The Big Idea – Artist Trading Cards

Big trends have a way of sneaking up on you and Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are no exception. What are we talking about? ATCs are miniature pieces of art that are traded around the world. Artists create, trade and collect art at organized swap events, either in person or online. The only official rule is that the trading card measures 2.5″ x 3.5″.

The movement started in 1997, when M. Vanci Stirnemann, a Swiss artist, created 1,200 cards by hand as part of an exhibit. On the exhibit’s last day, he invited others to create their own cards and trade with him during the closing reception. The movement has skyrocketed and many other artists now organize major “swap” events. Today, there are ATC swaps online and in almost every major city around the world. ATCs are traded, not sold. However, there are some artists who chose to sell cards. Cards that are sold are called Art Card Editions or Originals (ACEOs).

Of course you could always make your own cards, but Strathmore has made it easy by developing a line of Artist Trading Cards – downsized versions of the same Strathmore papers that artists use for their full-sized art, conveniently cut to the official trading size – to help retailers take advantage of this huge opportunity. Because all the rest of the materials needed to create the cards are staples of any art store, these blanks make it easy for artists to join this large and growing movement. The cards are available for a range of mediums – drawing, watercolor, acrylic, oils and mixed media collage.

Here are some ideas for jumpstarting your store’s success with ATCs:

  • Increase store traffic and sales by organizing events such as presenting how-to sessions, organizing swap nights and sponsoring contests.
  • Make in-store signs pointing out that the small, non-intimidating size encourages artists and emerging artists to experiment and create more art so they can trade and collect with others.
  • Strategically locate signs near other categories such as small tools, dry media and paints to encourage artists to experiment with different mediums.
  • Reach out to schools, clubs and other organizations to promote the arts in the community.

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