Today we’re going to talk about planning and organizing an Artist Trading Card (or ATC) swap. It can be a big, BIG undertaking, but it is so incredibly rewarding at the end!
For this blog entry, we are also going to talk a bit about YouTube, since that is the scope from which I view the world, but there is no reason that you would NEED to follow this part of the information unless you are also using YouTube.
So the first thing that we must do, is we must define WHAT exactly an Artist Trading Card is, and why we make them.
An Artist Trading Card, or ATC is an original piece of artwork which is 2.5×3.5 inches. It is a bite-sized piece of artwork which we create in order to send along to other artists. In return, we receive artwork from them! I enjoy doing these swaps partially because I really love collecting other people’s artwork, but also because it is a really great way to get my art out into the world and into other people’s hands. It doesn’t usually cost anything to get involved into a swap, other than paying for postage and your own art supplies, so it’s a great way to get artwork from others for a great price. I also use it as a route toward marketing with my YouTube channel
The way that I do this is that I will record a video for each of the Artist Trading Cards that I’m making for the swap, then I also create a video for the package opening when they arrive. I create a playlist with all of the videos from all of the other artists in the swap, and link to the specific artists video on the package opening video. (Is this making sense? I have used the word video a lot….)
So this is the goal. But what is the planning process like?
1. Set a number and stick with it.
To start off, don’t bite off more than you can chew. I cannot say that loudly enough. DO NOT BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW!! For your first swap, I highly recommend not going over 6 or 7 people. At that point you are already herding chickens, but any more and you will be trying to herd cats. Artists are notorious for being in their own heads. Trying to get that many of them to communicate effectively is a nightmare best saved for those with experience. I personally will not take on more than 15 people per trade. Any more than that is just too much.
2. Pick a theme.
Artists like to work within constraints. We like themes and focuses, because it helps us to keep a body of work that makes logical sense. When I do a swap I like to make a Facebook group to add everyone into, that way we can all communicate. I post a poll at the beginning with some ideas for themes and we vote on the theme to decide which one we will do. The one with the most votes wins. Try to keep the list of possible themes to around 3-4 that way there is a clear winner.
3. Set dates and stick to them.
Now that we’ve decided on a theme and we’ve talked about what we’re trying to actually achieve with the swap (YouTube videos, collaborations, art for our personal collections, etc…) then we want to talk about clear deadlines. As the person who is running the show you need to be in control of it. When I post I will specifically mention that each person will send me an envelope with their cards inside.