Saturday, August 19, 2006

Too Much Talking About ATCs and Not Enough Making of ATCs For Me

I have not made ATCs in over two weeks. I really miss it.

I have been too busy with things in real life and/or too sick to do it. I did have three chances to make art this week but had creative block. I didn’t have enough time to haul out the paint or to make a big mess, so I just didn’t do much at all.

I flipped through a few magazines and took out some images that I may use in collage some day.

Last month while quite sick with Lyme Disease, I went gone ‘no mail’ on all the art email lists except for one. I am up to date with checking and reading those emails. I have been annoyed with some of the messages. So I am considering going no mail from that list as well. Perhaps I’ve been doing too much thinking about making art and talking about making art and taking in too many ideas. Perhaps I should just take that time and actually make the art and try the ideas.

Once I had a nice email reply from Teesha Moore, a response to an email that I wrote to her. In it she shared that she does not discuss art on the Internet as it got too negative. I was surprised. Another thing we were discussing was the critique of another person’s art work, how dangerous that is. She was encouraging me to do what I want; make the art I want for my own self and to not think about if anyone else will like it. If I have to stop the part of artist trading cards that is about the talking about them in order to continue the swapping part of artist trading cards then I may have to do that. I could also just stop making ATCs and just make other art as well, art that doesn’t involve swapping and dealing with other people (but then I’d miss out on some great/good conversations and also I’d not get to own some wonderful little pieces of other people’s artwork).

I only send out ATCs that I think are decent, that is, they follow rules, they are glued together well, they are cut in straight lines when the lines are supposed to be straight, they are the right size, etc.

I can’t control if anyone likes what I make or not. I am alright with the idea that someone may think what I do is weird or perhaps even ugly or stupid or whatever. My little ATCs are what they are, they are not masterpieces but they are little creations from my own mind and hands.

However I would never send out an ATC which I thought was garbage or that I just threw together for a trade in order for me to be collecting back something that was of higher quality. That is not my intent with being in an ATC swap, to produce garbage in order to quickly collect lots of other ATCs. I have a lot of supplies here, and using an assembly line style and some ideas that I see on other ATCs I could rip out a slew right now if I wanted to. But I am not, because my own ATCs are my own creations that may be inspired by someone else’s work but they are not a direct copy of it.

I don’t expect that I will always like the other ATCs that I receive in blind swaps or blind private trades. I know that when I participate in a swap, that I may be disappointed with what I get, I set myself up for that, and then if I am not disappointed it is like a surprise gift!

I don’t judge others if I don’t like their ATC style, color, theme, etc. I just don’t have to like them. It is alright not to like something.

It is also alright to own something and to like it for a while, but to not keep it until I die.

I am sick of the debate over what to do with ATCs that a person doesn’t want to keep. Some people throw the ones they don’t want in the trash. That is their prerogative. I don’t do that. I trade mine out again to someone else who does like them.

I am sick of the controversy about that: trading ATCs. I don’t know where some people get the idea that an artist TRADING card is not meant to be TRADED. Those that state that say that they view an ATC is a GIFT. I disagree as participation in an Internet based SWAP is BLIND and the maker usually doesn’t even know who ended up owning their ATC. So to say it is a gift is a stretch to me.

To those who make handmade greeting cards: do you think everyone keeps every card you gave to them? You may be disappointed to know that your work ended up in the trash bin, where most people put their greeting cards. One reason that I’ve not gotten into making intricate homemade greeting cards is that I know that most of my friends and relatives throw them in the trash two seconds after reading them. If they don’t value them, why should I put more money and effort into them? I know some of you are already answering that, you’ll say that your joy comes from the process of making it and that the greeting card served a purpose, to give you joy while you were creating it. Okay, that sounds good, I can agree with it. I have to pick and choose how I spend my spare time and so, that reason is not good enough for me, I still prefer to spend my time making ATCs that are traded and which part of the fun is in the swap part, the part where my mail comes and not everything in it is bills or junk mail—sometimes tucked in with the mail is a package with some fun ATCs in it to brighten my day and give me a fun surprise—what will the envelope have inside it today? That to me is a lot of fun and why I have not quit ATC trading (so far).

Back to ATCs as a gift…
Also who ever said that a gift must be kept? Do we all keep every gift we ever receive just because it is a gift? That is one source of developing a clutter problem, in my opinion. I am a Pack Rat by nature so believe me, I know clutter problems and they are problems that I want to avoid if possible.

I can’t relate to those who say they love every ATC they own even if they hate the way it looks or if it is poor quality (such as literally falling apart)? How can you love something that you have used such a strong word to describe: hate? Hate is a strong word!

I have received some ATCs that were morally offensive to me, and I have no qualms about not keeping them. It is interesting that some of the people who keep saying they love every ATC they get publicly announce their Christianity to all through their email signature lines and/or content on their website, however some of the ATCs I’ve seen contain very obvious sins including nudity or pictorial representations of s*xually sinful acts as defined by the Ten Commandments, and some have content that is morally oppositional to Christians. So I remain miffed—perhaps those Christians have not seen those types of ATCs? Some Christians say “no nudes on ATCs for me due to my religious beliefs”. Well it is okay for someone to say that for religious purposes but if a person doesn’t like a certain other kind of image on an ATC we are BAD people? Huh??

I assume that not everyone who owns one of my ATCs will love it. That is alright.

I don’t care what someone does with my ATCs after they own them. I’d hate for you to sell it for a profit though, if you could actually find someone willing to pay for it. I would be very, very happy if you swapped out/traded my ATC to someone else who would enjoy it. It would be good if someone ended up owning it, who liked it. I don’t like the idea of someone keeping my ATC just for keeping-it’s sake but every time they look at it to say “blech, that is ugly/weird/stupid”.

Because I have experience in a second generation swapping list, I can attest to how fun and great it is to participate in the art box swapping process. The art boxes that come to me have 90 ATCs in them. I get to admire in person, so many ATCs! I am inspired by many, even though I don’t end up keeping all 90 of them. So you see, those re-traded ATCs are inspiring more people than the one original owner! Swapping in that way with this group is not anything negative. We don’t sit and slam the people whose ATCs we put into the box. It is all quite anonymous in the end anyway; no one knows who put what in the art box. Note we call it an ‘art box’ which indicates appreciation for them; we don’t call it a ‘junk box’ or a ‘crappy ATC box’.

When ATC trading began, the trades were done face to face, and people would look at ATCs and PICK the ones they wanted. I cannot find any documentation that when this began, that the artists only traded out the ATCs that they created themselves. There is nothing in the rules to indicate that trading the trading cards is not ethical or ‘not nice’ let alone ‘against the rules’.

We have also had a discussion about the collecting of ATCs and selling them for profit on eBay. I feel that doing it is unethical. Some people feel that once the ATC is out of our hands the owner can do anything they want with it (true) but to me that doesn’t make it ethical.

I have said in the past that baseball trading cards are meant to be traded and collected. They are sold in stores for goodness sake, and paid for with money. When you buy a pack of them, you don’t know what is in them. You may like and want a certain team’s cards, but what you get is a crapshoot. Trading is encouraged. Selling old cards is what some collectors do. The cards are made in a factory and are mass produced. While some are intentionally rarer due to lower production numbers, the whole thing is a commercial enterprise, therefore setting the stage that more commercial activity with selling them to collectors is not only ethical but encouraged.

To me artist trading cards are meant to be traded, not sold. ATCs are handmade, not bought with money, and they are traded out. They are usually traded out, in a group swap or a game type swap (‘winner takes all”) or in a privately arranged swap. Lucky people live in areas where face to face swaps are done, where they can hand pick the ATCs they want to swap for. I think that ATCs should not be sold because they were made with the intention of being traded only, that is the spirit of the process, of the game, in my opinion.

If you want to make one of your own little cards that are sized 2.5x3.5 inches and sell it, the proper name for it is an ACEO (art card editions and originals). So do that if you want, call it an ACEO and sell your stuff, make a profit, good for you, go for it.

After writing all of this out I think I really do need to stop thinking and talking about ATCs and just sit down and make some.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Negative Discussions on ATC Chat Lists

I don’t think that ten days can go by without a negative discussion going on at a certain ATC chat list that I am a member of.

In the past I have gotten quite upset over some of what I read.

Sometimes, yes, I agreed with what was said. Sometimes I have voiced complaints (in a polite manner). Most of the time I keep quiet. Lately I have tried to chime in with positive things to say. That doesn’t always work as someone picks up from there and it gets back to negative. The other thing I chime in about is saying, "well this list doesn't have a rule for that but if YOU want it then why don't YOU suggest it to the list owner". The idea for more rules makes some cry out in opposition. I am not saying that I want more rules. But sometimes if a person is complaining and the group does not have a rule for that issue and the complainer takes it to the list owner the decision might be "no, we don't want that rule". Then the person took it up with the person in charge and if they don't like the outcome they can choose to leave if they want. I can't stand so much complaining to the powerless list members. The list members can't do anything about most of it. The only things that can happen, that I guess some people want, is that the others will feel peer pressure and they will either conform or maybe they will quit. As to the complainers, they could quit as well and find a Group who has more rules and is less loose.

I was so upset last week about some things that were said that I decided to stop reading ATC chat list emails for a while (it lasted about two days, it was hard to stay away). I also made a pact with myself that if a negative discussion came up again I’d not enter the discussion.

So yesterday another negative discussion came up. I am keeping my mouth shut. I may even choose to not read any more replies in that thread.

I also am annoyed with some things about hosting a swap that ended earlier this month. As a result I decided to take a break from hosting swaps. I am going to switch gears again to just participate in swaps when I have the time.

Now that I am feeling better and since the new school year is approaching I will be busy homeschooling my children and am not sure how much time I will have for chatting about ATCs on email. I probably will concentrate more on the making of the art in every possible spare moment.

Through private emails I have been told of some not very nice things that go on in the ATC trading world which surprised me and disappointed me. I am still digesting that negativity.

Each time a negative tone conversation takes place on the chat list it seems to me that some members that were actively chatting quit the list.

The main things that have repeated hot discussions are these:

1. Swap participants not being on time with deadlines causing either the other participants to be mad that the swap is being held up and/or the hostess being annoyed.

2. Some people saying that ATC trading is for fun and should not involve deadlines and rules.

3. Opinion that ATCs received in a swap are of poor quality or are literally falling apart while that person feels they spent a lot of time and effort in making their own ATCs.

4. What to do with ATCs that someone doesn’t like—is it ethical to trade those with others?

I am so drained from such negative discussions that I am close to quitting that particular list. The thing that keeps me from not doing it is that there are some great artists on the list whose ATCs I receive during the swaps (some who never chat on the list) and that I have learned a lot from these artists and I continue to learn new things.

We’ll see what happens this time.

Just to clarify the issue is not rudeness toward other or profanity or things like that. The issue is that the politely expressed opinions are offensive to some. Then some people post that their feelings are hurt. Some newbie’s then post that they are then afraid to participate in swaps. That is the problem, the overall negative vibe that happens from such discussions.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Creative Block Last Night

Last night after dinner I declared to my family, that I wanted to have some alone time in the kitchen in order to make some ATCs, and no one protested, hooray!

I have signed up for two swaps that required signing up and being assigned a topic to feature on the ATC and I wanted to work on them.

One swap that I signed up for is a ‘distressed alphabet’ swap. I thought I had responded quickly after it was announced but I was the second to last person to sign up for letters, and ended up with Y and Z (the other set left had X in it). I have to make 14 ATCs for each letter. The ATC must represent the letter or an item that starts with the letter and the ATC must have some distressed elements in it. I am thinking of doing them all alike, which is allowed, as the idea of making 28 completely unique alphabet themed ATCs is mind-boggling. Each player in the swap will receive back a full alphabet deck of ATCs. One of our ATCs goes to the hostess for her to keep.

The other swap I signed up for ahead of time is a number swap. I have to make 10 ATCs which all feature the number 1 in some way, shape or manner.

I went through all of my rubber stamps and would you believe I don’t have any stamps for an object that begins with the letters Y or Z? I was also looking for an image that I could use for the number 1, such as one ball, or something like that. However the more I thought of numbers the more I got confused. If I used a flower image, would they get ‘1 flower’ or would they notice there were 6 petals? One person’s face could also mean “2 eyes” or other numerical things.

I began thinking of using some Dover copyright free images from books that I own of images of zebras for the Z ATCs. I could print them on my (black ink) laser computer printer and make transfers with them. I began thinking of background papers but since I didn’t haul everything out I wasn’t getting very far.

I also noted there were no Y images in the three Dover copyright free image books/CD ROM sets that I own. Groan.

So I went to bed without coming close to making any ATCs!

This morning I woke up with an idea for a background for the Z ATCs. Perhaps I’ll find the time today to make some ATCs. No, I will have to make the time in order for it to get done. Let’s hope I don’t let reading emails suck away all of my time this morning!

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Candy Collage Made on Memorial Day

We had a very busy Memorial Day which included watching a parade at which the float riders tossed candies to the children who were spectators.

When we got home I was happy to sit in a comfortable chair and to unwind by making this collage.

My sons were sitting at the table with me eating some of their candy. I was inspired by the bright colors to use some of the wrappers to make a collage with. The intention was to make a collage which would then be sliced into four ATCs.

Here is the finished collage before it was cut up.

The base was a recycled cardboard box of some kind. I then added a background of very colorful mylar which came as part of an Easter basket thing imported from Italy. It was this cool thing that apparently they do in Italy, a giant wrapping of colorful mylar with a hollow chocolate candy egg inside. You smash the egg and inside of that is a toy for the child! They were selling those eggs at a local Italian import grocery store. There were hundreds of them hanging from the ceiling. I was very tempted to take a photo but was too shy to actually do it. I vow to do it next year. Anyway my children were given these as gifts from their grandparents.

Added to the collage were various pieces of paper from our real lives. There is a label from a t-shirt we had just purchase "glow in the dark". There is part of a Girl Scout cookie box. There are a bunch of candy wrappers as I mentioned earlier.

You can see a tiny baseball card that appeared out of who knows where. I used cancelled postage stamps from my recent mail as well as one that came from the postage stamp collecting company.

I had recently experimented with embossing rubfer stamps for the first time and had some left overs from those experiments. One was made onto a tea bag wrapper. Others were made onto backgrounds from magazine ads and mail order company catalog pages.

I had just been working on some ATCs with a heart on top of a map background in which I put the words "Love makes the world go 'round." I had left over scraps from that and added them.

Unfortunately I am having problems uploading the individual scans of the ATCs, so I'll just publish this for now.