Sunday, December 19, 2010

ATC (Artist Trading Cards) & Zentangles

This is what's in my mailbox right now!

This week I got a couple of Zentangle books for my birthday (Thanks Debbie) and simultaneously got curious about Artist Trading Cards (ATC) Exchange. Coincidentally, I found an online black & white Zentangles ATC exchange! I haven't had my fortune read or investigated my horoscope lately, but if I did it would have said I was destined to exchange some Zentangles I guess.

Right now, you may be asking yourself two questions: 1. What is Zentagle and 2. What is an ATC Exchange?

Okay... here we go...


According to their website (here),

Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing. It increases focus and creativity. Zentangle provides artistic satisfaction and an increased sense of personal well being. Zentangle is enjoyed by a wide range of skills and ages and is used in many fields of interest.

We believe that life is an art form and that Zentangle is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life.
I want to see some research on the increased focus, creativity and relaxation, but it sounds highly possible. What makes it cool is there is no talent required. It's a guide to doodling for the doodle-challenged. Simple.

On an A.T. side note, one could offer a quick lesson in Zentangle and do a pre and post stress measurement. Or have a chat on why creativity is scary and adults forget how to play and introduce Zentangle. Or talk about mindfulness and Zentangle. Or how to deal with mistakes and Zentangle. The directives are endless. Oh, I should probably mention Zentangle is registered and they have their own workshops, so don't go acting like you invented it.


ATCs are trading cards that people make and exchange. There are many ways this can be done. You could have an ATC exchange group or host a party (although let's be honest -- that sounds like a mega nerdfest), but I think it's mostly a mail art sort of deal, which is what I just did.

You can buy over-priced pre-cut cards or slice your own. If you google "ATC Exchange" you'll get a list of exchange sites or you can just go to and look around at what sort of exchanges are going on. People make up themes and host exchanges. For example, a host might decide on a theme like "puppies" and people would send a determined amount of cards that represent puppies and a SASE to the host, who would mix the puppy cards up and send everyone back the same amount of cards made by others. I love making stuff and I love getting mail, so this is just all around fun.

On an A.T. note possible directives that come to mind without fully thinking them through are Self as Superhero (but on a trading card), Coping Skill ATC Exchange in group, Art Mystery Gift ATC Exchange, Something I've Always Wanted to Do, But Never Have Exchange or Illustrate Your Favorite Quote Exchange. Probably anything that's positive and of universal interest is good on a therapeutic card and exchangeable, if you're working with people who can handle that.

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