ATC stands for Artist Trading Card.
Valentine (and all),
If you are still interested in trading ATCs, I'm pretty active on:
There are lots of wonderful people there, great energy and wonderful art.
But I've moved on from ATCs, and am so busy with exhibitions, that I can't go back to them for now.
...TO ALL: I HOPE YOU'LL TRADE ATC's WITH MELISSA; GO FOR IT!!
Just to add another link... and a further discussion of ATCs.
Here's a direct link to Editions of Sister Trading Cards. I've participated in some of those and they were a lot of fun. Copy Left was awesome - was on hiatus last time I checked but may be going again now, not sure.
For those interested in trading ATCs but who don't know where to do it in person, it's not a bad idea to start up an ATC swap yourself. For a couple of years, I ran the SF Bay Area ATC Meetup and that was a cool thing while it lasted. We combined learning and trying new techniques every month (making ATCs together) with trading ATCs we made there or had made during the month away from each other. There were lots of visits from ATC artists who were visiting the Bay Area while that was going on. We also did trades with other ATC Meetup in other parts of the US as well as with people in trading groups in Canada and Australia.
Sometimes, local galleries are willing to host an ATC show and that's a real gas. I attended one in Vancouver a few years ago because I had a friend who lived nearby whom I'd known for years online but never met until then. There were hundreds who came through the gallery during the trading session and all of us traded all the cards we had and then some. It was wonderful to meet a lot of people whom I'd known by name but knew nothing about outside of their mail art.
Mostly, I trade ATCs with people through the mail or through groups like Nervousness, here at IUOMA, or specialty groups like the Carving Consortium or EraserCuts (groups for people who carve their own softblock or eraser stamps and make art from those). Also, there are several online ATC groups where you can see people's work and/or initiate trades. One of my favorites, ATC Exchange, is actually on hiatus right now after about many years of wonderfulness. It was hosted by George Kovats, who initiated something I loved called The Perpetual Exchange. Everyone who wanted to participate would send him 18 - 20 ATCs and, when he got cards from 18 people, he'd send each person 18 different cards in an ATC collecting sleeve with a list of participants. He kept 2 cards for his archives.
The Carving groups mentioned above used to run monthly ATC swaps (and still do when there is someone to act as host) where you signed up and were assigned randomly to a group of 3 - 5 people and for 3 months you'd send 2 ATCs to each of the other people in your group and they would send you two of theirs. It was a great way to see how people's art changed over time and to get to know other artists.
There are ATC collaborations called 'Jams' in which one person starts an ATC and someone else (sometimes up to 3 other people but often just one other person) finishes it. Those are challenging and bring interesting things out which you didn't anticipate. I hosted a couple of large ATC Jams at the ATC Exchange which were fascinating to participate in. I highly recommend that sort of thing.
One on one ATC Jams are also a lot of fun. Give one a try with an artist you like - or whose art is very different from yours - or who is game! Any of those scenarios can lead to some great art experiences.
A few years ago a bunch of us ATC artists produced a book together and that was cool. Unfortunately, the person who initiated it kind of disappeared after the initial run - the books were beautiful and we had hoped to see more than one run printed but he had the copyright and hasn't released it. I'm glad I participated though. It's great to see one's work in print in conjunction with other artists.
There have been other compilation books produced by magazines and/or book companies which weren't quite as much fun but they have their place also. The problem I had with them, though, was that they sort of pushed a certain kind of ATC stylistically over others and that limited the artistic quality of the resulting books.
All kinds of artists (and poets, by the way) make ATCs. It's a great size to challenge yourself with and/or to do things which you don't have the time, money, or focus to give as a larger project. They are very freeing in some ways, especially for artists who are used to doing certain kinds of work for sale or in competition... these small canvases give them a place to play again.
BTW, there are some people who sell their ATCs but they are then called something slightly different since artist trading cards are not meant to be sold but to be traded with other artists. I don't begrudge any artist the opportunity to make money from their art so more power to them, as far as I'm concerned. OTOH, for me, it takes away from the joy of making art for its own sake and sharing it with others who might appreciate it rather than having to make art to fit a paying audience. I've had enough of that in other areas of my art life. ;)
Would love to hear other people's experiences!