Artist trading cards, or ATCs, are more than works of art in themselves - they are sparks to a whole new world of creativity.
Just like fans might collect baseball, magic or cigarette cards, art appreciators collect art cards featuring their favorite artist's work. Sometimes, rather than collecting just one artist, collectors will concentrate on a particular subject, eg wedding cakes, dogs, landscapes, fantasy worlds - the range is as limitless as your imagination.
Originally, ATCs were created by artists who traded these small works of art with each other. Then 'art cards, editions and originals'(ACEOs) were created to be sold to collectors rather than just traded by artists.
The official standard size of an art card is 2.5" x 3.5" (64 x 89 mm) - any card that is a different size is not considered to be an ATC or ACEO. These art cards fit into the clear plastic sleeves that are used for baseball cards, and they fit all the other things made for them, too, eg, the pages of pockets, albums and little frames.
ATCs can be original artwork, or prints. They can be made from collage, photographs, eggshell mosaics, fabric, pasta, glass, polymer clay - you name it - you can make an art card from it. They can be painted in ink, watercolor, oil, acrylics, poster paints - painted with brushes or fingers! And they can be in any style.
These cards are bought, sold and traded globally - trading them is such a brilliant way to meet (in real life, or online) other people with similar interests in any country in the world, whether you are nine years old or ninety.
What do you actually do with them once you've got them? Well, you can trade your art cards for other artist cards or keep them in their collectors' sleeves or pages, or frame them up as an unusual and unique art collection. Some people put them in clip frames and hang them where they work, so that they can change their own personal art exhibition on a regular basis. You can make slits in a plain greetings card and insert an artist card into it to give as a lovely and generous present of art to some lucky person.
This is a cheap, popular, rapidly-growing trend in art collecting. Having said it's cheap - if you get an artist's work now that is growing in popularity, you might find that in a few years' time you have something worth quite a bit of money.
Looking through your own collection of art cards (however big or small) can spark your own creativity just as much as a visit to your local museum or art gallery.
Tomorrow I will post an article about creating your own ATCs and I will tell you about the first art card I ever made for myself and how it remains a constant help to my creativity - maybe a similar one could do the same for you.