Journals & Collaborative Projects

Below you will find a sampling our members' work from previous collaborative projects.  Click on images to view them larger. We hope this will inspire you to come and play with us! If you are interested in joining our group, please visit us at:

Tutorials & Techniques

Below are some of our favorite tricks for adding depth and dimension to your art.  We hope you have fun giving these a try!

Current Group Swaps & Projects

Below is a list of current swaps and projects available to group members. If you are interested in joining our group and participating in these projects, please visit us at:  

For existing group members, you can sign up to participate  in these projects here: Swaps & Current Projects.  

We look forward to swapping with you.  Happy Arting!

Member Gallery for Group Swaps
Below you will find a sampling our members' work from previous group swaps and projects.  Click on images to view them larger. We hope this will inspire you to come and play with us! If you are interested in joining our group, please visit us at:
Come play with us... Join today!

Paper Traders is a friendly online community of artists from around the world. We nurture and value creativity, embrace new ideas, products, and techniques yet also value tried and true methods of artistic expression. Our projects consist primarily of paper arts, mixed media collage, artist trading cards, altered art, assemblages, collaborative journals, mail art, and more.

We are interested in creative individuals of varied skill levels who wish to challenge themselves artistically and help build a supportive community. We are at our best when we can share our creative efforts as well as techniques, resources, feedback, and insights. We encourage conversation about art, the art process, and what it means to be an artist.

Paper Traders is hosted on Yahoo Groups at
We hope you will consider joining us on an artistic journey!

In order to prevent spammers and to insure that all applicants are actual persons interested in creating art, a questionnaire will be sent to all potential members. When applying, please submit digital examples of your work or direct us to a website where we can view your art. The intent of the questionnaire is not to judge the merits of your art but to safeguard the integrity of our community.

Free Images for Download

Below you will find images that are owned by our group members and offered for your personal use as well as images found in the public domain. Images may be freely used in your personal artwork but may not be used for commercial purposes of any kind without written permission of the owner. No images may be used to create collage sheets or image collections for resale.

To download, follow the link provided. In some cases, you may be able to just click on the image to enlarge it, then right-click and select "save image as". Content changes frequently and many images are available for a limited time.  Please check back often for newly posted images to use in your art journey.

Open Art Challenges !

We're changing things up here at Paper Traders. Instead of the monthly challenges of the past, we'll now be hosting special challenges that might feature a specific technique or product and will be rewarded with actual prizes sponsored by our group members.

Our new challenge for 2013 is a year long word prompt journaling project/challenge. Each specific challenge will be open for one month and all art bloggers can participate, whether you are a Paper Traders member or not. Each artist will comment with a link to their blog post that features the artwork for that particular challenge. For each challenge, a winner will be selected whose art best exemplifies the challenge. The winning artist will be featured here and get a "Trader Treasure" blog button to display on their own blog. They also will receive one chance for each entry for the end of the year prize drawing. Watch this page for more details and challenge announcements.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Discussion on Composition

this is an old photo of my art table in it's usual messy state
Recently, I was contacted by a fellow Paper Trader:
"I wanted to ask you some design advice.  Your compositions are always so beautiful and well laid out.  Do you start with a pile of different images in the theme style and just start playing around or do you have a definite image in mind and then go find the pieces to fit?"

I was very honored by her compliment but I found it such a difficult question to answer and my reply was wishy-washy, at best:
"I guess I do both - although nothing is really well thought out.  I almost always start with creating a background I love and then find a central image for my piece...  from there, I will pull together a pile of stuff from my stash that might possibly work with what I've started and I pick and choose several elements, discarding and reorganizing until I find the right combination.  I usually add words last but occasionally I will pick a specific quote or phrase and let it guide my image choice instead.  However, in the case of my recent circus pages, I just printed A TON of images in varying sizes and picked through them, mixing and matching until I had all the layouts I needed - I did it this way because I wanted these pages to have a more jumbled feel and not a overly prominent central image like most of my other work.  I always have a ton of stuff that needs to be put away because this method of pulling out lots of things that end up not getting used isn't very organized!  On the other hand, I usually have a pretty clear picture in my mind of what is in my stash because I'm constantly sorting through it."

So, I'm just wondering... How do YOU design your work?  Do you sketch out an idea first?  Do you find a favorite image and build around it?  Do you just dig through your stash of ephemera until something catches your eye?  We'd love to hear about your creative process!


Cathy L. Calamas said...

If I don't have a theme that I am required to use, I generally dig through my stash until something catches my eye. Many times, my starting point is actually my text, verse or words. And then I build around the feeling I want the words to convey.

Heather Robinson said...

I work much the same way that you do Beckie. I usually have some idea of what I want the "feel" of the piece to be and that determines what I use to create the backgrounds, the colours etc. Like you, I usually have selected the focal image and go through my unorganized stash looking for this and that to go with it. I'm often shocked though how it all flows together....and flow it must. Love this topic!

Aimeslee said...

You girls had me chuckling. I really do not want to describe my process, as it changes piece to piece, but I found myself nodding agreement with the way Cathy described it. I have many times built an entire visual around something on my table that I was too lazy to put back up. If I started every time from scratch, I'd be unearthing mayhem in a black hole whenever I wanted to create. I try to disturb stuff in my playroom as little as possible, lol.xoxo

Cathy L. Calamas said...

heehee, you are too funny, Aimeslee!