Friday, July 12, 2013

Why we like ATCs

Experimenting with Inktense
pencils and free-motion quilting.
A while back, I had a conversation with Cristy, a friend from my quilt guild, about my ATC (Artist Trading Card) swaps. Cristy and I both have an infatuation with surface design—oil paint sticks, foils, fabric dying, and more recently, Tsukineko inks—and wish we had more time to experiment with all the new products we encounter. 

During our discussion, I shared with her a few insights about why I think Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are the perfect project to try out cool new products and interesting techniques. Here are a few reasons:
  • ATCs have a small, finite format (2.5" x 3.5");
  • you make a limited quantity of cards;
  • you can work in a series, so can experiment with variations using a single product or technique;
  • the more ATCs you make, the more efficient you become;
  • there is a minimal time investment to have a completed project (no UFOs (UnFinished Objects));
  • you can use a variety of materials to make your cards (paper, fabric, pencils, ink, paint, thread, yarn, etc.);
  • any technique goes as long as you strive to do the best you can do;
  • the swaps have a deadline;
  • you get inspiration and ideas from the cards you receive in trade!
Aside from improving one's artistic skills, you gain knowledge about many subjects. My monthly FiberAntics ATC swaps, for example, have a theme. As I research topics that relate to the theme—famous authors, aphorisms, folklore, architecture—I learn about these topics. Sometimes, I just enjoy uncovering the trivia nuggets that reveal themselves through researching "Memorable lines for the movies" and "What did we do before we had ___?" It can be very fascinating traveling down paths I would not have considered otherwise. Search "ATCs" on this blog to see how participants interpreted past themes.

Before I wrap up this post, I must say that I've also learned a lot about problem-solving through participating in ATC swaps. Really, that's what creativity is after all—finding solutions to situations or answers to questions. Whether it's how to use a specific tool or medium, conquering the challenge of illustrating the theme, meeting the deadline, using a limited space (2.5" x 3.5") to communicate a message... I'm always rewarded with pride, and the satisfaction of solving a problem.

Any current or past ATC swap participants—feel free to add your insights/comments as well!

Artist Trading Cards... they fill a lot of needs. Try one on for size.

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