Clean Thoughts ATCArtist Trading Cards or ATCs as they are also known as are fantastic mini 3.5″ x 2.5″ objects of art! They are similar to the football and movie trading cards you can collect only these babies are all hand made! ATCs are great for trading with your stamping friends because of their small convenient size and better still they are easy to store in plastic pocket pages in a ring binder folder.

I have to admit Im really addicted to making ATCs simply because they have forced me to re-think my art and composition and work on a much smaller canvas. Normally for me size is no object; I make the cards to fit my artwork so the bigger the artwork – the bigger the card! But I ant do that with ATCs as they all have to be 3.5 x 2.5″ in size exactly!

As a recent convert to ATCs I thought I’d write this artile and share with you some tips and stuff I’ve discovered while working with these little cards.
Being Perfect
First of all, the most important rule is that all ATCs should be exactly 3.5 x 2.5″ in size. This is the trickiest part – getting them sized exactly right, however there is an easier way as I have discovered…….


If you have problems cutting the atcs to exact 3.5 x 2.5 size you can download the freeware tag printing program from red castle:

Once you have downloaded and installed the software; start the program, then input the following settings to the following size to print a template sheet of ATCS:

  • Make the Tag size: 2.5 x 3.5
  • Select: SQUARE
  • Uncheck the print punch hole option
  • Click Print!
  • Viola! Instant ATCs Template Sheet!

WomanNow take your sheet of blank ATCs, place it on top of a sheet of card stock, and trim along the lines using your paper trimmer …EASY as well…AT3!

Once you have your blank atcs you are ready for stamping them! This is the fun part!

Decorating Your ATCs:

ATCs can be portrait or landscape in orientation – while most people do tend to make their atcs portrait theres no rules to say you have to make them that way! At the end of the day YOU are the artist so its entirely up to you!

The fun part about using ATCs for me is trying to adapt my rubber stamps to use on these small canvasses!

If you dont have any ATC size stamps; dont panic! Study your stamps and look for interesting sections on the image and use just a portion of a larger stamped image as your focal image on your atc. I have a lot of larger collage type images which I use for this purpose – scan your image and look for an interesting section to use on your atc.

Use printed background papers to accent your atcs; you stamp your own using large background stamps or you can rip up scrap book papers or even papers from magazines and books! Experiment and play to see what works best! You can add colour to paperback book pages or scrapbook pages using inkpads and a sponge to smoosh the ink onto the paper so that the backgrounds match the main theme of your cards.

If your struggling with decorating atcs it helps to think small….dont be afraid of ATCs; just think of them as small handmade greetings cards and you’ll be over your atc phobia in no time at all!

Remember the most important rule of them all….There Are No Rules !

Relax, stamp and enjoy! Experiment with your favourite images and techniques and get the feel of working in miniature; why not join in some swaps to inspire you in your quest for ATCs! Swaps are perfect as you get to see what other people are doing with ATCs and you pick up ideas for doing your own in the future!

Creating ATC Sets:
You can make one off original ATCs or you an create sets of identical atcs; creating identical atcs is easy once you get started! Once your used to creating several atcs as part of a set you can join in an atc swap and get swapping atcs with other atc addicts too! On our Creative Cards Group we often have ATC set swaps to a specific theme. For these swaps you send in 10 identical atcs to a given theme, and the swap hostess will send you back 9 different atcs created by your fellow swappers! These atcs can then be displayed in a plastic 9 pocket page and filed in a folder for easy storage of your atc collection.

ATC Series:
This is similar to creating a set, only in this case you are creating a set of atcs which are all DIFFERENT but still part of the same theme. For example you might want to create a series of 20 woman inspired atcs using woman images and stamps – each would be different from each other but they would all be part of the same series because they are all woman inspired art. The following below is a series set of atcs I made using Family Portraits as my inspiration; as you can see all the cards are different from each other but they compliment one another by belonging to the same series:

Family Portraits Series

ATC Tripychs:
These are fun to make! An ATC Triptych is a set of 3 atcs created to a specific theme. Heres an atc triptych I made earlier using a ‘colour study’ as my theme, the atcs where all stamped using the same identical stamp, but I added a different colour to each to create the set. A very simple idea but it conveys the atc triptych dynamics well:

Colour Triptych

For more samples of artist trading cards Ive made check out my gallery:

Recommended Reading
If you are searching for more inspiration in getting started with atcs then I can thoroughly recommend the following book available from Somerset Studio:

Artist Trading Card Book
For ATCs inspiration check out the following site:

I hope this guide will help you in your quest to getting started with ATCs and who knows maybe in time YOU will be as addicted as I am! ;)