Artist Trading Cards are individual art miniatures which pass
hand to hand. Some sources have credited M. Vänçi Stirnemann, who began trading sessions in Zurich, Switzerland,
in 1997, as popularizing ATCs in the modern era, although modern ATC's can be traced back to portrait miniatures and to a
kind of business card popular with Impressionistic era artists. Artists have produced miniatures for trade or self-promotion in many eras
and places, and the current trend is thus part of this larger context.
Historically there were few standard rules or guidelines to art trading cards, and many
variances in sizes can be seen in older cards. Today the only rule for these cards is their 2.5 by 3.5 inch size (64 x 89
There are, however, certain conventions usually observed by those who
make and trade these cards, such as the expectation that they be traded, not sold, and that they be created as unique works
or small limited editions of prints. Artists generally sign and date the back, and may also include a title and contact information.
Artist Trading Cards are typically
made on a base of card stock. However, ATCs have been created on metal, stiffened fabric, plastic, clay, glass, balsa wood,
leather, embroidery canvas, acetate, heavy watercolor paper, and many other materials. The art on the cards can be done in
any media: textile arts, pencil, watercolor, acrylic, oil, collage, scratch board, mixed media, assemblage, digital art, calligraphy,
beadwork, rubber stamps, carved soft block stamps, pen and ink, colored pencil, airbrush, pastels, and many others - anything