WHAT ARE Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs)

Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs) are miniature works of art about the same size as modern trading baseball cards which is 2.5 by 3.5 inches and can be vertical or horizontal … OR … small enough to fit inside the 9 pocket standard card-collector holders.


 M. Vänçi Stirnemann is credited in many circles with popularizing the modern artist trading card in 1996, holding trading sessions in Zurich, Switzerland. It’s an interesting ‘start.’ The ATC movement originated in Switzerland. The cards are usually traded or exchanged. They are not supposed to be sold. When sold, they are usually referred to as art card editions and originals (ACEOs).


  1. To start have a blank cardstock, watercolor paper, etc which is 2.5 by 3.5 inches (vertical or horizontal)
  2. The cards be produced in various media
    • dry media (pencils, pens, markers, etc.),
    • wet media (watercolor, acrylic paints, etc.),
    • paper media (in the form of collage, papercuts, found objects, stickers, etc.) …
    • even metals or fiber.
  3. What to put on it?
    1. How about you start with
      • Your favorite color
      • a number
      • a letter
      • animals/birds/bugs or nature
      • your neighborhood
      • your family
      • your friends
      • Zoom’ing with family
      • bedtime story
      • a memory
      • something old, something lovely, something funny, something cute
      • a chair
    2. Now take one or all of these ideas and mix it up and with available art supplies.
    3. Have fun creating your card i.e. illustrate a found word, make it have a fold out part and more. Get inspiration from our resources section
  4. The main thing is HAVE FUN AND make sure it will FIT inside that card protector completely. 

Here are some ideas from Carole Dwinell who has been leading our ATC make and take class at every Book Arts Jam.

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