Monday, November 09, 2009

all about ATC (Artist Trading Cards)

 image courtesy: 
content inspiration: BusyBee2

the concept of ATCs (pocket size artist trading cards) has always intrigued me and i have often wished i could be part of the groups doing the swapping rounds in various nooks n corners of the crafty world... Have tried looking for one in our 'India' bt i guess none such exists till date(would be really glad if anyone brought any existing to our notice)...

last week when Smita took the initiative to write to us (fellow Indian crafters), my long lost desire of being a part of an ATC swap woke up again :) The talks of a challenge blog are on... in the meanwhile i thought it would be nice to explore the world of ATCs... 

am still trying to figure out the nitty grities of the entire procedure... from what i gather Rachana could be our guiding force on this... quite a lot of you have shown keen interest in starting with something similar rightaway... so here is a 'small' post just to familiarise ourselves with ATCs... have tried to compile various  informations available on the subject in a simpler coherent form... 

Please feel free to add further information and shoots questions, so that all of us together can understand the way it works better... a little ground work done now would help us sustain it longer!!! also, in case you come across anything irregular in the below post, please advise since me too am a complete beginner at this... :)

Here are few questions, have tried to collect answers for... 

What is an ATC?

An ATC is a small piece of original art work measuring 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches(6cms x 9cms), originally devised by Artists as business cards they are now swapped and collected in their own right. They are always swapped or traded, never sold. 

In a nutshell, what you would make as a bigger card, you replicate the front portion in a smaller version which is easier to handle, post and store. It's a 'mini' version of your bigger original card.

What Info do you put on the back?

On the back of your ATC you put:
1. your name
2. your blog name
3. your email address
4. the date you made the ATC
5. Title or theme of the swap
6. if there is still space left, then a small description
   of the techniques used or other info you would like
   to share with the receiver

What material to use?
ATCs are typically made on a base of card stock. However, ATCs have been created on metal, stiffened fabric, plastic, clay, leather, embroidery canvas, acetate, heavy watercolor paper, and many other materials. Various techniques are then applied to the chosen base: collage, textile arts, assemblage, digital art, calligraphy, beadwork, watercolors, rubber stamps, carved soft block stamps, pen and ink, colored pencil, airbrush, and many others. 

Please feel free to use anything and any technique(just like what you would use for your original bigger card), as long as it is able to support the decoration put on to it and is thin enough to fit into the little clear cellophane polybags called the ATC sleeves

Originally poker cards were used as the base card and decorated and embellished, this is where the 2.5 inch by 3.5 inch rule on size evolved. Some people still use playing cards as the base. or you can cut your own cards from card stock, using up scraps and off cuts or you can cut 9 ATCs from a sheet of A4 card with very little waste.

What are ATC sleeves?
ATC sleeves are the transparent/clear polybags used for fitting in the ATC before putting them in an envelope for posting. It helps in protecting your work of art from getting damaged... 

I guess clear zip lock pouches of the right size can work as well... 

What is a Themed Swap?
A Themed Swap is a swap where one person, The Hostess organises a swap and sets out the particular rules for the swap, this may be a subject, for example "Flowers" or it may be a technique for example "Collage". The Hostess also sets a deadline for when the ATCs should reach her and sets any limit on the number of participants and the number of ATCs they should send. When the deadline is reached the Hostess sends out ATCs to each participant in the swap. 

We can decide whether this time around it is a PAT(pick a theme) swap or a surprise swap(wherein each one is free to choose their topic of the ATC)!!! We can even decide on layout based swap themes for the month... the possibilities are endless...

What is a JAM SWAP?
Jam swap that is where we again are put into groups of 4 and then we each do a corner of an ATC then pass it onto next person.. so you will eventually get an ATC made up of four corners by urself and 3 other peeps..

What is a 1:1 Swap?
a 1-to-1 is where you swap with just one other person with ATC in your gallery or if you see an ATC in someone elses gallery that you like...

As Rachana suggested, every month we could decide on 1 theme n then everyone who wishes to participate has to make 3 same ATCs of the theme n send it to 2 separate people... every month we cud shuffle which 2 people people each one of us have to send to... and then everyone who participates will have 2 cards from other people(+1 of their own) as an inspiration...

So guys, please take it up from here and let's make it a success... watsay!!!


  1. I feel this is a brilliant idea.. although m a bit confused..
    temme.. is there gonna be one swap per month and is only one person allowed to send out atcs?..
    and u no to pick up a theme or sumthing, lets put up a blog.. we can easily access it.. each one of us!

  2. wow... avery interesting concept but i have the same doubts as Spardha

  3. yes, to begin with we'll have one swap per month...

    every month we could decide on 1 theme n then everyone who wishes to participate has to make 3 same ATCs of the theme n send it to 2 separate people... every month we cud shuffle which 2 people people each one of us have to send to... and then everyone who participates will have 2 cards from other people(+1 of their own) as an inspiration...

  4. This sound awesome..
    I've read with envy other blogs & traders..
    Thanks for taking the initiative Shalini.
    Please count me in

    For starters why don't you host one, If you don't mind and we can all sign up for it?

    Great idea & thanks a lot girl!

  5. Super! Glad you put it up, Shalini. I read a little about ATC before you put up this post, but was wondering if it would work out in our case. Now seeing everyone's enthusiasm, I think we are all together going to take paper crafting in India to a higher level :-)!!
    Thank you for taking the initiative! Let's carry on further discussion by email :-)


  6. I am for it , count me in for the swap

  7. Thanks Lucy! Welcome to the gang...

    just drop me an email on that way you wud be able to track further disussions going on on ATCs...


  8. hey shalini i think its cool...count me in..
    I have a doubt.. tell me .. if one person is making 3 same cards and sending out 2, the others in the group dont get to see work???.... so is this how it is suppose to be?... and its no necesaary that everyone will get a ATC... or isthere any way that each one while get some???

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  10. Hey Shalini,

    Great initiative dear..Count me in too. I always see ATC swaps in craftster and other forums, but never found any in India. Glad to know of this small start up..Let us take further, create and share.

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