ATCitupwithfriends: August 2019 – Steampunk

#ATCitupwithFriends is an ILLUSTRATION, Fantasy & Science Fiction focused Art Challenge – Trade Group

ATC Monthly Trade Events hosted by Pabkins.

THEME: Steampunk  

MAIL TO Host by:  Last day of August (or as long as it arrives to me by September 15th)

How to Request to Participate: You must either be an existing member of the ATCitupwithfriends community or have received an invite from Pabkins. Currently the monthly trade group is full and is for the time being by invitation only. 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 for the first time still fill out the form at the bottom to be placed on the wait list. Those invited please fill out the form as well. You will get a confirmation email within a few days. We have a monthly participation roster of about 100 artists each month so I appreciate your understanding.  email ATCitupwithfriends@gmail with questions.

  • ATCitupwithfriends now has an ongoing Art book series! 
  • All monthly card submissions now 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.


See Pabkins open envelopes each week on Tuesdays @ 1030AM PST on my TWITCH CHANNEL!

August’s THEME:


Your cards MUST feature a Steampunk inspired CHARACTER or SCENE. Landscapes are fine if it is a steampunk setting. It can be any kind of mashup with steampunk you want – Fantasy, Pirate, Science Fiction, Victorian, East meets West – we love creativity! – as long as it obviously fits the below definition of steampunk. I must mention this because the first time we did steampunk quite a few folks struggled with the theme/aesthetic and composition. Lack of effort cards or ones that do not correspond to the theme will not be swapped. That means do not draw a hand or random object with cogs floating around it. If you need any help many of us are available on the chat server to offer feedback!

  1. a genre of Science Fiction/Fantasy that typically features steam-powered machinery, clockwork and gears instead of advanced technology. Often combined with the Victorian era of fashion

Do you need some inspiration?

Check out this awesome Pinterest board!

If ever in doubt just shoot me an email to ask a question. Send signups and any questions to 


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. If you are unwilling to put forth true effort then please do not apply to join! 



I prefer to start swapping around the 15th of the following month –  Mailing early is ok, mailing late is not unless I’ve granted an extension.

  • USA & CANADIAN ARTISTS Your envelope to me SHOULD BE MAILED BY the 1st – 7th of the following month. US Mail usually arrived is 2-6 days to me. Canandian to USA usually arrives in 4-10 days.
  • INTERNATIONAL ARTISTSYour envelope SHOULD BE MAILED BY the 1st day of the following month.  INTL mail usually arrives in 7-20 days to the US depending on your country (Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Poland, Sweden all tend to take 15-20 days to reach me so please keep this in mind and start your cards early! Themes are always released 2 months in advance!)

SENDING EARLY IS FINE! SENDING LATE IS NOT! I try to wait for all the envelopes to arrive but if you mail late then I cannot guarantee your cards will be swapped. Please extend me some respect by mailing in a timely manner!



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

– CREATE 3 ORIGINAL Hand drawn or hand painted artist trading cards from the above theme. No Political, Religious, or sexually explicit cards permitted. Or I will need to return them unswapped. Originality and diversity is welcome, DO NOT COPY or TRACE OTHER PEOPLE’S ART, or artwork you find on the internet. This should be YOUR original art.

– 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. (vertical or horizontal format is fine) I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!! 

– All Artists mail their cards to Pabkins – I’ll swap them for 3 different artists based on Effort for Effort taking into consideration the amount of detail, composition and execution of your chosen medium you sent in.  

– Optional 4th card: – “Host Gift Card” for Pabkins! It’s just an extra 4th card in the same theme if you have time. Everyone that knows me knows I’m a CRAZY art card addict. Running this group takes a lot of my time and effort and I constantly make extra cards for the group, thus I don’t do many personal trades anymore since most of my cards go towards the group events and sales to support group maintenance costs. 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 – Yippeee! I literally do a happy dance when I get one! Folks that do often get the extra bonus cards when they are available. I try to keep extra originals on hand as bonuses and for emergencies.

–  All Cards must be RECEIVED by Pabkins on or before the DUE DATE! If you are mailing late I recommend you send priority. It is up to my discretion to turn away artists that are late or if they rushed the quality. Do not send something your 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. 

–  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. You can share your WIPs as well but if you want to get really interactive with the group I suggest you join our discord chat server and post wips in our wip chat channel. Do NOT post self promotional posts such as ones soliciting sales to our hashtag. Only cards/wips that are made and being sent into the group. 



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


InstagramID and #ATCitupwithfriends (you can include your name and title on the back, or even write a hello note to the recipient if you want but at minimum must have your userid and the hashtag. Do not send business cards I will not send those forward to people they take up weight in the envelope that I use for stickers and bonus goodies.)

ORIGINALS only! No prints! Do not copy someone else’s art, no copying images you found on the internet, no tracings, If you reference something don’t reference something else to death such that it isn’t your own! Absolutely NO stamps, NO linocuts. Create your own original work of art! Fan Art is no longer swapped in this group, so no fan art please!

  • Hand drawn or painted cards only! 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. 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 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 encouraged! We all love artistic creativity, 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 be swapped. #ATCitupwithfriends is intended as a challenge community as well as an awesome trade, but when signing up for a theme – you are saying you will create in that theme!
  • No collage, NO stamps, no embellishments, 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. Papercut accents is fine as long as it’s your original work. This is NOT a scrapbooking style art trade group!
  • Fan Art NOT accepted in these trade events. Our focus 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.
  • 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! Glitter ink/paint is acceptable as it does not shed, so if you like things to shine then grab yourself a glitter ink pen. They must not “shed” material like chalk, graphite etc, you should be spray sealing your cards if they are a material that tends to wear away. If touched the materials used should not rub off onto someone’s hands. Get some spray sealant please!
  • They should not be smelly or sticky! If you use a sealant, varnish or spray, etc – it must not smell strongly of chemicals or leave the 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.
  • NO GLUE ON! NO STICKERS! A good rule of thumb is – if you had to glue it on, or if its a STICKER then it is not allowed in this group. The ONLY exception is hand drawn/handcut cut papercut accents. This is upon my discretion. Please just ask if you have questions. The only reason I add all of this is because there are other “mixed media collage” type trading groups around the internet, this is not one of them.
  • If you can’t manage a straight cut edge on your own please buy some precut paper to make your cards, otherwise I will return poorly cut cards unswapped (as that isn’t fair to others)
  • Do NOT leave flat 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 and you should be touching the entire surface of the card. I WILL send it back unswapped. Solid one color filled in backgrounds are also discouraged. Come on folks Please put in some actual effort and try for a background or “atmosphere” on your card!
  • It is up to my discretion to return cards unswapped! Examples of when this might happen are if they: 1) arrive too late, were sent too late to go into the swap (or you’ve consistently been late each month, or were mailed on or after the DUE in my hands date!) 2) Do not fit the theme, Please read the THEME REQUIREMENTS! 3) show lack of honest effort or there are no comparable effort cards to swap them with,  4) they do not meet the size requirement, rough edges, poorly cut or 5) are damaged. Please do not make me the bad guy. pleeease

– SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA! – it helps our litle 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! Please DO NOT share posts on the hashtag unless they are specifically cards you’ve sent in for this trade group. 

– 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 join.

  • 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 2-4 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 2 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 
    • 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 OR 1 forever stamp and one “additional ounce” stamp
    • Bubble mailer envelopes up to 4 ounces = cost $3.50 to mail (folks often mail me these and they get marked “postage due” and the postmaster makes me pay to collect it from the Post Office)
    • 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.





– U.S. ARTISTS: include a 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 of you have been forgetting) – see above for info on typical costs for mailing cards.

– INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS:  – Please send $2 via paypal using this Donate button When You Mail Your Cards please. 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 front page to set up an automatic payment each month.  


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! but a piece of paper with your address clearly written on it is fine also and I’ll tape it to the envelope. Don’t send a tiny address label – how is the postal sorting machines going to read that!?

 What Pabkins’ SUPPLIES: the return envelopes (you don’t have to send a self addressed envelope, only if you want to), sleeves and postage overages (I often have to add an extra stamp to envelope that go over an ounce), Random prints, stickers, and sometimes extra originals, I also send folks sleeves and blank address labels when they don’t have them because that just makes things easier for me.

DONATIONS ARE WELCOME! We have a Amazon supply wishlist for the group, a Patreon where you can earn rewards directly from me, slip in anything you’d like to your envelope to the group or Click this link to paypal donate! and uncheck the goods and services box!

  • I attempt to mail return Envelopes back out within 12-15 days after the Due by date each month. However I start swapping on the 7th day of the month. The swap process takes a lot of time as there are always a LOT of cards. Opening, sorting, laying out, matching, reading comments and then adjusting, taping down, sealing up etc all takes about a week. Please be patient. You can see updates in our Discord live chat room. If you’ve never used discord I recommend you turn off the notifications when you download the app. Or it will get annoying!! Here is the link. DISCORD LIVE CHAT GROUP

Donations to help this art community are gladly welcome and accepted! Ways to donate:

  • Group’s Amazon Supply Wishlist: – #ATCitupwithfriends Amazon
  • Paypal Me or Ko-Fi (this has a monthly autopay feature)
  • Or slip extra stamps or whatever $ you’d like into the envelope 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 “extra goodies” whenever I can. Do not send bussiness cards I will not forward those on, just be sure your instagram ID is on the back so they know who you are.

Running the group really adds up and I know not everyone can afford to help. There is no pressure whatsoever! I’m sure once you get to know all of us you’ll see why the group has continued to grow and thrive! I have this info here so its easy for folks to find it if they are able to help out. I try to reward folks that help support the livelihood of the group! So if you donate please put your userid so I know who to thank!

 – REQUIRED: Fill out this APPLICATION FORM! (it helps me know your likes and dislikes so I can better swap cards – you only need to fill it out once ever.  After you fill it out you will receive an email back usually within 3 days with notifying you if there is space available or if you’ve been placed on the wait list.)