7:45 AM

ACEOs and why I love them

I've been making a LOT of ACEOs lately. I mean a lot. I've made 31 ACEOs in as many days, practically. I'm actually making 100 ACEOs, at least, all from a theme list just because I wanted to do the creative exercise and think "outside my box."

So, now that you know how obsessed I am with ACEOs, let me tell you what they are. I get asked a lot what "ACEO" is. ACEO stands for "Art Card Editions and Originals." What they are is 2.5 inch by 3.5 inch works of art. Those are the ONLY rules! They can be any medium, any thickness, any subject. I've seen ACEOs made of felt, yarn, polymer clay, paper, wood, metal, glass... the list could literally go on forever. They can be any thickness, so long as the front is 2.5 x 3.5. Most people though make them so they can fit inside a standard playing card sleeve- but they don't have to.

I know what you're about to ask me. You keep seeing the acronym "ATC" as well as "ACEO" and want to know what the difference is. ATC is Artist Trading Card, which is what ACEOs started as. Artists would make them and trade them with others. But, apparently people who aren't artistic wanted to start collecting them, so ACEOs were made- and ACEOs could be sold rather than being traded. This opened the little art craze up further and allowed non-artists to get into collecting.

There's a lot of other information available on ACEOs as well. You can check out Wikipedia, Art-Cards.org, and ACEO.org for more information, or simply enter "ACEO" or "ATC" into Google and browse through. They are very popular on both Etsy, Ebay, and even sites that specialize in JUST ACEO sales!

Alright, so now I've told you a little bit about what an ACEO is, now you're thinking "Okay, that's great, but why the obsession, Liz?"

I'm obsessed with both making AND collecting ACEOs right now. I'm obsessed with making them for many reasons. For one thing, they're really easy for me to store- much easier than storing sketchbooks or prints, that's for sure. Especially since I'm already a card game nerd, so I have boxes for "Magic: The Gathering" cards laying around anyway (which, by the way, are the perfect size, so if you have a local gaming or card shop, you can go there for all your display/storage needs, for the most part! Support your local gaming store!). I also love that they're portable without me having to carry a bag around. I usually only carry a wallet in my pocket, no purse. I take a messenger bag with me if I'm going off to a gaming session or something, but that's it.

So, with ACEOs, I can literally grab a few blanks, wrap my theme list around theme, grab a mechanical pencil, and shove all of that in my pocket and go. I took my hubby to get a haircut last weekend and this was exactly what I did too. While he was getting his haircut, I pulled out the cards and started drawing. So convenient to work on!

Not only that, but they take a little bit less time to do than my full-size pieces, and I've found excuses to experiment with a bunch of mediums that I normally don't use- like watercolor, acrylic paint, and collage. And it's been so much fun too!
I love collecting ACEOs because it gives me an affordable and easy way to collect art from artists I love. My collection is really small, but at the end of this week I'll have about a dozen ACEOs from seven different artists... all for under $25! (Granted, a lot of those have come from trades though other artist friends, but still! With the trades added in, I've gotten all that lovely art for under $50! And only TWO of those are prints instead of originals!) That's incredible for a collection of original art!

"Fine then, these things sound pretty cool... But what am I supposed to do with these things once I have them?"

I'm so glad you asked! I happen to have a few ideas! For one thing, they would look great in a binder with the card pages they sell at shops to hold baseball/trading card game/collectible cards. Or, you can find great display books specifically made for displaying ACEOs (Imagine having some beautiful original art pieces as your coffee table book!). Or, if you'd prefer to decorate your walls with your new small art collection, most super stores that have a section for picture frames will also have 2.5x3.5 frames (I've found them at Wal-Mart for about $2.50 each- very nice black ones too that look fabulous). Or, if you can't find ACEO frames, you can frame two ACEOs together in one 3.5x5 frame as well. If you're feeling really adventurous, get a ACEO mat in a size that you like (I've seen them up to 8x10 size). There are also Baseball card frames that hold a bunch of cards in one display, so you could group bunches of them together. (I found out about these while at my local Michael's- their's held about 20 though)

Another idea that I've heard around the Etsy forums for displaying art cards is to buy Deck Protectors (I recommend Ultra Pro- the trusted name in all geeky gaming circles for card protection) and attach a magnet strip to the back of the sleeve. Now, you can slip a card into the sleeve, and hang art on your fridge, metal door, white board, or any other magnetic surface you can think of! And, when you want to rearrange because you got more art to display, it's easy to move the sleeves (or the cards!) around. I know someone on Etsy who was going to do this to the inside of their apartment door since they couldn't paint the door. What a great idea- and definitely a great conversation piece for when company is over!

Well, I hope I've provided some insight into ATC/ACEOs, what they are, and why they're so darned addicting! In case you haven't realized it yet, all the images in this entry were done by me- all over the past month in my ACEO madness. Most of them are still available in My Etsy Shop, but they all are one-of-a-kind, so grab them up quick if you fall in love with one! ;)


Andee said...

Liz, thanks for this article! Seeing your progress with the ACEO's has inspired my entire family to start making them. Its an awesome way to spend time with each other. Your work is great!

Hedgewitch said...

hello liz .. great post!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. I am addicted to making ACEOs, too!

btw, when I clicked on the link to your Etsy shop, it didn't work. You may want to check that!

You do really neat work!

Carotte & Lychee said...

great post! it answered all my questions about ACEOs and ATCs ;-) i love that they have to be small, affordable, and limited!

i was actually wondering what to do with a tiny drawing of mine... and now i know!


DreamON said...

Great post. Enjoyed it a bunch. I've just started making ACEOs myself. Your work is spectacular!

jenglo said...

Hey there!
I just googled "storing ACEOs" and this article came out. It was so helpful that I gave it a review and a Thumbs Up on StumbleUpon. Thank you very much!