The art of trading
Magazines - Issue 03 (Oct 2007) (Public)
Monday, 01 October 2007 20:00

Fancy a smaller canvas to create beautiful art works on? ATC cards are the hottest and trendiest little masterpieces around town. Benice Basson shares some tips on how you too can get hooked on this art form.

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You Are Special ATC Pack by Benice Basson (Photo 1)
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You Are Special ATC Pack by Benice Basson (Photo 2)

You Are Special ATC Pack by Benice Basson
Benice created an elegant jumbo matchbox to store her quartet of ATC cards in. This means that she created four cards with the same theme. A clever idea she used is to number her cards from 1-4 using buttons. She placed one button on card one, and four buttons on card four.

2007 Marks the 10th birthday of the modern version of the Artist Trading Card. In 1997 M. Vanci Stirnemann, a performing artist in Switzerland, decided to create 1200 miniature works of art to promote an exhibition in his book store. Anyone interested in these cards, were told to come back with one of their own miniature creations to trade. This has evolved to such a degree that crafters worldwide are now even using them as calling cards.

There are not many rules, but the few that exist can be derived from the name:
  • Artist – No rules!! Anyone that can use a pair of scissors, paintbrush or any other "craft weapon of choice", can make them. Maybe it should be called Crafter's Trading Cards... It is however, expected that the artists/creators of the cards include their name and contact details on the back of the card, together with the ATC's title, creation date and number or edition.
  • Trading – Cards may NOT be sold, and can only be traded. As with most things in life, certain cards are and will be more collectable than others.
  • Card – The standard size of ATCs are 2½ inches wide by 3½ inches tall (64mm x 89mm). Due to the possibility that your card will be mailed (even internationally) it is advisable that you use a very sturdy "foundation" for your work of art. Some artists even make special pockets or holders for their cards.

One-of-a-kind ATCs are called originals; identical ATCs are called editions and numbered (7 of 17). Different ATCs based on a similar theme are called a series.

ATCs can be traded worldwide (via the internet), but nowadays most cities have face-to-face trade sessions or swaps. We are interested to find out how many such ATC communities already exist in South Africa. You are most welcome to contact the editor via email, providing us with information on your group. Those that are interested in joining such a group can also drop us a line. Examples of your ATCs, and any interesting stories relating to these miniature works of art may be submitted for possible future publication. Those of you that would like to give paper based ATCs a try, may find Cheryl Husmann's "Rule of thirds" useful.

The rule of thirds
  • 1 Main focal image.
  • 2 Background paper.
  • 3 Tiny embellishments.
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You Are Special ATC Pack by Benice Basson (Photo 3)

ATC cards should be marked on the back with a specially designed plaque for your personal information. It must at the very least include the title, date, artist, edition or series and contact details.

This article is an online reproduction of page 14-15 of imagine magazine issue 3 (October 2007) as released by Studio J Media. The original magazine can be ordered in printed form directly from them on their website. Information shared in this article is deemed correct at the time the original magazine was released and may have become outdated or products referred to unavailable. For the sake of reference the publish date of this online article on our site is the date the original publication was released and times are for internal sorting purposes only.