Catching the Artist Trading Card Bug
By Ronna Mogelon, Publisher ATC Quarterly

It all started off pretty innocently at first. An artist friend of mine, Brenda Kennedy mentioned that her sister-in-law was involved in a group called Artist Trading Cards in Calgary. When she described the group, saying that ATCs were inclusive and that anyone could make a card, in any medium, I was intrigued. The two hard and fast rules were: 1. the size (2.5” x 3.5”) and 2. they were not to be sold but traded one-for-one.

Brenda and I both live in a small farming community about halfway between Ottawa, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. We asked all our arty friends if they’d be interested in becoming involved in their very own ATC group. Then we had to find a venue. We found a small coffee shop in Alexandria, Ontario, centrally located for others who might be interested in joining. The owner agreed and we set the date and time for the last Saturday of each month at 2 p.m. Our first meeting was December 2000. There were nine attendees.

Today, our group numbers over twenty ATC enthusiasts.  We have changed venues because of our size and now meet at the local recreation hall. And the more we grow, the more we all get hooked. Artist trading cards are definitely addictive.

The eldest member of our group is 90 years old, the youngest 10. The meetings are a wonderful place to exchange information and techniques. And ATCs are a good excuse for experimentation. Many artist
friends have told me that they try a new idea on an ATC, using it like a thumbnail sketch, before they attempt a larger canvas. It’s also a place were non-artists can experiment for the first time with sketching or collage.

The word started to spread and people from a long distance would send us cards to trade for them. On the internet, we found others who wanted to mail trade. At that point, there was little information about ATCs available. We were all curious about other techniques and styles. But how could we find out what other people were doing in the world of ATCs? That’s when the idea for ATC Quarterly was born.

I was having coffee with Susan Valyi, an artist/designer friend of mine, saying that I wished there was a zine devoted to ATCs. She simply said, “Why don’t we make one?” And so we did.

Our first issue came out in December of 2005.  We gave them away to our fellow traders and other ATC groups, asking if anyone was
interested in subscribing. Susan has since moved on, choosing to devote more of her time to other artful endeavors, but I am still publishing ATC Quarterly. The subscriptions have grown and the zine has garnered
international attention.

Our subscribers are located throughout the world, from Hong Kong, to Australia, to Germany and Holland, and, of course, Canada and the United States.

The cards cover a wide spectrum of ideas and media. Every possible medium is explored – leather, steel nails, tin, fabric and fiber, rubber stamps, collage, Photoshop, vintage images, and old-fashioned paper. ATCers are great recyclers. Many base their creations on found objects, such as food labels, pop can tabs, airline tickets, receipts, rejection letters, and even old items of clothing.

ATC Quarterly is so much fun to produce. Each issue features unique artwork done by interesting people. And true to the spirit of ATC, not all of them are artists by trade. Among them, we’ve featured funeral directors and employment technicians, teachers and scientists. Students and government workers. We have received work from a soldier and a jewellery designer. The one thing they all have in common is ATCs, the little yet compelling cards that have sparked a growing and diverse international movement.

Our website helps share information by listing how people can get involved in trading groups, located in the United States and Canada.

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