Small Business Cards With a Big Punch
Taking Stock of Your Business Card:
Thicker is Always Better
Your card should make a bold statement about your business and ideals, because it’s still one of the most important and essential components to any business, especially designers and artists. Truly great business cards all have three things in common: good design, high quality printing, and durable, beautiful paper. If you want to make a good first impression, your card needs to be printed on a nice, rigid stock, not something that’s floppy and dare I say, impotent when you hand it to a potential client.
I’ve witnessed designers inspecting each others cards, studying the impressions, feeling the paper’s texture, and mentally guessing its weight. It’s the proverbial tinkling match to see who has the nicest card. Here we feature the best of all worlds when it comes to design, printing, and paper. Each card has a story to tell and the printing and tactile qualities are something to behold.
Design: Abbey Fowler
Client: 6.25 Paper Studio
Printer: Zeeland Print Shop
Abbey Fowler is a owner and creative force at 6.25 Paper Studio in Grand Rapids, Mich., so of course when she designed her business cards, paper was of utmost importance, and Neenah is her go-to paper choice for all her products. “With business cards you have to go thicker,” she says, adding, “Otherwise if you die tomorrow, you’ll eternally regret it and say, ‘Damn, I should’ve used that luscious 220 lb paper. Now my life legacy is a flimsy 80 lb business card!’”
She went with CRANES LETTRA® for her cards, trusting the oldest letterpress printer in town, Zeeland Print Shop, owned by Brian Van Hoven. “He has an old letterpress and I think I’m one of his only customers who uses it,” she notes. She chose her business name mainly because she loves how numbers look so timeless and professional in logos, so she went with a timeless font, “which I hope holds strong through the years.”
Design: Braley Design
Client: Greg Miller
Printer: Hitchcock Press
“Photographer Greg Miller’s specialty is 8 x 10, large format portraiture, which means he sees the image upside-down in his viewfinder,” says Michael Braley, who was hired by Miller a few years back to design his identity. “I came up with the idea of having his name be upside down on his cards as a conversation starter for his clients and his subjects.” The response was good and got people’s attention, but then the questions became, “Did you know your name is upside down?”
“Going from ‘why is’ to ‘did you know’ was a big revelation. People weren’t getting that the concept was intentional,” Braley says. “So when Greg was updating his website recently, he asked me to take another shot at the same idea with a bolder approach, and one less likely to be mistaken as a printing error.” The compact type block is one graphic unit compared to the original card, where the typography was floating in the center of the card.
Now, there’s no mistaking his intention, and instead people respond to the thick paper and letterpress impression. “The first thing that people usually say when handed a card printed on anything over 80 lb. cover is something like, ‘Wow, I really like this card. I love the paper.’ I think it’s because they’re so used to receiving cards printed on the same 60, 70, 80 lb. cover stock,” he says.
Printer: Evolution Press
When ITALIC was hired to design the brand identity for a new wallet company, they followed the product’s lead. “We needed to play off the minimalism of the product itself, which is made specifically to accommodate only what you need, no frills,” notes Matt Titone, partner and creative director at ITALIC. The brand design reflects this ethos by focusing on simple, clean lines and geometric shapes that when combined, fit into the largest shape.
“We chose Neenah’s CLASSIC CREST® Epic Black Smooth 130 DTC, which is a nice thick paper stock to have something clean, rigid, and substantial for the packaging,” Titone notes. The cards themselves are inserted into the package with the wallet and cloth sleeve, providing the customer with the ultimate brand experience.
When choosing paper for business cards, Titone says, “Every detail, like the texture and thickness of the paper stock must be for a reason that conceptually supports our designs. In other words, the concept must be supported by the execution. We also worked with our printer at Evolution Press in Seattle to make sure we chose the best paper stock for both letterpress and foil stamp techniques.”
Design: Brian Scott, Boon Design
Client: A Hundred Monkeys
Foil Stamping: Stamping Express
Letterpress printing: Logos Graphics
A Hundred Monkeys is a brand strategy and naming firm, so, for a company who specializes in clever naming concepts, an ordinary business card just wouldn’t do. “We explored a wide variety of approaches to this project. The one that excited A Hundred Monkeys (and us) most was building anagrams from their name. The connection to the service AHM offers (naming) is formally communicated, yet formality of the concept is camouflaged by the irreverent combination of words,” says designer Brian Scott from Boon Design. “Our team devised a few initial anagrams to communicate the concept, and the Monkeys went ape shit on them after that. They are wordsmiths, after all.”
Six versions of the anagram cards were devised, with three separate print processes: foil stamping, letterpress, and rubber stamp. With sustainability in mind, names are only applied to cards with a rubber stamp when needed. “Not everyone disburses cards at the same rate, so AHM’s creative director, Eli Altman devised this concept,” Scott notes.
“Production processes mixed with aesthetics often dictate paper choice—for instance, foil stamping doesn’t work with cotton-based papers. We look for color, texture, weight, and how paper feels to the touch,” he says, adding, “Specifically, the very condensed typography used on this card meant that the foil release needed to be as precise as possible.”
Design: Laura Carignan
Client, Printer: Power & Light Press
Stark and simple is sometimes the best way to go, when demonstrating your capabilities, which is exactly what Power & Light Press did. Founded by Kyle Durrie, the studio specializes in hand-printed greeting cards and stationery where paper IS the product. “I often switch up the paper used for my business cards at every reprint, just to keep it fresh,” she says.
The cards were printed on Neenah ENVIRONMENT® Papers with its nature-inspired RAW™ finish in concrete. “I love using this paper as a sexier, more refined alternative to chipboard, and it’s hefty enough to take a nice impression for letterpress,” Durrie explains. “While my products are high quality, they are not fussy, and neither is my logo or this paper!”