9 Unique Artist Trading Card Ideas

Nicole Tinkham

9 Unique Artist Trading Card Ideas

When creating artist trading cards, the most important thing is to stand out. You want people to remember you, to recognize your style, and to know your name. You don’t want to be like everyone else, thrown in a book of similar cards or not even kept at all. To stand out, you must do something new, something unique and exciting while maintaining your artistic style. We’ll talk about a bunch of ideas to get you inspired but first let’s go over the basics.

What is an Artist Trading Card?

Artist trading cards (or ATCs) are small pieces of artwork traded between artists. They can also be sold, in which case they are known as ACEOs, or Art Cards Editions and Originals. When creating your artist trading cards, it’s important to think of them as an actual piece of artwork on a small scale.


Artist trading cards are 3.5” x 2.5” and can either be portrait or landscape format. As for weight of the paper used, it’s really up to what you plan on doing with the card. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Types of Artist Trading Cards

1. Painting and drawing

The type of media that can be used for ATCs is endless (watercolor, acrylic, oil, pastels, pencil, ink, etc.). Once you have your media of choice, choose a paper that corresponds (watercolor paper, Bristol board, canvas, etc.).

2. Collage

Don’t be afraid to throw in a bunch of different techniques here. You can paint, stamp, apply 3D objects, use different paper textures, and more. Be creative!

3. Encaustic

If you have any experience in encaustics, we suggest using this technique as the results are amazing. Some resources to get you started: Materials Needed to Start an Encaustic Painting and How to Begin an Encaustic Painting

4. Embroidered and quilted

Threaded and quilted artist cards are also an option and tend to be a little different than the ordinary ATC.

5. Paper

Paper ATCs may not sound all that exciting but these paper sculptures will make you think twice. It’ll probably take hours of tedious work but the results are definitely worth it.

6. Digital

We can’t forget about the digital artists! Collages done digitally come out fantastic and make great ATCs.

7. Zentangle

Zentangle is an easy (and relaxing) way to make ATCs look amazing. Zentangle is basically an organized doodle. To learn more about it, check out our blog post What is Zentangle?

8. Stamping

Rubber art stamps were mentioned in the collage section above but can also be a technique all on its own. Stamps can provide an interesting background (see above) or be the focal point of the card.


Your ATC doesn’t have to be all about the image. Use words to express yourself either by hand writing them, using newspaper clippings, or stamping. Make sure the words/quote you use has meaning!

What to include on the back

You may put so much time and thought into the front of your ATC but the reverse side is just as important! This is where all of your contact information is. Here’s what you should have on the back of your cards:

• Title of the piece

• Media used

• Date created

• Artist name and signature

• Group or swap information

• Artist contact info (website, email, etc.)

Tip: Rubber stamps can be made to be used as a template for this side of the card.

We hope these artist trading card ideas sparked some inspiration and that you create some of your own. ATCs are all about the artist’s personal style after all so go and do your thing! If you plan on trying a new media (encaustics, for example) feel free to stop in and talk to one of our art experts for addition tips. You can also give us a call (941-747-2995) or leave a comment below with any questions you may have.

Share with us your artist trading card! Simply take a picture of the final piece and post it on our Facebook page.

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