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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