Party Guest Blogger JAX CASSIDY on How Artist Trading Cards Can Help Your Writing

I love this article! I first interviewed Jax Cassidy for THINKING WRITE and that’s when she told me about her Artist Trading Cards and how creating them helps her tap into her subconscious mind when she gets stuck in her writing. I knew then that I had to have Jax come to my blog one day and discuss this wonderful topic!

Aren’t her cards beautiful?

Jax Cassidy followed her dreams to Paris, then Hollywood to pursue a film career but managed to fall in love with penning sexy romances and happy endings—finding Mr. Right was just an added bonus. She writes contemporary, paranormal, and multi-ethnic romances and is Co-Founder of Romance Divas, and award winning writer’s website and discussion forum. Jax is also known as one-half of the retired writing team of Cassidy Kent. and

Creating ARTIST TRADING CARDS Helps Your Writing

by Jax Cassidy

Before writing full-time, I was an artist who took pleasure in experimenting with different mediums from acrylics, oils, to recycled products and spray paints. I adored anything crafty, required getting my hands and clothes dirty, and just stepping outside my comfort zone to see if I can make art out of something as ordinary as glass or newspapers. When I see something fresh and clever in the art world, I want to learn it and I want to try to replicate it so I can understand how the artist created it. It’s like dissecting a clock or a gadget, truthfully, it’s the geek in me that loves the challenge. That’s why I’m proud that during my lifetime I have attempted pottery, sculpting, sewing and even knitting–but I am always beckoned by my beloved paintbrushes and sturdy canvases to return to them.

These days, I drift around and haven’t been able to plant my roots in one city so I don’t have the space to do my large-scale art pieces. Writing only requires my trusted laptop and the Internet to get everything done. No mess, no cleanup, no office. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing but the more time passes the more I discover that I can’t turn away from the art that helped foster my blossoming creativity, that journeyed with me through the toughest hours. I may not have the space I’d like but I have found a way to create art on a smaller scale.

I’ve known about ATC (Artists Trading Cards) for years and many of my friends tried to explain this addiction to me but I refused to listen. I guess I knew I’d love it far too much and I was correct! About four years ago, my dear friend Eden Bradley invited me over for a writing weekend which turned out to be the most productive one ever! We were stuck one evening when she introduced me to the art of ATC. She’s a huge art lover and extremely talented with crafts so once I laid eyes on her designs I knew I had to try. She produced four or five plastic containers, which included everything from texture papers, pencils, markers, ribbons, stickers, magazine cutouts, stamps, buttons–you name it, she had it. We spent several hours thinking up themes, integrating our story plots to the ATC, and coming up with new and interesting techniques that would all combine into one creative ATC spread.

What exactly is an ATC? Well, they are the size of baseball cards, 2 ½ X 3 ½ inches, and small enough to fit inside standard card-collector pockets, sleeves, or sheets. This mail art movement started in Switzerland and has become a huge art phenomenon. Many people trade and sell them online but I love them because they make great gifts. Personally for me, creating ATC is a great stress reliever and requires a tiny space like your kitchen or coffee table. I know within the first 30 minutes of indulging in the task, I discovered ways to work out my stalled plots. Sometimes when I mentally create a theme for my ATC pieces, I thread my storytelling into them by making things visual. For instance, I can work in the mood of my world by including my hero, heroine, location, pivotal landmarks or objects into the different cards. They sort of flow onto the next card and the story unravels.

Of course, ATC may not work for everyone who’s stuck, but it will definitely prove anyone can be creative with just a bit of initiative. There’s no right or wrong way to design them and I can guarantee hours and hours of inspiration if you search for samples of these cards online before you get started. Happy creating!


What do you do that stimulates your subconscious mind creativity? Will you try making Artist Trading Cards? Share your ideas! One lucky commenter will receive a copy of Art of Sensuality and 2 ebooks for US residents and for those internationally, Jax will giveaway 3 ebooks of her latest release or backlist. WOW!

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28 Responses to Party Guest Blogger JAX CASSIDY on How Artist Trading Cards Can Help Your Writing

  1. Kelly L Stone says:

    Jax, this is a great article. I am fascinated by this whole topic of one art form feeding another.

    What do you use for the actual card itself? Card stock?


  2. lydia storm says:

    I love this! I have a vision board where I put up all kinds of crazy images. Right now it’s full of ancient Egyptian symbols. These cards sound awesome and bet yours are really amazing Jax, since you have such an evolved esthetic sense. I would love to see them sometime when you’re in NYC. Where can you find them online to trade or buy?
    - Lydia

  3. Jax Cassidy says:

    Thanks Kelly! I use whatever I can find that’s sturdy from postcards, notecards, to old greeting cards. You cut them down to size and I feel like it’s a great recycle project :) We all win! Also, art and craft stores sell the blank ATC cards in a set for around $10 or less depending on how many cards in a set.

    I personally think it’s a great way to get your children involved for “family time” because creativity stems productivity. The importance of having them leave the project feeling inspired and a artistic goes a long way!

  4. Julie Destry says:

    wow! i had never heard of these, but they immediately appeal to the artist in me, too. i finally have a reason to use the scrapbooking supplies i was addicted to buying for a while!

  5. fallon hadley says:

    What I do to stimulate my creativity is not really creative but it does get the juices flowing.

    One of the things I do is write in a diary. It helps me record things I have seen, heard, or read. If I can’t decide how I want a character to be, I flipped through the pages and see what jumps out at me.

    I also listed to various kinds of music, depending on the scene I want to write.

    I might try the cards but I am not very “artistic.”

  6. Stone~Amber says:

    What exactly goes into the card? Is it decorated front and back? Are there words? Why would you create one(many)? What do you do with them after they are made?

    I probably shouldn’t be asking, but they look amazing! I already am addicted to crafting, whats one more right? My preferred poison is clay molding, but I do pretty much everything else too.


  7. Kirsten says:

    Jax your cards are simply gorgeous! I love the idea as well – have never heard of them before. I can see myself getting lost in the creativity for a while and can understand how it would fuel your SC to create more for your topic. It’s genius! And as Kelly’s guest MJ said ‘procrastination’ is important for writers. thx! K

  8. Christina says:


    I find your work really beautiful and very inspiring. I’d love to try making something like this to help get my own creative juices flowing. I already design banners for myself with a bunch of images designed in a pretty style to help with inspiration. I imagine doing the cards as you do wouldn’t be too far off.

  9. Jax Cassidy says:

    Lydia–I’ll try to remember to take some with me when I’m in NYC!

    Julie–scrapbooking stuff is perfect for these ATC. It’s like miniature scrapbooking. :)

    Fallon–I love music when I work and sometimes it helps inspire me to really go nuts with the design!

  10. Jax Cassidy says:

    I forgot to mention you can use an old deck of playing cards for ATCs. You can fill the front and back or just one side, it’s like little art pieces that match. Some have the same fill or an element that flows to the next card. I know people put them in tin cans, gift boxes, etc. You can decorate those boxes too!

    Stone~Amber–you can sell those cards on or you can view all the cool sites that work with ATCs like:
    (ATC swap)

    Hope those sites help. There are yahoo groups, live journals, forums…it’s a big craze!

  11. Jax Cassidy says:

    Kirsten–I guarantee hours of entertainment! It’s so easy because anyone who can glue, staple, sew can build an awesome deck!

    Christina–You can SO do it! I think they’re much like collages. You just experiment until you become confident in what you do and just go with it. Like those Bunko meetups, authors should have ATC meets. I bet it would really make the brainstorming fun while crafting.

  12. Janel says:

    I have been looking at ATC’s in art magazines for years, but have never tried one. Now that you’ve tied them into writing . . . I have to do some! I can also see using them as covers for mini notebooks. Hmmm, this definitely has my creativity kicking into overdrive. :)

  13. KJ Reed says:

    What a unique idea to get around a writer’s block. I’ve never heard of this before, and truth be told I’m not a craft/art person. But when I need a brain break I’m more the type of person to go for a walk or get on the floor and roll around with my 16 month old, or scrub the bathroom (yeah, I’m serious).

  14. Mini collages! What a cool idea, Jax. :-)

    I’m artistically challenged when it comes to art, decorating,etc…I can definitely appreciate a well decorated room or a work of art done right, but I can’t manage to put together anything myself. I just do words. (shrug)

    BUT, I promise I will TRY. I’ll suggest it to my CP and see what we can come up with.

    Thanks so much for posting.

    So, kudos to anyone who can do this–or any other visual art.

  15. Kelly L Stone says:

    You ladies are really setting my creativity on fire!

  16. Eden Bradley says:

    Jax-I love seeing some of your more recent ATCs! I haven’t done any in months and was just thinking I need to get back to it.
    My current obsession-although due to writing deadlines I’ve yet to start one-are altered books. The same principals as ATCs, but on a slightly larger scale. This is my favorite altered book site, and you can study the techniques and ideas to use on ATC’s, as well.
    So many ideas, so little time…
    Great blog post, Jax!

    • Kelly L Stone says:

      I have always wondered about altered books. Thanks for posting that link.

    • Jax Cassidy says:

      Yay! More sites to get addicted to, thanks EDEN!

      I am hoping to do a series of cards that will tie in with my new paranormal. I will most likely get them printed up as real cards if they turn out! Great giveaway at conference!

  17. Your cards are beautiful, Jax. I’ve heard of other people doing this too. You could also do online cards with all sorts of graphics.

    When I want to get a creativity jolt I usually go for a walk outdoors. Something about all that nature gets my brain working. I’m going to have to try some ATCs myself though because it sounds like lots of fun.

    • Jax Cassidy says:

      I like digital ATCs too. A lot of people do it because it’s a skill they work with in graphics. I do both but I enjoy the part of just cutting, pasting, sewing, beading. It’s a good break from computers. :)

  18. Kelly L Stone says:

    Cinthia, you are the winner of the giveaway! Congrats!!

  19. Pingback: Jax Cassidy Official Blog

  20. Chantal Shelstad says:

    I like the idea of ATCs. I’m not much of an artist myself (only the art of words) but I think I could manage a baseball card-sized art piece. Maybe it’ll help get these creative juices going!

  21. Kwana says:

    I’m way late here but wow! I really love this idea Jax. Thanks so much. I can see myself getting lost in ATC for hours.