How To Make An Artist Trading Card

Do you ever feel creative but let fear get in the way of expressing yourself?  Fear that you don’t have enough room to create in.  Fear that others won’t like what you make. Maybe a fear of committing to a large project.

Sound familiar?  If so, artist trading cards might be for you!

How To Make an Artist Trading Card in 4 steps

Artist trading cards, or ATCs, are small pieces of art created on a 2.5 x 3.5 inch surface.  That’s small enough, right?

Their small size makes them perfect for:

  • creating in the smallest of craft rooms; a craft bag of goodies and snack table will do!
  • trading and swapping; they should never be sold.
  • easy to keep to yourself so others can’t be all judge-y.

How To Make An Artist Trading Card in 4 Steps

Artist trading cards are super easy to make and very addictive once you get going. Just 4 simple steps and you’ll have a miniature piece of art.  Ready?

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Step One – Choose Your Base

How To Make an Artist Trading Card - Choose your baseThe base for your artist trading card should be a piece of paper that is 2.5 x 3.5 inches. The only thing this paper has to be is sturdy enough to endure your craft supplies.  So, a piece of computer paper probably won’t cut it…

You have a few options for the base of your ATC:

  • Buy Them – You can buy pre-cut 2.5 x 3.5 cards specifically marketed for creating artist trading cards. The Strathmore brand has them in several different kinds of paper; Bristol smooth, watercolor and canvas to name a few.
  • Make Them – Bust out your paper cutter and favorite card stock and get slicing!  Or, do a little upcycling and cut up your old cereal boxes.
  • Use a Playing Card – A playing card is the perfect size for an artist trading card base and you can usually buy a deck at the dollar store.  Fifty-two artist trading card bases for $1? Sold!

Step Two – Create a Background

After you have chosen a base for your artist trading card, you might want to add some visual interest to it.  In the case of using a playing card, covering up the card design.

How To Make an Artist Trading Card - Make a background

There are loads of options for creating your background:

  • patterned paper
  • book pages
  • stamps, dye or pigment stamp pads r alcohol inks
  • acrylic or watercolor paints

The list goes on and on.  And don’t feel like you can only pick one.  Glue down some paper then scrape some paint across it.  Tear out some pages from an old book and top with stamps.

Have fun with it!

Step Three – Add Texture & Layers

A flat ATC is a boring ATC.  Make your artist trading card POP by adding texture and layers.

Pieces of paper, fabric and ribbon are great items to attach.  I’m particularly fond of using texture paste and stencils.

I know we’re making these because they’re perfect for making in small craft spaces.  But sometimes small spaces means small amount of supplies.  No worries!

Many household objects can be used with paint or inks to get the look you’re trying to achieve.  Bubble wrap, tissue paper, toilet paper tubes to name a few.  Artist trading cards are great for getting the imagination working =)

Step Four – Embellish!

Now it’s time to make your card sparkle.  Literally, if you’d like.How To Make an ATC - Embellish!

This is where I really have fun.  All those little things you bought because they were on sale or saved because you might need it someday finally get their time to shine.

Sequins and lace and roses! Oh my!

This card is going to be fancy.  I can feel it.

I recently purchased Golden brand gold mica flakes.  You can bet those babies will make an appearance on my next few batches of ATCs.

And voila! You have yourself an artist trading card.

Take a moment to sign and date the back.  Some artists give their mini works of art a title.  I tend to do this when I make a set of cards that are similar.

Remember, we’re not perfect. You’re going to have some artist trading cards that make question your craftiness.  Don’t let that deter you. Just keep creating.  You can always go back and add another layer or sprinkle some glitter on top.

Glitter makes everything better.

Did you like what you saw today?  Below are some of the supplies I used on today’s artist trading card for you to start on your own. Happy creating!

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