Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Have You Ever Heard Of Artist Trading Cards
I never had. But that was before I met Mark Hague, a writer from Long Beach, California. Mark was in the audience for my recent talk on A Perilous Conception at Book'Em Mysteries in Pasadena. He told me he was working on a cozy mystery, and when I asked about the background of the story, he said, "ATCs. Artist Trading Cards. Do you know about them?"
When I told him no, I'd never heard of ATCs, he reached under his chair, brought out a three-ring binder, laid it in my lap, opened the cover - and I was looking at nine beautiful works of miniature art in a plastic display sleeve. The theme of the group was Hallowe'en and autumn, and all sorts of materials had gone into the construction: ink, paint, string, fabric, metal, dried leaves. Many cards opened to show a message inside. Turning the sleeves, I saw Christmas cards, cards with sly humor, cards with friendly messages, even a few mildly-naughty cards. The range was endless, the work uniformly impressive. Some of the cards in the binder had been made by Mark, some by other artists.
Mark explained that ATCs were originated fifteen years ago by M. Vanci Stirneman, a Swiss artist and bookstore owner who wanted to establish an artistic parallel to sports trading cards. ATCs are the same size as the familiar baseball cards, and they are exchanged between artists around the world, whether by mail or at swap meets. Selling ATCs is verboten; they may only be exchanged. So far, Mark has made thousands of the little treasures, and completes 123 projects per year. He participates in eight swap meets a month.
I asked Mark the title of his cozy. He smiled, and said, "Death by Paper Cut." If I were a publisher (which, all praise be given, I'm not, but just to make a point), I'd bring out that book based solely on the title and the enthusiasm of the author. I'd even put a little money on this guy's ability to weave a darn good story. Hope to see it soon, whether bound between hard or soft covers.
If you'd like to know more about ATCs, Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.