Artist Trading Cards – ATC Art

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Want to do something fun and unusual with your art?

Get involved with the Artist Trading Card movement.

This group began as a means to promote artwork.

Originally, artists traded cards face to face at swap meets, and later sent cards through the mail.

Now, with the advent of the Internet, the movement has expanded and is enjoying a rebirth through web-based selling sites and social networking.

What Is ATC Art?

ATC artwork is created in a standard size of 2-1/2-inches by 3-1/2-inches. This is a standard collector card size, and these fit in card-collector pockets, sheets or sleeves.

Artists of all persuasions create these pint-sized pieces of artwork. Watercolorists, acrylic painters, collage artists and quilters are just some of the artists who find the style challenging and fun. The main tenet of these artists is that the pieces are not for sale. They are traded, much like baseball cards of the past. Artists trade their cards to spread their work, their name and their creativity. It’s a subculture of self-promotion.

Artist Cards, Editions and Originals is another sub-set of the cards. These ACEO pieces can be sold, and artists do a brisk business on Internet selling sites such as Etsy and eBay.

The artwork is either original or self-produced limited editions. The back of the piece has the name of the artist and contact information.

History Of ATC

This type of work was seen 30 years ago, but became an organized effort in 1997. Swiss artist M. Vänçi Stirnemann started the trading card movement by trading a set of his own cards with visitors to his gallery show. He began having swap meets in Switzerland and similar venues later sprung up throughout the world.

Trading groups are found in a number of cities. For those not fortunate enough to live near those locations, there are web sites and clubs whose members trade cards, both individually and in small batches.
Stirnemann’s idea was to have trading card sessions in which the participants could interact with each other. It was as much about meeting the artists and exchanging experiences as it was about the art. Today, the Internet exchanges are less personal, but it does give a potential global audience to aspiring artists.

Materials And Methods

The standard size of the ATC is 2-1/2-inches x 3-1/2-inches or 64 x 89 mm. and can be made of any material. That specific size is the only stipulation to create ATC artwork. Anything else is fair game.

Artists use all kinds of supports to create their mini-masterpieces. Rigid support makes the art more durable, so archival mat board is often used. Bristol board, watercolor paper, illustration board and bamboo papers are commercially produced by several manufacturers for artists who want the convenience of ready-made art supports.

There is a growing range of commercial products to augment the standard collector’s storage and display items. There are now Multi-Window Mat Boards, Eternity Boxes, Clear Adhesive Protective Sheets, Hangers, Inchies and Artist Trading Cards Rinchies available.

If Inchies and Rinchies are puzzling terms that seem appealing, you may be a potential ATC artist. These tiny one-inch circles and squares are manufactured for use with collage ATC.

If you’re tired of the same routine, uninspired or lacking motivation, ATC is a fun idea to check out. Spend some time browsing around the Internet at ATC websites and see the diversity of work displayed. You will see everything from inane rubbish to works of art portrayed with great skill and flair. This interesting genre may be just the thing to get your juices flowing.

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