Samples courtesy Cindy Couling.

People today have little extra money to spend on artworks, and in many cases don’t have enough space to display traditional paintings or sculptures.


Collectible art cards are a great alternative for people who want to collect inexpensive artworks that they can easily store or display.

Art cards are usually 2.5 x 3.5 inches (63 mm X 89 mm), the same size as sports trading cards, and so they fit into standard cards sleeves and display frames. Just like larger works, art cards may be originals, or reproductions (prints). The cards employ different techniques and media, including acrylic paints, watercolors, pen and ink, block printing, and even collage.

ATCs and ACEOs

The art card movement began with Artist Trading Cards (ATCs).

ATCs were meant to be traded among artists, as a gesture of friendship and respect. The earliest ATCs were almost always originals.

Later, artists began to form small trading groups, connecting online. A group of six to eight artists would produce small editions of cards for the others in their group.

Over time, artists began to produce cards (both originals and prints) for sale. These cards are called Art Cards, Editions and Originals (ACEOs), to distinguish them from the cards meant for trading among artists.

ACEOs can be purchased online from Etsy and eBay, as well as other online venues and art shows. There are also a number of websites and newsletters devoted to the Art Card movement.

Almost every imaginable theme and style is represented among ACEO artists. Some artists now produce collectible series of cards. For example, multimedia artist Cindy Couling has produced a set of ACEOs based on the Mexican Loteria game.

Art Squared and LTCs

Over time, artists have started to produce additional formats, some a bit larger than ACEOs. For example, Art Squared cards are 4 inches (102 mm) square.

Letterboxer Trading Cards (LTCs) are usually the same size as ATCs, but they must include a stamped image – preferably hand-carved. They are meant to be traded among letterboxers, just as original ATCs were meant to be traded among artists.

Formats will undoubtedly continue to evolve, but the key attributes – small size and low price – make these works of art fun and collectible!


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