It's amazing how you can rock along with your normal routine life and suddenly stumble on something that you didn't know existed. The internet, of course, is a fantastic place to stumble on new things. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, I've recently fallen into the world of Artist Trading Cards. And believe me - it's a well populated world. There are enough websites and YouTube videos about Artist Trading Cards to keep you busy for hours on end. There are websites that facilitate the trading of ATCs. There are websites that sell ATC supplies - boxes and albums for storage, plastic sleeves for protection, and rotating stands for displaying.
The only firm rules about Artist Trading Cards - often referred to as ATCs - is that they must be 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches and must be traded, not sold. (There's a way around the "not sold" rule - more about that later.) Any medium can be used to create an ATC - paint, ink, chalk, colored pencils, rubber stamps, collage elements, etc. Some ATCs are made of fabric and stitching. Some have three dimensional features.
I had lots of fun this morning creating the ATC pictured above. The lighthouse scene is a rubber stamped image that I colored with watercolor pencils. The sky was "painted" by dabbing a sponge on a blue rubber stamp pad and then dabbing the sponge lightly onto the sky area. The water at the bottom of the card is a torn piece of aqua-colored paper. The torn, ragged edge of the paper conveniently looks like surf pounding the rocks at the base of the lighthouse. The pretty young miss was cut from the glossy cover of a mail-order catalog and glued onto the card with a glue stick. I wasn't happy that the young lady was glossy and the rest of the card wasn't. I remedied this by using a small artist brush to apply a thin coat of matte gel medium to the dear girl. I'm pleased with the result. As Dee Gruenig, the queen of rubber stamping, often says about her own creations, "It's so cute, I can hardly stand it!" Is it really art? I don't know, but it sure is fun!
I've created four or five ATCs in the last two weeks. I have to confess that I like them so much, I'm not sure I want to part with them. They may never be traded. I've ordered a couple of ATC boxes for storing my creations. Maybe when I've made enough of them, I'll be willing to part with some of them. I think the only reason great artists are able to part with their work is that they are confident they can produce more good work. When you're an iffy artist like I am, you're never sure you can pull it off again.
Now, back to the "not sold" rule. It appears to me that if you want to sell your little works of art, you just call them ACEOs. I'll bet you didn't know there's a whole 'nother world of ACEOs - Art Card Editions & Originals. There's brisk commerce in the ACEO world - just search for ACEOs on E-Bay and you'll see what I mean.
Whether you call them ATCs or ACEOs, creating these little works of art is a lot of fun. It's an inexpensive hobby, requiring few supplies. If you're on a tight budget, you can cut your cards from cereal boxes. If you want your cards to be a little more sophisticated, 100# Bristol board is perfect. It's sold in tablets at Michael's and Hobby Lobby and is not too expensive. Old magazines and catalogs are great sources for collage elements.
One of the best features of this hobby is that an ATC is a small project that can be completed in one sitting. And I imagine if I ever decide to trade some of my ATCs, I will probably make some new friends.