Art Cards. I’ve made a lot of them. Why? I don’t even know but I liked the concept when I heard of it years ago. Art cards are baseball card sized drawings and paintings. That’s 2.5 by 3.5 inches. They’re also known as sketch cards in some circles. I first heard of them as sketch cards back in 1997 or so. Trading card companies were hiring artists for a couple of bucks a card to make one of a kind sketches that would be randomly included in a pack of cards. That still goes on today but the art cards I make are of a slightly different variety.

It was probably the early 2000s when I first saw the term “Art Cards”. It was used to describe the small baseball card sized pieces of art that artists would make and either trade with other artists or sell to the general public for a few bucks. An Ebay there is a category for it: ACEO. That stands for Art Card Editions and Originals. I thought that was a pretty cool idea so I made a bunch of them. Turns out that no other artists I know ever makes them and no one ever really cared to buy them either. Ahh well, at least I eventually figured out a way to make some comic strips from them. See my “Drifting and Dreaming” strip. I post it on Sundays.

I’ve made all sorts of art cards over the years. Pencil drawings, ink drawings, marker drawings, watercolor drawings, and even a couple of colored pencil drawings. I almost never work in colored pencil. They seem to fall into two general categories: Ones I make for sale and ones I just make. What’s the difference you ask if I never actually manage to sell any? Well with the made to sell ones I draw things that other people seem to be interested in: pretty women, super heroes, and random pop culture characters. The other ones that I make are just me drawing whatever I want to at the moment. A lot of my usual weird stuff goes on in them.

One of the reasons that I still make art cards is that I’ve got the paper. I often work on paper that’s 11×17 inches. That’s a standard size for drawing comics on so I got used to working at that size. Plus that size paper fits on my scanner and in my printer so that I can scan in and print out my drawings in blue line at that size. Except the pads of bristol paper that I buy are 14×17 inches. I always cut that paper down to 11×17 and end up with an extra 3×17 inch piece of paper. For years I couldn’t figure out what to do with all those extra long and narrow strips and ended up tossing most of them out eventually. Now I cut them up into art card size pieces. As an old by-hand paste up artist I’m used to working with an X-Acto knife and a straight edge so it’s easy for me. I’ve got lots and lots of pieces of 2.5×3.5 inch pieces of bristol now so I may as well draw on them. And I do.

I weird though because not all of my usual habits apply to making art cards. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Usually I’m a methodical artist. I start at the beginning with step one and then go through all the necessary steps to complete a piece. Sometimes I do that with art cards. I decide to make a bunch of them and go about doing it. I decide on the medium, draw some out, maybe ink them, and then maybe color them. But that’s not always how it goes. Often I’ll pick up a pencil or a pen and just draw one. Then it’ll sit there unfinished for weeks until I decide to put some color on it. Some never get finished and get thrown away because I don’t like them. They’re not all winners. Art cards sit around unfinished for longer than any other of my paintings or drawings.

I’ve developed a few different art card styles or themes over the years. The first one that leaps to mind is my orange/blue/black drawings. I happened to have three markers that ended up in my desk tray. Most of my markers have places in my sets or groups of markers but these three didn’t: an orange retractable Shaprie, a black thin lined drawing pen, and a Tahitian blue Copic marker. Since they were always sitting there I stared doing some art card drawing with those three colors. I never would have thought of that color scheme on my own but it ended up working. I’ve made a few drawing with those three pens.

The next odd little theme that leaps to mind is my green paper drawings. Way back in 2005 I bought an iPod shuffle. It came in a bright green box. I liked the color and paper it was made out of so I cut up the box into art card size pieces and made a few drawings on them. The paper was coated so it was super smooth and the green was really strong so those art cards were as much gimmick as anything else but they came out okay. I think I still have a few more pieces of that paper. I’ve cut up all different papers into art cards including black mat board but in the end I rarely draw on anything but the bristol.

Art cards are one of the few places where I’ve done finished pencil drawings. Usually pencil is just a stage of a drawing that I make and eventually the finished piece will be in paint or ink. I don’t do many finished pencil drawings because of that. Some art cards I set out to do a finished pencil. It was interesting. They’re not magnificent or anything but not bad.

So there are some unfocused ramblings on art cards. The cards taken as a group tend to be unfocused so I think that’s appropriate. Since I number the backs of them I know how many I’ve done and it’s 937. They may be unfocused but that sure is a lot of them.