What are Artist Trading Cards?

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are tiny (2 ½ x 3 ½) original pieces of art made in various media. Creating art cards provides opportunities for students to work independently, experiment with materials and techniques and express their unique artistic ideas.

A Brief History of ATCs

In 1997, Swiss artist M. Vänci Stirnemann developed the idea of ATCs as a conceptual art project. Inspired by the Mail Art and Fluxus movements of the 1960s and the Dadaist movement of the 1920s, he called his project a Collaborative Cultural Performance.

In 1996, Stirnemann began making small commercial trading card sized artworks. In 1997, he exhibited a collection of 1,200 cards in his second-hand bookshop/gallery ( in Zürich.

The project was intended to be inclusive and allow people to participate in a (a free) ongoing non-commercial art project.

ATCs in the Classroom

Students can work on ATCs after they have finished their other assignments. Occasionally I give mini ATC assignments to encourage students to experiment with materials and try out new techniques.

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Student Examples

Below are a few examples of ATCs that my students have created. Hopefully these inspire you to try teaching ATCs in your own classroom.

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