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Friday, February 11, 2011

ATCs, ACEOs, LTCs, but No SUVs

Rainbow Bridge Cat ATC cards by graphic designer Tally Yee.

ATC is the acronym for Artist Trading Cards.  They are miniature works of art meant for trading and are about the size of a baseball trading card so they can fit in the standard card-collector sleeves or sheets.  Any media can be used to create them, including collage, papercutting, found objects, metals, or cloth.  They are intended to be traded or given away rather than sold.

"Artist License" is configured like a driver's license, and even has a
lenticular seal and a signature.  Each is laminated and has grommeted
holes so the artist can wear it on a chain.  By graphic designer Tally Yee.

The movement is credited to M. Vänçi Stirnemann, who began holding trading sessions in Zurich, Switzerland.  The cards must be original works, made in very limited editions, and self-produced.  The object of trading is to meet other artists face-to-face, whether it is at organized trading sessions or a planned meeting. Most people involved in the movement stress the personal interaction, although trading by mail and online is acceptable.  There are sites where you can post your work and see others' ATCs.  It is not about money, so there is no charge.

"Quentin Crisp" by joytotheblog.

Because of the popularity of ATCs an offshoot has developed, called ACEO - Art Cards, Editions, and Originals.  ACEOs originated when a group of artists began to create cards to sell, as well as trade among themselves.  Some people think that ACEOs and ATCS are one and the same, however most make the distinction that the selling of ACEOs puts them into their own category.

"Orchid and Oak" ACEO by Roberta Stroud Vaughan.

One of the foremost artists working with ACEOs is Mike Leavitt, a Seattle-based artist.  In the early 2000s, he hand-painted small portraits of artists, both famous and little-known.  He did four complete sets of forty-five cards each.  They were printed in limited editions and packaged with bubble gum.  He personally sold them and exhibited them as art pieces.  Unlike mass-produced trading cards, this art was drawn to size, not shrunk from a large original.  He collaborated with a media advocacy group called Reclaim the Media to create a set of Media Heros trading cards, which the group uses for fundraising and educational purposes.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Letterboxing is a hobby that combines art, orienteering, and puzzle solving.  A letterboxer will leave a small, waterproof box with a notebook and a rubber stamp inside in a hidden but publicly accessible place.  Then s/he will leave clues to its location on websites, printed catalogs, or give them orally.  When someone finds a letterbox they will stamp the notebook with their own stamp, then take the stamp from the box and stamp their own notebook.  Notebooks are carefully kept and each find logged.  

A simple plastic container will suffice for a letterbox.  The clues
should contain info like under a rock, some leaves, or in a tree hollow.

LTCs, Letterboxer Trading Cards, are another variant of ATCs.  These are made by letterboxers for trade with other letterboxers.  An LTC must include a stamped image.  As in the stamps used for letterboxing, a hand-carved stamp is preferred. Other media can be used, as long as the stamp is part of the art.

"Time Flies" ATC by CynthiaSillitoe.

Another variant is OATS - the Original Art Trading Society.  The Hanna family started this in 2003, and membership into the society is by way of trading with a member of the Hanna family or an extended member, or a Special Friend member. These cards are created on 3" x 4" index cards and they are made to be traded only to a member.

This is a unique and exciting scene to get involved in.  Not only will you sharpen your own skills, but you will meet people from all over the world.  Just looking at other artists' work can be inspirational, and other than size, the sky's the limit.  The following are some more examples of ATCs from the ATCs For All website (listed below):

Artist:  gbennett1989
Artist:  Gemini 50
Artist:  Pochadiva
Artist:  joytotheblog
If you are interested in more information, here are some websites you might like.