For centuries people have been fascinated by miniatures. They were originally created for wealthy patrons as a portable portrait of a loved one, to take on pilgrimage or to war. Early Christians also carried miniature religious icons for worship. And an Asian tradition paints microscopic pictures and texts on very small items such as a grain of rice. However, we digress.
The modern art card can be traced to Artists who wanted something memorable to use as a business card, so simple white business cards with contact details were embellished with abstract brushwork or a simple scene. The idea was that customers would be more likely to keep a miniature piece of Art than a mass produced business card. Later more detailed originals appeared on the back of business cards.
Another possible origin of ACEO was via ATC or Art Trading Cards which are like sport trading cards. Because there is a huge STC industry already in place display and storage options are readily available, so the shift from sport to art was easy. STC's are mass produced and the value is in the rarity of the sport star or card. Likewise, the value of ATCs is in name of the Artist and their notoriety. ATCs can be prints, photographs, limited edition prints, or originals but the main concept is that they are for trading and no money should pass hands.
ACEOs on the other hand are a popular way to purchase and collect Art. So exactly what is an ACEO? I asked myself the same question recently because I kept hearing about them and only had a hazy idea what was being referred to. As a professional Artist, I was mainly interested in who purchases ACEOs and why.Then I was challenged to paint an ACEO and I thought I'd better make sure I was doing the right thing.
An ACEO or "Art Card Edition Original" must be exactly 2 1/2" x 3 1/2". To put that size into perspective, a business card is 2" x 3 1/2" and a credit card is 2 1/8" x 3 3/8" so an ACEO is slightly larger than these. To arrive at the exact size for an ACEO, divide a 5" x 7" standard photograph down the center, turn it 90 degrees and divided it in half again therefore creating four ACEO sized rectangles. If your work is not those exact dimensions it may be a miniature but it is not an ACEO.
ACEOs can be photographs, prints, limited editions or originals but as a general rule they are created and sold by the Artist themselves, often by auction on Ebay or elsewhere. I've seen auctions for ACEO that start at 1 cent but they can go into triple figures. An Artist can ask any amount for their ACEO. Generally unlimited prints are very inexpensive, limited prints a little more and originals fetch the highest prices. However, when an Artist is relatively unknown they would be wise to start low to build a following. There is also a theory on Ebay that if you start very low it may start a bidding war, but this is only the case if your product is popular. A good way to start is to simply reduce the size of one of your current most popular works, crop them if need be, and sell them as limited print ACEOs. Once you have fans you can attempt original works and make the starting price a little higher etc.
For collectors ACEOs are an inexpensive way to start an Art collection. You can limit your collection to a certain genre or medium or perhaps a single Artist. You could buy an original work from an unknown Artist for a very little. In the long term the Artist may become famous and you would make quite a profit. Meanwhile you have the added satisfaction of supporting an Artist or group of Artists whose work you enjoy. You may prefer prints or photographs which are the most inexpensive, or you could collect only OOAK - "One Of A Kind" original Art works. Part of the fun of collecting is being in control of how your collection grows and how it is displayed. I'm sure if you look hard enough you would find custom made ACEO frames for your ACEO Art collection.
If you are a photographer it's easy to reduce your photos to the correct size and print them on good quality paper to create ACEOs. To make them more salable you can back them with acid free card. An Artist can scan or photograph their own work, reduce, crop and print on good quality paper and then back. Original ACEOs are more challenging: It takes practice to learn how to paint using such a small format. When you don't have a point of reference miniatures should fool you into thinking they are large paintings. Therefore the tools, brushstrokes and technique also need to be miniaturized. A paint brush used for miniatures needs to be very fine and pencils must be shaved to a very fine point.
Whether you are a collector, an Artist, or both you will find it a lot of fun to explore ACEOs.
Top:- "Teeny Tiny Stars" an ACEO OOAK Original by the author available here http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/...
Bottom:- "Sunny Side Up" an ACEO OOAK Original by the author available here http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/...
Sea is an Artist, Art Instructor, Art Blogger and Curator of Blue Sky Red Earth Gallery on Facebook.
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