Tim Layton Fine Art | The Pocket Art Movement of ACEOs is Skyrocketing

The Pocket Art Movement of ACEOs is Skyrocketing

June 26, 2016  •  5 Comments

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.  

Join my Free Newsletter and never miss an update again. 

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.

To the best of my knowledge, I am the first and only artist in the world that is creating and selling pure platinum Pocket Nature ArtTM. You can read more about this in my article

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.  

Join my Free Newsletter and never miss an update again. 




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.


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.    


  • Creating a finished piece of art in such a small format can be very challenging, but it is always rewarding for me.  
  • Since the artwork is small, people can collect a body of work that can easily be displayed in a minimal amount of space and even taken with them in a small bag or purse.  
  • From a creative perspective, I get more opportunities to express my vision and I really like this.  
  • I think of AECOs as miniature masterpieces that people can buy, collect and display in a very wide array of methods and formats.  They can be enjoyed individually, or purchased as part of a collectible edition.
  • Based on the small size and lower price, I am happy that a broad cross-section of people have the means to buy my Pocket Nature ArtTM
  • All of the same rules for larger artwork applies to ACEOs as well. You can mount them on a mat board individually in a frame, or you could group them as part of a series in a single frame, or arrange a group of frames to morph into your available wall space.  They can be collected like trading cards and easily transported.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.  
  • I love the idea that people from every walk of life can buy and collect my artist original ACEOs.  Art makes the world a better place and opening up the option for people of all financial means to purchase art is a good thing.  

Tim Layton

Visit my ACEO galleries to view the artist cards, and to view my behind the scenes videos and photos.  

Join my Free Newsletter and never miss an update again. 

Check Out My Latest Books, Video Workshops, and Quick Start Guides For Darkroom and Large Format Photographers. 


Bob Dungan(non-registered)
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.
Tim Layton Fine Art
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.
Tim Layton Fine Art
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.
Frank Baudino(non-registered)
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.
Eric Searing(non-registered)
Question - Does the negative need to be 2.5 x 3.5 or can the finished print be only 2.5 x 3.5 to be considered ACEO?

Looking forward to seeing the end result in your galleries. You make Platinum processing look easier than I had imagined.
No comments posted.

B&H Logo 300x206B&H Logo 300x206

Media & News Updates



Popular Articles