I love business cards. The idea of handing someone your identity is very intriguing to me. They have all but become redundant now. I barely bother carrying work cards these days. Although in most business circles cards are still laid on the table as part of the introduction sequence. This seems more useful for remembering everyone's names and of course making the obligatory connections on Linkedin afterwards. I'm very interested in how you can make the mundane business card intriguing.
I think this might have been my first card (on the left), in the mid 1990s. I was working freelance organizing parties and events. I think the semi ODB tribute (on the right) was probably at the same time. I'm sure I only made about 15 of these. All handmade, so I wasn't keen on making a hundred. Not so smart really. But I enjoying thinking about them all the same. I needed to be remembered when meeting new events contacts at industry events and the like. These did the trick but seeing them now, makes me shudder.
One place I worked at some years back was Sense Worldwide in London. I think they had the same ethos as me, which is maybe why I liked working there. On the back was a little piece of text as an introduction when handing the card over to a newly met contact. It was always awkward waiting while the recipient read the card, but after that there was always some conversation that was created. This was around 2004. The information on there is probably mostly still all true. I didn't design any of this though.
Sometime after this (maybe around 2007) I was pretty busy and needed a new personal card (post Sense Worldwide), so I hired my friend Simon Dovar to take care of it for me. I had the idea and he did the layout. I had expressed a desire for a hand made effect - so he chose to do a hand drawn Clarendon, which I was impressed by and pleased with. Clearly riffing on the Sense card, I wanted to try and take it further. I had taken to writing on the back of business cards where I met the person, so I thought I'd play on that idea a bit more.
The next few years while working at Fjord, i really didn't have time to take on other work, so had no need for personal business cards. The Fjord cards were pretty terrible, partially due to the bad branding job that was done, so I preferred not to give them out. Perhaps ironic considering my lousy attempts shown earlier.
But dwelling on that fact for a moment, how bad is it that someone doesn't want to give out their cards because of how they look? Having the ugly cards annoyed me as they didn't represent me at all, merely the company I worked for, this wasn't what I was, who I was, this was simply where I worked.
A design firm is only as good as it's people. So treat them like individuals who all contribute, don't make them invisible factory nodes. This was something Sense Worldwide understood very well and something Fjord never did. A good company is bridging together it's power, resources and experience with it's people.
I had a trip planned to Japan in early 2014 and while I had never been there before the stereotype in my head was that business cards are given (with two hands, to show respect) on frequent occasions. I like traditions and it concerned me slightly that I only had my work cards, which I felt did't really represent me.
So I thought back to my (design lacking but perhaps charming) old cards from the mid 1990s. I started to think about what I wanted on the cards. I don't like getting phone calls - so I don't want a phone number, but sometimes I might and similarly email. I don't, generally speaking, want more emails.
So this is where I ended up. I realized that aside from the card, I nearly always had a Sharpie on me. So I could use the card like a framework. I would give the new person my name and then whatever other piece of information I wanted to on top of that. My username of nearly all social platforms is simply charliegower and so that can be applied everywhere. With the simple addition of an @ symbol someone has my twitter handle. I quite liked that.
The card was letter-pressed by my friends at Swayspace. I wanted the hand made feel. The uneven natural aesthetic is pretty important as a marker here for me and the handmade scribble that would no doubt accompany each card, makes each one unique and personal. While clearly more work each time I liked what the custom card implied; consideration and appropriateness. Just enough, not too much, not too little.
If the moment presents itself I'll try and take pictures of the ones I give out.
Here are a few I've captured so far. Sometimes it feels too awkward to take the picture. Obviously I'm too English by half.