ATC 101

Art or Artist Trading Cards

Stamped Art Trading Cards (Tutorial/Layout) , ATCs/atc are a convenient little size of a sport trading card the kids collect, a mere 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches. Size is everything and must be exact to collectors of these little artistic gems. They are very easy to make and you can get 10 cards out of one sheet of cardstock, making them economical. They are fast and fun also and give you a good reason to use all of your tiny stamps (and your paper cutter), scraps, and to share a sample of a technique.

Art or Artist Trading Cards are swapped in person or by mail worldwide and not sold, however, there is a group movement to sell them, you can find some on eBay. These are known as ACEOs (Art Card Editions and Originals = one original design, or one original design in a limited number editions).

Start a collection and store them in the same collection pages the kids use for their sports cards. You can find these at Wal-Mart, KMart, or any office supply or hobby shop for about 20 cents a piece for basic to a bit more for something more sturdy in thickness. Look in the stationary/office supply section.

Swaps are typically 10 ATC/atcs for 9 (the hostess keeps one). This makes the page storage very convenient as one page holds 9 cards. You can also use trading card sleeves where you display one or two cards at a time (one card the back is showing, two cards, only you see the fronts of them and they are back to back).

Individual swapping is also done — some people will request, others have albums up that have their swap items pictured and takers come along, email the artist and a trade is made.

Heavily embellished ATCs can be stored in special plastic card boxes you can get at the Sports Card Trading or Hobby shop.

Other ideas for storage or display: add a magnet to the back, use the post-it-note glue for a temporary tack up, or use one of those inexpensive photo albums to keep “art on the go” with you always.

Another idea is to use TCs in place of convention pins. Certainly if you have a website or business, you can add the URL right on the back of it!

They can also be used as business cards.

A few common questions:

1. Do you stamp on both sides of a card, or just one?

Usually people do one side and on the back side, list their stamp credits and email address and any special tech they use. (see Signing Your Masterpieces)

ATCs can also be hand drawn art, collaged or digital images.
ATC sizes also are great to try new art/stamping techniques!

2. Is the art work done horizontally (along the 3.5 axis of the card = landscape), or vertically (2.5 axis of the card = portrait), or does it matter?

Either way, portrait or landscape is fine.

3. Is there some common limit to how *thick* a card can be when you’re finished with it considering many people keep their cards in clear plastic collector’s sleeves, so making them *too* thick or bulky with embellishments, is probably not appreciated. What about pop-ups, cut outs, layered collage work with tags and postcards, ideas on a smaller scale, but not if people don’t like receiving bulkier cards.

Not too thick (like mat board, some people have used chip board to hold collaged TCs not to weight them down) or else they will be tight in the album pages (like what kids keep their sports card collection in 9 to a page). Too much embellishment may be a problem but some are ok.
Mechanical TCs and layering (like small tags) are fine also.

Mailing ATCs

When you mail out, make sure you use a good sized envelope for both sending and receiving. Keep in mind, that on the return, you may receive bulkier TCs and your envelope is too small or you do not have enough postage.

I suggest the following from my own experience as a hostess and a participant.

1. Place your TCs in a ziplock bag with your name and address attached to the bag to help the hostess out. (lots of participants = lots of ATCs! @ 10 a piece!). Add a piece of cardboard (recycle a piece of corrugated) to prevent bending.

2. Use a padded envelope. This can be recycled on the return. 6 by 9 or 5 x 7 are good sizes. You can also place them on the cardboard and wrap them in bubble wrap then place in a non padded envelope of the same size as mentioned above.

3. On average, most ATC swaps weigh between 2 oz and 3 oz. When enclosing stamps, use a first class stamp then add 2 or 3 additional oz cents stamps in. It is a good idea to put your name on the back of the stamps or staple them to some scrap cs with your name on them. Most hostesses return the unused postage. I usually put all the extra postage in the ziplock bag on the return after I using my postal scale then sealing up the bags.

There have been times when I have swapped out that I find I have to do lots of switching to accomodate too small envelopes. This reduces the quality of the return result mix back to you. Keep this information in mind.

ATC Cutting Guide for 8 1/2 x 11 inch or 12 x 12 cardstock

ATCforAll — a message board and swapping site — must be a member to participate.  Check out the gallery for inspiration.