Monday, December 23, 2013

Pocketbook Paintings

© Diane Ursin
Though Mom's not usually a glitter person,
she did this for an ACEO contest
with the theme "All that Glitters."
When you think “art collector,” what springs to mind?

Someone vastly wealthy?

But it is possible to collect original works of art the way a kid collects trading cards.

As explained in this book, artists have long made miniature examples of their works. Back before images could be reproduced by technology, they would make small pictures to give potential buyers, sort of like a business card, or to trade with each other, so they could study each other’s styles. Buyers liked these “pocketbook paintings” so much, they began requesting ones of their families and friends so they could carry them with them, much the same as people used to carry snapshots in their wallets.

In 1997, a Swiss artist named M. Vanci Stirnemann made 1,200 card-sized pieces of art for a show – and at the end of it, invited people to make their own and trade with him. Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) were born. The idea behind these cards, which are the same size as kids’ trading cards (2 ½” by 3 ½”), is that their creators trade them amongst themselves – trade, not sell – preferably in person.

In 2004, an artist named Lisa Luree established a new kind of art card on eBay, one that could be sold. She called these Artists Cards Editions and Originals (ACEOs) to keep the difference between them and ATCs clear.

Now, not only are there thousands of ACEOs for sale on eBay (full disclosure: my mom, Diane Ursin, does ACEO cards as well as other artwork), but artist groups, such as the Nibblefest Art Contest (NFAC), stage regular contests, for ACEOs and other-sized artwork. A theme is declared – “All that Glitters,” “Sweet as Sugar” or “Giraffes” – and the artists get to work on their entries, submitting them by putting the cards for sale on eBay (starting price: 99 cents).

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