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Sherwood artist hopes to expand artist trading card exchange group.



TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Collage artist Susan Kent will be leading workshops on how to create artist trading cards at the Tigard and Sherwood libraries on Saturday and Sunday.Anyone for cards?

If so, you can come to one of two workshops that Susan Kent is leading this weekend at local libraries. But instead of playing cards or even baseball cards, Kent deals in artist trading cards — and she’s hoping to inspire more artists with whom she can trade.

If you have no idea what artist trading cards are, you’re not alone.

“A lot of people haven’t heard of them, but they are a big deal,” said Kent, a Sherwood resident who leads a small group of women who live in Washington and Yamhill counties and meet monthly to create, show off and exchange their cards.

A baseball trading card will list a ballplayer’s statistics, accomplishments and maybe some trivia, along with a photograph. So what kind of trading cards would an artist have?

“What’s so great about them ... is that you create these thumbnail pieces of art,” Kent explained.

After all, you can list the stats and name the players, but you can’t cram the game of baseball itself onto 2½-by-3 ½-inch card stock paper. But art can come in many shapes and sizes. An artist trading card is a representation of its maker’s creativity. It is, itself, art.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Sherwood artist Susan Kent creates 'ATCs' - artist trading cards - that she then trades with other artists to create a unique collection.Kent showed some examples of artist trading cards she has made, as well as cards made by members of her group. Some are illustrations; many are mixed media, with everything from quotes on paper to brightly colored beads and yarn glued onto them. Some look like miniature versions of pieces you might find on the walls of the Portland Art Museum; many are more eclectic, whimsical and less refined, but clearly fun.

“It’s simply creating, and rediscovering the joy of creating, art for art’s sake,” Kent said. “And also, it’s an opportunity for the participants to connect with others and share.”

There are no rules or restrictions as to what an artist trading card can or should look like, other than being about the size of a baseball card, 2½ by 3½ inches.

“The possibilities are endless,” said Kent.

In her long career as an artist, Kent has been a photographer, a designer, a jeweler, a painter and more. She said she has been making and swapping artist trading cards off and on since 2005.

The trading aspect has a strong appeal for Kent. She has binders with card sleeves filled with examples of other people’s card-sized artwork that she has collected over the years. She has even traded cards internationally, sending her work abroad and receiving artist trading cards from Spain in return. She’d like to do something like that again, she said.

“How fun is that, to get other people’s artwork?” she marveled.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Collage and mixed-media techniques were used to create the artist trading cards in Susan Kent's collection. She keeps binders filled with cards she has made and kept or for which she has traded over the years.Kent will lead an artist trading card workshop at the Tigard Public Library from 2 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Then, from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, she will be at the Sherwood Public Library, where she taught a similar workshop last year.

“One of the reasons that I like doing these workshops at the library is because they don’t charge people for their classes,” she said. “They’re free. Any of these other places around here charge $65 for a class, and in my mind, I’d much rather give my time and do free classes to people to get them interested in art rather than trying to make money off of it. Art is something that needs to be shared, and I feel real strong about that.”

For the workshops, Kent will supply all the needed materials. She said she will walk learners through the process of creating their own artist trading cards step by step.

Kent pointed out examples of one of her group member’s cards and how her more recent efforts have increased in ambition and sophistication.

“She said, ‘Oh, I’m not an artist. I can’t do this kind of thing. I don’t know what to do,’” Kent said. “So since the beginning of time, when she was doing all these tiny little things, she’s bloomed and blossomed into doing bigger things. And it’s, like, such a pleasure for me to see these people grow and evolve. ... Especially people that are not artists, it’s just wonderful to see them grow.”

Kent’s hope is that people will come to her workshops this weekend and enjoy the experience of making and sharing artist trading cards so much that they will join her exchange group. Her group and past workshops she has led have been overwhelmingly female, she noted, but men are welcome as well.

There is no charge to attend library workshops. Registration for the workshops is not required.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Susan Kent doesn't just make her own artist trading cards. She encourages other artists to make their own, then trades with other artists to expand her own collection of ATCs. She said she enjoys collecting other artists' work and sharing her art.

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