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My First Art Trading Card

Trading It all started when I attended a Dumpster Diving Meetup with my girlfriend. I really have no interest at all in dumpster diving, but we usually attend most of these meetups together beings you never know who is going to be there. A source of security for both of us I guess.

We noticed when we got to the artist’s studio (Jerry Simpson’s studio to be specific) that there were everal Meetups happening that night there. Nothing wierd about that really, for I operate multiple Meetups myself and schedule them for the same time and place. One of them was called Artists Trading Cards, and it piqued our curiosity. After asking Jerry about it, we decided to stay for it.

ATC Lineart Now for a quick and dirty explanation of ATCs. In short, they are a small piece of original artwork meant to be traded to another artist for one of their own. They are the size of a normal trading card (2.5 inches by 3.5 inches) and the artwork can be in any medium imaginable. They can be a sketch, painting, collage, sculpture or even a computer generated image printed out. The only limit is your imagination. (There is an offshoot of ATCs that can be sold called Art Card Editions & Originals and can be found on Ebay and Just search for the term “ACEO”.

I had never heard of such a thing before, but apparently it has quite a following. There were about 10 people at this first gathering I attended, and that is considered a small one according to Jerry. As I would soon find out, there are a lot of people that show up to these tradings and one can walk away with upwards of 70 new miniature pieces of art. This last one I attended had approximately 30 people sifting through binders looking for a good trade.

Anyway, enough explanation; back to the story: My girlfriend took right to making cards and made up about 10 for the next month’s trading. They were a bit rough, but it was her first time and she was still trying to find her groove. Nonetheless, she got some nice cards in trade and even more inspiration for next time. I never got around to making any myself, but I gathered more ideas for when I decided too. I figured it would be a good way for me to get out of my artistic slump I had been in. It was just a matter of sitting down and doing it.

Colored ATC It took me a couple of months before I felt the drive to actually get something together, but I finally did. It was a simple card: person with a Texas hold ‘em hand. (I had been playing a little bit of poker recently.) I did it along the lines of how I do most of my artwork. Sketch it out in nonphoto blue and then ink over it, allowing for easy scanning of the lines. This time however, I converted the lines to vectors using and open source program called Inkscape and colored it there.

Normally, I would just use the GIMP, but I felt like doing something different this time. The reasoning for this is for scalability. If you use a raster image editor like GIMP, you are kind of stuck at the maximum pixel size at which you create it. (Enlarging it, you would get a lot of pixelization.) With vector graphics, no matter how large you make it, there will always be a nice smooth line whether it is a 2.5 inch by 3.5 inch card, or a roadside billboard. Also, since the card was a cartoon image and there would be mostly flat colors, it would take to the format quite well.

The next step was to prepare a sheet of the cards to cut apart. Luckily, Inkscape has a really nice tiling system. Why is this nice? Simply because it makes making sheets of identical images very easy. I just set it to 3 columns and 3 rows of images, and all the cards were perfectly aligned on the sheet. I decided to make the final number of cards 15. This is because the first sheet had the right side of the cards cut off since I neglected to compensate for my printer’s limitations. (It can’t print the full width of a 9 by 12 inch piece of bristol paper.)

Cutting To cut them up into single cards, I used a rotary cutter. These are quite nice for the fact it gives you a nice straight cut unlike scissors and is quicker than a exacto knife and metal ruler. I just had to align preprinted cutting lines to the edge of the blade and slide it across the sheet. This part of the process only took me about 15 minutes to cut apart the 15 cards. Not too shabby. After I got them all cut up, all that they needed was my name, city, print number and signature.

After the trade off was done that night, I was relieved of 9 cards of my own. In return I got some very nice cards from others. Now it is time to make some more and get more variety so that I can get more.


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