Ever since I started to sell my art online, I keep seeing other artists selling ACEOs and wondered what they were all about. After a little internet research, I found that this is a new art craze with roots that go back a few hundred years.
ACEO stands for art cards, editions and originals. They are like sports trading cards for artists, and are similar to ATCs, artist trading cards, that are traded and not sold. In the 1700s ATCs were often used for advertising and for portrait miniatures.
Today, ACEOs are a very popular item being sold over the internet. The only requirement for creating one is that it should measure 2.5" x 3.5" (the standard size of a sports trading card). The medium used to create one is limitless - watercolor, acrylic, pencil, photography, oils, just to name a few. The support can also be on almost anything as long as its not too flimsy. Some examples are thick paper, wood, metal, plastic, etc...
ACEOs can be sold as originals, prints, limited editions, or even photography. If it is a limited edition, it should be numbered and signed on the back. They are usually priced very reasonably ($5-$50), which makes collecting art very affordable.
I've decided to make my ACEOs using watercolor with pen and ink. Each one is a miniature original painting, and I sign them on the front and then title, sign, and date them on the back. During my art classes that I teach, I often demonstrate different techniques to my students, and these small demos usually end up as my ACEOs.
A handy tool that I have made is a small view finder that has an opening of 2.5"x3.5". I then place the view finder in different areas of the painting to see what makes a good composition for an ACEO. Next, I use my paper trimmer to cut out the miniature painting. I generally save just about every scrap piece of watercolor paper so that I may make some ACEOs out of them in the future. This is a great way to recycle and use pieces from those "not so good" paintings.