The first artist trading card dates back to 1997 in Zurich and started as a collaborative cultural performance. The Artist Trading Card project builds on different traditions. Miniature art has been in existence for centuries tracing its heritage back to the illustrated manuscripts of scribes in the Far East and Europe prior to the 15th century.
The origin of the modern trading card is associated with cigarette cards first issued by the US-based Allen and Ginter tobacco company in 1875. They were the precursors of the sports cards and other trading cards. An important influence on the ATC concept were art movements of the 20th century which advocated a more popular art: Art not for museums or auctions but from and within everyday life.
In this respect, the ATC project has an affinity with the Fluxus movement and with Robert Filliou’s notions of a “fête permanente”, a “création permanente”, or an “eternal network”. The “art of participation” as an interactive process can be traced back to the 1950s, and it developed within different genres like performance art and happenings, action art, mail art, or later computer art.
Artist Ndola Pensy introduced the artist trading card idea to Southwest Florida in 2017 with great reception among artists of different mediums in the area.