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Art exchange

Art exchanges

Inspired by my latest art exchange, I decided to write a blog on the subject.

Over the years, I have made many art exchanges with several familiar artists and with not so familiar ones. In art exchanges, I am fascinated by the style of different people have with their art and the way they make art on familiar subjects such as nature and  your original characters.

Art exchanges where the work is made especially using traditional tools are on my favorite ones. I like to send and receive letter art around the world. The feeling when you receive a beautiful letter in the mail with lovely content is very unique! Especially in today’s world of digital content, traditional snail mail is mind warming.

I don’t underestimate digital art either, of course! I have made several digital art exchanges and have bought art in digital form from other artists many times over the years.

Art exchange: Tuonenkalla

I have rarely made art exchanges in the past few years, but in February 2021 I participated in an art exchange circle of a discord group and my art pair was Tuonenkalla.

I actually had an art exchange with her in the past ten years ago and it was nice to work with a familiar artist for a long time. We decided to choose the most favorite of each other’s characters and do the work based on the selection.

My work in art exchange



I wanted to use layered art style of mine for this card and at the same time I wanted to keep in mind that I only focus on the character’s face. I had wanted to make this character art in the past, and here came a great opportunity to make the wish come true now.

I didn’t want to start doing too complicated since haven’t made such small card in ages.

Art tools:

Details of the card:

As I received SaQe's ACEO, I was absolutely delighted to see how tiny details she had managed to done, with the whiskers especially. I've never received nor made 3D paper art so it was interesting to observe the card, which I love very much. The colors are also nicely calm and support well the arctic nature of the character.

Below is a timelapse video about working on the card posted on my Youtube channel:

Tuonenkalla's part

As I got paired for a trade with SaQe who gave 3D paper art as one example of what they could do, I myself remembered a technique I had wanted to try for the longest of time. I love to push the limits of what can be done with ACEO cards, cutting pieces of them off, gluing mineral slices, bark or fishline in them, sewing yarn in them... To create some visual aspect in the art that couldn't have been pictured with drawing only, or to make the person who gets their hands on the card to stop and wonder. I find this to be the strength of traditional media. Thus, I made a folding card. It's ACEO size when folded, and only shows a glimpse of the main subject of the card, a reindeer character who you'll fully see as you push past the spruce branch folds.

Tuonenkalla - ACEO- ©Tuonenkalla



Oh how my heart jumped out of place when I saw pictures of the work done by Tuonenkalla. She didn’t reveal which character she chose for this exchange and how wonderful it was to see my old cartoon character Eetvart on a personal card!

The card is skillfully made and how lovely are those foldable pages where folds bring three dimensions to the work. I also like the color world a lot. Thank you Kalla for this exchange!

ATC ja ACEO -cards

I have made the most art exchanges with ATC / ACEO cards. Those cards are indeed small, individual works of art about the size of a debit card. Cards are usually made, as a rule, using traditional art making tools. The exact dimensions of the card are 64 × 89 mm and the country of origin for the art hobby is considered to be Switzerland. (Wikipedia)

In 2004, a more commercial alternative to ACEO, “Art Cards, Editions and Originals”, was also developed. When there was no money in art exchanges in ATC circles, ACEO cards began to be sold on trading platforms such as e.g. ebay. I myself have done a few custom jobs where the size of the work was just the size of these cards.(Wikipedia)

Card exchange groups

Over the years, I have been to several ATC card exchange groups where members of the group sign up for a particular month’s exchange and the site administrator or administrators draw the counterparts. Usually, the pairs then themselves handle the more specific agreements that each party draws. In some groups, when everyone joins a group, they provide information about what the counterparty can draw, a method that speeds up considerably when valuable work time is not lost for communication. Currently, I know there is one active card exchange group in deviantArt for which at least new active artists are always being sought. The group focuses heavily on the animal and fantasy characters that members value in the art of exchange.

Over the years, I have made about 100 different art exchanges. I changed my first ATC card in 2010, I made about 40 ATC cards.

Below are a few cards I have received over the years.

A few picks of the cards I made:

Art exchanges in the future

My wish would be to get actively involved in art exchange groups again this year. I have always enjoyed making art exchanges. In recent years, time has only been really limited when I run many things completely alone. I will occasionally definitely make art exchanges in the coming months, but maybe someday I would still be able to take this type of art work on a more regular schedule. So I’ve already agreed on one new art exchange, two I currently have in progress. Maybe I could get those couple unfinished ready in the next few weeks.

© Fjalle

Not so nice experiences

Unfortunately, I have had a surprising number of very dull situations, where I have not received any art from my exchange pair in return, but the artist has disappeared like an ash to wind and does not even respond to my messages when they has got the art I made. After these cases, I have come to the conclusion that I will not do my own work beyond sketch until I see concretely evidence that another has also started work.

In some cases, I tell a potential exchange artist in advance that I look forward to seeing a lot of  wip images before I start mine. I’ve gotten my wings burned so many times with this matter. I were excited to finish my part of the work without getting any sort of consideration from the other side. It only leaves an insanely bad taste in your mouth. I would remind you of appreciating the other artist’s use of time and work and doing your own part with honor!

I would like to do an art exchange with you, how would it be possible?

At the moment, I receive requests for art exchanges very occasionally. I have recently only made exchanges with people I already know well.

However, if your mind is wondering would I do one with you, you can of course put a message on the subject through some social channel. If you are an artist not so familiar to me, then of course introduce what kind of art you do and what kind of work you would like to offer as a counter art in exchange. Of course, I accept the suggestion if you have any idea what kind of work you would like me to do, but in terms of time, larger jobs will not always possible in art exchanges unless a larger processing time is set aside for the exchange.

Sometimes I also make exchanges between different types of art, which means that I myself offer little postable art and even get crafts in return! One of my upcoming exchanges is one where I get beautiful long wool socks from my counterpart against a pet portrait!

When exchanging art, it is a good idea to agree on more detailed details in advance:

Different elements of exchange

The exchange itself

Here are my thoughts on art exchanges! Have a nice wait of summer for everyone! if  you have any questions or thoughts about art trades / art exchanges, please feel free to wrote below!

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