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MSA Forum Artist Trading Card Swap

Shelby18Shelby18 Posts: 551Member
Hullo to all artists, all yearning-to-be artists, all who might want to play with art supplies!

Last summer, @Ann started a discussion about Artist Trading Cards (henceforth to be shortened to ATCs; you are welcome.) She wanted to know if anyone collected or swapped them. @Nyx, @DarCo, @Mariek, @Origami99 and @Brandi1441Marie all expressed interest or curiosity of one kind or another. I said I'd write up an invitation to participate in an ATC swap here on the MSA forum. Then September happened and life handed me one of those really big distractions that redirect one's focus for a while. Now that we are past that, I'd like to host an ATC swap here and see how it goes.

ATCs are small works of handmade art that are then traded amongst each other. They are the size of a trading or playing card - 2.5" x 3.5" (6.35 cm x 8.9 cm). You can make them in any medium you want; they are at heart a visual form of art, but you can incorporate words, textures, found objects, ephemera...whatever you can fit on the card. (They are not really good for much vertical depth, though - they are still, at heart, a mostly flat trading card.) They were originally conceived as a massive public collaborative art project a couple of decades ago and are now made and traded all over the world. Here are a couple of websites I have found helpful/informative/inspirational:

Making ATCs is a come one, come all kind of activity. You do not need to identify as an artist to make them or participate in swaps. You naturally want to submit some of your best work to swaps, but that is "best work" defined by where you currently are in your exploration of ATCs and artistic expression. Art is very subjective, after all. Some of my favorite ATCs in my collection have come from children and from folks who are just putting a tentative toe into the whole thing. So, put your self-censoring voice to bed and come join the fun!

Here's how I propose our first swap work:

1. The swap organizer announces the theme and type of swap it is, as well as the deadlines. I'm going to keep this first one super simple. The theme is Beauty and this will be a 3:3 swap. That means you make three cards (either each unique or some or all duplicates - each one is still handmade, but you make 2 or 3 alike.) You will get three different cards from three different artists in return. Deadlines are in the recap at the bottom of this post. The theme can be very, very broadly interpreted. It should act as a creative springboard, not an albatross around one's creative neck.

2. You sign up. For this first one, I'm going to limit it to one set of cards each, just to keep it simple and uncomplicated. To sign up, you reply to the swap post and state clearly that you are going to participate.

3. You start making cards. You will make some you love - I keep many of the ones I make. You will make some you don't like - you are free to throw ATCs that you make and don't like away, but please remember that one person's dross is another person's gold. That said, please do look at the info at the bottom of this post about sub-par cards.

4. By the deadline, you send the swap organizer (me, this time) your three cards for the swap, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) so that I can send you your three swapped cards. If you find yourself unable to meet the deadline, please let me know as soon as you can. It's ok to drop out of a swap. It is best not to drop out of a swap after the deadline, but life is what life is.

5. I then take all the submissions, parcel them out, and mail them to you. You receive them, squeal with delight, and get all inspired to make more ATCs.

To recap:

SWAP HOST: Shelby18
DEADLINE: All submissions for this swap must be mailed by FEBRUARY 21, 2018. If you are international (outside the US), you are welcome to participate. Your SASE postage needs to be useable in the US, since that's where I'm mailing things from. You will also have to mail things sooner, so that I get them by February 25, when I will be sorting cards and mailing them back out again.
RSVP NO LATER THAN: Friday, JANUARY 26, 2018, at 11 pm. If you miss this one, you can sign up for the next one, if this takes off and there is a next one.

A note on sub-par cards: (I copied this directly from because it is well-written)

While art is subjective, the quality of craftsmanship and materials used are important when trading with others. Examples of ‘Sub-par’ works are:
  • Collaged elements falling off/poorly glued/glue showing
  • Cards of the wrong size
  • Computer print outs Not made by the ATC maker and poorly drawn over
  • Cards created with little to no thought (i.e. a sticker or rubber stamped image on a plain piece of cardboard with little to no extra effort
  • Scribbles on a plain piece of paper
Sub-par cards/items are not acceptable for trading and may be returned to the owner at the discretion of the swap organizer.

Please do ask any questions you want to here. I will answer as best I can, and perhaps other ATCers will weigh in as well. I'm by no means an expert.


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