ATC: Artist Trading Cards
Artist trading cards are my recent obsession. They are generally 2 ½ by 3 ½ inches, baseball card size, and are original pieces of art that you exchange with other artists. You can buy paper specifically for making the cards, but you can also cut paper you already have. I purchased a variety pack of papers but went through them rather quickly. I started cutting my own and they’ve been just as good. I’ve had the most luck with watercolor paper and thick cardstock.
As for the content, I’ve seen so many different varieties; painted, drawn, stamped, pretty much any art technique. They can have embellishments like buttons and other elements but can’t be too thick, or too thin for that matter. The sources I’ve found have said that they should generally have a backing like cardstock if they aren’t sturdy enough and it’s a good idea to put each in a protective sleeve.
I was first introduced when I participated in an ATC swap on one of my new favorite sites: International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club. The swap I took part in allowed open media, but some swaps have specific criteria like watercolor only or stamped only, and may have a specific theme such as flowers or birds.
After doing this swap I looked for other places to trade and I found ATCs For All. It’s a site that is almost completely dedicated to ATCs. They have open swaps that are hosted by members, and then a gallery where you can do one on one trades. So far I’ve signed up for one swap but I’m looking forward to doing more. To store the cards it’s nice to use pocket page protectors that can go into a binder. When you send them, you need to put your information on the back, like the name and the title, along with contact information if you want to include that. On ATCs For All, many of the swaps list what you need to do and what should be on the back. It's possible to buy special stamps to put on the back, or simply write the information, but I made little labels and printed them on cardstock to glue to the back. Doing so also adds a little extra layer to make the card sturdier.
The whole idea is really cool to me, having a collection of cards from artists all over the world. They’re really fun to make, I enjoy that there are swaps with specific themes to get creative with on ATCs For All. I haven’t looked into any other ATC swap sites yet because I don’t want to get overwhelmed, I’m sure there are more good ones out there.
So far most of the cards I've made are watercolor, ink, and acrylic paint. My favorite at the moment is to use ink outlines with watercolor.
I have added a gallery dedicated to my ATCs, which you can find here.