Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In defense of ACEO's

I just read an interesting perspective on the "conflict" between ACEO's (Art Cards Editions and Originals)and ATC's (Artist Trading Cards). I read this and was struck by the moral high ground as yet another artist bashes those trying to make a living from their OWN work. I just get so annoyed of people saying it's wrong and so uncool to make ACEO's to sell. Apparently, a few years ago an artist came up with the idea of trading cards (among fellow artists) with no monetary transaction. I think this is fine and really, really wonderful. I've done this myself, quite few times. It's a wonderful concept among fellow artists to create works and trade them. Another aspect of this was to get your work shown to other people in this small form (2.5 by 3.5 inches)...so in effect, this was your calling card, handmade for that purpose as well. Which, I assume, would generate peoples interest in buying your work...

Really, creating shouldn't have so much of a "oh, shame on you for selling out" attitude. The article I read basically made fun of people who create ACEO's, saying the creators changed the name to get away with evil, basically. Yeah, it's so evil to MAKE something and sell it. That is ridiculous.

Another aspect of this article that irked me was the author then made light that cards (baseball, etc) have always been there to be sold, etc and this doesn't validate ACEO's position. So, the size of 3.5 by 2.5 inches is apparently only a valid and morally good thing if it is traded and not bought. Apparently, the size 2.5 by 3.5 inches has a lot of power. Personally, I find it ridiculous to apply this sort of attitude to a size of artwork. If the ARTIST wants to sell something, then it's their right. When I think of all the struggling people out there trying to make a few bucks from something they made with their own hands, by God, I bless them. I do not shoot them down and say, you are a sell out. And what about mass produced cards and their place of origin such as China? Are these validated because they are baseball cards (have a history) and not ACEO’s?

Another aspect about this author's POV is she is saying that art shouldn't be about money. Very idealistic and I'd agree with this if we didn't live in a society that was commercialized and based on monitory value. Nearly every aspect of the US (the only society I know as I live here) is based on some form of commerce. Whether it's the electricity bill we get monthly, the groceries we buy, the work we do, the transportation we use, the clothes we wear, etc,etc are all brought to us by either buying them or given to us by someone who bought it. So, yes, I say it's idealistic and unfair to judge people based on their desire to sell their creations (regardless of the size of art).

My last grievance is, if someone wanted to create 2.5 by 3.5 inch art and found ACEO's first, would they be morally wrong too? And what if they did ATC's for years and thought, hell, I want to make some money too? Are you allowed to switch? Are you allowed to do both? I guess the attitude just reminds me too much of a fundamentalist attitude, even if they are kind.

Also, nobody is stopping anybody from trading cards...

Well, I'm glad I got that off my mind. Feeling a little indignant is all. And I will continue to trade and sell to my hearts content, thank you very much. :)

20 comments:

Alison Ashwell said...

It seems very odd for the original writer to say that someone can do what they like with their artwork but that making small works to sell is cashing in or doing something underhand.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found this article that was posted over a year ago. Now I think you should both go back and read again---this is about how one person feels about selling ATCs, not a policy for anyone else to follow. Hence the title "My Feelings About Selling ATCs".

If you think differently, you should write what you think, and not waste your time complainting about what someone else has already written.

damask22 said...

I had no idea there was such controversy over ATCs and ACEOs until you brought it to my attention Em. I have traded ATCs with two people as part of a swap and I have sold a couple of ACEOs on Ebay. Wish I were rich enough to be able to create art for the hell of it but that's life.

Also good on you for allowing comments on this post unlike the original writer. Hopefully not everyone will hide behind an anonymous identity when they want to voice an opposing opinion.

Jen

♥ joleen ♥ said...

OH!! I feel the very same. I have actually only ever traded ATC's and that's all I ever will do because I got into it for the trading aspects. However, I see absolutely nothing wrong with selling them if that's what you choose to do. Why the heck should I care? :)

PS- People that post anonymous comments REALLY bug me..

Lisa said...

Emily, I'm glad that my article has prompted you to express your feelings on this issue. It saddens me that you couldn't express your own opionion (which is certainly valid, even if I don't agree with it) without shredding me in the process---because as you'll notice, I did manage to express mine without pointing fingers at another artist in the process.

This editorial was written last year, in response to an out and out war of words going on between members of a specific message board. It wasn't written to "bash" anyone, but to express my feelings that while I would NEVER buy or sell ATCs out of respect for the spirit in which they were originally created, each artist should choose for herself what to do with her art.

The fact that you titled this article In Defense of ACEOs tells me that you feel your position needs defending. It doesn't. It's your work, and if you want to sell it, that's your choice. It's my choice not to sell this one thing---I can't imagine why that should inspire such a vitriolic response.

Lisa Vollrath
Artist, Writer and Designer
LisaVollrath.com
Ten Two Studios

Emily said...

adThank you for all of your opinions...I find it interesting to hear the various POV's on this subject.

Alison, I agree...it's a contradiction, really.

Anonymous, I just recently found this article (within the last three days) and I found it intersting enough to repsond to. Certainly, it is a person's opinion. However, if you publish something (whether it is written or on a blog) then it is open to debate.

Thanks, Damask~ I think there are a lot of people with great ideals, but not everyone can live on ideals alone.

Thanks, Joleen~ I will continue trading and selling...:)

Emily said...

Lisa~

I’m sorry if you felt I was “shredding” you in my article. My response was directly related to your writing on ACEO’s as exploitive to ATC’s. I did not attack you personally…my writing was in direct relation to your editorial. Certainly, my feelings are opposite of yours and as such I do have a right to state my POV. And as an editorial piece, you would know they are open to criticism too.

I had no conception of the background to why you posted your opinions on ATC’s/ACEO’s. Thank you for the history of your post.

I titled my piece, In defense of ACEO’s because I have heard a lot of people (besides your self) express their feelings that ACEO’s are just rip offs of a noble concept.

I’m sorry if you think my post was spiteful, it was not intended to be. I was arguing in response to your editorial and I’m sorry you took this as a personal offense.

Lisa said...

Perhaps instead of reacting negatively, and making all your points simply by responding to what I wrote, you might sit down and write what you think about ACEOs---not what they're not, but what they are. There should be something written from the perspective of someone who thinks that selling ATCs is a good thing---but it really doesn't have to be written as an attack on what someone else has already written.

Seriously, in the long run, who really cares whether I'm right or wrong on this issue? There is no right or wrong---just right for me or wrong for me. It's up to each artist to define her own right.

islandarts said...

Wow, i can't tell if people here are fired up about the selling of ACEO's or your blog post... crazyness.
Is something art just because you hang it on the wall???
Is something considered and art card because it's a certain size?

Sometimes purists are really missing out, but we aren't :0)

Emily said...

Interesting point, Lisa...

I guess a general definition of ACEO's would be that ACEO's are an art form in the same vein as ATC's but with the advantage of being sold to people outside the art world and open to commerce.

So, wanna buy one of mine? ;)

Emily said...

Islandarts...so true...:) sigh

Anonymous said...

you come off as defensive. Why not different strokes for different folks? No need to bash other's opinions. I think its sad to be selling trading cards. Ruins the spirit of free art and all that but I'm not going to bash your post. You have a right to feel the way you do as the person that wrote the initial article.

Emily said...

Anonymous...
Yes, I agree with different strokes for different folks in your message. But when you follow that with "its sad to be selling trading cards. Ruins the spirit of free art", I find that to be an elitist attitude as well as self righteous and VERY un-"different strokes for different folks".

Lisa said...

I guess a general definition of ACEO's would be that ACEO's are an art form in the same vein as ATC's but with the advantage of being sold to people outside the art world and open to commerce.

Sadly, ACEOs are simply artist trading cards that are being sold under another name. Having swapped hundreds of ATCs prior to the appearance of the term ACEO, I'm pretty sure I can identify an ATC when I see one. ACEOs aren't "in the same vein"---they're the same thing.

So, wanna buy one of mine? ;)

Well, if you'd read my article all the way through, you'd know that I won't buy one of yours, because I neither buy nor sell ATCs---but I'll certainly swap you one for one, if you promise not to sell it later :)

Lisa said...

I find that to be an elitist attitude

In this, you are wrong. The swapping of ATCs is the most egalitarian process I've ever experienced. Very simply, one of mine is equal to one of yours---there is no two of mine for one of yours in ATC swapping. It encourages everyone to give creating a try, which can only be a good thing.

It's selling that's elitist. If you want one of my cards, you must buy it, at whatever price the market will bear. At a certain point, only people with the most money to spend can have the most popular cards. It assigns an unequal worth to the cards---your card is only worth 99 cents, while someone else's is worth $100. What could be more elitist than that?

Emily said...

Lisa,
If you are going to dismiss my definition of ACEO's and keep repeating your thoughts on what ACEO's aren't, I don't see any point to this conversation.

Also, my use of elitist was not towards ATC's (which, as I have said before, I love)but the person's attitude. As in there is a whiff of elitism when people imply making money is sinister.

Lisa said...

As in there is a whiff of elitism when people imply making money is sinister.

Making money isn't sinister. I'm all for it. I make money from my art every day.

However, there is something kind of sad making everything in art about money. This particular art form was created as a form of exchange and communication. Since the 60's, people have been trading ATCs, with no money involved, which I think is kind of a wonderful thing. It's too bad that folks had to turn it into something that's only about money. There's a real joy in creating something simply to trade with someone else, and before folks started selling these cards, it was a pure joy, with no thoughts of commerce or value. Now, I'm never quite sure when a card I've swapped freely is going to show up listed on eBay. It really creeps me out.

A friend from another country once told me that this is a very American way of thinking---that everything in life is about money, and that anyone implying that something shouldn't be about money is some sort of snob. I was initially offended, but now I think she was right. When I see concepts like Art Money and ATCs being developed in Europe as ways to exchange, I think they're truly recognizing the value of art in a way we in the US just don't.

I guess the question I have to ask is why sell this---of all the art forms avaiable, why sell something that the original creator specified NOT be sold? I'll tell you why---because the artists who swapped these cards made them popular, and the artists who trailed behind decided to cash in on the popularity.

This is the way of things. There are always those with original ideas who are willing to share them. And there are always those who want to cash in on those ideas.

Mymamasews said...

Making money isn't sinister. I'm all for it. I make money from my art every day.
However, there is something kind of sad making everything in art about money.


Not everything in art is about money…there is A LOT of free art created by people…everything from charities to trading from decorators and artists creating new homes for people (such as Extreme makeover, habitat for humanity) and so forth.

Since the 60's, people have been trading ATCs, with no money involved, which I think is kind of a wonderful thing.

Actually, it was probably earlier then this, most likely the 1930’s…card trading goes back some way…And again, these are ACEO’s, not ATC’s we’re talking about.

It's too bad that folks had to turn it into something that's only about money. There's a real joy in creating something simply to trade with someone else, and before folks started selling these cards, it was a pure joy, with no thoughts of commerce or value

Again, most artists do both (trade, sell), as you’ve mentioned. You your self create work to sell. And there are quite a few people trading…nobody is stopping anybody trading.
Actually, this is not altruistic if you are intending to get something back. A purely altruistic action would be to give something away and not expect anything in return.

Now, I'm never quite sure when a card I've swapped freely is going to show up listed on eBay. It really creeps me out.

When you give something away in a trade, you have to expect this to happen on a certain level. Someone in a trade will eventually trade your card or even sell it. Does this really matter?

Also, the argument is what if the artist decided to sell their works of art? It’s something the artist created, it’s their own property and their right…regardless of other’s opinions or the “original creators” concept of ATC’s or dismissive attitude towards ACEO’s.

A friend from another country once told me that this is a very American way of thinking---that everything in life is about money, and that anyone implying that something shouldn't be about money is some sort of snob. I was initially offended, but now I think she was right. When I see concepts like Art Money and ATCs being developed in Europe as ways to exchange, I think they're truly recognizing the value of art in a way we in the US just don't.

Personally, I’d like to know what part of Europe this person is from. I think it’s much more morally wrong when our (American) minimum wage is still $5.15 an hour, most families have to have BOTH parents working full time to pay the bills, children are left to defend for themselves, most health care benefits are being cut in half and half the US is still not covered, pensions are being lost, as well as our rights because of a war in Iraq, people having to get student loans instead of financial aid because there were cuts and labor unions are becoming extinct. So, yes, I’d say A LOT of Americans are “obsessed” about money.

I guess the question I have to ask is why sell this---of all the art forms avaiable, why sell something that the original creator specified NOT be sold? I'll tell you why---because the artists who swapped these cards made them popular, and the artists who trailed behind decided to cash in on the popularity.

Most people are trying to subsidize their incomes through something as noble and beautiful as art. It’s an extremely tough market to create something with your own hands in a world full of mass produced everything. Shouldn’t this be more important than some ideals? Shouldn’t the creation of something unique be more important than a concept and in fact, those who are creating be lifted up as something wonderful?

Oh, and selling under the ACEO name is easier for search engines on eBay/internet. So, people who want to by miniature art can find us very easily.

This is the way of things. There are always those with original ideas who are willing to share them. And there are always those who want to cash in on those ideas.

I’m glad you can afford to hold onto your idea(l)s. Others of us have to earn a living, some get an extra job at Wal Mart, some scrap by cleaning homes, others put pencil to paper and think of colors and worlds to sell to people. A good book you may find interesting is that of Mother Courage. When I first read it, I didn’t understand…but I read a few others times and now I do…I hope you’ll read it, if you haven’t already and apply this to those who create ACEO’s.

Lisa said...

I’m glad you can afford to hold onto your idea(l)s. Others of us have to earn a living, some get an extra job at Wal Mart, some scrap by cleaning homes, others put pencil to paper and think of colors and worlds to sell to people.

I'm so completely tired of the "I have to earn a living" justification! Like the money you earn from selling this type of art is going to make the difference between having food on your table and not. Let's face it, if you're attempting to earn a living from your art, that living isn't going to come from selling ATCs. Myself, I'd rather put in a few more minutes at my work table, and create a larger piece that will sell for more.

Putting pencil to paper is how I've earned my living for pretty much my entire adult life, in one way or another. There are plenty of ways to do it. Selling ATCs (and yes, we're talking about ATCs, even if you choose to call them something else) has never been one of them for me---because I believe that I should respect the wishes of the person who originated them. I don't think that respecting someone else's wishes about the use of their concept is a bad thing.

A good book you may find interesting is that of Mother Courage. When I first read it, I didn’t understand…but I read a few others times and now I do…I hope you’ll read it, if you haven’t already and apply this to those who create ACEO’s.

I'm going to assume you mean the play by Brecht? I've participated in mounting two productions of his Mother Courage. I think if you read anything about Brecht, you'll find that he was a Marxist and a Communist. I'm pretty sure he'd be very much against the idea that art is only for those with the money to buy it. The very concept of Mother Courage is that this woman wants to make a living from war at any cost, and loses everything that matters. I want to make a living from my art---but not at all costs. There are some things I just won't do. Selling artist trading cards is one of them.

Obviously, I'm never going to convert you to my way of thinking. All I can say is what I said a year ago: I will never buy or sell an ATC. If you feel good about making the choice to do so, knock yourself out. It's your work, so it's your choice. Just don't expect me to cheer you on, because deep down, I think what you're doing is wrong.

Emily said...

Lisa,

Personally, I've had a different experience with the economics of doing artwork.

Thanks for taking the time to share your ideas. Looks like we'll always have a difference of opinion on this.

Sociable

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