Artist Trading Cards: Like sports trading cards--only for artists!
Have you ever heard of artist trading cards, or ATCs for short?
Artist trading cards are miniature pieces of art that can be made from most any material, using most any medium, in most any style. The ONLY rule is that an artist trading card must be 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.
Artist trading cards are meant to be used for trading. Originally, they were traded among artists. Nowadays you might find an ATC tucked into a greeting card that's been sent to you, especially if you have a friend or relative who enjoys making them.
Artist trading cards are fun to make, require little in materials, and once you've started, can become quite "addicting".
Photo is an artist trading card that I made
You can buy special packs of artist trading card blanks made from a variety of papers, but if you're just starting out--or if you like to recycle/upcycle, you can do what many of us do: cut your ATC blanks from cereal boxes.
Simply trace around a playing card, cut out, and create your ATC. If you don't want to cut around the rounded edges of an actual playing card, just use your ruler and draw your own. Just make sure that they are 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.
Look around your house for interesting bits of papers (even from junk mail); magazine cutouts; ribbons; buttons; stickers; scrapbook supplies--pretty much anything that can be glued down or sewn on is fair game. I've even heard of ATCs that have been made on a base of wood, metal, or polymer clay.
Once you get hooked on making these cards, you might want to invest in other art supplies, but to begin, just use your imagination as you look at the materials you might have in your house already.
Photo is an artist trading card I made
This book shows over 25 techniques, with step-by-step photos, for making artist trading cards.
More and more, those of us who once created our artist trading cards using old school cut-and-paste methods are moving to digital for our ATCs.
These days I prefer working digitally, but every now and then I'll make a few ATCs with actual paper and glue.
Both methods are lots of fun. It just depends on what you're in the mood for on any given day, whether you want to get your hands into the paint, or keep them clean by creating digital ATCs.
Photo is a digital artist trading card I made