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Sarah Fishburn



It's a rare person who isn't enamored of tiny things.  Artist trading cards or ATCs are 2 ½ x 3 ½ inch miniatures. Collage, watercolor, beading, photography, pen and ink, mixed media with found elements, and stitcheries are a few techniques frequently found on ATCs. While generally worked onto a base of card stock, they may be found on any number of additional substrates --- metal, fabric, wood, watercolor paper, and more.
The back of the card usually includes the artist's signature, date created, and sometimes a number (if the card is part of an edition or series),and title.

Produced as single originals, in a series, or as limited editions the basic rules for an ATC are:
1. The dimensions of the card are
2.5 x 3.5 inches (64 x 89 mm)

2. The cards are traded, never sold. (Cards of that size which are sold are known as "art card editions and originals"(ACEO).
3. The artist of the cards signs and dates it, and numbers them if they're part of an edition. Contact information goes on the back.If the card is created for an organized swap, it is common for people to add the name and date of the swap and/or swap host.

For artists both starving and well-fed who want to amass a collection of other artists' work --- whether large or small, for fun or inspiration --- ATCs are an excellent method. They can be displayed on easels, in frames, on plates or in boxes, sorted precisely in notebooks or strewn across a table.  Often more quickly created than their larger cousins on canvas and art board, most artists find that extremely satisfying!

An excellent guide for beginners in the wide world of ATCs, with plenty of resource material and extras for advanced ATCers, Bernie Berlin's book Artist Trading Card Workshop offers a plethora of techniques along with a swell gallery of some of the coolest ATCs out there.


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Trina wears her wampum beads
She fills her drawing book with line
Sewing lace on widows' weeds
And filigree on leaf and vine
Vine and leaf are filigree
And her coat's a secondhand one
Trimmed in antique luxury
She is a lady of the canyon.


Joni Mitchell

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