Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Think Outside the Guild: Hang With Other Artists via ATCs

My recent participation in an Artist Trading Card (ATC) group (mentioned in earlier posts), made up of wildly diverse people, has led me to three conclusions;
  1. Fiber artists really are artists (despite what one US embassy visa officer might believe, so sign this); 
  2. Think outside the guild! Whether a person paints, draws, or stitches, we share a profound need to create in response to our inner world and the world around us.
  3. ATCs are the perfect, fun, non-threatening way to dabble in connecting with other artists. Plus, swapping makes for an excellent party!
My new ATC group is diverse in most ways: religion, ethnicity, and age. So far, I'm the only fiber artist; the others are into drawing, painting, printmaking and or collage. Interestingly, all the others are in the helping professions (except me, unless you count quilt blogging as a helping profession? Self-help?)

Our first exchange took place at an office, on a weekend; the second at a members' house. We eat fabulous food provided by our gracious host, drink a little wine or sparkly juice, talk a little about our work, and then march around the table, picking up a card from each members' pile. Most are tucked into envelopes.

Sitting down to open the envelopes is like Chrismukkah! [= Christmas + Hanukkah.]  There's always an exciting gem inside! Below are the cards that I've received in our two exchanges, and a little bit about them and their makers.

Gabri is a painter and a clergyman, and, speaking of gems, his cards have been meditations on the biblical parable about the "pearl of great price." He was so excited about our first exchange that he made and gave us each multiple cards. These are my first two from him:
 For the second exchange, he took a more ethereal approach to the pearl theme.
Jason, a Baptist pastor, reports that he is currently enchanted with calligraphy. He made the card below with acrylic and calligraphy ink, watercolors, and dip drawing pens. The series is about major population growth around rivers. "I was intrigued with how civilization sprouts around water (ie New York, Cairo, etc.), and ...the effect on water and land."  He titled the card below 'New Orleans.' The photo does not do justice to the beauty and wavy texture of the painted areas.

Jenny, who works in philanthropy, makes art using Japanese mineral pigments. The card on the right, below, also includes silver leaf.
Both cards are intricate, exquisite and serene. Jenny says the one on the left was inspired by Hawaii. It somehow reminds me of cell microscopy; to me, the card on the right evokes NASA space photos!

John Tallacksen is a talented professional artist, as well as a community organizer. The first card is a print portrait of a young "graffiti writer" he works with:
The second has to do with a family of sparrows that moved in next door. It's a hand-colored linoleum cut print. 
You can see (and buy) more of John's incredible work, at JohnTallacksen.com.

Karla is also a social activist, working to help bring healthy foods to urban areas. Her cards for our second exchange portrayed little-known edible native Los Angeles plants. I lucked into her beautiful manzanita card, which came with a recipe for jelly, plus the useful information that manzanita helps clear urinary tract infections!
Who knew?

My friend Marian, who brought me into this group, has an amazing eye and loves to work in collage. I love her sense of balance and drama, and her meticulous craftsmanship (she cuts out those little details incredibly accurately!) Below left is her portrait of singer Edith Piaf; there's a metal embellishment on the upper left. On the right, of course, is Sir Paul, enjoying a cuppa, and gazing at me lovingly, forevermore, with piercing hand-colored blue eyes. (Does Paul actually have blue eyes?)

Sue works for a California foundation. Her first card is an abstract confection with layers of paint, brown paper,cardboard and tin foil.

It's about a half-in thick, giving it a fascinating packet-like heft. Side view:
Sue's second card, below, is a collage reflecting her love for California. It's hard to see in the picture, but it's an enchanting seaside scene with a tiny line of strolling fowl, and, of course, antlers.

John W is new participant  At first glance, his collaged card looks awfully cute.

At second glance, it's anything but cute. John, who is an urban pastor and a community organizer, was shaken and saddened by an article about the ongoing devastation of Chernobyl. His response was to cut up the article, and juxtapose the pieces with Mary Engelbreit's happy-sappy images, I think from a calendar. The image on the right side shows a disintegrating wall in an abandoned Chernobyl classroom, hung with portraits of Soviet leaders. Once you know what's in it, this card sizzles with outrage.

I am so grateful to Marian for bringing me into this group! I might never have had the courage to seek out an exchange group of  "2-D" artists to trade with. It's tremendous fun as well as a learning experience!

PS If you missed them, the cards I contributed are here and here.

UPDATE: If you want to find a swap group of your own,

  • Ask at your local art and/or craft store,
  •  Go to groups.yahoo.com/ and type in "Artist Trading Cards." Some groups trade through the mail; others arrange face-to-face meetings in specific cities.
  •  Check out more lists of local exchanges at Artist-trading-cards.ch/events.html


  1. Cathy, these are soooooo interesting. I am totally jealous of your group of artists. JUST what I've been looking for. Did you show yours?

    LeeAnna Paylor
    Severna Park, MD

  2. LeeAnna, thanks for your nice comment. My cards for this exchange are shown here:


    And here: http://gefiltequilt.blogspot.com/2013/07/interactive-woven-scrap-artist-trading.html

    I encourage you to find yourself an interesting group! The end of the first article above has some tips about finding swappers.

    Thanks again for your interest!

    1. PS LeAnna, I just added the following to this blog post:

      UPDATE: If you want to find a swap group of your own,

      - Ask at your local art and/or craft store,
      - Go to groups.yahoo.com/ and type in "Artist Trading Cards." Some groups trade through the mail; others arrange face-to-face meetings in specific cities.
      - Check out more lists of local exchanges at Artist-trading-cards.ch/events.html.

      Thanks again for your helpful input!

  3. How interesting! This afternoon I actually saw a listing for a group near me, but thought it wasn't something I would enjoy--now I'm thinking very differently after seeing your post! Thank you--you are such a wonderful inspiration. Come visit me any time!

    1. Jeri, go for it, you will have such a fabulous time and your group members will realize how incredibly lucky they are to have you! The little wallhanging you gave me is one of my most prized treasures!

    2. Aw, thanks! And I have the postcard you made and gave to me on my wall of beauty....

  4. I'm so glad you posted these. They are all so incredible, and I love learning about the intellectual process that goes into the cards. Fascinating and wonderful.


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