ATC It Up with Friends

#ATCitupWithFriends is an ILLUSTRATION, Fantasy & Science Fiction focused group.

ATC Monthly Trade Events hosted by Pabkins.

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Art Jam and Live opening ATCitup Mail each week on Mondays @ 10:30AM PST on my TWITCH CHANNEL! Many group members hangout each week and art together during this live stream. So come and get to know us! There is always a sticker giveaway during the stream.

ATCs / ACEOS are artist trading card size original art 2.5 x 3.5 inches (or 3.5 x 2.5 inches)

TO APPLY for SIGN UP: You must READ this ENTIRE Guideline page (yes I know it’s long but its just so everyone has the same expectations) – Then you can fill out the signup form with your info and what month you hope to join, the link to the form can be found at the bottom of this page.  You only ever fill it out once! Once you are a member signups are a simple email you send for months you’re interested in.

Please note I enforce the guidelines that are found on this page as well as the monthly theme requirements to keep things running smoothly and fair for everyone. If you are not willing to put in your full honest best efforts please do not apply.

Currently the trade group is mostly full so if you fill out the form you might be put on the wait list unless you were invited by Pabkins.  However, I do try to add new artists to the group from the wait list each month! So don’t be discouraged if you are new and hope to participate. If you don’t hear back from me in a month you’re welcome to fill out the form again in another 3-4 months. Those invited must fill out the form as well. If accepted you will get a confirmation email within a week if there is space. We have a monthly participation roster of about 65-100 artists each month so I appreciate your understanding and patience! 

You are going to LOVE this community – how tight knit, supportive and encouraging it is. Its made up of some of the most amazing individuals I have met in my life and their wonderful art. (*whispers* don’t be scared off by all the details below – Think of it as test of strength and willpower! I’m here if you have any questions or concerns!)

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HOW THIS ALL WORKS! This is the GUIDELINES AND FAQ!

– CREATE 3 ORIGINAL 2.5 x 3.5 inch, Hand drawn or hand painted artist trading cards for the monthly theme. A 4th optional host gift card if you want to show some love for Pabkins as she makes a bunch of extra cards each month for the group.

– SIZE MATTERS! Cards absolutely must be the standard size of 2.5 x 3.5 inches NO LARGER! NO SMALLER! with straight cut edges/sides or your cards will be returned unswapped. (both vertical or horizontal format is fine) I CANNOT STRESS size importance ENOUGH!! If it does not fit in a trading card sleeve it is the incorrect size!

MONTHLY THEMES: You MUST READ the blog post for that month’s THEME REQUIREMENTS! Each month the theme changes and there are usually special requirements, for example requires at least one character, multiple characters/poses, items, etc.

Themes are usually released at least 2 months in advance but currently due to our delayed swapping schedule are being released at the beginning of each month.

These monthly themes are intended as a CHALLENGE as well as a way to trade fabulous original art and bond our little art community. Please rise to the challenge and treat your fellow artists with respect by putting in your best efforts.  

– All Artists mail their cards to Pabkins – I’ll swap them for 3 different cards by 3 different artists based on effort, composition, amount of detail and execution.  

– Optional 4th card: – “Host Gift Card” for Pabkins! It’s just a 4th card in the same theme if you have time. Host cards are a common thing in the ATC Swap groups its just a nice way to thank the host. Everyone that knows me knows I’m a CRAZY art card collecting addict. I make them, buy them, trade them lol – but running this group the past 5 years takes a lot of my time and effort and I make extra cards every month for the group, missing envelopes etc, thus I don’t do many personal trades anymore. So if you want to put a big smile on my ATC loving face send 4 cards instead of 3 and I’ll get to choose and keep one for myself – Yippeee! YOU DON’T HAVE TO AND THERE IS NO PRESSURE TO DO SO! This never effects how I swap cards. I would much rather you spend your effort on making 3 amazing cards then rush or pressure yourself. 

–  All Cards must be MAILED to PABKINS by the MAIL by date. Sometimes there are extensions. (During 2021 there is a lot of extra time, so even if the “MAIL BY” date has past you can check with Pabkins anytime to see if you can still squeeze in) But try to always mail by the 1-7th day of the next month! (unless otherwise specified in a general update to the group via discord, newsletter, or an instagram post). I then wait for all the cards to arrive before scanning and swapping the cards. It is up to my discretion to turn away artists that are late or if they rushed the quality. Do not send something you slammed out in an hour, that is NOT fair to others that spent a fair amount of time on theirs. Please don’t make me the bad guy, I have to set down guidelines to keep things fair and this community running smoothly. *fiddles with the whip*

SENDING EARLY IS FINE! SENDING LATE IS NOT! I try to wait for all the envelopes to arrive but if you mail late without letting me know I cannot guarantee your cards will be swapped. Please extend everyone some respect by mailing in a timely manner!

–  You only receive cards if you send cards! Please share a photo of your completed cards to the #ATCitupwithfriends hashtag when you are done. That way I can see that you made them and so folks can express their like/love/interest and interact with the community! Please share your returns when you receive them. This is a community and folks like to know where their art ends up. If you don’t want to share it to your feed, then at least share it to your IG Story with @ of the artists you recieved and @atcitup.withfriends account so I can share it to our group IG account. Sharing wips is fun to but not required. Do NOT post self promotional posts such as ones soliciting sales, or things unrelated to our group onto our hashtag. Please only cards, wips or things you’ve made for the group or received from the group. 

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HOW TO MAKE YOUR CARDS!?

You absolutely must continue reading – come on I believe in you!

I know I know this is lengthy – but its just so that we all have the same expectations.

– CLEARLY WRITE ON THE BACK OF EACH CARD: 

Instagram Username and #ATCitupwithfriends (you can also include your name, title, location in the world on the back, or even write a hello note or little story if you want but at minimum it MUST have your instagram userid and the hashtag. 

ORIGINALS only!  Must be your hand drawn, hand painted/colored artwork. No prints! This is not digital art, NO FAN ART, no tracing, copying, referencing to death other people’s art. Need a reference for a pose? Use a blank body form illustration pose or photography. 

  • Hand drawn or painted/colored cards only! Black and white (grayscale/monochromatic is ok but this is really a full color group NO LINE ART ONLY cards (unless you go all in with lots of hatching, stippling, dotwork. Basically the entire surface of the card has been touched. If in doubt talk with me)
  • Don’t make 3 practically identical cards, with “different window dressing” that does not show creativity or effort! DO NOT send the exact same face shot and composition cards every month, break outside the box and try something new. New compositions, new poses, etc. This is not a portrait card group, it is an illustration group. If you question the quality or content of your own card and know in your heart that you wouldn’t be happy to receive it please consider that before sending it in! Why not try again if you “aren’t the happiest with how it turned out”? feel free to message me for feedback or seek feedback on our discord chat server. 
  • Originality and “thinking outside the box” is strongly encouraged! We all love artistic creativity, because that is one of the goals of this group, challenging yourself to grow illustrative skills – but IF your interpretation makes the theme unrecognizable, or makes it such that the THEME is not THE THEME any longer – then it is not meeting the theme requirement and not fair to swap them. When signing up for a theme – you are saying you will create in that theme! Your interpretive subthemes are welcome and encouraged but the main theme must still be obvious.
  • No collage, No stamps, No embellishments, no glitter, no stickers. Nothing that pops up from the surface. What does that mean!? No glued together bits and bobs this is NOT crafting, scrapbooking, mixed paper media. No fold out cards. A good rule of thumb is – if it was stuck on rather then drawn/painted on then it’s not allowed in this group. The ONLY exception is hand drawn/handcut cut papercut accents that are by you not stencil etc. This is upon my discretion. Please just ask if you have questions. This is NOT a scrapbooking style art trade group!
  • Fan Art is NOT accepted in these trade events. Our focus is on original art and to challenge your own creativity. 
  • No Religious, Political or obscene sexually explicit content in your cards. Tasteful Nudity is acceptable, obscene/grotesque nudity or implied sexual acts is not. If in doubt just reach out to Pabkins.
  • Do not use super thin paper! Your cards should NOT be flimsy, if they are thin you should mount them to another piece of paper. Please use a quality paper.
  • Do not send cards that shed! So no glitter, no embossing glitter! metallic or mica ink/paint is acceptable as it does not shed, so if you like things to shine then grab yourself some Coliro paint or a Zig kuretake pen. if you use materials that commonly “shed” material like chalk, graphite etc, you should be spray sealing your cards. If touched the materials used should not rub off onto someone’s hands. Get some spray sealant please!
  • They should not be STINKY OR STICKY!! If you use a sealant, varnish or spray, etc – it must not smell strongly of chemicals or leave your cards sticky. There are a lot of good sealants out there that don’t smell like I’m going to get sick from fumes when I open the envelope. Leave them out to dry properly so they don’t stick to the sleeve or stink. *dons the gasmask….LOL*
  • If you can’t manage a straight cut edge on your own you can buy precut cards. However I suggest for cost saving that you cut your own cards from your favorite paper stock. A paper slicer is your friend!
  • Do NOT leave empty white backgrounds This also means if you used toned/color papers you still have to give the entire card attention, this is not a rough quick piece of art nor is it a line art only card, it should be a fully finished piece of art you would be proud of and you should be touching the entire surface of the card. I WILL send it back unswapped if you haven’t followed this guideline. Solid one color filled in backgrounds are strongly discouraged as this shows lack of effort. Come on folks Please put in some actual effort and try for a background or “atmosphere” on your card, remember rise to the challenge. We all want to send out awesome art to get awesome art in return!
  • It is up to my discretion to return cards unswapped! I have almost never had to do this but here are examples of when this might happen. If they:
    • Arrive too late, were sent too late to go into the swap (or you’ve consistently been late each month, were mailed on or after the MAIL BY date!)
    • If they DO NOT fit the theme, Please read the THEME REQUIREMENTS! If I happen to see the post and it doesn’t match the theme I’ll message you and let you know, but I don’t see everyone’s instagram posts.
    • If they show a lack of honest effort or there are no comparable effort cards to swap them with.
    • If they do not meet the size requirement, rough edges, poorly cut, slanted and just all kinds of wrong! (Use a paper slicer it will save your life!)
    • If they are damaged. Or don’t follow any of the above guidelines, Please don’t make me the bad guy I hate sending things back! 

– SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA! – it helps our little ATC trade event grow and builds a sense of community. So post your WIP cards! Post your finished cards! you can even post the cards you receive in return! on instagram and hashtag #ATCitupwithfriends. Get all those other traders fired up for what they might receive – and hey go take a look at the hashtag and comment on the ones you like. I am always looking at the hashtagged posts and yes I DO READ COMMENTS on posts. I keep my eyes peeled for the love others heap upon cards! Please do not @ me in the comments asking to receive specific cards, its rude and puts me in an awkward position. Also please to do not ask me to give specific cards to certain members that is also unfair. As I said I DO READ the comments as much as I can. I also try to learn all the members likes and dislikes. I try my absolute best to make everyone happy. Since we’ve been around so long I like to think that the system is working pretty well. XOXO

– INDIVIDUALLY sleeve each card – document protectors, penny sleeves PREFERRED (see this link), or ziplock bag – just protect it as envelopes often get wet! If you don’t have sleeves I will sleeve them when they arrive but still put them in protection of some kind. I will expect you will acquire sleeves for the next time you participate. 

  • ADVICE ON MAILING/PACKAGING –
    • Do not use black envelopes, the mail sorting machines hate them and they usually end up lost, sent back undeliverable or I get charged a hand sorting fee. 
    • Use a 5×7 envelopes, use washi tape to secure your cards to either side, don’t overlap and that way the envelope has a nice natural flex and will go thru the mail machines smoothly. 
    • DON’T use scotch or clear tape it tends to rip cards!
    • If you don’t have sleeves I send some back to you the first time you participate. Then please be sure to buy your own after that.
  • LOST MAIL, LOST CARDS – I am not responsible for lost or stolen mail. If I do not receive your cards I cannot swap out cards from the group swap. I try to make sure no one goes with an empty mailbox but I cannot do this alone as the group is too large. At least 1-3 envelops a month go missing. Donation cards for lost or stolen envelopes are appreciated. If I attempt to replace a lost envelope it will be solely upon my discretion and likely only if you are an outstanding member of the group. I have a sneaking suspicion I have been duped several times over the past 5 years.
  • BELOW IS A QUICK COST BREAKDOWN for how much it costs YOU to mail to ME.
  • A LINK TO USPS Postage rates for First Class mail
    • Enjoy this USPS youtube video on how your mail gets sorted and sent 
    • YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST PUT THE PROPER POSTAGE ON YOUR ENVELOPES OR THEY WILL CHARGE ME TO PICK IT UP FROM THE POST OFFICE!!
    • 1 ounce envelopes (greeting card size no larger then 5×7) = you put 1 forever stamp 
    •  Envelopes that are rigid, square in shape, more then 3/4 inch thick, or larger then 5×7  is considered “non machinable” = costs a 2 ounce stamp, or 2 forever stamps,  1 forever stamp and one “additional ounce” stamp. If in doubt just slap 2 stamps on it please! 
    • Bubble mailer envelopes up to 4 ounces = cost about $3.80-$4 to mail (folks often mail me these and they get marked “postage due” and the postmaster makes me pay the rest to collect it from the Post Office)
    • If you send a “manila” business envelope or something roughly 6×9 they will likely charge me a package postage rate to pick it up. Please only send 5×7 envelopes, its honestly easier for everyone that way. 
    • If in doubt shoot me a message. I have to pay “postage due” at the post office almost every time I go to the post office for folks that have been not been applying the correct number of stamps to their mail.

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HOW PABKINS WILL SHIP YOUR RETURN ENVELOPES!

SEND YOUR POSTAGE AND RETURN ADDRESS LABELS PLEASE!!!! 

INCLUDE a LARGE and CLEARLY WRITTEN RETURN ADDRESS paper or sticky label with your cards!!!! (sticky label preferred – come on make it easy on me! Don’t send a tiny address label – how is the postal sorting machines going to read that!? Don’t send envelopes I provide those!

– U.S. ARTISTS: include a loose forever postage stamp, or however many it cost you to mail your envelope! So if your cards are heavy then 2 postage stamps (please don’t forget – many often forget)

– INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS:  – Please send $2 via paypal When You Mail Your Cards please be sure to put your USERNAME and Theme in the notes section. If you plan to play each month you can paypal once for the whole year, or you can use MY KO-FI or paypal on my website home page to set up an automatic payment each month.  Why is it $2 when an INTL stamp is currently in 2020 $1.20 – that is because paypal charges a larger transaction fee on international payments. By the time it reaches me it is enough for the postage stamp and the USA taxes I then have to pay on it. Annoying I know. I wish there were a globally accepted stamp, sigh. We can dream.

– What Pabkins’ SUPPLIES: a vinyl Sticker of the Month to everyone that participates that month, the return envelopes, sleeves (when you forget) and postage overages (I often have to add an extra stamp to envelopes that go over an ounce), Random prints, stickers, I art bomb some envelopes with a hand drawn ATC and sometimes extra originals, I also send folks sleeves and blank address labels when they don’t have them and whatever else goodies I can!

  • SWAPPING TURNAROUND TIME: During normal times I would swap about 2-3 months after the mail by date of a theme this is to allow envelopes from all over the world to arrive. So you can expect to see your return envelopes in 2-3 months. But if you are participating every month you should be getting an envelope every month! The swap process takes a lot of time as there are always a LOT of cards. Opening, scanning, sorting, laying out, swapping, reading comments and then adjusting, taping down, sealing up etc all takes about a 1-2 weeks. You can see updates in our Discord announcements channel as to the status of whatever theme I’m currently swapping. I highly recommend you join the Discord server for the most up to date news.
  • HOW COVID HAS EFFECTED TURNAROUND TIMES: During 2020 we still have a monthly theme and members were welcome to mail in. But no swapping or mail backs took place in 2020. Swapping and mailbacks started again the first few months of 2021 and all the 2020 themes are almost done being mailed. That means some 2021 themes are still open to mail in for. But this means the 2-3 months turnaround it more like 4-5 months until I am caught back up with the backlog.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW:

  • The community has a private Discord chat server. Only members are added to the server and new members will receive the invite link in their confirmation email. You REALLY SHOULD JOIN THE DISCORD! It is the best place for  getting the most up to date news, getting to know everyone, do extra mini challenges or mini swaps, playing a bonus “Make me Happy” trade game, there is a monthly prize pack, and lots of good resource channels.
  • ATCitupwithfriends has an Art Book series! When you join you can sign the agreement form to be included in the art books.
  • Monthly cards that are mailed in get scanned for possible inclusion in future books. So if you do not want to be included you must send a large note with your cards that says “DO NOT SCAN”. 
  • The signup form also will also confirm your email for our monthly email newsletter. You will get the the link to add yourself to the newsletter in your confirmation email.
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Donations to help this art community are gladly welcome and accepted! There are so many little ways you could help this group thrive and continue to do all the awesome things it does! Here are ways to donate:

  • Group’s Amazon Supply Wishlist:  #ATCitupwithfriends Amazon
  • Paypal donate:  Uncheck the goods and services checkbox: – http://paypal.me/pabkins
  • Ko-fi – There is a monthly autopay feature so you can choose to setup automatic payments for your postage if you are INTL. I also have several monthly supporter options to subscribe for a monthly envelope from me with ACEO or stickers.
  • Pay for 1 year’s worth of postage – If you are a current member or you were invited to the group, or told directly by Pabkins you have been accepted to ATCitup, then you can do the 1year postage signup. Doing so puts you on the rosters for 12 months and you don’t need to email each month. See the bottom of this website’s home page to set it up.
  • We have a few original card auctions – if you are ever able please send an honest effort original card or more to help our fundraising efforts! We do this several times a year to help raise funds for group projects like our books, the group stickers of the month that everyone gets and to help pay international postage for our overseas artists as well as group supplies.
  • Or slip extra stamps or whatever $ you’d like into the envelope when you send your cards in.
  • Prints, Stickers, extra original ATCs, or any flat items smaller then 5×7 are gladly accepted as I stuff the envelopes with the things that folks send in for the group goodies stash. So hopefully monthly envelopes become like a little art bomb in your mailbox! DO NOT send business cards I will not forward those on as they take up weight/space, just be sure your instagram ID is on the back of any fun things you send so fellow artists know who to tag if they receive them.

Running the group really adds up and I know not everyone can afford to help. There is no pressure at all! But I’m sure once you get to know the folks in the group you’ll see why it has continued to grow and thrive! I have this info here so its easy for folks to find it if they are able or want to help out.

I know all that info was a lot to take in and you might be shaking your head by now going, oh heck to the no LOL – but trust me this runs like a well oiled machine and if might just be your newest art addiction.

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 – REQUIRED: CLICK THIS LINK to Fill out the Signup APPLICATION FORM!

You only fill it out once ever.  After you fill it out you will receive an email back within a few days if there is space and you’ve been accepted to participate that month.)