Artist Trading Cards or ATCs

NEWS FLASH: There is an ATC SWAP being organised with PaperCraftCentral readers! Scroll down to the information about how to join the swap by May 31st, 2018.

"Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs) are miniature works of art about the same size as baseball cards and thin enough to fit inside standard card-collector pockets, sleeves or sheets. The ATC movement developed out of the mail art movement and has its origin in Switzerland. The cards are usually traded or exchanged rather than sold".


These little treasures are miniature works of art that are swapped between papercrafters. They can be made with any artistic technique or materials, but there is one rule:

They need to be the size of a baseball card, or 2.5" X 3.5" (64 X 89mm). This is practically the only hard and fast rule.

It doesn't matter if you orient your artwork as landscape or portrait, as long as it is made with care and is the right size.

If you are an Artist Trading Card Artist, beginner or expert or anywhere in between, I would love to see some of your work. Just scroll down to the bottom of this page to find a place where you can upload a picture and tell me something about your way of making them.


These cards are usually not sold but traded between artists. This can be done in person such as at conventions or even at casual meetings between crafters, but these days it is also common to trade with people you get to know on the Internet in organised swaps.

The idea is to make an original piece of artwork. Often there will only be one of a kind. If there is only one card made in a particular way, it is called an original. If you make sets of identical artwork, that is called an edition and you need to number each card in the edition, (1/10, 2/10 etc). You should also number those that have been made in a usually limited series where you have made a number of different cards based on a theme.

Many cards have a title as swap coordinators often set themes for each series of swaps. For example, you may be asked to create a series with faces on them, or one about old time actors, or contemporary singers, or about a mood or emotion like love. The themes for making Artist Trading Cards are endless.

People who make these little cards usually sign and date the back. You can purchase special rubber stamps that you can use to put on the back of your cards with your contact details. but just writing your details is also fine. Some people include their email addresses or postal addresses or their blog URL.


If you are mailing your artwork, you can purchase little plastic sleeves to slip them into and protect what you have made. Or you can make your own envelopes or wrappers for them.

Professional artists sometimes make these little cards to use as their own business cards and write something about themselves and their work on the back. Their artwork is immediately in someone's hands this way.

If you want to join in the fun of making and swapping ATCs and you acquire a collection of them, what can you do with them? Here are some ideas for you:

  • Make a special album from envelopes or other pockets to keep them in

  • Make a special frame for them and hang them in your papercrafing space. If you choose, say, a cork board or some other backing sheet where you can rotate the cards as you receive them, all the better

  • Dress up everyday items with them. Slip one in the plastic pocket of a purse, or into a tag made for suitcase so you can keep a special one or two with you

  • Hang them on a fibre or ribbon in lovely strings so they can decorate a whole wall or other suitable space

  • Find a tin that is the right size, decorate it and keep your cards in that like a treasure box

  • Arrange your cards in a binder with plastic sleeves so you can see both sides of them

  • Cut corresponding frames in two pieces of cardstock and sandwich the ATCs in between to make a very unique album

  • Frame a series or selection of cards in miniature frames and group them together as a unique art display

  • Make an accordion card and feature your little artworks on each panel for your mantelpiece

I hope you give ATCs a go and have a wonderful time creating and sharing! You can really widen your circle of crafting friends this way AND gain a source of wonderful inspiration for your art work.

More Examples For You:

  • Try out the Peeling Paint technique and be warned - you will need to prepared to get down and get messy with your supplies!
  • Some Garden Fairies to inspire you to use Stampin' Pastels in your art work
  • ATCs with a Zettiology spin
  • How to use Sewing on your Artist Trading Cards
  • Ooo, la la! Parisian ATCs!

ATC Swaps

A great forum that organises regular challenges and swaps is Rubberstampchat. See if you like what is happening there and join in, especially if you are a resident of the USA.

If you would like to organise a swap with other PaperCraftCentral readers, there is a sign-up happening now till July 21st, 2018. It is being requested  by Tink from NSW in Australia, so do join especially if you are a resident of Australia. Contact Me to sign up.

When signing up, please give me your name, email address and mailing address for the swap. I will not publish those details here. I will let you know how many to make and where to send your completed swaps, and the deadline for them to be completed.

It would be great if the supplies used in the swaps could mainly be Stampin' Up! ones.

Thanks for taking part!

PaperCraftCentral Susan

Have A Favourite Altered Art Piece?

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