Make an ATC - Artist Trading Cards

One of the little joys in life is giving (and receiving) small gifts, cards, and tokens from friends, children, and sometimes strangers. I discovered the delightful world of ATCs a few years ago and I love these small pieces of art that bring a little happiness whenever they are exchanged. 

ATCs are 212 by 312 inch cards, relatively the same size as playing cards or baseball cards. You can actually use a deck of cards to make ATCs easily without having to cut them to size. Another source of cards can be old artwork cut from watercolor paper or greeting cards from Christmas and birthdays. The paper should be sturdy and at least as thick as card stock as a base. 

When I make ATCs I like to begin with a good number of cards so I can make a lot of card bases at once. I can decorate and add details later. That way I can do a few at time when I want to paint and play for a few minutes or all day.  

Cover your work space with wax paper, a plastic trash bag, or a large sheet of blank newsprint/paper. Start out by applying gesso to the cards on one side and let dry. You can speed up the process by using a dryer on a low setting.  Once dry, turn the cards and gesso the opposite side and let dry. 

Next, cover the blanks with paint, decorative paper, print pages from books or magazine images as backgrounds. On these particular ATCs I used paint as a base. Once dry, embellish with markers, glitter, stickers or whatever art and craft supplies you may have. You can finish with a coat of gel medium, Mod Podge, or watered down Elmer's glue to finish if so desired. 

The possibilities are endless and you can use up lots of small pieces that you keep from the end of other projects. Once the front side of your ATC is dry, you can do the same on the opposite side or a totally different approach. I like to use the other side to clip and paste quotes, fortune cookie papers, text cut from old books, whatever I may find interesting. 

This is a fun way to send a personal momento vs. store bought greeting cards, leave behind a piece of abandoned art, send a thank you or give to someone as a pay it forward gift. There are also ATC Trades in groups on yahoo and facebook if you'd like to find some other artists to share art and techniques.

Gather your materials, get your Creative Soul Juices going, and share with me what you have created in the comments below. 


What a great idea to use playing cards. I always have a deck around with cards missing. Now something fun to do instead of throwing them away!
Nimira said…
That's really amazing! I've never seen it done before and always am looking for fun things to do with my daughter! She loves art!
Mayla Moore said…
Those are beautiful! Have you heard of the Card Deck Swap? ( I'm sure there are others too.
Unknown said…
Can't wait to get one in the mail. How about if you send a blank one when you send it out so the recipient can send you back their own art?

I love ATC's

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