Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Thinking Mother Book Review: Artist Trading Card Workshop: Create, Collect, Swap by Bernie Berlin



In December 2006, North Light Books has published a book authored by Bernie Berlin called “Artist Trading Card Workshop: Create, Collect, Swap”.

This book serves to teach techniques for making artist trading cards. Actually the techniques taught in this book can cross over to other mediums such as larger works of art such as larger collages, can be used in altered books, in “decos”, to make postcards to use in mail art and in many other applications.

I have a feeling that due to the legal issues with copyright violations, many techniques and materials currently used by many ATC swappers are NOT covered in this book. I’ve been swapping ATCs for nearly two years and so many of the ATCs I’ve seen do not use these great techniques. While thinking about the ATCs I have seen I realized that many would not be accepted for publication in a book due to copyright violations. Therefore what we have here in this book is largely based on either antique images (photographs) whose copyright has expired or whose source cannot be located to ask for reproduction permission OR the art is completely original to the artist’s hand. There is some rubber stamping in here as well.

Since entering the world of mail art and artist trading card swapping, and being a member of online discussion groups I’ve learned a lot of different techniques yet this book has taught me even more new things. It is not a re-hash of the common techniques that are already available on the Internet for free.

There are many examples of artist trading cards made by a lot of different artists which I really liked. The author does have some of her own wonderful ATCs in this book and the inclusion of so many other artists’ work in addition, is also appreciated and inspiring to me.

Each technique has many examples of the finished ATCs made by different artists. There are directions for each technique as well as photos of the steps in the process. My only complaint is that I was a little confused sometimes as the directions sometimes have two or three steps combined into one paragraph with one photo which shows only one of those steps. I would prefer that every step be separate and that a photo depicted each step. Also sometimes the final card is not shown, we have just that last step with it “in process” to use. It would have been nice to see that finished piece for every technique.

Overall the book has given me a lot of inspiration and ideas just by viewing the finished ATCs of all the contributing artists as well as teaching me so many new techniques. My couple of complaints are minor.

The book is laid out very well and the photography is stunning.

Regarding the style of the artists, it runs the gamut. This book is full of all different colors and many different techniques. It is not the same-old, same-old nor is it full of just the latest trends (thank goodness). At the back of the book is a listing of the contributing artists and their contact information and websites (if applicable). One could spend hours just viewing the websites of these artists and that provides yet more inspiration and eye candy.

The book also has a short history of ATCs and brief information on how to do mail swaps. There is a listing of Internet swapping sites as well. (I would add the new and growing Swap-bot.com site as my personal recommendation.) There is also a list of resources for supplies and tools for making ATCs.

Since purchasing the book I’ve tried a bunch of these techniques and had a lot of fun trying them out. As with all new experiments, there is some trial and error, some mistakes are made and some lessons are learned, that is all part of the learning curve. I can’t wait to try even more of the techniques and I plan to host some ATC swaps based on the techniques taught in this book.

If you are already trading ATCs and want even more techniques to try or just want to own more eye candy inspiration, this book is a must-buy.

So go play, make some art and have fun! Then go do some mail art swapping and have more fun with that!



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1 comment:

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