Often, people are given their first Tarot deck, and many people see that as traditional. It seems to me, that those who really have a potential for doing well at reading tend to be drawn and in one way or another, wind up with a deck. It can be nice to have a special deck that was given to you by someone you love and respect. However, I tend to encourage people who are interested in learning to get a deck that appeals to them and start by doing some meditation work with the cards. I think it is sometimes better to get a “clean” “clear” “brand-new” deck, particularly for a beginning reader who maybe in the process of learning to be sensitive to a variety of different kinds of feelings or energies.
To a degree I look at those things based on the situation. If a deck was passed to you by your grandmother who you loved and had a great relationship with, the energy associated with that deck for you is likely to be very positive. If however you had a kind of creepy boyfriend who gave you a deck before breaking up with you and you have all kinds of emotional hangups about the situation, you might feel uncomfortable using them.
I think one very good method of choosing a deck is to find one that is full of art you find interesting and appealing, which excited your imagination, or gives you strong feelings when you look at them. Some other readers suggest going with a very simple, traditional deck- such as the Rider Waite. I can see the argument for that, because the focus on the different symbols in each card are very clear, and not as colored by different artists interpretations. For some beginning readers that may be a very good method. However, I think that the meaning of a reading are often more apparent to the person reading the cards when they really like the art, because in some way the emotionally evocative aspect of art itself can affect a persons openness to spiritual insight.
Your best bet is to look through a variety of different decks, and pay attention to the way the images look and how they make you feel. If one deck seems to feel like it’s yours, or seems to match your personality in some way, it is probably a safe bet that you’ll make a good connection with it. Many mystical shops that carry Tarot decks have open display packs, and will let you look through them if you ask. There are also many online galleries of different decks of Tarot cards that may help you make your choice.
If you get your first deck and enjoy working with it, don’t be surprised if you enjoy feeling inspired by the rt so much that you start to develop a collection. Most people who read tend to favor one particular deck for a long time, but may enjoy using different kinds of decks for different kinds of situations.