The collapse between high and low art, between art and business, between art only the rich can afford and art we can all take home, is a fact of postmodern life, the upcoming King Tut exhibit being debated on this blog just one example.
I recently stumbled on the phenomenon of small, mass-produced “art” objects that you can buy in museum gift shops for as little as $6. Many of these “designer toys” are inspired by Japanese anime, graffiti and other “low” art forms. Artist trading cards are another way that art is getting to the masses while also serving as a kind of business card for the artists who produce them.
For the recipients, these popularly priced or even free pieces of art may be a step up from Beanie Babies or railroad lanterns (which my stepfather collects). But, to invoke a pun, they’re in the same ballpark.
Modeled on the age-old collecting (and, of course, trading) of sports cards, artist trading cards are a very specific form with rules and conventions. They’re supposed to be the same exact size as sports cards (2.5 by 3.5 inches), with art on one side and information about the artist on the other. (Sports trading cards feature a photo of an athlete on one side and his or her statistics on the other.) They are never supposed to be sold, only traded. And they can be either one-of-a-kind originals or sets of limited editions.
There’s even an artist, Switzerland’s M. Vanci Stirnemann, who is generally credited with inventing “ATCs” back in 1997.
So how can you get in on this trend?
Lewisville artist David Mask is giving another one of his workshops on “How to Make Art Trading Cards” at the Visual Art League of Lewisville Gallery from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. To sign up, contact him at [email protected]
And for collectors, there’s a Yahoo discussion group.