difficult to bridge my spiritual/creative side with this more cognitive view of personal growth. I continued to study Tarot and collect unusual decks - appreciating their beauty, but never finding 'the one' that reflected my beliefs and the archetypes that resonated within. Instinctively, while studying women's history, I began creating raw, primitive art forms while working through accumulated issues of anger, pain, and disillusion. Around that time, I also discovered a growing field of alternative psychology called Expressive Art Therapy, which used all mediums of creative expression to explore the psyche and unlock hidden truths beyond words and deeds. I'd found my niche. It was quite a transformational experience. I continued my studies in the field, eventually becoming a Certified Expressive Arts Therapist.

All the while I was creating a Tarot deck & journal. This process helped me come to terms with my life story; hopes and fears, goals and setbacks. Friends were supportive; asking for color copies while urging me to publish Hero's Journey Tarot. However I had to create a whole new deck ( Transformational Tarot ) in order to publish, as many contemporary images incorporated into my themes, were copyright protected. Collage is still a 'grey' area with regards to current laws. It was most gratifying to self-publish, tho a big financial risk (lots of work to punch cards from perforated sheets, trim edges, collate, package, and market) back in 1996, before the internet became the leading way to connect with a growing Tarot community. These days it is so much more affordable and streamline to self-publish. And the quality of production and ways to connect with an international audience is pretty amazing too. I've done workshops over the years on how to create your own deck and have been updating an essay since 1997 on how to self-publish as new info, technology & techniques emerge.

Transformational Tarot eventually went out of print but was published by U.S. Games in 2006 and did quite well, while giving me the opportunity to connect with incredible people all over the world. But eventually this version went out of print as well (in 2014).

Meanwhile, my friend Ellen Lorenzi-Prince asked me to publish her powerful, evocative Dark Goddess Tarot which was a deeply meaningful and rewarding experience. After our 2nd publication went out of print, it was published quite magnificently by Schiffer in 2020. Ellen and I published her wonderful Minoan Tarot in 2014 and then, by popular demand, re-published her  2002 deck & book, Tarot of the Crone.  Our 4th edition went out of print Christmas 2020. Incidentally, I'd handmade little magic wands for her first hand-made edition, (back in 2002). And again made magic wands for the 4th edition that we printed in 2020 - so was like coming full circle. The 4th edition was the same large size and came in a velvet pouch like her original version of only 100 sets. I've found it immensely gratifying to work with her and other talented artists in creative, collaborative ways over the years.

In 2017 I began working with Italian artist friend, Carmen Sorrenti to publish her potent and dreamy Pholarchos Tarot. This incredible deck set came onto the scene in 2018 and has been wildly popular (especially for a first deck, in an era full of art & personal self-pub decks).

My artist son Teppei returned home, Mother's day 2018, after a torturous time on the manic end of Bipolar Disorder, which had ravaged his life in a XVI- Tower card sort of way. He ended up staying a year and generously offered to make a Major Arcana deck with me in order to create something meaningful together. He'd never shared any interest in Tarot so I was quite touched by his offer, knowing it was a selfless act of sharing my life passion. We decided on the theme of art house/indie movies since we'd always enjoyed watching and discussing films, finding hidden meanings or analyzing characters and underlying motives, etc. And I'd been collecting Tarot and movie correlations for years. It was so great re-watching all these beloved films together, catching precise moments that exemplify card meanings or spotlight characters with Tarot archetypes - to capture the essence of each card, bigger than life. It has been extremely gratifying and fun collaborating with my son, and our Video Tarot deck and book set is one of my most cherished keepsake experiences.

In memory of tarot artist/historian Brian Williams, who took us on two enchanting Tarot themed tours of Italy in 1999 and 2000, (before his untimely death), my husband Michael & I eventually organized our own form of Tarot Art History Tour of Italy from 2011, along with the director of the Tarot Museum of Italy, Morena Poltronieri . After the first tour's success I studied to become a certified tour manager (that sure helps!) and our 2012 tour went even better. Our 3rd Tarot Tour of Italy in 2015 was incredible! We hope to do another tour with our Museo friends but plans have been postponed, due to Covid-19 and related issues. We enjoy so much sharing this enchanting, esoteric experience with our traveling Tarot tribe! Here's a sweet video created from 2015 tour highlights which gives a sense of these magical tours. While prepping for the 2015 tour, Morena, Ernesto and I collaborated on a book, in time for the tour called, the Tarot Travel Guide of Italy. That soon went out of print so we improved and expanded upon it, making both a Kindle & eBook. The eBook is updated and especially helpful, with web links and contact info for places on our tours and artists met there, additional reference maps, color imagery, etc...(anyone who got earlier versions can have the eBook upgrade free - with receipt.)

In late 2019 Michael and I made our way back home to California (after 6 years in Chicago), nearer to family and friends. I have a tiny art studio and can usually be found blissfully lost in any number of creative pursuits. Thanks for visiting. Sending you warm vibes from here.
Cheers,
Arnell