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13 Easy Techniques to Make Artist Trading Cards

Sheetal Mandora Mar 5, 2020
For a memorable meeting with fellow artists and potential clients, add an extra touch of flair to your artistic trading cards. Let us be your guide to creating some amazing cards with 13 easy techniques.

Trading Tactic

Locate an in-person or online swap in your area to trade cards with others. You can even organize a swap of your own, and invite artists you know.
With Switzerland taking credit for developing this mail art movement, artist trading cards are marvelous pieces of work by creative artists from around the world. The business world may have the sophisticated and formal-looking cards; but for the innovative and visionary beings, there's nothing better than these cards.
Usually, these cards are traded or exchanged with other artists. However, some people opt to sell them as well, which are mostly known as Art Cards, Editions and Originals, or ACEOs.
To create one-of-a-kind originals, or printed or photocopied editions, you too can have your own editions of these so-called business or calling cards. But in order to begin, you need to be aware of the different techniques used for making the cards. So, to help you get started, we have provided information on various media used by many artists.

How to Make Artist Trading Cards

These miniature pieces of art are in fact easy to create, and come handy for trading with other local artists. But before that, let's go over the necessary steps to making these cards from scratch.


There's not much to explain about how you can use black and colorful markers to make the cards.
What you need to focus more on is the theme. Basically, keep a central idea or decide on a focal point on the card. This way, you will be able to keep the designs crisp and clear.


If you've done scrapbooking, or like to create something beautiful by combining various ideas, a collage is a great choice.
Again, having a theme is always a good starting point; but it's never a constraint. You can pick elements like ribbons, vintage photographs, feathers, beads, stamps, paper cutouts, and so much more for the collage ATCs.

Encaustic Painting

From a smooth, flat surface to a textural one, encaustic painting is widely used to create ATCs. This technique uses beeswax and paint, which is melted with damar gum.
What's amazing about encaustic is that you get to apply layers of wax over one another to make a single piece of art. And to fuse it all together, you will require a source of heat―quilting iron or heat gun.
Either of the heating tools used adds a bit of shine to the surface (layer of colorful wax). Then, once the heat is removed, it allows the wax to cool down and fuse onto the cards.


Embroidered ATCs are possible; when you have the right tools to work with.
A sewing machine and decorative threads are the two obvious supplies you'll need. Basically, from here on, you can pretty much include other items like sequin, fabric scraps, ribbons, yarn, feathers, buttons, rhinestones, and so much more.
What you need to decide is whether to try a variety of knitting or stitching techniques, or use different types of colored fabric to make the cards. Apart from following the embroidery technique, you can also use quilting, weaving, sewing, and fabric.


Apart from watercolor paintings, add depth to your ATCs by painting over Bockingford paper.
The liquid paint easily overlaps onto the paper and 'bleeds' to give it a wonderful effect. Applying intense colors with either brush or eyedropper is the right way to create the cards.
And, if you wish to keep the different-colored paint from merging with one another, draw the outlines of your creation before you begin coloring. Of course, you can use other styles and techniques to make your cards. Some examples are crayon resist, oil paint, and spray paint.

Paper Cutouts

Just as you cut out text from newspapers and magazines, you can create 3D paper cutouts to make the ATCs.
Use either scissors or a utility knife to make elaborate cutouts. The only thing to keep in mind is, this technique requires a lot of concentration and a careful hand. Also, it'll test your patience.


Acrylic painting requires a bit of experience and understanding of the art.
Which is why, it is essential that you learn at least the basics of using acrylic paint. Apart from using acrylic paint, you can try your hand at making the cards with pastel, inks, crayons, and poster paints.

Pencil Drawing

From pastel pencils to color pencils and the regular ones, pour your creative side onto the cards.
Basically, apart from keeping the size in mind, the prospect of making the cards is wide open. You can also use gel pens and charcoal to make the cards.

Rubber Stamping

A massive collection of rubber stamps can be readily available online or at your local craft store.
There are so many designs, themes, patterns, and sizes to browse through that you'll be spoiled for choice. But before you let any of it overwhelm you, remember to look for deeply-etched dyes that provide better-quality images for the cards.
The reason behind it is, the deeper the dye ink is etched, the risk of having spray ink marks on your work reduces. Another variation to this technique is using stencils to create the cards.


There are plenty of ways to use text on the cards. One way is to cut and glue letters, words, and phrases from old newspapers, magazines, and books.
Now the issue (if it seems like one for you) is, you may wish to use something other than the standard fonts. In this case, you can type the text on your laptop, print it, cut the text as and how you like, and then glue it onto the cards. Simple, ain't it? Depending on the theme of the cards, you can add images, background, and other embellishments.


Created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, these are made by drawing a given connected pattern, repeatedly.
You have to use a micron pen to create these wonderful and delicate patterns.


The use of Photoshop is unavoidable here. So, if you're not familiar with this graphics editing tool, learn about it.
Apart from modifying images, you can also make collages with different layers of glossy or matte images and text. Besides digitally-modified images, you can also give printmaking, calligraphy, and mixed media a try.


One of the fun ways to add great effect to cards, doodle the borders on the paper and fill in the space with designs/ patterns of your choice. Twist doodles by combining with cartoons.
As majority of ATCs come in a standard size (3½ by 2½ inches), invest in good-quality card sleeves or clear photo bags. These will help safeguard your cards and give them a professional look, and make it easier to archive the cards from different artists or groups.