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Joel Bauer and the Art of the Business Card: “OMG, It even has a watermark…”

This is Joel Bauer, his card doesn’t belong in a Rolodex, it belongs on your desk. Framed. Where the picture of your daughter used to be.

This is Joel Bauer, and his business card would go directly into my trash bin. His whole argument for why it’s a great card, the fact that it’s non-traditional and oddly shaped, is the reason. The fact that it doesn’t conform to the traditional 3.5″ by 2″ size means that it won’t fit in my wallet or business card holder. That, compounded by the fact that this guy is obviously a douche and people will see that when they meet him and get his card, means that his $4 dollar cards are going, more often than not, right in the trash.

He’s right about some things though:
Paper quality is important, and so is the ink quality and color. High gloss is nice, and double-sided cards can be super fantastic, but if you can get your point across on one side, I think it always works better. Too much color and mayhem can make the card distracting. He’s right about the message too, it should tell people what you do in a meaningful way, without being confusing and overly complicated. Most importantly, the card needs contact information. Every possible way of contacting you or your business should be on that card. That means, of course, name, phone number, fax number, email, and website.

After the “read more”, we have a collection of some interesting and quality business card designs that actually do work well, as opposed to Joel’s:

And is it just me, or does the guy at the top remind you of these guys:

“Look at that subtle off-white coloring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God, it even has a watermark…”

Different businesses require different cards. Designers can get away with a lot more than most people can, since their cards are a mini portfolio of their work and creativity. So their cards can be oddly shaped or non-traditional and still work for them. Still, I’m a fan of simplicity. I think the “out of the box” style of card, with weird shapes and thicknesses, has been done to death and is, for the most part, a novelty. The key is getting the most out of that traditional 3.5″ by 2″ size, so it makes an impact, but is kept in the potential customer’s wallet.

Here are some of my favorites:

One of my favorites, because it makes an impression when it’s first received, so it’s likely to be kept, and has all of the relevant contact info at the top of the card. In most wallets, the info will be visible while the card is still in the wallet, making an impression every time the person opens their wallet.

A nice wood/faux wood card

Interesting concept

Not sure what this is really for, but looks nice

Another interesting concept

Great card for a restaurant in France. It explains where it is, and what it is very well.

Great design for an architect’s card.

Beautifully simple card for a nurse. Hopefully she has her contact info on the back.

Very nice card of a design agency.

Concept card for a manicurist. It should say that on the card, but it doesn’t. Otherwise, it’s a great concept.

Professional and still design savvy card of a law firm. One of my favorites.

Another one of my favorites. Great architectural feel for a graphic designer’s card.

Very cool card that emulates an ID card, but abstractly enough to still be interesting. One of the few times I really like foil stamping on a card.

Love this card, simple and memorable.

Another interesting card for a dentist.

Fantastic debt recovery specialist’s card. It has the image of a broken thumb. Nice.

Creative design for a marriage counselor’s card.

Another one of my favorites. This kind of simplicity, in a designer’s card, is refreshing.

Another dentist’s card.

An acupuncturist’s card. Get it?