ATCs or artist trading cards are a fun way to share your "style" with other artists. At the conclusion of our Artist Trading Card Workshop, we traded cards. Scattered throughout this blog are individual photos of some of the ATCs done by the artists.
Essentially ATC’s are miniature works of mixed media art. Using a wide variety of materials to create new works of art is not new. We all remember Raushenberg, Duchamp, and Matisse to name but a few. But what makes it fun and interesting is that this is meant for everyone. All levels of work are welcome. The main goal is that they are created with the idea of sharing them with each other. They can be seen as an artist calling card, and can be whatever the artist wishes them to be. It is art after all, would we expect less?
But ATC’s themselves do have rules. The only rules being that the small works of art are, (1) exchanged and not sold, and (2) that they must be 2 ½ X 3 ½ inch or 64 X 89 mm in size.
Artist trading cards, or ATCs, began in the tradition of business cards, but with a personal, artistic twist. Most ATCs are created on paper, but they may also be any other medium that can be worked in a suitable size. ATCs are traditionally the size of baseball cards and other trading cards. They're a fun way to exchange your own one-of-a-kind artistic flair with other artists you meet. Also use them as business cards.
• Start with the size in mind. Artist trading cards are generally 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches. This is the size of playing cards and other trading cards. You can even start with mismatched playing cards as a base for collage or altered item artwork.
• Express yourself or show your style, using your preferred medium or media. If you can do it inside of 3.5 x 2.5 inches, you can make an ATC.
• Work somewhat quickly. You don't need to be careless when making an ATC, but there's no need to work your masterpiece in miniature, either. ATCs should be simple pieces that you're willing to give away when you're done.
• Make lots. You'll need a selection of cards. Remember that you will be giving your cards away. "Lots" can be relative. It could be half a dozen or a few dozen, depending on how many you expect to trade.
• Show your style. Is there a particular palette or medium you prefer or a technique you've been exploring lately?
• Sign your cards and attach contact information, if you choose to. An email address or website is a good compromise if you'll be giving these cards to strangers.
• Title your work. The title is optional, but it will give your recipients or viewers a context in which to view your work.
• Share. The whole point of ATCs is to trade with other artists, so once you have a selection of cards, trade them.
o Find artists or groups in your area that trade cards.
o Attend gatherings of artists in your area, and remind them to bring ATCs to share.
o Carry them with you as you would business cards, so that if you find an occasion to trade or give away a card, they are with you.
o Spread the word. If your local artist community is unfamiliar with artist trading cards, you may have to give away a few cards or offer them with a request for one in return before you get many back.
o Organize a gathering to swap ATCs. Let people know what ATCs are about, and get together to try trading some.
o Look on-line. There are on-line groups that will match you up with others the world over who can mail cards in exchange for yours.