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Workshop: Artist Trading Cards


by Manuel Mendoza 16 Jul 2008

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 […]

CTA TBD

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.

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  • This brings up the entire art genre of MAIL ART. Perhaps it’s little known to many but for decades we have had an art movement involving thousands, that depended on the mails. This has been going on long before 1997! Artists make small postcard size art or art that could fit in an envelope, and traded their works with works of other artists across the country and the world. I’ve been doing it for 15 years.

  • There’s much of the future in this blog entry. We are at a point when art may be mass produced. There are methods now that reproduce paintings on canvas called glicees. Wikipedia says, “Artists tend to use these types of inkjet printing processes commonly called “Giclée” to make reproductions of their original two-dimensional artwork, photographs or computer generated art. I encourage A and S to do a story on gliclees.
    With a little imagination you can see what mass producing art could do. The original works could stay safely in museums while copies of the work can go on tour. Example: imagine copies of all the works of Van Gogh going to a Tyler show in one of the high school auditoriums. This would have all kinds of repercussions.
    Museums and galleries would play a smaller part in the art world . And artists could keep their works while selling copies and collecting royalties.
    This barely touches the surface of the revolution in painting.

  • A slightly different spin to the making original art affordable is the Art-o-mat program. Art-o-mat is a re-purposed cigarette vending machine that has been lovingly restored to dispense art, not cigarette packs. The program now has around 90+ Art-o-mat machines scattered around the U.S, many in museums. It’s run by Artists in Cellophane out of N.Carolina. Each machine dispenses 20 different packs of art from a selection of around 400 different artists. And, it’s affordable, $5 for an original work!

    We are fortunate to be placing an Art-o-mat inside our Art251, contemporary art gallery in Keller, Texas. We’ll be the only place to find one in N.Texas. We’re opening in early August. You can read more from our website http://www.art251.com or blog at blog.art251.com – then search for Art-o-mat.

  • The Fort Worth Community Art Center’s Texas Artists Coalition program is sponsoring an ATC workshop on July 24. http://fwcac.org

  • Carmen Cheng

    On August 26th, our studio will be hosting an Artist trading Card Night so Artists from all over the country could come in if they’re in the neighborhood to trade ATCs with other artists. There will also be a raffle for the attendees to participate in where the winner receives a prize of $50. There will be artists from all over the country sending in ATCs to trade with other artists. If you are interested in attending, we are located in Union Square of New York City. If you want to trade, but can not make it, you can still mail us your ATCs so you can still trade with other artists and have your work exhibited by others.

    Please tell all your friends who might be interested about this! (We would also greatly appreciate this if you can help us post up this event on your site/blog/message board.)

    For more information, please visit http://www.creativepier.com . This is listed under Events and all of our contact information is also there.

    Thank You!

  • Marissa Panigrosso

    I would like to find a ATC workshop to learn the craft in New York. I live 30 minutes from the city. Does anyone know of a class? Thanks!