Have you heard of ATCs and thought, “Oh that’s just for THAT kind of person.” I’m about to prove you wrong! 

ATCs are Artist Trading Cards. Baseball-sized cards that you trade with someone else or give them away. No selling—and anyone who makes art can make and swap ATCs! Read on to find out a bit more.

Tutorial: What’s an ATC? (And would you like one?)

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

How long have ATCs been around?

The artist trading card is thought to have started in 1997 when M. Vänçi Stirnemann hosted the first swap in Zurich, Switzerland. Since then these tiny art pieces have been traded all around the world!

ATC details

👍🏻 Each ATC should be exactly 3.5 inches tall and 2.5 inches wide – same as a baseball card. Most are rectangular but some artists do experiment with arched tops, folding flaps, pockets etc. ATCs should have a little weight to them – cardstock, not lightweight paper – but not so much that it couldn’t slip into a clear plastic sleeve made for this size card.

👍🏻 Some artists include interactive parts that fold or swing out of it (think flaps and doors, limbs on paper doll cards, tails on animal cards). 

👍🏻 ATCs can include text like quotes or journaling, stamping, painting, pencil, mixed media, basically anything goes. Make yours a reflection of YOU and your own style. If you do cute, cute is perfect! Grunge? Go for it! Just remember: these aren’t throwaway art. Put your heart into what you share with someone else!  ❤️

👍🏻 ATC cards are often traded inside card sleeves to keep the art safe inside, but the sleeves are not required. (I bought a pack of these because I think it’d be fun to use them as “business cards” when someone buys one of my paintings instead of a printed card.)

There are 3 types of ATCs

1️⃣ One-off – a one-of-a-kind card
2️⃣ Series – a few cards that are on one theme, usually numbered – 1 of 5, etc
3️⃣ Edition – two or more cards that were created to look identical

On the back of an ATC

Include the following, typed & attached or handwritten:

  1. Name of the artist
  2. Date it was created
  3. Title (if it has one)
  4. Email or website
  5. Any notes like whether it’s part of a series or edition 

If you join a swap

Be sure to thoroughly read the instructions! Some swaps have themes, or require sleeves, or want more info sent with the card.

Our swap at Artventure is pretty straightforward. Fall theme (not halloween), due to the recipient during the week of Nov 12-18. All are welcome – no matter your artistic experience level!

Gratitude Junk Journal Class

Time is running out to get 20$ off in the Earlybird sale of Gratitude Junk Journal class! It runs out Oct 31 – use code HAPPY23 at checkout (ends October 31, 2023 at 11:59pm eastern)!


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  1. Michele K. Henderson

    Hi Sandy,
    I LOVE the way your beautiful ATC page came together so quickly! You’ve inspired me to try some ATC’s! Thanks for an awesome video too!

  2. Vicki Kroll

    Love your ATCs! So unique and a cool technique. Thank you for all the instructions creating them.

  3. Lorinda Spencer

    ATC’s sound crazy fun. I only wish I had even an ounce of your talent Sandy.

  4. Rani Macias

    I love ATCs. A now-defunct rubber stamp/art store where I used to work…the bathroom was called the “Loo-vre”–and the walls were filled with ATCs. 😀

    Thanks for doing this, Sandy; this will be fun!

    • Pat vilbaum

      That seems like the perfect name for the Little ATC gallery. I got quite a giggle out of your comment.


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