A business card is a small card that's printed with personal information, such as your name, address, and phone number. Doctors, lawyers, businessmen and women, and other professionals use them to introduce themselves and to act as a reminder of the services they provide.
About ten years ago, a Swiss artist named M. Vänçi Stirnemann decided to add a creative twist to these little pieces of paper, and he invented Artist Trading Cards, also known as ATCs. Since their introduction, the cards have become popular among artists. In addition to having personal information printed or written on them, the cards are miniature works of art. ATCs can be exchanged in person or mailed.
You can create Artist Trading Cards to trade with your friends, and if you reuse and recycle materials to make them, you'll help save natural resources, energy, and landfill space. There are just two rules to follow in making the cards. First, you must create the art on a card that measures 2.5" x 3.5" or 64 mm x 89 mm. Secondly, the cards are to be traded only, never bought and sold.
Most ATCs are created on cardstock or the type of paper of which greeting cards are made. All techniques are suitable for making ATCs, and they include drawing, painting, collage, rubber stamping, printmaking, weaving, crayon etching, metal tooling, faux scrimshaw, and marbling. The materials will vary depending on the technique you choose, but the following are some scrap materials and other items you may reuse and/or recycle. The list of materials is located on the left hand side of the this page.
You may wish to make cards that demonstrate different art techniques, or use one card each to feature the elements of art.
The Art Elements
We learned earlier that artists use a special language to express themselves. They create art using nonverbal tools called art elements. In using these elements, artists are speaking in a language that is understood all over the world. No translation is needed!
The art elements that someone may use to create work are line, color, value, texture, shape, form, and space, and you can use one or more of these same elements to make artist trading cards.
Line is an extension or the lengthening of a dot. Lines can be thick, thin, straight, wavy, zigzag, curved, or dotted.
Color is a property of light, and we can use a glass prism to see that light is made of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (dark blue) and violet. Warm colors are reds, yellows, and oranges, and cool colors are blues, greens, and purples (violets). Colors can make us feel a certain way. For example, warm colors are happy and energetic, while cool colors are relaxed and peaceful.
Value is how light or dark something appears.
Texture is how something feels when you touch it or how it looks like it might feel. Some examples are smooth, rough, wrinkled, and bumpy.
Shapes result when lines are joined together. Some geometric shapes with which you are probably familiar include circles, triangles, squares, ovals, and rectangles. Irregular ones are known as organic shapes.
Form also has depth, while shape is flat, having only length and width. Since form has depth, we say that an object that has form is three-dimensional. Some common examples of forms are spheres, cones, cylinders, cubes, and pyramids.
Space is the area between, around, or within something. When working on a landscape drawing or painting, artists use space to make things appear to be three-dimensional. However, space can be real, and it's especially important in creating sculpture. This art form can be positive or take up space, or it can have negative space, as in the voids or holes that appear in work such as that created by sculptor Henry Moore.
When you've completed each card, print or write your name and contact information on the back of the art. You may include the date and title of the piece, too. For privacy reasons, print only your first name and last initial, and include your grade and the name of your school instead of listing your home address.
Tips and Tricks:
In addition to the usual information that's printed or written on the back of the cards, include the edition number if you created cards using a printmaking method. For example, if you made a total of eight, identical cards using this method, they will be numbered 1/8, 2/8, 3/8, 4/8, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, and 8/8.
To learn more about Artist Trading Cards, visit the ATC section of the Richmond Art Gallery.
Visit ATCs IN THE CLASSROOM, a site designed specially for kids and teachers who are interested in Artist Trading Cards.
© 2007 Marilyn J. Brackney Volume 20 No. 3 (updated 2010)
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