Monday, 31 October 2011

Guest Post: Gettin Busy - creative business cards...

So this is a bit of a word heavy post but bear with me - hopefully it'll be useful!

Next week I’m moving into a new flat after temporarily living with my boyfriend and sharing his bedroom. As lovely as it’s been living with him I’m very excited about having my own room… my own space… my own desk to create at.

This fresh start has inspired me to have a look at my work and my website and give it a bit of a refresh; get my website up and running properly, work on some new branding for the blog, and then I got to thinking about reprinting some business cards…

I think people forget that business cards can be a great opportunity to make an impact, and are far too practical (read: lazy) sometimes. It’s easy to knock something basic together with your details on and go for a cheap print, and for a lot of people this might work, but in the creative industry, if you’re not using your cards to show off your creativity then I think you’re missing a trick.
Ok, so the majority of the cards you give out might never see the light of day again once they enter someone’s wallet/bag/pocket/desk drawer, so you don’t want to spend a fortune on something, but you want it to stand out don’t you? You want someone to want to keep a hold of your card, to remember you and use it when they need someone to draw them a zombie/make them a giant squid/sew them some felt holly – whatever it is that you do that makes you unique.

Here’s the other problem – when you work in the industry it’s kind of the done thing to hand over a business card at the end of a conversation right? Well what happens when you hand it to someone like my friend James? He puts it in his box – he hasn’t got room in his wallet…

Yup, you’ve met James at a conference, you had a brief chat, (he made some comic book references) you handed him your standard, basic, business card at the end of the conversation, he’s probably glanced at it as you handed it to him, and when his wallet gets too full (which I’m sure it does regularly – he’s a very friendly guy) it ends up here.

A quick search on ye olde google will bring up an array of interesting (and slightly expensive to produce) business cards – but let’s be reasonable – if you’re a small-time-freelance illustrator, student or a spare-time crafter you don’t want to be spending a small fortune – but you want to stand out.

If I thought it was worth it (as it stands I don’t give out many cards) I’d be going for letterpress printed cards – I love the texture, they just look so pretty and expensive. The most basic of designs can look fantastic…

But I can’t really justify those at the moment – who knows, maybe my new branding will cry out for letterpress.

My advice? Use Moo cards. They’re affordable, they look good, they have a good print quality and come in a nice matt laminate finish which looks slick– and they let you upload as many images as you want so you can order 100 cards – each with a different image on – like a mini portfolio on the go. Check out the other creative uses on their website too.
My personal preference is the mini cards – they just look a little more interesting, and you don’t have a lot of empty space on the back – they’re just the right amount of room for your details.
If you're new to cards too, you need to gauge how many you need, you might end up with 1000 cards that last you a year but if you're anything like me your work changes and progresses throughout the year, you come up with new pieces and you won't be happy that your cards are showing something that you now feel is outdated.

So here’s a few things to consider –

Make it interesting -  this doesn’t mean raising costs. The below easel card is simple, and you don’t even need to get the cards perforated – replace those parts with dotted lines and the recipient can cut them themselves.
Something that the recipient can play with and get a little giggle out of (like the hairloss card below) is sure to stick in their mind – if it means that when you hand it over you can have a little bit of banter over it then even better!
This doesn’t mean your card has to do something though – think about the images you use on your card, how you crop them, etc. If the recipient is looking for something specific, give them a card with an image of some relevant work (that's the beauty of using moo cards with multiple images) and talk to them about it.

Don’t ruin good design with crap print quality – please people, for the good of mankind, just don’t do it. To be fair, this is my rule for anything and everything. If you’re an illustrator selling prints, you wouldn’t spend 200 hours in photoshop creating an image then print it off on your home printer.  It’s not overly expensive to get a good print finish – it’s just that the cheap stuff is SUPER cheap (for a reason). If you give someone your card it doesn’t mean they’re going to get in touch in a week, or even a month; six months down the line, when they need your specific skills (and they remember the awesome card you gave them wink wink) when they pull it out from wherever they’ve kept it, you don’t want it to look tatty where the ink has rubbed off against other cards etc.

Personalize it – well obviously other than with your details. The examples above are fun but they’re also relevant to the business. Remember you’re selling yourself AND your work!
Think of your cards as a mini portfolioif you were putting a portfolio together for an interview you’d spend hours making sure you picked the right work to show what you’re capable of – you should do the same with business cards – if you go for something like the moo cards and put different images on the cards, pick them carefully – don’t stick all your work on there – an image that can hold up ok when its with the rest of your images might look crap by itself.

Don’t be lazy - sometimes you might need business cards last minute and you haven’t got time to come up with a design and wait for a 4 day turn around at the printers – not an excuse I’m afraid – make some, make them by hand, make then with whatever you can find – like sewing? Make some hand written cards on coloured card or brown paper and run them through the sewing machine – like painting? Cut up some water colour paper, make a mess, and staple on some home printed labels (on something more interesting than white lazer jet paper)

If you made it to the end up this post, well done you! give yourself a well deserved pat on the back!
Normal service will now resume, but you can also keep up with me and my irregular posts over at


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