Friday, February 6, 2015

How to Make Your Own Artist Trading Cards

Fabulous Friday everyone!

A few weeks ago I was checking up on my favorite YouTube subscriptions, when crafting and interior design god Mark Montano posted this video.

I've always had an interest in artist trading cards, but frankly never considered myself an artist, so I never tried them. But you know what? Maybe I could be an artist! And Mark Montano was hosting a FABULOUS ATC swap. And of course I HAD to participate in THAT!

I made an even dozen cards to send along (well, I'll be sending 11 - one of them is going to my daughter because she fell in love with it!).

Click "Read More" for all of the ATC's I made plus some tips for making your own!

Full disclosure? Some of these aren't very good. In fact, some of them outright suck. But you know what? Making ATC's is FUN. And you know me - if I'm not having FUN when I make things, I'm just plain not going to do it.

I urge you, if you have ever had an interest in ATC's but haven't considered yourself an "artist," YOU ARE ONE. Just do it! If you don't like one that you've made, throw it away - or send it to someone anyway because maybe they'll LOVE it! Who knows? Everyone has different tastes. Use weird materials. Try things out that seem ridiculous. A few of my cards have paper from already-brewed tea bags that I cut up. A few of them have fabric I dyed in tea and coffee. A few of them have single-ply TOILET PAPER. 

Here are some items you can use in your ATC's:
  • Tissue paper
  • Cut-outs from magazines, newspapers, and junk mail
  • Vintage clip-art downloaded from the Internet
  • Sequins or buttons you have laying around
  • Scraps of lace that have no other purpose because there's not enough of it
  • Scraps of fabric you forgot to throw away from your last project
  • Thread
  • Yarn
  • Embroidery thread
  • Bits of trash
  • Dirt or sand
  • Glitter
  • Dried flowers or leaves
  • Paint
  • Watercolors
  • Crayons
  • Ball-point pens
  • Rope
  • Onion skins
  • Wrapping paper
  • Foil
  • Wax paper
  • Melted wax from candles or crayons
  • Scrap cardboard
  • Bits of metal stuff you have or found on the ground
  • Plastic pieces cut from water bottles or food packaging
  • Paint chips
  • Elastic
  • Food coloring
  • RIT-dyed bits of fabric (try out new dyeing techniques like shibori or tie-dye!)
  • Modeling clay or play-dough
  • Tracing paper
  • Tear up yesterday's to-do list or that scrap of paper you did some math on and use that
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Coffee filters or tea bags
I mean, the list goes on and on and on...if you have even just three of the items above, you can make an ATC with it. The only thing you need to make it all come together is some sort of glue. I used Mod Podge, which I highly recommend for all crafters anyway, but you can use plain old white school glue. Anything that dries clear will work!

The only rules for an ATC are: it has to be 2.5" x 3.5". Hint: that is the same size as a playing card. You don't even have to cut your cards out! Just go to the dollar store and pick up a deck of playing cards, and you have 52 perfect templates for your ATC! Also, it has to be made by you, from beginning to end. Finally, you can't sell them. These are for giving away! I also intend to use them to practice new art techniques as I learn them. It's a really great, fast, non-committal way to try out different ideas and make them successful!

Literally all you do is glue your stuff onto your ATC in a way that makes sense to you (it doesn't have to make sense to ANYBODY else, I promise!) then slap a layer of glue on top to seal it all in. That. Is. It.

I honestly cannot recommend ATC's enough to crafters and artists. It is more fun than you can even begin to imagine. I can't wait to make more!

Without further ado, here are the ATC's I made for the Mark Montano swap:

The first is called "Shattered Mirrors", and I used tea-blotted construction paper, tea bag paper, foil, sequins, lace, fabric, and a cut out from a vintage clip art site:

This one is just weird. It's called "Cold Fish". Construction paper mosaic, cut outs from vintage clip art, fabric, and marker:

This one is "Satisfaction Guaranteed"; paint, cut outs from magazines and vintage clip art, lace, and sequins:

"No Problems": stacked construction paper, sequins, magazine cut outs, and yarn:

This one is called "I Dunno, There was Rum." I used strips of cardboard and felt, a sequin, cut outs from vintage clip art, and the creepy ghostly white background is single ply toilet paper!

"Daily Pleasures"; strips of cardboard and fabric, magazine cut outs, metallic bronze paint, and lace:

"Nolite te bastardes carborundorum"; paint, clip art cut outs, yarn, sequins, and elastic ribbon:

I played around with some embroidery on the next two. This one utilizes "doodle embroidery" and isn't my favorite, but it took a lot of time so hopefully someone will love it! It's called "Whatever It Takes":

And this one is "Wolf Wind" and uses embroidery and fabric markers:

"Flight of Fantasy" uses tea-blotted construction paper, tea bags, sequins, vintage cut-outs, and lace:

This one is a bit heavy-handed, but I liked the imagery of goddesses destroying time in favor of the tree of life. It's called "Night and Day":

And finally, the one my daughter claimed: "Who?" It's a Doctor Who-inspired ATC with paint, vintage cut-outs, pen, yarn, and a googly eye:

These were SO much fun to make! If you've never tried them, you definitely should. It's a great way to get a boost of creativity and get your juices flowing!



  1. HI! i got Nolite te bastardes carborundorum and wolf wind from the Mark Montano ATC swap !! i love them both!!

    1. OMG OMG really?! Those were two of my very favorite ones that I did!!! I'm so glad you love them and wasn't that swap AWESOME?!?! I can't wait to do another one!!

  2. These are such a great idea - I love them!
    I've included them in this week's #Pintorials (teeny tiny, totally cool crafts) :)