Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Creative Process: ATCs (Artist Trading Cards)

This post was inspired by Mama' Kat's writing prompt: When was the last time you made something with your hands and what was it?

I’ve considered myself an artist since I was first praised for my kindergarden drawings.  I studied art in college and continued to make art through my career as an art teacher.  My first loves were drawing and painting.  But then I became interested in printmaking, later ceramics, and spent many years creating tapestry weavings.  Eventually I returned to drawing and painting, but later began to create digital art and more recently I have gotten into artistic photography.

Now in my sixties, I’m not interested in dragging large framed pieces to juried exhibits. But I developed an interest in something that is much more manageable.  I’ve been creating ATCs ---Artist Trading Cards.

They are small cards, the size of baseball cards (2.5 X 3.5 inches) made to trade with other artists. One can purchase pre-cut cards, or cut your own. They should be on a  fairly stiff background such as cardstock or cardboard.  Except for the dimensions, there are no set rules about their creation.  Some people draw or paint them, many create collages, digital works, or even 3-D creations. Some are stitched, quilted or made from metal. Really, anything is possible.

I tend to be rather eclectic about my work.  I can create something decorative, then a realistic drawing, followed by an abstract design, and then move on to a collage made with anything I happen to find lying about my home. I look at a shape or color and let my imagination run wild.

Below you will see an assortment of the cards I have created recently with a bit of information about each one. There are more than 30 cards here, but I have created hundreds of them. At the end of this post, please find information about trading for or purchasing my cards.
"Ace of Spades"
Collage, metallic paper & marker,
sparkly & metallic nail polish applied
to playing card. Playing cards are
the perfect size for ATCs, so it is
fun to create my own version of
playing cards, but I can also paste
things over them.  ATCs are also a
great way to use up old nail polish.

Permanent & metallic markers,
sparkly nail polish, stickers (cut
from free return-address labels)
applied to a piece of a Dunkin Donut
box featuring the word "AMERICA."

"Angles 2" 
Pieces of my own digital designs, some printed
on sparkly paper, permanent markers.


"Angles 6" 
Pieces of my own digital designs, some printed
on sparkly paper, permanent & metallic
markers, assorted papers.

"Antique Roses" 
Original digital design available
on matte or glossy photo paper.

"Autumn Leaves" 
Collage, digital designs, permanent,
metallic, & sparkly markers, colored
pencils, self-stick tiles, assorted papers.

"Autumn Leaves 2" 
Collage, digital designs, permanent
& sparkly markers, colored pencils,
assorted papers.

"Blue 2" 
Colored pencils, clear blender,
permanent markers.

"Blue Jazz" 
Permanent & metallic markers, applied to a
'found' background.

"Blue Star" 
Piece of my own digital design,
permanent markers, felt-tip pens.

"Buddha Rays" 
Sparkly metallic paper, metallic nail polish,
permanent & metallic markers, applied to a
'found' background.

"Burnished Silver" 
Aluminum foil, acrylic paint, metallic markers,
self-stick 'gems.'

"Cow Pie" 
Reproduction of an original work rendered in
watercolor, colored pencils, ink, and collaged
photos of cows.

Collage, digital designs, permanent
& sparkly markers, colored pencils,
assorted papers.

Permanent, metallic  & sparkly
markers applied to a piece of a
Dunkin Donuts box.

Collage, assorted papers, self-stick tiles and
'gems,' handmade lace, sparkly nail polish.
I purchased the lace from the lacemaker in 1968
in Brazil. I still have several small pieces which
work well for ATCs.


"Flowers and Lace" 
Acrylic paint, metallic nail polish,
handmade lace. (See "Enlaced"
for info on the lace.)


"Geometrics 3" 
Permanent & metallic markers applied to a
piece of an advertising flyer from the
Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

"Hot Air Balloon" 
Permanent & metallic markers, applied to a
piece of a tissue-box design. The original
design resembled quilt stitching in a
decorative pattern, but when I completed
my ATC, I thought it resembled a hot air balloon.

Colored pencils and clear blending marker.
I took many photos of pears for a still-life
assignment for a photography class. Here, I
took one photo, removed all the color &
reduced it to mere outlines. Then I colored it
with colored pencils.

"Red Parrot" 
Photo printed on metallic paper.
Photo: August 2011, taken at the Bird Park
near Iguaçu Falls in Brazil.

"Rhapsody in Blue 5" 
Permanent and metallic markers
applied to a 'found' background.

Acrylic paint, collaged paper stripes,
applied to a 'found' background.
I often use pieces cut from old greeting
cards for backgrounds. I look for
plain (white or colored) or
lightly-printed designs.

Permanent & sparkly markers, self-stick


"Soupçon de Warhol" 
One of my original digital designs
available printed on matte, glossy,
or metallic paper.

Permanent & metallic markers, sparkly
nail polish applied to a piece of a
Special K box.  I look for boxes.
postcards, & cardboard packaging for
words or designs that might be useful.

"Spring Blooms" 
Acrylic & opalescent paint.
"Stars and Stripes" 
Permanent and metallic markers,
collaged pieces, sparkly paper,
applied to cardboard packaging

"Starbucks' Mermaid" 
Acrylic & opalescent paint, permanent
& metallic markers, sparkly nail
polish applied to a piece cut from a
cardboard Starbucks' coffee cup.

Permanent & metallic makers, colored pencils,
clear blending marker.

"Textures and Patterns" 
One of my original digital designs
available printed on matte, glossy,
or metallic paper. Most of this was
created from scratch on Photoshop,
but I also used part of
one of my photos of a rusty
storm-drain grate as a design element.

"Woman With a Pearl Earring" 
Permanent and sparkly markers,
colored pencils, self-stick 'gem.'
"Three of Diamonds" 
Permanent and metallic markers, sparkly nail
polish applied to a playing card.
"The Woman with
Barack Obama's Smile"

Colored pencils, metallic markers,
clear blending marker.
I copied a bunch of photos of
famous people that I found online.
In Photoshop, I erased all but the
mouth or nose, or eyes, then
printed the results on
drawing paper. With pencil, I lightly
drew in a new face around that
part. On this one, I used colored
pencils to color it, adding pink to
the lips to turn this into a woman.
I still have many to complete
including Mitt Romney's hair,
Marilyn Monroe's mouth, Humphrey
Bogart's eyes ---and more.

 If anyone is interested in trading or purchasing ATCs, leave a comment beginning with DO NOT POST. (I monitor all comments, so I will not publish it.) Include the title of the card that interests you along with your email address and we will work out something. If we trade, it will be an even exchange with no money being involved. If you want to purchase a card, most cards, depending on the time involved in making them, are $2.50 -$4.50 each.


Just Another Mom of Twins said...

WoW! Those are amazing and beautiful!

TMW Hickman said...

Wow! I like this idea, with playing card-sized art. A lot of people think that every craft has to be larger than life, but you've packed awesome into a nice carrying size. A person could put one in their wallet to cheer them up on bad days. Creative!

Madamdreamweaver said...

So cool---you actually make these with your hands and they're not graphics on a computer! Very beautiful. I love them!
I'm 56 and trying to master graphic design on a computer. Ha.

CJ said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

To Madamdreamweaver:
Many of these are completely handmade, but as I mentioned, some of them are digital designs I have created on the computer (some, but not all with added drawing/painting) and some are my photographs. I also use my photographs which I enhance and manipulate to create art pieces and on occasion, add drawing/painting to them. I use everything and anything to create my art. Some, of course, are more successful than others. What I like about ATCs is that they usually don't take much time (although I've spent up to 4 hours creating one card.) Because most are small and not time-consuming, I can experiment freely without feeling that I've wasted a ton of time or materials if I'm not pleased with the result. On the other hand, sometimes I create something that I'm not pleased with, but it is another artist's favorite piece ---and therefore I can trade it for something I love.

CJ said...

To: TME Hickman

Yes, I love working in the small size ---and since just about anything goes I've been able to use up small items and leftover art supplies ---just enough for one or two cards, but not enough for a large painting.

CJ said...

By the way, I have been having numerous problems trying to format photos. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. For example, here, one caption is way below the actual photo and one photo is way to the right of the caption. The only thing I seem to be able to do that works is position them all to the left, or center all photos, but then I have a very long line of images that takes forever to scroll through. I've tried looking at formatting remarks, but nothing seems to help. Suggestions are welcome.

Jennifer Gills said...

WOW,! You're so very talented. Love these pieces.

Mama Kat said...

So talented!!!