The International Icon Tarot is a Rider-Waite-Smith clone done with the figures that you see on signage, the most familiar of which would be bathroom doors. These "international icons" are like stick figures but more filled out. You get a vague idea of gender, but any sort of ethnicity or facial expression is entirely in the mind of the reader. That is one of the greatest gifts of this deck.
In a reading, you don't get caught up in the facial expressions of the figures on the cards so you have more freedom to interpret. For me, this means that I focus more on the background details of the card. I see the buildings and landscapes behind the figures in more detail. For example, the King of Swords has butterflies on his throne and the figure in the 2 of Wands faces a lake. I never noticed those details in other RWS clones, and those details make me want to learn more. Why are those symbols there? What do they mean? Before this, I was never interested in the RWS deck (although I do enjoy many of its variants), but now I'm starting to come around. That, in and of itself, is a wonderful gift of this deck for me. Also, without the restriction of specific facial expressions, you can use your intuition to fill in the details of how a person might feel in a specific situation.
The artwork is of course greatly simplified, but as mentioned before, that's the wonderful part of this deck. This simplification doesn't detract from the artistry of the deck, either. The colors of people, backgrounds and symbols are all harmonious. The overall effect is quite nice.
I only have a few nitpicks, and they're very minor. On the figures, the heads are slightly detached from the bodies. I found this to be a little strange, but it's most likely my own aesthetics. Also, the Knights and Death have their plumes issuing right from their heads and not from any helmet. Finally, I found the cardstock to be a little flimsy. The edge of one of my cards was already slightly chipped from a good shuffle. On the plus side, the cardstock is rather easy to shuffle.
I recommend this deck to anyone, but especially beginners and RWS lovers (or those who want to learn more about it).
Copyright K. Mayberry. Not to be used without permission.
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