Want people to be excited about your business cards, excitedly choosing which one they wanted? I was delighted to have that experience, repeatedly, while giving people who I met my new business cards, pictured above. The fronts are all the same and the backs have one of four art works. I’d fan out the cards and people could choose. One person said, “Ooo, I’m a fiber person, so I need this one.”

Another time, two people wanted the same artwork and I only had one card like that in my hand. “Don’t worry, I have more!”

Having these cards gave me an quick, informal way to show people my artwork, and right away, they had an understanding of what I do. I think when they get home and go through their stack of cards, they’ll remember me.

My old cards were okay, but I’d run out, and I’d been given feedback on them to add a headshot. Years ago, I would have considered that weird, but since my headshot is all over online, it makes sense. Why not have the same picture you see on twitter on my cards? It will help you put the two together.

I ran out of cards just before my trip out of town for a class. I needed cards in a hurry. I tried many online sites to order cards: Overnightprints.com, Moo.com, and Vistaprint.com. Overnight Prints probably could have gotten the cards to me in time, had I been able to master their online system. It’s easy to use, and it would work very well for me if I had a file from my designer that I just had to upload. But I wasn’t able to quickly create a professional looking card.

On Vistaprint, I think I managed to create a card I was reasonably happy with, but they wouldn’t have arrived on time, so I abandoned that one.

So where did I card cards for my first event? Staples. I created them online and picked them up in a local store, same day! The price was not the lowest in the world, but it was reasonable and there was no shipping. Those cards have a picture of one of my paintings in the background and the text is over it. They’re okay. A professional designer would have done a better job, and the cards didn’t include my headshot, but at least they had a picture of my art. I was delighted to be able to get business cards the same day, so that was great.

While I was still working on the online and shipping option, I’d created those fabulous cards, pictured above. Those are from Moo.com. They wouldn’t arrive in time for my trip, but I loved them so much, I ordered them anyway, for my second conference, WordCamp Chicago.

Moo cards are more expensive, but, based on my experience giving them out, totally worth it. You’re probably familiar with their mini cards, which I haven’t tried, but many artists love those as well and use them for hang tags.

On to the mistakes! I’ve had a number of chances to look at other artists’ promotional materials this summer and have some Do’s and Don’ts to show you.

Business Card Don’ts

(Details have been covered up to protect the innocent parties.) Two mistakes are pictured here — one is using a stock design from a website. This is a problem because well, it’s stock. And we’re artists, we should be able to create our own designs. If graphic design isn’t our thing, then a simple picture of our own artwork does the trick. I’d rather see a plain white card with just your name and url than a stock card, especially one that’s, God forbid, cutesy.

Of course the ideal would be that we would work with a graphic designer every time and have a unified look, consistent over all print and digital media. But sometimes, you’re about to leave town and you need new cards…

The second mistake in the picture is the use of stickers to update out of date information. That doesn’t show you at your best. And now that we know you can get full color cards at Staples in just four hours! Well, there’s just no excuse for not having fresh, new cards.

Here’s another don’t:

the Vistaprint line on the back of the card. If you have that, we know you got the cards free, or at least for a discount. It looks unprofessional. Business cards are practically the only printed matter anyone needs any more. Who does a brochure any more? Letterhead, what’s that? Since business cards are likely to be the primary printed matter that carries your brand, why not make them really nice?

Business Card Do’s

This is the front and back of the business card of Amy Struckmeyer, architect turned creator of handcrafted items. Her company is called Form*Work. You can visit her at http://formwork.etsy.com.

Let’s talk about all the things she’s done right on these cards. She’s kept it simple. There’s no clutter, it’s very clean, yet still interesting. There’s not even a phone number or an email address! Okay, some people might think she’s gone too far with that, but it depends on her purpose for these cards. If she’s giving them out at her booth at craft shows, that that might be exactly the right amount of information.

On the back of the card, she has six images of her products, which is brilliant. If I’m at a show and I pick up her card, intending to come back to her site in a few months for a baby shower gift, I’ll be reminded of what she sells and know where to go to buy.

I also like that she’s given me a single url. Just her etsy shop. Not her etsy shop and her blog and her website. I’m sure I can find those from her etsy shop.

Here’s another Do, and another Moo card. This one is from Jennette Fulda, a writer and web designer I met at WordCamp.

(I’ve covered her phone number and email address, I’m sure she wouldn’t want me to post that online.)

I like how she’s made her photo of herself the whole front of the card. Well, half the card, but what I mean is, it’s not a little square, the way you usually see a real estate agent’s photo on a card.

And then on the back, in a variation of the Form*Work card, she has links to five of her projects with an icon or logo for each one. Normally, for artists, I want to see a single link, but this makes sense and shows her versatility as a writer and designer.

To sum up:

Artists should have well designed, creative cards that show our skill and taste.

Quality matters, as craftspeople, we care a lot about quality, our cards should be high quality, in terms of paper and printing.

Now that you’re all psyched up and ready to improve your business cards, here’s a link to a helpful and well thought out worksheet from Marktime Media:


(Where it says download a copy of my branding questionnaire here.)

What about you? Have you seen a terrific card? An awful one? What mistakes have you made in the past with your cards?

All artist work represented remains (c) the artist.

Top photo, all art depicted is (c) Elaine Luther


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You’ll get 10% off and I’ll earn Moola, or credits toward future purchases, we both win!

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