ATC It Up with Friends

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

ATC Monthly Trade Events hosted by Pabkins.

We are a super supportive, interactive and friendly community. The reason I created this community was first to create a welcoming space for artists to become friends through the sharing of their art and the challenge of improving their original art skills. It is a place for you not only to grow but some place where we help each other do that and support each other along the way. While we do have the monthly challenge/trade themes that is NOT what the entire group is about. (Though it is definitely what makes this fun and many coming back over the years. This is not just a place to do quick sloppy work to get “free art” in return. While you’ll learn below about the monthly trade/challenge and how that works. – I hope you’ve also come to be part of our community and see how we’ve all become some of the best friends we now have in art and life. =)

I hope you can survive the eye bleed of a long read you’re in for below! LOL 


Art Jam and Live opening ATCitup Mail each week on Mondays @ 10:45AM 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 the theme/months you’re interested in.

Please note I enforce the guidelines that are found on this page 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.

While anyone is welcome to apply we are not always open for new membership. Sometimes there is a waitlist. Definitely fill out the form if you are honestly interested. If you have an invite directly from Pabkins of course you’ll be sucked right in. lol

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!)



– 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. I die of love and a happy dance if you do.

– 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 1-2 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.  This is not a minimal effort group where you just send in cards to get cards in return. The reason we are successful is because we push ourselves artistically to improve our art skills as well as make friends doing so. 

– All Artists mail their cards to me – Pabkins – I’ll swap them for 3 different cards by 3 different artists based on effort, composition, amount of detail and execution.  A few people each month will get a bonus 4th card back as I make extras each month and put them in the swapping pile to help with swapping.

– 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. I would much rather you spend your effort on making 3 amazing cards then rush or pressure yourself. Everyone 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. 

–  All Cards must be MAILED to PABKINS by the MAIL by date. Because of Covid the past few years there are often extensions. Normally please 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. I now only scan cards for the group when we’ve decided that will be our next art book theme. Please 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. If you aren’t feeling you’re into the theme that month just pass on it and join some other month – though you know – we all grow by trying out those themes that are outside of our comfort zones.

SENDING EARLY IS FINE! Sending late? Not unless you’ve messaged me and confirmed an extension. 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 received 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. 



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.


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 username, year 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. Do not redraw similar cards every month. Each card should be unique. Need a reference for a pose? Use a blank body form illustration pose, pose book or photography. 

  • Hand drawn or painted/colored cards only! Whatever medium you prefer is fine. Black and white (grayscale/monochromatic is ok in moderation but this is mostly 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 targeted at helping you improve all areas of your illustrative skills. 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 challenge theme of that month must still be obvious.
  • No collage, No stamps, No embellishments, no jewels, NO GLITTER!, no stickers. Nothing that pops up from the surface. lol 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!
  • Puzzle Cards are discouraged! This is because each card needs to stand completely on its own. If you can manage to do a puzzle card where each individual card is still complete and meets the requirement then that it ok. If in doubt shoot a photo to me.
  • Fan Art is NOT accepted in the monthly swap theme. Our focus is on original art and to challenge your own creativity.  (fan art, studies and such is ok in the MMH game and our auctions, and personal trades of course when other members and you agree upon it)
  • 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 (use a glitter pen/ink or a mica/metallic pain instead if you want that shimmer! Here are some options like 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. 
  • They should not be STINKY OR STICKY!! If you use a sealant, varnish or spray, etc – it shouldn’t smell strongly of chemicals or leave your cards sticky such that I need to put a gas mask on when I open your envelope LOL. Be sure to leave them out to dry properly so they don’t stick to the sleeve or stink. Many artists never seal their cards and that is fine, but if yours shed or rub off on the sleeve you definitely should be sealing.
  • You can cut your own cards from your own paper or you can use precut store bought cards, whatever you prefer. 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
    • 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. Eeek, again I almost never mail back cards unswapped.
    • If they do not meet the size requirement, rough edges, poorly cut, slanted and just all kinds of wonky! (Use a paper slicer it will save your life!)
    • If they are damaged, rippled like a stormy sea, crumpled, flimy etc. Or don’t follow any of the above guidelines. Please don’t make me the bad guy I don’t ever want to send anything back that is just no fun. 

OMG you’ve made it this far? You deserve an award! Just a little farther I promise. 

– 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. 

    • 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 envelope, use washi tape, place them face down 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’ve been a participating member of the group.
  • 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 
    • 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! Here is the link on stamp costs 
    • Bubble mailer envelopes up to 4 ounces = You really don’t need to mail them as packages! But some people prefer to do so. Please see this link for the most up to date package rates (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 often have to pay “postage due” at the post office to pick up mail for those that are new and not familiar with proper postage amounts. 



(oh goodness you thought you were done..ok not quite but almost, almost!)


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! I suggest writing in all capital letters, VERY NEATLY!!)

– 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 to set up an automatic payment each month.  Why is it $2 when an INTL stamp is currently in 2022 is $1.55? – that is because paypal charges a larger transaction fee on international payments and an additional fee for “mico transactions”. By the time it reaches me, the fee is extracted it is barely enough for the postage stamp and the USA taxes I then have to pay on it because I’m an artist so any money that comes into me has to get claimed on my taxes, sadly. 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, and whatever other artists send in as goodie donations that are flat. 

  • SWAPPING TURNAROUND TIME: During normal times I would swap about 3-4 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 3-4 months however it can be up to 4-7 months as some countries it takes 1-2 months to arrive (India, Malaysia, Philippines, China etc). But if you are participating every month you should still be getting an envelope almost every month! I wait for ALL envelopes to arrive so please be patient if you choose to participate in this group. You will ALWAYS get an envelope pack from this group if I receive one from you! Discord announcements channel is the best place to see all current news as to what theme has been recently swapped and mailed back!


  • 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 (currently there are no plans to continue the series past volume 3).
  • 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.
  • Do not sell the cards you receive from other artists in this group trade! That is completely inappropriate as you traded for them did not buy them. You can totally sell prints of your own artwork of the cards you made as you of course have the right to all your own artwork. If you are ever truly unhappy with the cards you receive you are welcome to send them back if you don’t want them, I hope this never happens because this group isn’t as much about what you receive in return as it is about improving and creating the best art we can. So of course we all want to receive something back that is awesome – just keep in mind I make this group open to a full range of skill level/experience. I try VERY VERY hard to make everyone happy and our return envelopes are like little art bombs in your mailbox. If there are issues please just reach out to me.
  • My DM and email box is always open for questions and concerns. DMs are always best when you need to reach me quickly. Emails are best for signups. I love suggestions and feedback. If you have worries and concerns or your envelope hasn’t arrived please DM me! 
  • When you join the Discord please read the FAQs and Guidelines there for discord game rules and helpful ways to package and mail your cards etc.

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: –
  • 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.

You made it to the end!! I’ll be sure to put an extra sticker in your first envelope LOL



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.)