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Artist Trading Cards, Collecting And Displaying Them

Updated on April 9, 2014

How I started Collecting Artist Trading Cards Collection

Collecting artist trading cards cards is a fun and affordable way to start your very own art collection. I first came across miniature paintings in this format, quite by accident on Ebay.

As an artist I decided that I could do just as well, and became addicted immediately and now produce my own for sale, and also collect other artists' work. I have a large collection running into the hundreds now. It is a great introduction to a number of different styles and so much more personal than looking at work on gallery walls. As someone said:- they don't have to match your wallpaper. Because of my interest in this format, I also started to work in mixed media and collage and now this accounts for 75% of my artistic output

What is an artist trading card? It is a small artwork, which is exactly 2.5 X 3.5 inches. This format is similar to the many baseball and other collectible sets of cards which abound these days. and this means that there is a whole industry supplying plastic pockets, album sleeves and other ways of holding these collections. This will help to keep the cards clean but how to display them so that they can be shown off and enjoyed. The artist trading card format was originally selected to be used for swapping between artists in the manner of business cards, but now the sale of art in this format is a growing trend.

Please note, unless otherwise stated all photos and artwork by the author. All other images used by permission

Keeping Your Artist Trading Cards On Display

Keep Your ATC Collection Tidy

There are of course many ways of keeping your artist trading cards in one piece and in good condition.It is a generally good idea to keep any artwork in a cool, dry and low light environment but Artist Trading Cards are so inexpensive, there are some times when we can forget about this. Some of the methods I use are:-

1. plastic wallets

It is possible to purchase flexible plastic pockets or semi-rigid top-loaders to keep the cards fresh, clean and uncreased. Many retail outlets that sell the popular trading cards will also sell these.

2.loose leaf wallets

For convenience, you may want to use A4 loose leaf folders which feature 9 pockets per page. These do need to be used thoughtfully. Note here how the cards are in both landscape and portrait format which means the viewer has to keep twisting the book around.

Also there is no separation between the cards. Quick, but needs thinking about to give a good effect.You can see the rear of the cards on the left-hand page. Where you will see various information that the artist has included, their signature, date, media, etc.

3. Mounting with card mat

I often mount my cards and put them in a suitable container for display when I am attending sales or exhibitions.

4. Simple cardboard box

The cards can be stored in a suitably sized box, which can of course be decorated to your own requirements.

It is best if stored in plastic wallets to avoid contamination from greasy fingers.

But it is great to be able to shuffle them in your hands and really feel them between your fingers. So much more personal than staring at gallery walls.

5. For a personalised envelope, try making your own using a template designed by Mirkwood Designs.

Don't forget you can paint or collage the envelope in any way that you like.

Things That You May Need To Help With Your Artist Trading Card Collection - some consumables for collectors

Sometimes it's a drag searching, so here's a little help, first flexible sleeves.

Displaying your favourite Art cards

Let Your Visitors Know You Make ATC artist Cards.

Why not make sure that all your friends know that you are an art collector. It may not have cost you very much but if you've got it ... flaunt it!

a pair of photo frames displaying two artist trading cards

A single frame with a pair of complementary art trading cards

the mounted pair from the last shot

Of course, I have been talking about paintings here which are nice and flat. But you can frame mixed media collages, etc which may have 3-D embellishments on them. I give a few examples of framing without using a mat with an aperture which fits over the art card in another lens. this also includes more ideas on framing your art cards.

More Useful Items From Ebay For Collecting Art Cards - Some Consumables For Collecting And Displaying Art cards

and nine pocket, album pages:-

Neat Ways of Displaying Artist Trading Cards

Show Off Your Collection

K. Madison offers a new way of collecting & protecting your new art cards with a custom designed CD case and inserts.

You can open the case as a frame and display the artist trading card in a color co-ordinated mat. A description of the Art is displayed on the left inside mat panel Label.

The CD Cover has a Side Title Label for easy access if you would like to start collecting art cards in CD Form.

Another neat alternative is to use a small (custom made?) artists' easel, to display the artist trading card. Again it can be matted, framed or if it is suitable, just as it is. Very similar to the plate stand idea below.

A novel way of displaying your collection of art cards is by pegging them to a cord or ribbon hung across a wall, in the manner of greeting cards.

Just use your imagination, the skies the limit.

A cute ( but seldom used way of utilising the artist trading cards is as doll's house artworks. You would need a custom made frame for this I suspect.

- use as a bookmark

- put under a glass-topped coffee table

- use as a scrapbook embellishment

- use as a gift tag

- or what about making greeting cards

More Ideas For Collecting And Displaying Artist Trading Cards - An Eclectic Collection From The Internet

Some times an idea hits you when reading someone else's site or blog. This module contains a number of sites which either reinforce or expand on ideas I have already mentioned above. I lay no claim to originality for these ideas.

I have seen a number of fancy greeting card holders whilst searching for this section, it would be possible to use these for your art cards. If you have one then perhaps it could be used for ATC's rather than packing it away for christmas. The only issue is wether it looks like a christmas deciration, I guess.

and what about those little desktop photo holders, you know the ones with the crocodile clip on a snaking arm, it's a possibility.

some of these uses, would be easier and cheaper with prints but check that you are not breaking copyright laws. You may buy the aceo but the copyright remains with the artist.

Please contact me if you have any other ways of displaying or storing your aceo's, I would very much like to grow this list.I would of course make reference to any contributors.

Photo Holders From Amazon

These could be utilsed to hold artist trading cards, other shapes and formats are available based on special occasions. Click on a product to get to Amazon and use their search function for many more ideas.

Topiary Photo Holder/Place Card Holder, set of 4 (As seen in Modern Bride Aug/Sept 2008)
Topiary Photo Holder/Place Card Holder, set of 4 (As seen in Modern Bride Aug/Sept 2008)

Not really designed for a collection but can be used for individual cards. I have made cards with individuals names on them and then these would come into their own for a small gathering


Some Of My Own Abstract Art Trading Cards - As Shown On You Tube

The majority of these images are artistist trading cards but two , I think, are larger works but hey - who's counting

hand-made book for displaying artist trading cards
hand-made book for displaying artist trading cards

A Hand Made Book

A Novel Way Of Displaying Artists Trading Cards

This is not a new Idea, I have seen it before on the Internet, but I recently won what is in effect a raflle. In one of my Groups for swapping artist trading cards we held a "winner takes all" challenge. In effect your entry is an artist trading card, the prize is all those entered. My particular theme was not greatly subscribed to but I did win a total of nine cards including my own entry. What to do with these to keep them together? Put them into a book! Not inside the usual loose leaf folder but I just happened to have available a small hand-made blank book. I collaged and stamped a minimal backing and glued the cards onto the pages of the book. I will be writing a lens on this because I see this as a wonderful idea for keeping a group of themes artist trading cards together.

That is as long as you don't mind glueing them down. But of course there are ways of holding the cards and I will be describing them in the lens I have just referred to. From photo mounts to transparent pockets and more. I will add the link as soon as it is published. I have made several of these now and just love the idea. Since I first mentioned the idea of a book, Sebenta has made a blog post about ways of displaying art cards and #14 is a blank journal. The cards are held in by photo corners.

lace atc pocket
lace atc pocket

A Presentation Pocket For Art Trading Cards

Talking of single pockets in the home-made book above, why not just a simple (or not so simple pocket) The first image here is a delightfully created lace pocket for an artist trading card.

Just the thing for presenting an art card to a (female?) trading partner or a friend as a gift. This is another creation from Theresa Hall, and posted on the PDA (Paper and Digital Art by Kim) site.

Lydia (AKA Kenning Stone) has a more artsy approach to atc pockets, here is one that caught my eye, a full pocket with a tie to close the flap over the ATC.

and another with a wrap around cover, again a tie to keep the wrapping closed.

The wrapping paper is also hand-made by Lydia.

hand made book for atc
hand made book for atc

Make your Artist Trading Cards A Little Special

Delight You Trading Partner With A Little Extra Effort

Of course you can use the idea of a hand-made book for presenting your trading card to your trading partner. This would obviously delight any artist receiving one of these, I know as I have recently traded with Tee Hall who sent me this delightful hand-made book containing two art cards. (Tee was good enough to post a tutorial if you want to create one of these for yourself)

The inside simply contains two pockets for two art cards - couldn't be simpler and so good looking.

Although a great idea for presentation of two art cards it could be used with just one pocket as an alternative.

Some More Involved Methods Of Displaying Art Cards - Craft Ideas For Display Holders

Here is my first effort to make the display holder shown in the tutorial below.

Any suggestions to improve this lens will be greatfully accepted. I know most collectors will have their own variations of the above methods, is yours worth noting?

SImple make the most of your hobby

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Very nice lens. I have an artist friend who recently gave our group a talk about these cards. He was trying to convince us all to make some and exchange them. I think it's a great idea and just haven't done it yet. On my list of things to do.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Really nice lens. I'm going to check the other lenses you have on this subject.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      You're such a talented artist! I love these little ATCs though I don't own any. They're just the right size, I think, to admire but not require lots of wall space.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      @craftychic2012: A great idea, I will add this to my list of ways of displaying atc's.

    • profile image

      craftychic2012 5 years ago

      Great Lens! I have a rather large collection. Most are in binders, but I have a few that are framed. My daughter and I are currently creating an art quilt with clear pockets to insert ACEOs. I think it will be a lovely wall display.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      This was new to me. Love it!! ;-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks For Sharing The Great Ideas For Holding & Displaying ATC's!

      It Never Occurred To Me To Frame My Favorite Ones! A Simple Way To Display & Enjoy The Art Cards, That You Can Change Out When The Mood Hits! Lol. Tee

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 5 years ago from Redcar

      The ideas are just great.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I love this lens. I have a small collection because I just started not long ago. You have some super ideas here for displaying. I am using a binder with ATC holders in it, but there are so many other interesting ways.

    • profile image

      Kookaloo 5 years ago

      I love the handmade book idea for displaying/storing your ATCs! Great lens!

    • profile image

      Neurophilia 5 years ago

      I have to say that I never heard of artist trading cards before. The more you know:D

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great ideas for displaying ATCs! For now, I keep mine in a special binder, but I'm planning on framing some.

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 6 years ago

      Very nice lens... I love all the ideas!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Balloons and confetti for you! Congrats on the Purple Star.

    • profile image

      Rechol 6 years ago

      I am so glad that I have got what I want here, thank you, and by the way, my website is plastic card holder.

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      Congratulations on the Purple Star. Your lens is now posted on The Squidvertiser.

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 6 years ago

      I've enjoyed your lens. I love making the cards, and really should display some of them instead of just piling them up. ;-)

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      What a neat idea! I can see where these could be in demand!

    • zentao profile image

      zentao 6 years ago

      I like these. A lot prettier than baseball cards!!!!

    • bjslapidary profile image

      bjslapidary 6 years ago

      So much good info here. Will be back to study it more.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      Really nicely done I love that you used your own photos. * blessed*

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      We filed ours in a small acrylic box. These ideas are great.

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 6 years ago

      Lensrolled with my Art Cards lens ;)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago


    • profile image

      palaceofglass 7 years ago

      Nice ideas and great lens. 5 stars from me.

      Glass Decoration

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I too have discovered ACEOs, and have purchased a few. Someday I may even make some. Thanks or spreading the word.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading your suggestions on storing ACEOs. I just started blogging and will add a link to this informaiton in my blog!

      I store my ACEOs a large pretty box, devided by themes. I love going through them!

    • profile image

      faerydae 9 years ago

      5 stars! And I lensrolled you on my ACEOs on eBay lens!!

    • profile image

      faerydae 9 years ago

      5 stars! And I lensrolled you on my ACEOs on eBay lens!!

    • bjslapidary profile image

      bjslapidary 9 years ago

      Great lens. Neat ideas for displaying aceos.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Excellent lens. Great work - this took a lot of work.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Thank you, Artyfax. I added you to my lensroll. I am now aware of one more feature of Squidoo.

      New to Squidoo, Sherry

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I found your pictures and examples helpful. Good lens.

    • profile image

      Shellrose 10 years ago

      WOW, Great lens!

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 10 years ago

      Very nice lens here!

      Thank you for the kind mention. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      This is very good indeed John it must have taken you ages to compile, you've done the ACEO fraternity a great favour.

      Regards - Jim

    • profile image

      thecreatorspalette 10 years ago

      Hi! Great start here!!! Thanks for visiting my lens too!


    • mllamb46 profile image

      mllamb46 10 years ago

      Hi Artyfax, great lens! I've added you to my lensroll! :)