SchoolArts Room

Elements and Principles Artist Trading Cards

By Nancy Walkup, posted on Sep 28, 2011

Do you want to cover the elements and principles of art rather quickly for introduction or review? An effective approach is to have your students make artist trading cards, one for each of the elements and principles of art.


Give your students each a plastic trading card sleeve that has nine slots. You can have your students make up to 18 cards this way if you use the front and the back. My university students are working on these now. Here is a lesson plan to get you started.

Objectives
Students will:
• demonstrate an understanding of the elements and principles of art.
• create artist trading cards, one each that effectively depicts the different elements and principles of art.


Resources and Materials
• paper cut into trading card size, 2 ½ x 3½, 9 or more per student
• plastic sleeve pages that has 9 compartments, one page per student
• assorted papers; construction, tissue, wallpaper, newspapers, cardboard
• assorted drawing and painting media
• scissors
• glue

Background Information
Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are miniature works of art, usually done on card stock, that are traded between artists. They can be about anything and made with any media, materials, or techniques. They can be produced as one-of-a-kind originals, in limited editions, or in a series based on a particular theme or subject. It’s all up to the individual artist. The rules for ATCs are simple.

ATCs must:
• measure 2.5 x 3.5 inches (64 X 89 mm).
• be traded for other cards—not sold.
• be flat enough to fit into a plastic trading card sleeve.
• be signed and dated on the back of the card.

A Short History of ATCs
Artist Trading Cards have been around for less than a decade. Yet, their historical roots can be traced back to the Mail Art and Fluxus movements of the 1960s, and even earlier to the Dadaist movement of the 1920s.

Swiss artist M. Vänci Stirnemann first developed the concept of Artist Trading Cards in 1996, when he decided to document his activities with other artists by producing a catalogue of 1,200 cards he created by hand. He exhibited the cards at his bookstore gallery in Zürich in May 1997. On the last day of the exhibit, Stirnemann invited anyone who wanted a card to create their own ATC to trade during the closing reception.

Canadian artist Chuck Stake (aka Don Mable) attended Stirnemann’s exhibition that May and also participated in a Trading Session while in Zürich. Stake became very enthusiastic about ATCs and collaborated with Stirnemann to stage “The First International Biennial of Artist Trading Cards” at The New Gallery in Calgary, Canada that included 80 artists from 10 different countries. Since then, with the help of the Internet, interest in ATCs has spread around the globe.

Many artists who make ATCs use the Internet to display their cards and to locate others willing to trade cards by mail or to share ideas. However, organized face-to-face ATC sessions are, by far, the preferred means of meeting other artists and trading cards. Today, you will find ATC swap sessions happening in most major cities around the world.

http://www.artjunction.org/atcs.php

Vocabulary
• artist trading cards
• line, shape, form, texture, color, space, value
• proportion, movement and rhythm, balance, emphasis, unity, variety, pattern

Preparation
Cut paper into trading card size pieces, 9 per student. Assemble and distribute an assortment of media and papers. Make some examples of artist trading cards.

Motivation
Explain to students that artist trading cards are miniature works of art traded by all ages. They can be made with any media, materials, or techniques, as long as they fit into a plastic trading card sleeve.

Procedures
Give students each one sleeve page and have them write their names on them. Start by reviewing line and then ask students to create a line design with as many types of line as possible, on their first card, using marker.

For the shape card, ask students to make a small collage using different kinds and shapes of paper.

For the form card, ask students to make a three-dimensional card using low relief by rolling or folding paper. The card must still fit within the plastic sleeve.

For the texture card, ask students to make a textured collage with as many different textures as possible.

For the space card, ask students to make a design or picture that shows positive and negative space.

For the color card, have students make a design or picture that uses the primary colors, red, yellow, and blue.

For a second color card, have students make a color wheel using papers cut from magazines.

For the value card, ask students to make a design or picture that shows different values of the same color.

For the proportion card, ask students to make a design or picture that shows proportion.

For the movement and rhythm card, ask students to make a design or picture that shows movement and rhythm.

For balance, have students do two cards, one for symmetrical balance and one for asymmetrical balance.

For emphasis, ask students to make a design or picture that shows emphasis.

For unity, ask students to make a design or picture that shows unity.

For variety, ask students to make a design or picture that shows variety.

For pattern, ask students to make a design or picture that shows a repeating pattern.

Additional cards can be assigned as desired to fill the sleeves.

As each card is finished and dry, it can be placed in the sleeve. Nine will fit on the front and nine will fit on the back. These could be displayed by taping the sleeve pages together to make a hanging curtain or placed in a notebook.

Assessment
To what extent did students:
• demonstrate an understanding of the elements and principles of art?
• create artist trading cards, one each that effectively depicts the different elements and principles of art?

Extensions
• Students could make a set of ATCs based on a theme, rather than on the elements and principles.
• Students could write the name of the specific element or principle on each card.

Web Links
http://www.artist-trading-cards.ch/
http://www.artjunction.org/atcs.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artist_trading_cards
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/artisttradingcards/
http://www.atcsforall.com/