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Getting Started With ATC's

Updated on June 21, 2007

By: Jaclyn Popola

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are small, miniature works of art measuring 2.5" X 3.5" that are traded among friends and/or sold via the Internet. They are unique works of art, usually signed, dated and titled on the back by the artist who created them. The only rule is their 2.5" x 3.5" size; all other elements are left to the discretion of the creator. Any media may be used to create these miniatures. The bases can range from paper, plastic, metal, clay, wood or leather. I personally use standard playing cards as bases because they are the perfect size and create a sturdy foundation for the ephemera I add. The actual art that is placed on the cards can be made by using virtually anything: watercolor, acrylic or oil paints, glitter, beads, photographs, vintage reprints, rubber stamps, pen and ink, colored pencils, dominoes, swirly wire, metal charms, chipboard, ribbon, fibers and much, much more.

If one is to follow the code of conduct exactly as intended for the making of ATCs, she would not sell them under any circumstances. They are meant solely to be traded back and forth among other artists in the ATC community. Technically speaking, if you do want to buy and sell these tiny works of art, you would partake in an offshoot of ATCs known as ACEOs (art card editions and originals). ACEOs were created with the specific intent to be bought and sold, in addition to be traded.

Ebay is one place where the buying and selling of ATCs runs rampant, along with, Ebay's arts and crafts counterpart. EBay in particular comes complete with groups such as ATC & ACEO Enthusiasts and ATC: Generation 2, where artists can discuss tips and techniques for creating the cards as well as tactics for making sure they sell. The two main types of ATCs and ACEOs are 1.) paintings/drawings and 2.) altered art. Most ATCs are one-dimensional pieces serving as a tiny canvas for a small watercolor or oil painting, whereas others are mini altered art productions created using a variety of mixed media, to form three-dimensional creations that pop off the paper.



When I discovered the art of ATCs and ACEOs, I was quickly enamored. They were fun to make, easy to trade or sell, quick to ship and not too difficult to store and organize. Before long, I was creating my own ATC series--a series is a set of 9 cards that go together, whereas a set is a group of 3.




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    • becauseilive profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from N.J.

      Hey Melanie, thanks for the comment! I LOVE the idea of storing ATCs in a crayon box. I never thought of that, but it's a great idea. Thanks!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great job of explaining ATCs and ACEOs! I just love these! I am a teacher and I have my students to create ATCs for trading with each other. They LOVE them! Loads of fun and they fit nicely into crayon boxes you would normally toss. Great storage!


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