Creating Everyday with Artist Trading Cards

This lesson will take you through a week long creative habit that I like to do in my own art practice. For 6 days, we will set ourselves up to create an artist trading card a day and on the final day we will take the ideas we have experimented with and played with in our cards and create an art journal spread that reflects what we’ve learned from our cards. I will share, along the way, little tips to help get you prepared and ready to create each day. I love this process because it allows you to play and explore each day on something small enough that you can complete in whatever time you may have but also gives you a chance to take those things you’ve explored and use them in your art journal as well.

Alyssa Rothwell

Living in Canada, with a BA in visual arts, Alyssa is a maker and lover of all things handmade. For Alyssa, embracing imperfections and chasing after “happy accidents” is the true magic of art journaling. Anything goes within the pages of her art journal and it has become an important place for her to process, to experiment and to play.

Hello everyone! My name is Alyssa, some of you may know me as @thistleandthimbles on Instagram, and I am so very excited to be here creating with all of you wonderful creative souls! My goal is to try and get you lovely artists creating everyday this week with me and I very much hope you will join me!

I think since I’ve joined Get Messy, and especially since having my daughter, it has been a creative goal of mine to make art daily. I think that a lot of us share this common goal to create daily. Why? Well, much like someone who is trying to learn to play a musical instrument, you need to practice to get better and the more you practice, hopefully, the better you will get. The same is true for art no matter what level you are at. Creativity is like a muscle and by creating daily we are strengthening that muscle. You wouldn’t want to wake up one day and enter a marathon when you’ve never run a day in your life. Sure, you could do that, but your body would hate you and you may even decide to never run again because you had such a difficult time. I think that by putting the work into a daily creative habit and having that goal is such a good idea, as it helps us grow as artists, get better at our craft and keep us motivated and showing up to our work.

So, I’ll take you through my process of making an artist trading card each day for 6 days and then at the end of the week, on the 7th day, we will take those cards and use them as inspiration for an art journal spread. Artist Trading Cards are really quite simple. They are basically any kind of paper you like to work on, cut down to 2.5” X 3.5”. The rest is up to you, the material, the content, anything goes. The only guideline is the size. (You can give them a quick search online if you’d like to know more about them, but it really is that simple.)

I like this routine for a few of reasons:

  1. It allows for some daily play and exploration, which is important for gathering new ideas and learning new techniques but it also sets us up to create some work in our art journals, since we are, after all, part of an art journal community.
  2. Making one of these cards is an easy enough task to accomplish everyday, even if you only have 10 minutes and at the end of the week you could devote some more time to your journal spread and really get in to it because you’ve been “practicing” all week.
  3. The subject matter and materials are completely open to you. So you can customize the cards to whatever your interests are at the time in order to keep you interested. You could even use something else to create on; tags, index cards, little circles etc. The aim is to keep it kind of small so that you can easily accomplish it each day.
  4. I like that this routine takes some of the guess work out of coming up with a journal spread, you’ve been working on it all week with these 6 little studies and can maybe delve deeper into some of your ideas because you’ve already done some of the work and have been stretching that creative muscle all week.

Supplies

  • six 2.5” X 3.5” cards (You can use any paper you usually like to create on)
  • Your Art Journal

The supply list is COMPLETELY OPEN to whatever you like to make with, so use whatever you LOVE! These are some of the supplies that I used on this project:

  • Matte Medium
  • Glue Stick
  • Gesso
  • Acrylic Paint + Brushes
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Needle and Awl
  • Embroidery Thread
  • Water-soluble Pencils + Crayons
  • Collage Ephemera – Anything from home-made stuff to vintage papers and magazine clippings

I have a few tips for you to help when you a trying to start a daily creative habit:

  • Keep it simple. That’s why I love these trading cards. They are the perfect size to be able to accomplish within a short amount of time, or you can give them more time if you have it. You’ll also have a really awesome collection of these little works of art if you stick with it. You can then trade them, as they are technically made for, or work them into your art, make a little book of them, I find they work really nicely with junk journalling as well.
  • Pick a time of day that works for you and try to stick with it, even if it’s only 10 minutes. If you don’t have a consistent time though that’s alright, sometimes we just have to take whatever time is available and make the best of it, not to worry. The only reason a consistent time is ideal is that you are more likely to show up if you dedicate a specific time to your practice, like setting a little date with yourself.
  • Have a goal in mind. Whether it is to create everyday for a week, a month, a year. Or maybe your goal is more project based, for example; to create a journal spread a week.
  • Get yourself prepared. Gather up the materials you’d like to work with so that they are on hand, put them in a little box or spot on your desk. This is helpful, especially, if you don’t have a lot of time to create, the more prep work you do the faster you can get to making and you don’t have to waste your precious art time searching for what you want to work with. Or maybe you are having a bad or a busy day, with a curated collection of items all you have to do is show up.

Habit forming is super personal and it is important to take note of what will work for you and tweak the things that won’t. So if the week long timeline is too much for you at first you can just adjust it to what will work for you. Like running a marathon you don’t want to burn yourself out, so if you want to start off every other day or once a week and build up to an everyday daily creative habit that’s totally fine as well. Once you start accomplishing your goal you can always push yourself a little bit further, that’s how we grow. A little bit of struggle is good but you definitely want to keep it positive. I really hope you will give this a try and see what it can add to your own practice.

Artist trading cards are meant to be swapped (or I should say traded), although I don’t always do that because it can be hard to part with them sometimes, BUT if I’ve convinced any of you to make some let me know in the season discussion and I can set up a swap for us! (Remember to tag me on Instagram too so I can see what you are making!)

Happy Making!

Action Steps

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Cut yourself out some artist trading cards using whatever material you like to work with.

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Set up the supplies you’d like to work with for the week in a little basket or spot on your desk.

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Give yourself some guidelines or a set of rules to get you making instead of thinking. For example: a colour palette, list of prompts, limited materials, art journal recipes etc.

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Experiment and play on your trading cards, have fun, don’t overthink it!

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Take what you learned from your cards and use that to inform an art journal spread. What did you like? What didn’t you like? Did you come up with any ideas or themes that you want to delve deeper into and explore further? Did you have a favourite card, try making the same thing but larger in your journal.

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When the week is up….do it again!