If you participate in ATC swaps initiated via the Internet at some point you may receive an ATC that you don’t care for.
You may also participate in “blind swaps” with one person and again, you may end up with ATCs that you don’t like or love.
Perhaps after collecting ATCs for some time you will want to downsize your collection and keep a smaller number.
There are a few options to pursue.
There is a relatively new Yahoo Group! Called “2ndGenATC” in which member’s trade ATCs with each other. There are online photo albums that we can use to display the ATCs that we would like to trade. We simply scan the ATCs that we don’t want and upload them. Most people also upload some images of our own ATCs in case a person wants to trade for those, to widen our selection. Members contact each other to make arrangements.
The newest fun thing that “2ndGenATC” is doing are “Art Boxes”. These are boxes which have at least 25 ATCs in them that are mailed to different members. When we receive the box we have the pleasure of looking at all the ATCs 'in person' and we decide if we want to own any of them. We then swap into the box, ATCs that other people created or our own ATCs. I received one of these Art Boxes two weeks ago and picked eight ATCs to keep.
Some people are lucky to live in areas where people are making ATCs and doing in person “meets”. People gather at a spot and show the ATCs that they want to trade and make face to face trades. From what I read of the history of ATCs this is the way the movement started. I am not lucky enough to live in a place where people are doing this. The nearest meet-up to me was 4 hours away! I really like seeing the actual ATC before I make the trade. Scanning is not always an accurate representation of the ATC. I have seen examples of the scan not doing the actual ATC justice and other times when the scan looked great but the actual ATC looked inferior.
Some people are afraid to join a ‘second generation’ trade group as they say they fear seeing any of their own ATCs as ‘unwanted’. I agree that if a person is going to be upset at the idea that someone doesn’t like their ATC enough to keep it that they should not join the list. Those of us on the list are of a different mindset. We feel that not all people like all forms of art and that it is possible that we think we did a good job on something and we like it but that someone else may not like it. We would rather have our art in the hands of someone who appreciates it rather than thrown in the garbage or kept and perhaps even loathed by someone. I also know that if I ever see any of my own ATCs up for re-trade, I will trade for them myself, because I like all of the ATCs that I swap out and I even regret giving some away! To think that an ATC which I love is not appreciated by the owner is bothersome to me so I’d rather own it myself or have someone else own it who appreciates it.
Discussions about this topic have gone on with regular ATC trading groups as well as on the "2ndGenATC" Group.
Once I asked if people thought that other people's ATCs should be sent to other people as "random acts of kindness" (RAK). I received not one positive response to this question. The overall attitude was to deem the ATC as junk and to send someone junk was not nice or "kind" at all. I felt that just because I didn't like the ATC myself didn't mean it was "junk". I also felt that a RAK isn't offically defined as sending my own art to someone else. Sometimes the RAK that is received are base materials or even cut-out's from magazines to be used in collage work (someone may think THAT is junk), who knows.
I recently did a 2/2 trade with a newbie to ATCs who lives overseas. I decided to add to the envelope, two ATCs that other people made to help her build her collection. I don't think there is anything wrong with that!
Yesterday I browsed the photo albums of the second generation group and saw six ATCs that one person is getting rid of that I wanted. I am waiting for that trade to be confirmed. I hope it comes through!
I also can’t wait to receive my next Art Box. I enjoyed the Art Box more than themed swaps that I have entered recently because I get to preview the ATCs before choosing which I want to own. I have been making more ATCs in anticipation of receiving the next Art Box.