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What’s an ATC?

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are one of those things I’ve never actually made, but have always been intrigued by. I think maybe if I had discovered them when I was in high school or right after college, I would have maybe become obsessed.

Here are the rules as I know them for Artist Trading Cards:

1. They must be 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ in size.

“The Pirate Ship”

That’s it. Anything else goes. The deal is to make small pieces of artwork to trade with other people, while letting your imagination run wild. Wonderfully open-ended, and small enough so you can experiment with TONS of different materials and techniques easily.

This is so up my alley. Really, doesn’t it sound perfect? You can basically play with any art material on a small scale, making it virtually stressless and fun.

kids' artist trading card
“A Pickup Truck”


You can make your own cards or buy them pre-made at art stores, or on Amazon. (I’ve also seen people use playing cards, which are the same size.)

artist trading cards


Usually they’re more than a simple sketch, and can be really beautiful pieces of art. They don’t have to be made with traditional materials- I’ve seen some on polymer clay, metal, and wood. Cool, cool, and cool.

If you like, you can seal the finished card with acrylic medium or Mod Podge, and the back is usually finished simply and labeled with basic info, like the artist’s name, email, date, and perhaps the name of the swap if it was an organized one.

Catslife Press has a super collection of Artist Trading Card rubber stamps for the backs of the cards.

artist trading card stamps




Inspired by the Spiderwick Chronicles

As far as how to store your collection, the size fits into standard baseball card storage sleeves. I found Your ATC Store that sells pretty much everything you could possibly want in regard to ATC’s, including plastic sleeves, envelopes, pockets, albums, boxes, and all sorts of other items.

Artist Trading Card display

Following are some links to even more ATC stuff! This book looks extremely inspiring, and these would be pretty great for non-traditional birthday gifts for the creatives in your life.


Trading Card Techniques & ATCsTrading Card Techniques & ATCs1,000 Artist Trading Cards: Innovative and Inspired Mixed Media ATCs1,000 Artist Trading Cards: Innovative and Inspired Mixed Media ATCsArtist Trading Card Workshop: Create, Collect, SwapArtist Trading Card Workshop: Create, Collect, Swap
Rubber Stamping Artist Trading CardsRubber Stamping Artist Trading CardsMelissa & Doug Scratch Art Scratch and Sparkle Artist Trading Cards - 52-Pack, 4 ColorsMelissa & Doug Scratch Art Scratch and Sparkle Artist Trading Cards – 52-Pack, 4 Colors

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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  1. Love these! My daughter made a batch in an art class and we framed them in a double sided glass frame so we could still read the back. It is now hanging up but for a while it was propped on the counter. Such a good idea!

  2. We found a single pack of Artist Trading Cards at Newbery Comics and I bought it for my oldest who is an artist but it didn’t hold her interest though I thought they were great.

    I LOVE the idea of making your own. You are kind of genius like that!

  3. What an awesome idea to frame them so you can see both sides! I love that she made these in art class- I love art teachers that don’t just dwell on the older artists, but bring in some modern stuff as well.

  4. I have never done ATC’s but always found the concept fascinating and fun. You should arrange a kid’s ATC swap through the blog. I would have Simon make some!

    • Hi Krista! I have a group on Facebook. You could go check it out. I have group themed events and of course you could do one on one trades. Last week was dinosaurs and upcoming events are monkeys and hearts (next week). We would love to have more kids. We are slowly growing but need some more active kids!
      All about the kids art Atc’s

  5. I’ve seen these on blogs before & always wondered about them. Thanks for the info!! They are super cute, this looks like a fun idea 🙂

  6. Thank you for defining these. My friend is constantly posting on facebook that she’s just finished her ATCs and I had no idea what she meant — something artsy, I knew. This helps.

  7. You are seriously too inspiring. We just made a pile or two of index card art (I think another you inspired;) and now overwhelmed with too many. I look forward to extending lo’s obsession into smaller traceable cards. She’s gonna LOVE this. PS, NO, I had NO IDEA what an ATC was til now so thanks a mill!

  8. How funny I just stumbled on to this. I am building my online fb atc for kids group. Always looking for more kids. I have group themes in addition to one on one trades. All about the kids art is my Facebook group. I have an active bunch of kids around the 10-14 but have the group open to 2/3 (with help) through over 14! Thanks!!!

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