Saturday, December 12, 2009

Starting your own ATC swap group

Six months ago I was fortunate to connect with a group of friends who agreed to participate in a monthly artist trading card swap. I want to share how our group is organized and the themes we came up with in case you are interested in starting your own group, or are simply looking for ideas for your ATC's.

We decided from the beginning to limit the group to six people so it doesn't become overwhelming. Each month a different person selects a theme, and we mail the ATCs by the same date each month. If anyone is feeling overwhelmed with their life and can't get it done by the due date, they send it when they are ready. No pressure.

The themes are open for individual interpretation and we use whatever materials we want ... stickers, stamps, words, paint, buttons, fabric, photos, etc. Anything goes. Each person decides if they want to make identical cards for everyone in the group or make each one different.

Our past themes were:
-Bird Nest
-Back to School
-The Witching Hour

I also do a one-on-one swap with a friend, and our past themes were:


To help us get to know each other better, the person who selects the month's theme also comes up with a question for the group. For example, in October when the theme was the witching hour, the question was, "What scares you the most?" In November when the theme was family, we shared one of our earliest family memories. We include the answer to the question in the envelope with our ATC, either on the back of the card or on a separate piece of paper. No one is obligated to answer the question if they don't want to.

For 2010 we are going to get more creative with our themes, opening it up to a specific color palette, materials, medium, technique, etc.

We have a Flickr pool so that we can see the progression of our ATC's. Not everyone in the group chooses to upload their cards, and that's okay. Here is the link if you'd like to take a look:

I've learned so much from participating in the group. When I feel like I've created the ugliest ATCs ever made and want to throw them away and start over, I get to practice not judging my work or comparing it to others. Sometimes I surprise myself by how pleased I am with what I create. I've also learned about the creative process that works best for me, and have had my beliefs challenged about what one "should" and "shouldn't" do when creating art.

But probably the two greatest benefits of being a part of an ATC swap group is it gives you a reason to carve out time to create (it's so easy to put that off, isn't it?), and the deepening of the friendships with the women in the group. If you are thinking of starting or joining an ATC swap group, I highly recommend it.


Unknown said...

thanks so much for the information!


Hi Stacy,
That was a good idea to share about our ATC swap. I hope some gals start one up.
Love all the different PEACE ATC cards that you made.
Hope your weekend is going great.
Deb :)

Theresa said...

I always enjoy looking at the cards and wonder "How does she have time to do that and how does it work"? You just answered those questions for me:) How big are the cards? Are they a set size,
3x5 like a note card, 4x6 like a picture size? Anyway, it is a wonderful fun and so creative idea. Have a blessed evening!

Terra said...

That ATC with the cat really speaks to me. This is a good idea.
I don't have any ATCs, just admire the artistry.

Dogwood said...

Stacy~You did an excellent job in describing our ATC group and the process. It has been fabulous being a part of the group. It has helped me "stretch" my creativity and enjoy the process.

Happiness and HoHoHo...

Suz said...

Oh those are beauties!
Lucky you to have such creative friends
Love the info....thanks

Maiden Jane said...

Amazing creativity on display!

Thimbleanna said...

It sounds like you've been part of a really fun group! I've certainly enjoyed seeing your ATCs each month!

Woollywotnots said...

I really enjoyed reading this post (as I do all your posts!). It was very interesting to learn about your group and what fantastic results. I loved all your photos. I think the 'rules' of your group are great. I love all the ideas that you've put in place each month. Thanks for sharing.

Rachel said...

I am very much enjoying our little group, too. Besides the creativity (which is just awesome) it's so much fun getting to know one another.

Debra said...

it all sounds very free spirited..well done..and yours are gorgeous :)

Niesz Vintage Home said...

All of your cards are beautiful, although I do admit to being partial to your bird themed ones. :-)

It sounds like your ATC swap has had a very positive effect on your artwork.
I attribute a similar effect to my gives me a good excuse to sew and create. And even to pull out my collections and appreciate them more fully.

Nice post!

Hilary Martin said...

I just noticed that ATC is an anagram for cat.