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ATC's with a difference

Updated on January 8, 2015

Artist Trading Cards That Offer Something Extra

Many artists take the creation of artist trading cards a little further than the basic rectangular shape, which is specifically 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size. The so-called ultra-atc's are still made to be within this size requirement but may have a different geometry. Folding cards are common, a hinged crease down the centre or two folded sides, the art card when folded will adhere to the size format.

The card may take the form of an arch or a jigsaw puzzle piece. The card may be part of a set froming a diptych or even a triptych. There are many possibilities to stretch an artists creativity.

I first came across this term in a book by Berni Berlin, and in this page I hope to show some of the ultra-cards which I have made myself to demonstrate the concept of the ultra-ATC. Many of these ideas can be seen in Berni Berlin's book (see side panel) however the concepts can be seen from many artists. The image here is a digital image created by myself as part of a challenge to make an ATC based on the concept of an Icon. The outside of the card was simply a wood texture to keep it very simple.

I will be adding further examples in the near future, please treat this as a work-in-progress.

Return to the main page, Making Artist Trading Cards

All images are either my own work or are posted here by permission of the original artist. All rights reserved by the original artist.

folding atc skeleton
folding atc skeleton

Making "Ultra" Artist Trading Cards

Artist Trading Cards With A Difference

It is quite possible to use a little creativity to remain within the rules for making ATC's. For example a special shape, or the card could be hinged (or folded) to give the ATC size when closed. See the photo here. This gives the artist a little more space to work with, although there is obviously still a size restriction. You can see the fold in the photo and the front and back of the card are shown below.

The fold could be as shown or have half the width of the card on either side, rather like two doors which meet down the centre line of the card. It is of course possible to have these two halves opening horizontally and I have seen this utilised to look like a cracked egg. In which case the dividing line was a zig-zag across the card. One or both halves can be opened.

It is possible to have windows in the closing parts of the card. In fact you have probably seen many options used on ordinary greeting cards - there is no reason that you cannot utilise these ideas.

The front and back of the card shown in the above photo are given here:-

The ribbon holds the two halves together when the card is closed.

Making Shaped Artist Trading Cards - 1

Arch Shaped Artist Trading Cards And Tags

There is one shape, the arch, that is used by many artists; and groups often include challenges for this particular shape. The "Gothic Arch" is a specific sub-gendre which is seen very often.

If you are interested in seeing more examples there is a PDF document available (not by me) which has 86 pages of examples and information about craft projects using gothic arches. ATC's are well catered for.

The example shown here is a very simple arch, basically a tag within the size format of the artist trading card which I created for a challenge in 2008.

Are You A Fan Of Ultra-ATC's?

It may seem difficult but it is no more of a problem to make these shaped cards than it is to make the basic rectangular art cards. Some shapes may call for a little extra creativity but that's all part of the fun.

Have you ever made what you could call an ultra-ATC?

See results

Making Shaped Artist Trading Cards - 2

Altered Jigsaw Puzzle Shapes

One of my favourite shapes within the size format is jigsaw shaped ATC's, I actually do these from very small ( 1 x 1 inch) pieces to floor sized puzzles ( 4 x 6 inches) and they do provide an interesting challenge for the artist. A selection can be seen on Flickr which shows how the jigsaw piece can be used in many ways including as part of the overall design.

This is one that I did about three years ago for a challenge, and was probably my introduction to this complex shape.

If this is starting to put you off having a go at making artist trading cards, don't worry! The vast majority of art cards are simple rectangular shapes, sized as above to 2.5 x 3.5 inches

ATC Diptych
ATC Diptych

Artist Trading Cards Made As A Diptych

Or A Triptych, Perhaps.

This image is of a pair of ATC cards which were intended to be displayed together. Although ATC's are often made in a series, there is less of this sort of presentation. It offers scope for an artist to creatively expand the amount of space available for use in an ATC. Of course this concept could be extended to for a group of any number of cards. I imagine that two (diptych) or three ( tryptich) would be the most likely numbers.

An example of a triptych is this set, called Daunting Darlings:-

However if you know of more cards being used in this way please let me know. I would love to see an artwork where several ATC's are made to be displayed together, with the image being carried across all of the cards. In fact I might just consider doing one myself. Watch this space!

ATC created with a doorway
ATC created with a doorway

Artist Trading Cards With Doors That Open

I do not usually use unfinished artwork to illustrate a point but I do not seem to have any examples of this from my own work. This does however show the principle. The first image shows how the card would look with the doors closed. This is actually made with a pair of centrally opening doors. I have used ephemera connected to travel and laid this across the opening.

The second image is of the same card with the doors open

There should be a lot more decoration on this card to finsh it off properly, and I now feel that I should do this. I will include the completed card as soon as possible. There are many ways of incorporating a doorway in a card such as this but the idea is always the same. You are trying to entice the viewer into opening the door to see what lies beyond. Make it worth their while!

Artist Trading Cards With Drawers That Open

Room For A Little Surprise

Extending the theme of opening something to give the viewer a surprise ( a nice one I hope!), what about the idea of ATC's with drawers which could hold a little surprise. I found these images on Flickr from mixed media artist couleurdarcenciel, see her photostream.

An ATC with one drawer:

An ATC with two drawers:

No matter how well you think that you may a subject there is always someone who comes along with a new and creative idea, thank you Béatrice.

photos by permission of the artist

mini atc book album
mini atc book album

A Mini-Book Of ATC's

A Delightful Storage system perhaps

This is a wonderfully neat idea which I have recently seen from a friend Tee .The idea is to create a very small book form with pockets for two ATC's on the inside pages. I would imagine that you could possibly make such a book with more than one pair of pockets but then I think it would become a storage or display system and I would be writing about it on another page. The next photo shows the album closed, I am sure that you will agree it is a different approach.

photos by permission of the artist

lake district yachts atc
lake district yachts atc

Painted ATC Sized Canvases

Acrylic Art

I have recently been enjoying painting miniature canvases, atc sized art works each with their own little easle.

Here is a shot of a pair of these canvasses standing side by side upon their easles, on my lap top computer to give you an idea of their size. I hhope to be doing many more but having problems with supply of these canvasses unfortunately.

I have used acrylic paint as a change from my usually watercolour and pastel, but a change is as good as a rest. The only question is whether I can sell any on Ebay - watch this space!

Lots of artists creating ATC's like the concepy because they are quick and simple to make. But if you would like to be stretched just a little creatively then maybe ultra-atc's are something you might like to consider. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Or maybe you would just like to say hello, that's cool. I love to know who is reading my pages.

What Do You Think Of The concept Of Ultra-ATC's? - Share Your Thoughts With Us

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This does look like a fun arts and crafts project for creative people.

      Thanks for sharing so many great ideas. :)

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 4 years ago

      I love the idea. I might try making one and see if I like doing it. I love to draw and paint but I've never considered myself an artist.

    • Caromite profile image

      Caromite 5 years ago

      I didn't know this kind of Artist Trading Cards got a special name. I'm a little bit wiser now :)

      I've made a few Ultra-ATCs, ATCs with doors (I wrote a lens about them) and a pop-up card.