Tuesday, 12 February 2013



3.5" x 2.5" OOAK Original ACEO
by Sea Dean
This painting doesn't like to be photographed, it's much nicer in real life. The bronze accents really make it pop.
To view my Gallery please visit Daily Paintworks.

This painting is SOLD but I'm happy to take a commission for a similar work. Contact me to inquire about prints and Art cards.

I have been painting miniatures and specifically ACEO for the last couple of months and several times a week I am asked " What is an ACEO?", so I am reprinting my blog from Artslant, July 2012 which fully answers the question.


For centuries people have been fascinated by miniatures. An ancient Asian tradition is to paint microscopic pictures and texts on very small items such as a grain of rice. Early Christians also carried miniature icons of Jesus, the virgin or various saints with them for worship and protection. Wealthy patrons took beautiful miniature portraits of their loved ones with them to war or on pilgrimage and these were popular well into the Victorian age when photographs replaced them.

Miniatures have recently experienced a revival. The birth of the modern miniature art card can be traced to the late 20th century when Artists who wanted something memorable to use as a business card embellished inexpensive white business cards with abstract brushwork or a simple scene. The idea was that customers would be more likely to be impressed by and hold onto a piece of Art than a mass produced business card. Later more detailed originals appeared on the back of business cards. 

Another origin of the modern miniature is via ATC or Art Trading Cards which are similar to sport trading cards. Because of the huge STC industry, display and storage options are readily available making the shift from Sport to Art an easy one. STC's are mass produced and the value is in the rarity of the card. The value of ATCs is in the name of the Artist and the quality of the work. ATCs can be prints, photographs, limited edition prints, or originals but the defining factor is that they are traded not purchased. 

ACEOs are a popular way to purchase and collect Art. So exactly what is an ACEO? I asked myself the same question last year because I kept hearing about them and only had a hazy idea what they were. As a professional Artist, I was interested in who purchases ACEOs and what they are looking for. An ACEO or "Art Card Edition Original" is simply an Art Card with a price tag. They must be exactly 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", no more, no less. If your work is not those exact dimensions it may be a miniature but it is not an ACEO. 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. To get the exact size divide a 5" x 7" standard photo down the center, turn it 90 degrees and divided it in half again and you will have four ACEO size rectangles. 

ACEOs can be photographs, prints, limited editions or originals but they are usually created and sold by the Artist themselves and often by auction. I've seen ACEO prints start at 1 cent but they can reach triple figures. There is no set price for an ACEO, generally unlimited prints are inexpensive, limited prints a little more and originals can go for hundreds of dollars. If you are relatively unknown it would be wise to start at a low price and build a following. There is a theory that if you start at $1 or less it may start a bidding war, but it is risky becuase it depends who is online. 

A easy way to start selling ACEO prints is to reduce the size of one of your most popular works, and sell them in limited editions. Once you have fans you can create original works and increase the starting price.
ACEO - Sea Dean - Teeny Tiny Stars
ACEO OOAK Original
2.5" x 3.5" 
Canvas Panel
by the author

This ACEO painting is on Canvas Panel giving it a different texture and look to my regular Canvas Card.

ACEOs are a great way to start an Art collection. Prints or photographs are the least expensive, then come limited prints, all the way up to OOAK "One Of A Kind" original miniatures. Part of the fun of collecting is that you are in charge. You can specialize in a certain genre e.g. Animals, one medium, like Acrylics, or a certain Artist. An original work by an unknown Artist can be relatively inexpensive, but in time your purchase could grow in value. In the meantime you have the satisfaction of supporting a struggling Artist. There are also many display options and ready made mats can be purchased online to fit standard 5" x 7" or 8" x 10" frames.

If you are a photographer it's easy to reduce your photos to ACEO size, print them on good quality paper and create ACEOs. Backing them with acid free card makes them more presentable. An Artist can scan or photograph their own work, reduce, crop, print on card or place in a mat. 

Original ACEOs are more challenging. It takes practice to paint so small. The proof of a quality miniatures is when seen in a thumbnail it should fool you into thinking it's a full size work of Art. To achieve this the tools, brushstrokes and technique 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.
Sea DeanWhether you are a collector, an Artist, or both you will find it a lot of fun to explore ACEOs.

Sea Dean is an Artist, Art Instructor, Blogger, Curator and Author

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  1. I have never tried this size of painting but I sure love the results on yours. Doing the single flower looks easier than the three tiny stars. They are both amazing though especially the texture and detail on Tiny Stars. I enjoyed reading all the info.
    By the way for anyone leaving a comment here...
    You can put ANY two numbers in the security box ( prove you are not a robot) it is the letters you have to get right.
    Saves time!

    1. Thanks Julie. Like any painting it takes a lot of practice. Teeny Tiny Stars was the first painting ever did in this format and to make it even more complicated I used base texture. I almost quit ACEO right then and there. It made me feel so restricted. However, for many reasons, this is the best choice for me at the moment. So my last 40+ paintings have been ACEO. They still take me longer than an 8 x 10 so whoever buys them from me is getting a huge bargain.

  2. Too funny, I am working on the 30 in 30 Challenge and decided to finally buy some ACEO paper - thought painting smaller would be perfect for the Daily challenge!


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All work by Sea Dean protected by International Copyright - No printing, copying, electronic transfer or any form of duplication allowed without written permission from the Artist.