What are ATCs? | Mini Van Dreams
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What are ATCs?

What are ATCs?  Have you ever wondered?  ATCs are also referred to as Artist Trading Cards.  I have seen mention of these before and have found “ATC cards” at the scrapbook store but had no idea what they were.  Recently, I joined a website dedicated to snail mail – from postcards to letters to small crafts.  I came across a beginner’s ATC swap and thought I’d try my hand at them.  For all you scrapbookers and cardmakers… they are literally just miniature scrapbook pages!  I am addicted to them!  The best part is, you can easily make them with your “scraps” from scrapbooking and other crafts!  Keep reading to learn more and see some examples I have made!

What are ATCs?

ATCs are baseball card-sized pieces of art that can be traded with others.  The only rule for these pieces of art is they must measure 2.5″ x 3.5″.  This new phenomenon started in 1997 when a Swiss artist name M. Vanci Stirnemann created 1200 cards as part of an art exhibit.  On the last day of the exhibit, he invited the visitors to create their own cards to trade with himself and others.  Today, there are online and in-person swaps around the world.

ATCs can be made with practically anything, as long as they meet the size rule and can fit into a trading card sleeve.  True ATCs are not sold – only traded.  Artists who choose to sell these cards are called Art Card Editions and Originals (ACEOs).  A good place to start is with scraps leftover from scrapbooking and other crafts.  And, think outside the box – as you will see from my examples below… you are not limited to paper or other flat media.  There are also online stores that sell “kits” that are ready to go with all the supplies you will need to create your own ATCs… everything but the glue!  A good one, that I use regularly, is Your ATC Store.  What I love about them is they give you everything you need to create beautiful and unique ATCs… Plus, they are usually “extras” that can be used to make more than one ATC!  Most of their kits are less than $5… and several are less than $2!  Plus, they have all kinds of other ATC supplies!

ATCs I have Made

This was a kit from Your ATC Store.  You can see how pretty much anything goes on an ATC.  Instead of using cardstock for the base, a playing card was used.  If you also notice the sand texture at the bottom…. that was made with “crumbs” from florist foam.

What are ATCs? | Mini Van Dreams

Another one of my favorites, also a kit from Your ATC Store.

Fairy Tale ATCs: Little Red Riding Hood

And finally, one that I made with some scraps I had laying around my crafting area!

Steampunk Travel ATC

I highly encourage you to try this miniature art craze!  I love making them and they are highly addicted!  The sky is the limit when it comes to materials and media, as long as the base it the correct size!  Paint, glitter, stamps, stickers, paper, charms, beads… basically anything you have in your craft stash!  If you are a newbie, it is proper etiquette to put your name and contact information on the back (i.e. website or email!) as well as the date and a “name” for your creation.  Don’t be put off by these if you are not a crafter or scrapbooker – they are super easy to make and quick to complete.  These are also a great way to get kids involved with your crafts and creations!  Give them supplies and see what happens!  So, get to crafting and see what you come up with – you might have a new hobby!

If you make an ATC or have some ready to go, let me know!  I’d love to arrange a swap!



No compensation was received for this post.  The kits from Your ATC Store shown above were purchased from my personal funds and were not sponsored in any way.  The link is provided as reference only. I have had good experiences with this online store and highly recommend them.


One Comment

  1. Thank you Julia for this post. Especially not forgetting beginners. I’m totally new at this, searching around Internet for something fun…. I think I’m not ready to actually swap, but I’ll try for myself – it’s little scary hobby, because it has almost no rules… I know, it doesn’t make sense 😀 Anyway, I love your site and keep up the good work 😉 BW, I’m an accountant too 🙂

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