New ways to Create and Display your Artist Trading Cards

11 Jan 2011

Cheryl Johnson decided to change up the way that she displayed and created Artist Trading Cards.  For some inspiration on how to spice up your own ATC collection read on.

 What was your inspiration when you decided to change up the shape of ATC’s

That was kind of a series of one thought leading to another.  Every year I participate in an Artist Trading Card (ATC) exchange with my fellow Out of Bounds art quilt group members.  These little trading cards are such a fast and fun way to share your art with your creative friends.  And, like many of my fellow artists, I get so much pleasure in creating, collecting and exchanging these small pieces of art.  I began my annual rummage through my ATC collection for that inspirational spark to ignite my creativity; I found I had to hunt all over the house for my cards.  A few were pinned on my design wall, a few scattered around my house in frames but most of them were tucked away, out of sight.  I simply had no space in my studio to display them all.  I realized I wanted to find a way to display all of them in my studio.  The challenge was on!


I decided I could hang them from the ceiling on a mobile and then I could swap them out whenever I wanted and for any season or theme.  I soon realized they were not bound by their rectangular shape either.  The ATC’s could be round, or triangular or any shape.  What about houses, fruits or birds?  My mind was spinning and the possibilities seemed endless.  For my first project, I decided on a circular shape with eyelets top and bottom so they could be connected to each other and hung from a cord or a chain.  Now instead of looking at them once-a-year for inspiration, I could be inspired each day when I walked into my studio and saw them all hanging together.

Can you tell me more about your Out of Bound’s group?

Out of Bounds formed a few years back when several of us were already in a traditional quilt bee.   I would say the two main reasons we came together was we wanted, first, to play with mediums and ideas outside traditional quilting and, second, to have a critique group that was safe and honest.  The result has been a surprising energy and one of the many benefits we take away from our monthly meetings.  At our meetings, we discuss any design exercises that may have been presented, critique individual's ongoing work, and "envy" finished work.  We may touch on what has helped us get over a rough creative spot, what books particularly resonated or discuss quilt shows and museum exhibits coming to our area.  On occasion we host "play dates," where we literally play with whatever (for example, discharging with bleach, painting on fabric, or playing with a felter).  Feeding off each other in such an environment strongly encourages experimentation in areas we might not go on our own; at lot of rule breaking goes on! 

How did they react to making the circular ATCs?

The group was (as usual) very open to new ideas and very supportive.  Once I told them about the idea, I also warned them that thinking about changing up the shape was very contagious.  It’s the artist favorite question; what if I……. 

How do you display these ATCs?

As I mentioned earlier I ended up linking my ATC’s together to hang on my studio wall but in thinking of ideas to show off our ATC’s other ideas came to the surface such as using the eyelet to link them on a book ring with strips of fabric tied to the ring as embellishment.  We still love the classic bowl on the coffee table because it is so inviting to friends and guests who doesn't know what an ATC is.  Let’s face it seeing a bowl of ATC’s is like candy you just have to touch and see what it is.  Of course it doesn’t hurt to set it next to a bowl of candy either.

Any advice to people who want to make unique ATCs?

Lots of advice but the big one is to have fun (one can never be reminded of that enough in my opinion) and try to add something that you haven’t done or worked with before.  It’s the perfect environment.  You’re working on a smaller scale so it takes the intimidation out of experimenting with something new and usually has been the most successful for me because I didn’t attach big expectations.

Thanks for sharing Cheryl!

Related Posts
+ Add a comment


linnerlu wrote
on 11 Jan 2011 9:04 AM

Cheryl, what a fantastic idea, and a great article!  Your out-of-the-box thinking and your creativity are so inspiring.  Out of Bounds is lucky to  have you!

    Linda Teddlie Minton,

    San Antonio, TX

on 11 Jan 2011 10:25 AM

I love this idea.  I'd love to see a couple of follow up pictures, like how Cheryl displays them!  So much fun.  I bet we'll be seeing a lot of round ones showing up!

H Koski wrote
on 16 Jan 2011 7:24 AM

Why isn't it filed under ATC's or Artist Trading Cards?

on 16 Jan 2011 11:53 AM

What a great idea.  I trade ATCs monthly with one group and occasionally with a couple of other groups.  I keep mine in a looseleaf binder but it would be nice to have some of them out where I can see them every day.

Quine wrote
on 16 Jan 2011 4:35 PM

Cheryl  Good idea to make different shaped ATC's - I like it - I think it would be a good idea to make triangle ones and hang them up like bunting.  Bright and colourful and gives you a party/celebration feel.  I love bunting and using up little pieces of material (cause I can't throw anything out!)  


on 20 Jan 2011 12:07 AM

I love my ATC collection and it continues to grow.  Thanks for the informitive article and great idea for display!

Renetha wrote
on 1 Jan 2012 10:30 AM

I too love the idea of shapes for ATCs.  I usually stuck with the rectangle shape, even when making the ATC dolls.  But now, I see the unlimited possibilities of using new shapes.  I love it when an idea takes off!

CC in WI wrote
on 2 Jan 2012 4:28 PM

I created a display with postcards but this would work great with ATCs also. I took a hard cover book and folded each page in half. You can see it here.

CC in WI