What are ATC’s?
Artists’ Trading Cards, or ATC’s, are small pieces of art work that are traded in the same fashion as the more well known types of trading cards, such as sports cards or children’s TV characters. They are self-produced originals, limited editions or small series that artists use to trade with other artists.
Where does the concept come from?
Although miniature art cards have been around since the 16th century, the modern ATC movement came out of Zurich, Switzerland, in 1996 and has been credited to Swiss artist M. Vänçi Stirnemann. He created 1,200 cards as part of his exhibition at the gallery in his Zurich bookshop. At the end of the event he invited other artists to create their own miniature pieces of art to then trade with the cards he had created. With the many international artists that took part in this initial swap, the concept was quickly spread across the globe and took off and today ATC’s are traded through swap sessions or through the internet.
What are the rules?
The rules are simple. The cards can be of any type of paper or card, but they have to be 2.5”x3.5” (64mmx89mm). They must be traded for other cards and can never be sold. Must be signed and dated on the back and must be flat enough to fit into a standard plastic card trading sleeve.
How are they traded?
ATC’s are intended to be swapped between artists who meet in person, most commonly during trading sessions or swap meetings. These happen continuously in many cities around the world. There is no one location to find information about trading sessions, but a good start is to search for ATC trading sessions in Google for your local city. There are no rules for who can set up a swap, so if you cannot find one locally why not have an event of your own? However, more recently it has become more and more popular to not only use the internet to set up face to face swaps, but to also swap through the internet via online trading groups.
What type of artist do I have to be to participate?
The reason for this movement’s success is that it is open to absolutely everyone, and there are no limitations to what type of media is used or the style of the small piece of art. The attraction for many is that it is an easy and quirky way to share their art with others without necessarily receiving comments or critique from others.