New Business Cards

Recently I came across a terrific article about business cards from the ProFreelancing blog. According to the author most business cards are largely a waste of money. People will quickly lose interest in you and your work if all they have to remember you by is your contact info. It’s even worse at a networking event where everyone is collecting business cards by the fist full. If your card doesn’t pull “extra duty”, it won’t stand out and will likely wind up in the trash.

Fortunately the article gave me some great tips for making my business cards more effective. In a couple of weeks I’ll be traveling to a “freelance fair” for a major toy/game manufacturer, and decided it was high time I made up some new cards using the author’s advice. (i.e. use both sides of the card, give a clear description of what I do, list some of my past clients, through in a couple of quotes from satisfied clients, etc.)

But I wanted to go one step further and do something creative and unexpected. Recently I met a creative director who’s business card is actually a tiny sketchbook with her contact info on the front cover. I really liked that idea, and wanted to come up with my own fun little gimmick to help make me and my business cards more memorable.

Since I specialize in character design, I thought it would be fun if each card was its own character. I also want to get more work in toys, games, and other children’s markets, so I wanted to the cards to appeal to our “inner child”. I doodled up some quick little characters from the waist up, then decided to punch finger holes in each card for legs.

At the very least it should make a nice conversation piece, and will hopefully make a more lasting impression at a networking event.

The front of the card is the character displaying a short message and my website. The back of each card (not shown) contains a quote from a satisfied client, my contact info, and a list of some of my more prominent past clients.

I know some consider it amateurish for an illustrator to put actual artwork on his/her business card. Many successful artists I’ve met in the past keep their business cards surprisingly simple and plain. However, in this case I’m hoping that (a) the novelty of the idea and (b) the “big name” clients I’ve got listed on the back of the card will make it clear that I am a professional despite the fact that I’ve put artwork on the cards.


11 thoughts on “New Business Cards

  1. Those do look great, Cedric! But I have to confess, I like business cards with art on them. If you have a certain style, why wouldn’t you use a card to sell that style, or to make your cards stand out from others? (Or at least if it’s done well.) So now I’m really curious – why is it considered amateurish to include the art?

  2. Thanks for the comments guys.

    Mike, great question. I think Tom Richmond summarizes it best over at his blog (which is terrific, by the way):

    He writes, “You would think that illustrators would have some pretty fancy and visually interesting cards, wouldn’t you? The opposite seems to be true. Most of the successful illustrators I know have very plain business cards. Mort Drucker’s card is his signature in black ink on a white card, and his contact info. That’s it. C.F. Payne’s card reads thusly: “C.F. Payne, Illustrator” and his phone number in Helvetica black ink on a white card with a little raised rectangle. Big name syndicated cartoonists may have a little drawing of their character in the corner, but that’s about it. I think it’s a sign of success that the simpler the card the less you are feeling the need to shout your name. There are few illustrators out there who’s names are big enough to stand on their own on a card like Mort’s and Chris’s (I am certainly not one), but many artists seem to take a low key approach to their business cards.”

    I’ve added a trackback link to Tom’s article in the post above. I wouldn’t say that it’s always bad to have your artwork on your business card (obviously I’m doing it), but I think it’s fair to say that if you are shooting for really big name clients it might look more professional and confident to keep your card simple and understated. If you have a unique and graphic-looking signature, you might want to try that as your “logo”.

    If anyone disagrees, please post your thoughts!

  3. I love your business card idea and designs! Go for it! I would certainly hang on to one of your cards. Thanks for posting them for viewing. I wish you also posted an image of the back side too.

  4. I wouldn’t say it was “unprofessional” to have art on your business card. I was just pointing out that many artists don’t bother as they use other means to showcase their work. A well designed card is a nice thing to have. I went for 15 years without a business card but had them done about 2 years ago for, as Paul says, those few times they come in handy.

  5. I am torn, too. I’ve been a freelance for about 20 years, and word of mouth has always brought the work to me. Cards both plain and colorful, have been a disappointment.

    I love your cards, tho, and would hang onto them. The other good idea I saw, whose time has probably passed, is the card that is actually a tabbed-and-punched Rolodex entry.

    Good luck with those; let us know how they work out…

  6. Hi Cedric,

    I just found your site, great stuff keep it up.

    Regarding the business card I think it is great if you include your artwork. On the back of my cards I normally have one or two images like a mini portfolio so people can see what sort of work I do. I just think of my cards as mini billboards selling my services and I get a good response from it. People actual spend the time looking at the card for a while rather than just putting it away with all the others and then it also becomes a conversation point (increasing the chance to sell your service).

    Also over the years I have collected a number of business cards and my favourite cards always have some form of art work on it

  7. Did you order your business cards or do you make them yourself? I think they are adorable and leave a lasting impression! Good job!

    • Hi Janna. These business cards were done ten years ago (you are commenting on an old post) but to answer your question I illustrated them myself and then had them professionally printed. The finger holes were punched by me. It was much cheaper to buy a hole punch at a craft store than to pay for the die cuts.

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