The Artist Trading Card Committee
The Artist Trading Card Committee is a committee of The New Gallery and the organizing group which keeps ATCs going in Calgary and aids in growth of the ATC movement world wide. The offical members of the committee are Paul Brown, Theo Nelson, Georgie Stone and June Hills. Honourary members are Chuck Stake (aka Don Mabie) and Melody Nayler Keller.
Artist Trading Cards are 3.5 in x 2.5 in artworks made to be traded in person or by correspondence. ATCs were first traded in North America at The New Gallery in Calgary, Alberta on September 27, 1997.
The Formal Artist Trading Card Statement
Artist Trading Cards are 2.5 by 3.5 inch miniature works of art. They are works of art specifically made to be freely traded --- thus the name, Artist Trading Card (ATC). The concept of ATCs was developed by m. vänçi stirnemann an artist from Zürich, Switzerland.
vänçi initiated the idea of ATCs while he was visiting Calgary in 1988 to participate in the Olympic Arts Festival as part of The New Gallery's Olympic presentation. While in Calgary, vänçi was surprised by the number of adults who were collecting and trading hockey cards. Being a hockey fan himself... vänçi began to collect and trade; "as a hockey fan i had a lot of fun sitting around a table with fellow artists talking about art, life, and hockey while trading hockey cards," he said. When vänçi visited Calgary in 1990 as The New Gallery's artist-in-residence, he wanted to produce a catalogue to document his activities with other artists in Calgary as part of that project. Because the costs of printing the catalogue in hockey card format were prohibitive, the project was shelved until 1996. After having been frustrated for years by the high costs of manufacturing cards, vänçi decided to produce them himself by hand. This led to the first exhibition of 1200 of his own cards in April 1997 at INK.art&text, a bookstore/gallery in Zürich. On May 31, 1997, the first ATC Trading Day took place there as well. vänçi discussed that initial Artist Trading Card Show and Trading Session via email: "the reaction from the audience at the opening of the first atc show (1200 cards i did over a period of 5 months) at INK.art&text was so good that we (artist cat schick [a transplanted Calgarian now living in Zürich] and i) decided to hold a trading session for the closing. most people were very inspired by the show and felt like producing cards themselves to trade with me and others, and, since i told them that i would only trade and not sell cards at the first trading session, a lot of people showed up with their own cards to trade. there was so much fun and creativity around that cat and i decided to hold a trading session every month."
[NOTE: The above is taken from an article in the August 3, 2000 issue of The Calgary Straight weekly newspaper. The article, entitled: Art That Makes the Trade was written by Melody Jacobson, m. vänçi stirnemann and Chuck Stake and is, given the input from vänçi, the most authoritative source regarding the initiation of ATCs.]
The social aspect of the ATCs was very clear to vänçi from the beginning and has remained a crucial aspect of ATC activity.
ATCs came to Canada in 1997. After I visited vänçi's exhibition of ATCs at INK.art&text I was also able to participate in a Trading Session while in Zürich and I became very enthused with ATCs and brought the idea back to Calgary. The first ATC Trading Session (TS) in Canada was held in Calgary at The New Gallery on September 27, 1997. About 20 Traders attended the initial TS but the idea caught on quickly and attendance at the regular monthly sessions grew as word spread in the art community, as well as in the community at large. A very important aspect of ATCs is that BOTH artists and non-artists of all ages and abilities participate in the activity.
It is important to point out that artists have used the concept and format of collectible cards, that is the 2.5 by 3.5 inch size, a number of times in the past thirty or forty years for a number of purposes. They have been used by artists to promote their work, for commercial purposes, as catalogues, etc. Particularly in North America, collectible cards are ubiquitous and were part of almost everyone's childhood, be they Hockey Cards, Barbie Cards or whatever variation --- this is not so true in Europe, but, in the NA context, pretty much everyone is familiar with the format and the concept. To my mind vänçi's unique contribution was the idea that the cards be made to be traded, and, of equal importance, that the cards could be handmade, they did not have to be manufactured in any way. It was these two simple, but brilliant, ideas that led to the concept of Artist Trading.
Monique Westra, in a review of the ATC Biennial in Calgary's FastForward weekly newspaper (September 07 - 13, 2000) wrote: "By showcasing the cards of artists from different countries in this remarkable Biennial exhibition, the general public and the wider art community are introduced to the tremendous range of techniques, materials, subjects. The exhibition demonstrates their creativity, diversity, beauty and wit. Surfaces can be any number of things --- board, fabric, watercolour paper, wax, metal, and wood to create card faces that can be decorated by a dazzling variety of methods --- painting, drawing, gluing, spraying, rubber stamping, sewing, computer-generating and folding --- to affix any number of materials ranging from found objects like buttons, nails, and beads to organic matter like fur, hair, twigs, and leaves."
ATCs are easily accessible by the general public, but, at the same time they challenge a number of artistic and cultural paradigms. Westra further states: "Mixing traditions and practices of both the art of high culture and popular fads, the enterprise defies hierarchal categorization and erases the distinctions between high and low art. Through transgression and blurring of boundaries, it is a perfect example of postmodernism at its best. The creative freedom and spontaneity of artist trading cards also recalls the era of Dada."
The key to appreciating/understanding ATCs is to attend and participate in a Trading Session --- it is definitely a rush! Part of the rush is the anticipation of what kinds of cards will be traded at the next Trading Session due to the endless creativity of the participating Traders; there are always new and unique cards and approaches to making cards at each Session. I am always amazed at the range of the creative efforts while looking through someone's binder and deciding which cards I would like to trade with them on that day. The one-to-one interaction while trading is a key aspect of ATCs. And, as a definite bonus, you acquire an extensive collection of superb miniature works of art. I must have in excess of 8000 cards now. To reiterate: The most important aspect of the ATC project is the person-to-person interaction and personal meetings which happen during the TS --- it's about the social situation which is created in the space during a Trading Session.
ATCs are created on 2.5 x 3.5 inch (64 x 89 mm) card stock, the same size as traditional hockey cards. Cards may be 2-D or 3-D; the only stipulation is the size of 2.5 x 3.5 inches. ATCs are miniature, signed, dated works of art which are exchanged by artists and non-artists at regularly held Trading Sessions.
An important aspect of ATC activity for me is that ATCs do not involve the exchange of money --- from the first TS cards were freely exchanged.
Seek out and enjoy an Artist Trading Card Session, or, start one in your location and ENJOY!!!!!
ATC (Calgary) Email List
If you would like to be informed by email of ATC events in Calgary or calls for involvement available to ATC traders in Calgary please sign up for the monthly newsletter. It's supported by MailChimp and the signup can be done...
ATCs on Facebook
If you're not already on Facebook, we'd advise you to become a member if only to be kept current with important ATC events. There is now an ATC Group - The Artist Trading Card Committee. Once you're on Facebook find the group and join up. The Facebook mechanisms make it much easier to organize information, to set up and RSVP events and to communicate between members. This group contains additional information on ATCs in Calgary.
ATCs on Display
Artist Trading Cards - Group Trading Show V showing January 23rd to March 31st, 2009 at Mount Royal College just inside the East Gate Entrance [off Ricard Road SW]. Three ATC trading groups were represented: the ATC group from Courtenay, B.C., the ATC group from Winnipeg, Manitoba and the Calgary ATC group. More details and images are available here.
Artist Trading Cards - Photography Edition was on display until from February 5th, 2008 until April 7th in the Plus-15 window of the Untitled Art Society in the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts. This is a large display of photographic-souce ATCs curated by Paul Brown from his collection.
Artist Trading Cards - Group Trading Show IV showed during June and July 2008 at Arts on Atlantic Gallery at 1312A - 9th Ave SE. Five ATC trading groups were represented: a group from Zürich, Switzerland; the ATC Exchange Club of Northern California; a group from Victoria, British Columbia; The Clayville California Clay Artists' Guild and the Calgary ATC group.
This show included a talk on Thursday July 17th by Paul Brown about the origins and phenomenon of Artist Trading Cards and on Saturday July 26th there was an ATC workshop and trading session.
Artist Trading Cards - Group Trading Show III opened on March 6th, 2008 and ran until April 29th in the One Blue Wall gallery at Art Central. The show features cards from three trading groups - the Shawville Artist Trading Card Group, the New England Artist Trading Cards + Meetup Group and the Calgary ATC group.
Artist Trading Cards - Group Trading Show II has just completed a long run at the Wildflower Arts Centre in Spruce Cliff/Wildwood. Cards from the Winnipeg group and a Jack James school group in Calgary have again been matched by Calgary traders. This show started display in late December 2007 and remained up until mid-April 2008. It was extremely well received and was a useful educational tool for many of the art classes held at the centre.
Artist Trading Cards - Group Trading Show I (The first group-trade ATC show) was held during September and October 2007 at Eau Claire Market, where The New Gallery now exists. The groups represented were the Dunvegan, Ontario trading group, the Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild and the Calgary trading group. The exhibit has now been struck and the traded cards have sent back to the participants.
First Thursday ATC Drop-in Workshops in Calgary
On several occasions in the last year ATCs have again joined the First Thursday event schedule at Art Central in downtown Calgary. Unfortunately the First Thursdays organization is in a period of re-evaluation and there are currently no formal First Thursdays being held. There is an expectation that they will restart at some time in the near future and you can expect then that the ATC committee of The New Gallery will organize some more ATC workshops.
If you have a suggestion for another time and place to do an ATC workshop, please let us know through the facebook group noted above.
Next ATC Trading Session in Calgary
The next ATC trading session will take place on Saturday, May 25th, 2013 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at John Snow House, The New Gallery's community outreach annex at 915 - 18th Avenue SW.
Last month at the April trading session we were delighted to have special visitors from Nakusp, British Columbia. Don Mabie and Wendy Toogood were among the very first group of dedicated Calgary traders when things got started back in September 1997. If you're ever heading to Nakusp, look them up to see if you can time your visit to attend the monthly ATC trading session they now run there.
If you have any, bring unneeded ATC-making supplies to give away or trade. There will also be some used card collector sheets available to take away free.
EVERYONE IS WELCOME TO TRADE, VISIT or JUST OBSERVE - Come with cards, come with friends. We're always ecstatic to see long-absent, prodigal traders again and we love to meet new people who want to learn more about ATCs.
|All designs, images and text are copyright to the named artists or The Artist Trading Card Committee|