The Pocket Art Movement of ACEOs is Skyrocketing
Pocket art is a rising trend amongst art buyers and collectors across the world. Pocket art is commonly referred to as ACEOs (Artist Cards, Editions, and Originals). ACEOs are small pieces of art that always measure 2 1/2" x 3 1/2". I create artist original limited edition Pocket Nature ArtTM conforming to the ACEO criteria.
ACEO can be made of any kind of paper including watercolor paper, bristol board, acrylic paper, fine art prints, etc. They can be individual pieces of original artwork or numbered editions. They can be any medium including photographic prints, pen, pencil, colored pencil, paint, oil, acrylic, you name it. Because of their size, they can be collected in albums, just like other collectible cards.
During your research, you may also come across ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). ATCs are not for sale, they are traded between artists. During the impressionist era, artists traded their cards with one another to learn and study each others' style and techniques. In contemporary times things are much different, but the concept of ATCs is still relevant and a very good way for artists to share their work with one another. Artists today frequently trade their ATCs as a way to collect different types of art. Entire online communities are available for artists to connect and trade their ATCs.
M. Vanci Stirnemann, a Swiss artist, created 1200 cards by hand as part of an exhibit in 1997. On the last day, he invited others to create their own cards and trade with him during the closing reception. The movement once again took off, and today, there are ATC swaps in almost every major city around the world. There has been a number of curated showings of ACEOs all over the world.
VIDEO OVERVIEW OF MY ACEO PROCESS
If you like or appreciate ACEOs, scroll down to the bottom after reading the rest of the article and say "Yes" and as an added bonus, let me know where you are from.
ARTIST CARDS, EDITIONS, & ORIGINALS (ACEOs)
ACEOs are a specialty art form with only one requirement: they must be three and a half inches by two and a half inches (9cm x 6.3cm). A new base of collectors exclusively purchase and collect ACEOs. I can understand this trend on a lot of different levels. They don't take up much space, the quality and craftsmanship are the same as bigger works, but the price is much lower in most cases, and the options for display are literally endless.
A collector can own many different ACEOs for the same price as a traditional sized piece of art most likely making it very attractive to new art buyers and seasoned collectors alike. ACEOs inherently work well as a series and even as smaller parts of a larger installation. In other words, small art is becoming very big! You can buy and collect ACEOs over time to add to your collection.
A simple search on ETSY for ACEO original returned 13,770 results with prices ranging from a few dollars to thousands of dollars (USD). The vast majority of the artwork is $100 USD or less, with many of them being less than $20.
ACEOs FROM THE ARTIST PERSPECTIVE
If you like or appreciate ACEOs, scroll down to the bottom after reading the rest of the article and say "Yes" and as an added bonus, let me know where you are from. I always enjoy meeting new people.
Visit my ACEO galleries to view the artist cards, and to view my behind the scenes videos and photos.
Follow me on my St. Francois Mountain Pure Platinum Print Project where I am photographing the St. Francois Mountains that were formed by volcanic and intrusive activity 1.5 billion years ago. By comparison, the Appalachians started forming about 460 million years ago, and the Rockies a mere 140 million years ago.
I have been fascinated by these since I ready your article. I recently acquired a Omega D2 enlarger that came with a lot of accessories. One of which was a 4 in 1 enlarging easel that that has a mask producing a 2.5" by 3.5" photo including borders. I printed my first print in this small format yesterday. At first I thought the image might not be large enough but it is, you just have to take time to look a little closer. Printing on Ilford Portfolio double weight RC paper should make a nice sturdy card. Thanks for the great article and idea.
Hi Frank. I use X-Ray film for 2 primary reasons. First, I love that old classic orthochromatic aesthetic. I was using Ortho film before and it worked, but it was a nightmare to handle and process on a regular basis. Then I discovered X-ray film and use all different types before settling on Kodak Ektascan. I like this specific film because it has T-grain technology just like T-Max 100 and I found it to share the exact same reciprocity times. I think of Ektascan as an ortho version of T-Max. The other benefit of Ektascan is that I can rate it at ISO 100. Secondly, the cost of Ektascan is about 0.80 cents per sheet vs. several dollars per sheet of standard film. The much lower cost enabled me to explore in ways that I probably wouldn't have with regular sheet film. It turns out that Ektascan in Rodinal in my Jobo is a perfect combo for Platinum printing. I hope this helps and keep me posted on your work. Tim.
Hi Eric, thanks for your comments and question. The only requirement for an ACEO, per the art community, is the finished product, the artist card be 2.5" x 3.5". For example, I plan to create some 6x7 negatives and print them like I do my larger work. Meaning that I leave the border displayed and show the brush strokes. I print my 8x10 negatives on 11x15 paper for example. However, it is a challenge to express your creative intentions on a smaller pallet, but it is a lot of fun and opens up an entirely new world for you. In regards to the Platinum printing, it does look easy, but I spent a lot of years learning the variables and controlling my environment. All of those little details are not expressed in these types of videos. It is a tricky process, but any good darkroom photographer can do it. Just takes a lot of patience and a willingness to explore. Keep me posted on your progress. Thanks. Tim.
Thanks, Tim. I love the idea of ACEOs. I've been doing large format platinum/palladium with a 5x7 Canham for a couple years now. Am strongly considering moving up to 8x10 view camera. Never thought to use x-ray film--tell me more about why you chose it (I assume for the contrast).
I live in Aptos, CA which is just south of Santa Cruz in the Central Coast area.
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