Monday, August 29, 2011

ATCs: Artist Trading Cards

Ok, I felt bad.  Everything is about my bike, bike, bike.  I feel like the guy in that commercial, and the wife complains that "all he ever talks about is the boat.  The boat, the boat, the boat!" haha.  So, time to talk about something completely different-- Artist Trading Cards!  (or ATCs, for short)

I discovered these cards at an art shop in San Francisco a couple years ago, and my mom and I had fun sending them to each other on and off over the last couple years.  It's just a 3.5" x 2" "card" that you can pay $5 for a pack of 12 of, or make a bunch of them by cutting up a piece of $0.25 cardstock.  Some people use the same size pieces of cloth, or any media.  ANYWAY, you decorate them however you see fit.  Draw, paint, collage, the aforementioned standard rules! is an official site (there are likely more), and people can "host" swaps.  They set ground rules for that particular swap if wanted (some people don't want collage, some people only want pen and ink...etc etc), and then a theme.  Whimsical Fish, or Crowned Cats, for example!  Once you complete your cards (usually 3, plus an extra for the host if you'd like), you mail them to the host, and you receive 3 cards back, from 3 other people who submitted them!  Such a fun way to "swap" fun cards.

Here's a set of 4 I just mailed:

This was for a "Whimsical Fish" swap...  I chose to go with different holidays, but it wasn't a requirement.  For my first official swap (not just trading random ones with my mom), it was great!  (note: these look better in real life.  The color didn't come out super vividly in the scan, and I also went back and added a blue background to the top three)

The best part?  a 3" x 2.5" card isn't intimidating at all.  Some people go all-out and do oil paintings and everything, but for the most part, it isn't too hard to churn one out in an evening.  So, you get to get the creative juices flowing without getting overwhelmed!  And you can enter as many or as few swaps as you like.  Perfect!

My next ones I'm working on is for the "Crowned Cats" swap.  There are so many swaps going on, but I take long enough to get them done as it is (every week or so I'll do one or two).  But, there are ones based on movies (Star Wars was a recent one), styles of art (Zetti, which is a super cute and unique style), or totally random (Obscure Holidays)!  Super fun!


  1. I love this! Sounds totally up my alley! Have you thought about hosting one?

  2. Lena - I'd like to, sometime. You have to rack up something like 10 "points" (which you generally earn just by participating in swaps) and then you can host a small swap (12 people). The more "experience" you get with it, the more people you can have in the swap. I keep thinking of fun ideas for themes, so...someday! You should totally check out the site; look under the "Forums" tab. It takes some navigating to figure it out, but it's a lot of fun! (It's also fun to just look at the galleries... people are so creative!)