Artist Trading Cards

The Artist Trading card phenomenon has swept the globe since its beginnings in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1997. Closely allied with and sometimes overlapping the Mail Art movement, it is a powerful means for artists to cross-fertilize their experimental creative juices in a playful, low-cost format. Artist Trading Cards have no connection to money in the Art Market, and very little to none in the making thereof, being made and traded solely at the artist’s pleasure.

What is an Artist Trading card?

Like sports trading cards, they are 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size, but they’re not made to buy or sell — the artist makes them and trades them with other artists.

ATCs are miniature works of art, and can be originals or small editions. Media range from all the traditional painting and drawing methods to computer generated art, fibre arts, collage, original prints — if you can make a card-sized bit of art with it, anything goes!

Artist Trading Cards are a fabulous way of stimulating creativity, both for the experienced artist and the novice, through experimenting with and developing new media and ideas in a fun, low-risk format. The trading sessions then provide an opportunity to connect with other artists, facilitating discussion on technique and inspiration.

ATC 3 by Karen Gillmore.


  • The paper should be card or stiff paper — archival paper if possible.
  • Original art work by the artist can be in any medium (pen and ink, paint, collage, mixed media, photography, etc.). Prints also can be in any medium (digital, giclee, laser print, wood cut, etc.).
  • Cards can be signed on the front or back (or both) but print information including edition info (sequence number and size of edition) and date should be on back. Address of artist on the back is optional.
  • Number of cards to bring: we suggest at least 25 if you want to trade with all the artists who show up.
  • The trading convention is one card for one card but you don’t have to trade with anyone if you don’t want to and you can trade more than one card with any artist.
  • Cards are usually presented in binders and in those plastic sheets that hockey cards etc. are kept in — available at stationery stores or stores selling Sports Trading Cards.
  • The object of the session is to meet other artists in a context where you can see their work, to dialogue through exchange of art works and ideas, and to have fun. You will also acquire a collection of ATCs!