How to Host an Art Swap

Want to host an art swap? These guidelines will help walk you through the steps of what you need to do to host an art swap here on The Art Colony. Please follow these guidelines as closely as you can, because it makes the swap experience so much smoother for our members when the swap hosts follow the same procedure.

* If you don't feel confident that you can follow these guidelines (for instance, if the procedure sounds confusing, or if you don't understand the technical aspects required for editing your discussion) then that's a sign that you're not ready to host a swap. You can revisit the idea of hosting again later after you've become more familiar with The Art Colony and the way swaps are handled.

Note: These guidelines refer to hosting a swap in which people sign up and you post the list of partners. If you want to do a private swap, for instance if you have a few ATCs you want to trade privately with one or two others, you are welcome to create that kind of post, just be sure you are clear in your description that it is going to be a direct trade with you and not one where you organize partners.

Here are some tips and guidelines to help you host a fun art swap:

Step 1: Start the discussion (aka "thread")

Add a new discussion by clicking on the +Add button. Give your swap a title that clearly explains what kind of swap it is (i.e., "Inchie Swap", "Fairy Tale ATC Swap", "Valentines Postcard Swap", etc). It is helpful if you put "NEW" in the beginning of the title so that others know that it is a new, open swap that they can sign up for (as opposed to a closed swap whose deadline has passed).

This discussion will be the place where you post the sign-up list and the partner list. It will also be the place where members can ask questions and post the art they received in the swap. It's important to keep everything related to your swap in one discussion, rather than starting several different discussions for the partner list and gallery, etc, because when there is more than 1 thread relating to a single swap it becomes confusing to other members.

With that in mind, please make sure you know where to find your swap thread in the future, either by bookmarking the page, adding it to your favorites, copying and pasting the URL into a Word doc, or any other system that works for you. If you ever forget the link for your swap thread, remember you can always find it by looking in the Swap Forum, because it's probably on the 1st or 2nd page.

In the description, be sure to include the following (Note: there is a template below if you want to use it):

  • What your swap is about. For example, your swap can be based on a specific theme ("Alice in Wonderland", "Halloween", etc), or a specific technique ("Intuitive Watercolor Faces", "Collage", etc), or a specific size ("Inchies", "Bookmarks", etc) or a specific style ("Abstract", "Pop Art", etc) or a specific medium ("Recycled Materials", "Ink", etc).
  • List any specific requirements in terms of size, media, theme, etc. If there are no specific requirements for any of these, let people know that too.
  • List how many pieces of art each participant will be making and how many swap partners they will have (i.e., "You'll be making 2 postcards to send to 1 partner", or "You will have 3 partners and you'll send 1 inchie to each partner", etc).
  • The date that sign-up will end
  • The date that the art should be mailed by
  • Feel free to link to any relevant websites, videos, tutorials, etc that might help others prepare for the swap.

Step 2: Add names to the sign-up list

As people sign up, you can edit your initial post to include the sign-up list by clicking "Options" in the upper right corner, and then editing your post to add the list of names. Be sure to click the orange "Save" button when you are done. This step is important because it lets the people who signed up know that you have properly added them to your sign-up list.

Step 3: When sign-up is over

When the sign-up deadline has passed, edit your post so that the title says "CLOSED" in the beginning, so that others know that sign-up is over.

Step 4: Post the list of swap partners

Post the list of swap partners in a timely manner by editing your initial post. Click "Options" in the upper right corner, and then edit your post to remove the list of individual names and replace it with the list of swap partners. Be sure to click the orange "Save" button when you are done.

Step 5: Gallery

Encourage people to post photos of the art they receive as a reply in your discussion thread. This keeps everything about the swap together in a single thread (swap description, sign-ups, partner list, and gallery).

In general:

  • Try to answer any questions that people may have when they sign up for your swap. Keep an eye on any posts in your swap because people might ask you questions in the discussion rather than message you directly.
  • After you post the partner list, if someone tells you they can't participate in the swap for whatever reason, make arrangements for that person's partner(s) to receive something in the swap, either from you or from other members. There are often members who make more than the required pieces for each swap so if you ask, they might be willing to take on an extra partner.
  • Once you've posted the requirements for your swap and people have signed up, don't change the requirements of the swap unless it's agreed upon unanimously by everyone who's signed up. Changing the rules in the middle of the swap is unfair to people who've already started working on their art.
  • If someone has a special request that falls outside the requirements you've set for the swap, remain firm in the requirements as you originally described them. If any conflict arises, contact a moderator.
  • Most people prefer to have the partners assigned randomly, so if someone asks you for a specific partner, don't feel pressured into doing as they ask.

If you have any questions, ask other members who have hosted swaps, or ask a moderator for help.



If you like, feel free to customize the template below to create your swap post. Change the text in black to suit your swap, but we suggest that you leave the text in blue as-is.

Discussion Title:
*NEW* Insert Name of Swap

Write a description of your swap. Include requirements (if any) in terms of size, media, theme, etc. Let everyone know how many pieces they will make and how many partners they will have. Post any relevant links that might help people prepare for the swap.

Deadline to sign up: (Insert date)

Date swap partners will be posted: (Insert date)

Deadline for posting: (Insert date)

Please sign up for this swap by adding your name and address in the Reply box below, and I'll add your name to the sign-up list. If you don't want to post your mailing address publicly, you can write "private" but remember that you're responsible for getting your address to your swap partners.

When you receive art from the swap, post a photo of the art here in this discussion so that others can see the wonderful art you received.

Make sure you read through the guidelines on "How to Participate in a Swap" which will answer most questions you might have about what to do and what to expect. Let me know if you have any questions. Have fun!


New to the site? Check out our Guide to Getting Started.

Please take a moment to read our Member Guidelines. Thanks!

Need help?

If you need assistance with this site, please visit the Site Help forum where the moderators and/or other members will assist you.


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