ATC's (Artist Trading Cards) to make and swap

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If you are looking for an new creative / craft interest I can recommend ATC's or Artist Trading Cards.


These are cards that you decorate in any way you like and swap with others. The only stipulation is that they must be two and a half inches by three and a half, and they should be swapped, not sold (although there are plenty on e bay available by self representing artists if you want to get a few ideas).

Against the listings you will see abbreviations like OOAK (one of a kind) which means that this item is an original and not a print. Altered art is other expressions - meaning that images have been used and then added to or altered to create a unique piece. This type of art is closely associated with scrapbooking and many of the pieces you see will be about capturing a certain message or idea.


Like I said, you can decorate these cards in anyway you want. This diversity, plus the convenient size, makes them a great way to put your creative skills to the test. No need to worry either if your first attempts aren't too great - it's only paper!  Most people work on 'cardstock' - coloured card cut to size. You could make the corners rounded if you wanted, or round off two corners like a label. You could work on watercolour paper if you wanted, or mountboard but do bear in mind that the card will need to be stored in some way. I like to make mine with hanging chains or wires so that I can easily have them displayed.


You can use acrylic paint, watercolour, inks, sewing, collage, altered photographic image, stencilling, stamping...your imagination is your only limitation. Why not add pressed flowers, trimmings, fabric, scraps, postage stamps, old newspaper clippings, lettering, stickers, photos, beads, sequins, feathers - whatever you want to give a pleasing artistic effect. There are no rights or wrongs, remember as long as you stay within the size. Express yourself.

Remember to put some details on the back - your name, the name of the piece, the date, your contact details and the limited edition no. if applicable.

You can buy the cardstock already cut to size but it's not that easy to find. Some people use large playing cards or just cut their cards themselves. Using a metallic or black pen around the edge gives the piece a nice finish. Almost everything else you need you can find on e bay. The Range, a UK chain store also has a superb art and craft department for mixed media resources or try your local art shop. It is a relatively new hobby, only really taking off in the last 7 years or so, so don't be surprised if the girl in the store doesn't know what you are talking about! These little cards make great birthday / wedding / celebration gifts too so consider making one for a friend or family member.


Once you get confident it's time to swap you little works of art with other people around the world. Click on the community button > groups > atc's to find out the groups you can join here on Ebay. Yahoo too have groups where you can do this, or google a search for atc swap groups.

I can really recommend Bernie Berlin's book on artist trading cards - it's full of really great tips and techniques. You'll find it here on ebay or try Amazon. 

Well, that's about it. Please please give this article a YES vote below if you enjoyed reading it. Thanks!

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