This weekend marks my 1 year anniversary as a member of the Milwaukee ATC (Artist Trading Card) Group. And even though I can’t make this week’s meeting/swap due to a prior commitment, I wanted to post some things I’ve learned about ATC’s this past year.
If you’ve never heard of Artist Trading Cards, you’re not alone. It’s a very fun way to produce art on a small scale (3 ½ in x 2 ½ in to be exact) and the point is to trade your cards with other amazing artists. Every month we members get together at a location in the Milwaukee area, usually a library or craft shop that has a private room for trading, and trade our creations with each other. And every month, I’m in awe of the talented artists we have.
If you’ve ever thought about getting started as an artist or finding a way to express your creativity, Artist Trading Cards are a great place to start. Here are some basics about creating and trading ATC’s:
1. Size Matters – All Artist Trading Cards must be 3 ½ in x 2 ½ in and be able to fit in a plastic sleeve that most people use to house baseball cards. If you are participating in a swap via the mail, obviously you can make them thicker if you’d like. You basically start with an ATC template, and you can get these at art supply stores or make them yourself. From there, you let your imagination go.
2. Pick a Theme to Jumpstart Creativity – In the Milwaukee ATC Group, every month we have a theme chosen by votes from the group members. In our case only 1 card has to be in that theme and you can make your other cards any way you like, but most members just continue with the chosen theme for their whole collection. In the past year, we’ve done Song Lyrics, “Mad Men”, Easily Distracted by Shiny Things, and Halloween as some of our themes.
3. Pick Your Pallet – Since I can’t draw or paint, I usually stick with collage to make my ATC’s. I use stickers, scrapbook paper, magazines, cards I get in the mail, anything that fits the theme of the month. I’ve also seen some amazing watercolor paintings, pencil drawings, graphic art, and even industrial art on ATC’s. Whatever you’re in to can work for you.
4. No Material is Off Limits – In this case I don’t mean using offensive material in your ATC’s (it’s up to the particular group you trade with to determine that). I’m talking about what you use to make your ATC’s. I’ve seen ATC’s made using fabric, paper, pictures, broken up mirror, price tags, stickers, pieces of metal, fun pins. Anything is fair game. I used vintage postcards of California to make my favorite set of ATC’s, and doctored them up with scrapbook stickers and paper umbrellas.
5. Start Trading – Live or Mail – To be honest, I’m not sure how common Artist Trading Card Groups are in North America. If you key in “Artist Trading Card Groups” in any search engine, you’ll be able to get listings of any live swaps in your area. Or go to www.atcquarterly.com/groups to find one in your state. There are also many online groups that participate in swaps. Yahoo!, Flickr and Facebook all have groups where you can trade with other members via the mail.Down below are some more of the Artist Trading Cards I’ve made and swapped. You can find the rest of my cards at http://www.flickr.com/photos/amateurjewelry/sets/72157622503963910/