Sunday, May 06, 2007

Signature cards

I have been thinking about art signature cards lately.

Artist trading signature cards, as I understand them, are cards that tell about the artist who is trading. I first learned about them in the oft-linked Cedarseed pages. If you look, be sure to scroll far to the right. But at first look, you will see artist Joumana Medlej's signature card.

Okay, the idea mainly came from Joumana, for I am not finding much else on the web about signature cards. I did find more, such as Pigpog, Sashvh, Charlene Pregler, and (aha!) the ladies at Sunflower House.

A card I received from a swap had a pre-made identification sticker on the back, made from a sheet of mailing labels, the 10 x 3 arrangement. Type 8160 in Avery numbers. It had name, website, and a little photo of the artist. I started doing that for the last batch I made.

So, mixing ideas around in My Brain (the creative side that comes up with stuff without my conscious effort is affectionately called My Brain. My Brain comes up with the weird stuff that The Rest of Me chooses to filter.)

Where was I?

Ah, yes.

My Brain mixed around these ideas, and tossed in one more idea to come up with my own signature card.

That last idea? Have you even noticed HOW HARD it is to teach something to others something that comes so naturally to you?

I am 40. I graduated in 1985. I was the first kid in my junior high to get a TRS-80 home computer. Programming and I just clicked. Math, Art, Order, Fun. Possibility! My brain was ripe to suck in all of the ideas in BASIC. I had the good fortune to have an opportunity to teach what I'd earned to five of my junior high teacher and the principal. They were eager students. Hey recognized the PC could be a fascinating tool. We were just switching from dial-up with a paper terminal to a real black and white CRT monitor.

But some things were hard for them to understand. And sometimes I couldn't help them beyond, sputterings of "But you just..."

Much like Pythagoras, whose a2 + b2 = c2 theorem was proved with one drawing and the word "Behold!" To him, everything was obvious from one drawing. To my junior high math class, there was still some 'splainin' to do.

My husband was shocked this weekend when I mentioned one part of the music for Local College graduation where I really had to look at the music, to know what came next. "It's Dixieland. It's easy. You just 1-1-1-1, 4-4-4-1, 6-2-5-1." Easy for him. Like breathing. Not obvious to me. I know what it should sound like, I could sing it, but my fingers just don't fall into place, my brain doesn't immediately provide the note names that the page presents. But he can't teach me because he just knows it. (Okay, this may be the Homeschool Blogger part of the entry)

So when I decided to "teach" an ATC class, I was a bit stymied. "You just... make art that is the right size." I rolled around so many examples of works, and yet, I was also able to reduce the entire class down to one haiku. ATCs in 17 syllables.

And that (for now, it could change later) is my new signature card.

Artist trading cards
Two point five by three point five
Create, trade, enjoy.
-- Heidicrafts

I played with fonts, made a sheet of ten, and ran off some toner photocopies (my inkjet ink runs when wet). I'm having fun decorating the cards.

And the class went well. Most just dove right in and only half-listened to my chatter. Some were friends who have watched me do this since October. All seemed inspired by something from my "Art toys" that they could play with. One went to town with scrap papers and a heart-shaped paper punch. Others drew or enjoyed my rubber stamps and rainbow ink pads. Another liked my idea of using the colorful weather maps from the local newspaper. Winter and summer maps are too solidly blue or red when tracking expected temperature, but there are great swirls on a spring or fall temperature map.

I've sent out a few ATC Haikus last week. I still owe a few cards to a couple of CMP (Creative Mom Podcast) folk. Not from the official swaps, but some trades on the side.

And my wrapping up thought that ties all of this together:
I sent a card to a CMP person who had been shortchanged in the March swap. Her card never arrived. Amy gave me the address, but it didn't click that I had recently "met" her through the CMP yahoogroup. I didn't realize that This Name was also That Artist. If I had, I might have done something different with the card. She wrote and said that she likes it, which is good.

Poppins has had the same feeling. The card she sent for my birthday swap, which I so admire, is not the way she would approach the same project today.

Part of the way My Brain works (right-brained, visual-spatial) is in pictures. I really do have a mental Rolodex(R) in my mind's eye, a set of trading cards for people and places. A set of directions can be a mental Trip-Tik(R), a series of place images. When I joined my first Yahoogroup while expecting Gonzo, I had to make a list of the various members, their towns or regions, their DH names, the names for the new kids and older kids. I had to make mental ATC signature cards to keep them straight.

With blogs, I usually don't meet people all in a bunch, but when I join a Yahoogroup, the information comes at me all at once and I need visual cues to help me sort the data. The Internet can link me to like-interested people, but it isn't like face-to-face interaction.

When I teach a class, as we go through introductions, I ask the others to help me "peg" them in My Brain. Because I'll find a hook with or without their help. Just like the naming of the episodes of Friends, My Brain will remember you as The One Who Likes Sushi or The One Who Likes The Red Green Show.

So the idea of a signature card appeals to me to help me recognize which individual in my circles is the one who like Chucks, or is a quilter, or dyes her own yarns, or homeschools, or used to live in my home state.

A signature card let me see how you chose to define yourself, to help me remember you in a way wish to be remembered.


Mary said...

I love your haiku! That really is very cool and so aptly conveys the ATC concept.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sending me a few of your signature cards and some stuff for inspiration. I am currently dreaming of making the awesomest trading card ever, a shrinky dink one! Wish me luck in shrinking to the proper dimensions.

Kim from RH

Sara Wright said...

Hey Heidi- I really do like the card you sent me to make up for the one that never came in March! And I definitely "hear" what you're saying about the signature. I've also been struggling with this since my media tends to be fabric, and my last 2 cards have had fabric on the back as well. So I don't think I want to put something sticky on the back, because I'm not sure it will stay on. So now that I'm finished with May's card, I'm still trying to figure it out. It's a constant WIP I guess. Take care!