Last year my artist friend Jenny Goto – invited me to an ATC group. Inititally, I had no idea what she was talking about. After reading some blogs/sites/wikipedia articles, I had a rough picture of what I was being invited to and apparently, the Artist Trading Card movement is a big thing! Here’s a simple explanation from Wikipedia:
Artist trading cards (or ATCs) are miniature works of art about the same size as modern trading cards baseball cards, or 2 1⁄2 by 3 1⁄2 inches (64 mm × 89 mm), small enough to fit inside standard card-collector pockets, sleeves or sheets. The ATC movement developed out of the mail art movement and has its origins in Switzerland. Cards are produced in various media, including dry media (pencils, pens, markers, etc.), wet media (watercolor, acrylic paints, etc.), paper media (in the form of collage, papercuts, found objects, etc.) or even metals or fiber. The cards are usually traded or exchanged. When sold, they are usually referred to as art card editions and originals (ACEOs).
I was immediately intimidated by the invitation. 1) I do not consider myself a true artist, and 2) my work is not anything I would ever show. The fact that I was being asked to be a part of a group that had studied art and/or was producing great pieces currently was extremely scary for me. I was definitely going to be out of my league. But, something pushed me to be a part of it so that I could grow (something = my wife).
Each artist comes up with a number of pieces on paper/canvas/whatever that is the size of a baseball card. The number of pieces depends on the number of participants (if there are 8 participants including you, then you produce 7 for all the other artists). You can either create different pieces or produce a number of the same pieces. We then place those in an envelope and bring them to the ATC trade. When you trade you normally don’t know what you’re getting. Each piece is not supposed to take long to create. The goal is to make a number of quick, cool, original pieces for everyone else.
For our first gathering, I decided to do a series of pieces based on civilization and water. After a recent trip to Portland (and seeing the Williamette River), I had been thinking about humanity’s need for H2O, and started thinking about large cities around the world that were built near bodies of water. I researched satellite images of cities around water (either a river, lake, or coast), and found some great images to work with. I printed out the images, and then used some ink nib pens and watercolors to recreate a version of the satellite images on cardstock. From there, I used yellow & gold ink, dropped from about 2-3 ft above each piece to represent cities/people and their growth around these bodies of water. As the yellow splattered on the cards, it (sort of) looked like the city expansion in that particular area.
We met at one of the artist’s houses in North Hollywood. It was a warm, welcoming place with tons of amazing snack foods and some great drinks. We all chatted – getting to know each other and talking about our jobs and experience in the art world. Many of the artists integrate their work with their faith, which made it especially interesting for me.
For the main event, we went around and shared the theme and medium of our work. We then went around the table choosing a piece from each artist to trade/take home. The pieces were all amazingly beautiful and original! I received different collage pieces, a print, a sewn piece, and even a plant-able piece on seed paper!
Although I am still intimidated by the talent possessed in our group, I am glad I joined. The group consists of a number of amazing artists – all very different, and very special. We have people who work with collage, printmaking, painting, etc. They are all very encouraging and a joy to be around! They definitely inspire me.
Here are some of my pieces from that first ATC series…
Stay tuned for my next ATC post!