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What every artist should know about ATCs

Are you an artist and familiar with ATCs? Or maybe you don't even know what it is?

Thank God for Wikipedia, it knows everything, so here it is:

"Artist trading cards (ATCs) are miniature artworks about the same size as modern trading cards or baseball cards, or 2 1⁄2 by 3 1⁄2inches (64 mm × 89 mm), small enough to fit inside standard card-collector pockets, sleeves or sheets.

When sold, they are usually referred to as art cards, editions, and originals (ACEOs). Popularized in 1996, the ATC movement developed out of the mail artmovement and has its origins in Switzerland. Cards are produced in various media, including dry media (pencils, pens, markers, etc.), wet media (watercolor, acrylic paints, etc.), paper media (in the form of collage, papercuts, found objects, etc.) or even metals or fiber. The cards are usually traded or exchanged."

According to Greig Gaspar the cards help artists and designers get their names out in the art community and to educate others about art.

So, now you know.

And this is my story about the subject.

I didn't know anything about ATCs when last September I started to consider my art also my job. In October my friend invited me to join her on a fair, where I could present my work on her stall. This came as a surprise and I was far from ready. I decided to make little cards that had original gelli monoprint artwork on front side and a short text about my work on the back. Like so:

Each card was unique in it's own way and people at the fair were happy to choose one for themselves. And that was about all with me and ATCs until I opened an account on Flickr and got an e-mail by a fellow artist, Teresita D Suselo from Thailand asking if I do ATCs and trade them. I hadn't a slightest idea what she was talking about, but when I googled it I discovered I had my ATCs even if I wasn't aware of that. Since I'm all for meeting other artists, helping them and cooperating with them, I told her I'd like to trade. But when I saw ATCs in her photostream, I realised my gelli prints were just not good enough for trading with her. We agreed to trade 4 for 4 and make those ATCs specially for one another.

I wanted to make Teng something similar than stuff she liked in my photostream, but the size of the cards is so small that it was very hard to make something really nice, but at last these were ready to be send to her.

When I got her mail, I was so surprised. I've seen the ATCs in her photostream and I thought they were beautiful, but in reality they were incredible! OMG, so precisely done, so cute, with so much tiny details. Just gorgeous! Do you want to see them? Here they are, but please keep in mind they are 3D so scanning them is a bit of a problem and it really doesn't make them justice. (That's the best my scanner can do.)

If you are interested in more of Teresita's work (and better photos of her work) you can find her here:

- on Facebook (The cards are in the album: Handmade cards, Tags, Bags and the individual dolls (not in cards) are in the album: Arts and Crafts Corner.),

- on Art Cards Wanted where you can buy her ACEOs and doll cards (at the moment there are only 2 left (one print and one hand-drawn and colored),

- on Flickr, where everything she made and traded so far is posted in her photostream.

She is a really nice lady and you can trade your ATCs with her or buy her lovely Japanese paper dolls, cards and ACEOs.

I consider myself very proud to have four of her tiny, but wonderful artworks at home.

So, if you want to spread a word about your art around the art world, ATCs are a great way to share little pieces of your art with others and get their art in return. They are also a nice way to meet and contact other artists and cooperate with them. Beside all of that they can be a great exercise in making your signature art in such a small size. There are many groups you can join and events that are held all about trading or buying and selling ATCs. So even if you are not an artist, you can start your own collection of these little artworks by artists from all over the world.

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