What are RAKs and BRAKs?

Peta Kelly
(Lincolnshire, United Kingdom)

I am new to artist trading cards, and have heard about RAKs and BRAKs, but haven't a clue what they are. Can you please let me know what they are, and also what other types of ATCs and their variations are about? Thank you so much for your help.

RAKs in general are Random Acts of Kindness. In the context of artist trading cards it's when someone sends someone else a card or cards without expecting anything in return, as opposed to the usual situation where a swap (normally one-for-one) takes place.

We hadn't heard of BRAKs before, but we think that this probably means Birthday Random Acts of Kindness, where a RAK card is sent because it's someone's birthday.

Aside from ATCs there are number of other types of art (often called mail art because they are sent through the post) that are swapped. A particular example is fabric postcards, which are actually designed to be sent in this way, and are sent 'naked' or nearly so, perhaps in a plastic sleeve to protect them.

As you're probably aware, a standard artist trading card is 3½" by 2½", but there are number of variations on this. Some people like to make and trade miniature artist trading cards, which are smaller than the standard size. Others like to make them out of unusual materials, or in unusual shapes, or those that fold down from a larger size into the standard size. We look at some of these variations in the last part of our article on how to make artist trading cards.

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