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Scrapbooking Trends: What Are Artist Trading Cards?

May 15, 2008
In the scrapbooking industry, artist trading cards (or ATC's) are becoming more popular as trendsetting companies like 7 Gypsies release more ATC supplies and holders. These miniature pieces of art, or in the case of scrapbookers, mini page layouts, are as much fun to trade and collect as they are to create. There are few rules and limits on artist trading cards, and they are quick to make and adapt to scrapbooking materials.

The only strict requirement for artist trading cards is their size. The standard is 2.5" x 3.5". This is based on the size of sport trading cards and collectible card games like Pokemon and Magic. The orientation for your design can be either vertical or horizontal. You can use any medium you like, paint, paper, pencil, watercolor, pen and ink. Digital media and collage are very common. Any materials used on a scrapbooking page can be used on an artist trading card. Modern interest in these cards began around 1997 in Zurich, Switzerland. M. Vanci Stirnemann, a Swiss artist, is credited with popularizing ATC's by starting trading sessions. However, we can trace miniature art back to Impressionist era artists who used business cards showing a sample of their work.

One expectation of artist trading cards is that they should not be sold, but traded or shared. They are usually original works or made in limited editions. This may be one reason why they have gained such popularity with today's scrapbookers. They are a perfect item for scrapbooking swaps. Online message boards have special sections just for swaps. One scrapbooker usually organizes the swaps and then opens it up for others to participate. Each member of the swap creates an ATC and then makes enough for each member in the group. They sign their name, contact information, title of the ATC, and the number of the card if it is part of an edition. At the end of the swap, everyone has a collection of different artist trading cards.

Swaps and limited editions are often created around themes. Some popular artist trading card themes are animals, seasons, quotes and holidays. In some cases, the theme may be defined by the medium used. For example, you may have a digital media theme or a collage theme. In fact almost any theme used for scrapbooking circle journals could be used for an ATC swap as well. Creating an artist trading card follows the same design principles as a scrapbooking page, only on a smaller scale. You will need a focal point, background and an embellishment or two. Arrange your card first, and then adhere it to the card. Remember to sign the back.

Once you have a collection of artist trading cards, you will want to store them or display them. You can easily store them in the plastic sleeves meant for sports trading cards. A small decorative box also makes a good container, especially if it is archival safe. You may want to purchase an ATC holder to display your cards. These specially designed holders look like a rolodex. They are available from a few manufacturers and can be found in either a vertical or horizontal format.

Artist trading cards are only limited by your imagination. They are a perfect opportunity to try a new scrapbooking technique on a small scale. Gather a few scrapbooking friends and start an artist trading card swap today.
About the Author
Christine Perry is an avid scrapbooker and has over 10 years of scrapbooking experience. Her favorite scrapbooking subjects are her reluctant teenagers. She invites you to her website, http://www.intoscrapbooking.com for more scrapbooking tips and information on scrapbooking forums .
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