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