Best/Coolest/Most Memorable Business Cards You've Seen?
December 27, 2004 11:52 PM   Subscribe

What are the best/coolest/most memorable business cards you've seen? Bonus points for pictures.
posted by cmonkey to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My dad worked for a chainsaw distributor and his business cards weren't paper, but thinly, thinly sliced pieces of wood.
posted by hootch at 12:53 AM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

The coolest one I saw was just a plain white card with the name of the person on it, no number, no email, just a name. If he hadn't have told me it was like the cards from 'Ocean's Eleven' I would have got ones made like it myself. But I haven't seen 'Ocean's Eleven' so what would I know.
posted by bdave at 2:16 AM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

posted by airguitar at 2:26 AM on December 28, 2004

My old bank -- EAB, the incredibly-misnamed European American Bank -- used to give these really cool, square cardstock-like receipts at their ATMS, and my roommate would go down to their vestibule and scoop up everyone's abandoned receipts. He had a rubber stamp made (cheap!), and would just stamp his name, phone, and address on these receipts. It was... really random, and they were an annoying size for wallets -- but NO one ever forgot, I'm sure, that it was his card. Plus, each came with complete strangers' withdrawal and balance information.

In this digital age, I'm all for DYI. Anyone can get cards printed up; only slightly insane, compulsive people will find trash and print their info on it.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:23 AM on December 28, 2004

You should check out the business card threads at Yay Hooray for some good designy inspiration - some of the cards are really gorgeous.
posted by iconomy at 6:55 AM on December 28, 2004

A graphic designer friend printed his info (very small) onto paper and then used strapping tape to affix the paper around a AA battery. He gave away the batteries as business cards for a little while. Kinda the "I power ideas" thing. It worked for him and his industry, at least until the dotcom crash.
posted by zpousman at 6:58 AM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

I'm a sucker for the business cards issued by government agencies. We deal with SEC personnel occasionally, and they've got a big SEC seal on their cards, which is pretty cool. Of course, there's not much you can copy there, unless you work for a government agency. Aside from the design itself, the quality matters a lot. The business cards issued by my firm are a pretty classic design, nothing special, but are professionally printed on very high quality paper with raised lettering. The difference between those cards, and cards printed yourself on a laser printer or inkjet is HUGE.

At the other extreme, I like the cards Tom Coates recently came up with.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:43 AM on December 28, 2004

Semi-self-link: a friend made this, gave it to me, and another friend took a picture of it for her website. It's a great conversation starter.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:19 AM on December 28, 2004

I've seen metal business cards with etched contact info. I've seen a few really nice plastic business cards, where they used a translucent plastic as a backdrop.

Personally, I'm a fan of extremely simple business cards.
posted by mosch at 8:54 AM on December 28, 2004

If he hadn't have told me it was like the cards from 'Ocean's Eleven' I would have got ones made like it myself. But I haven't seen 'Ocean's Eleven' so what would I know.

Those cards are called Calling Cards, and they date back to Victorian times:
The engraving was in unelaborate font, generally small and without flourishes, although ornamental scripts soon became widely used as the century went on. A simple 'Mr.' Or 'Mrs.' before the name was sufficient, except in the case of acknowledgement of rank (Earl, Viscount, etc.).  The earlier Victorian Cards contained only a person's name, household name and/or title. By the end of the century, the address was then displayed on card, and when applicable, a special occasion, such as a lady's reception day.
posted by rorycberger at 8:58 AM on December 28, 2004

Not to mention meishi.
posted by rushmc at 9:05 AM on December 28, 2004

I had a very good time looking for answers to this. Really good work. Useful guide. Good gallery. Big site, lots of ideas. More useful tips. Book on the subject. More very good design. Esoteric & conceptual.
posted by theora55 at 9:21 AM on December 28, 2004

Scott Robinson, a New York area multi-instrumentalist, has professionally printed business cards which are salmon in colour, feature a clipart businessman with arms folded and say to the right of that clipart

Scott Robinson


and his phone number.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:21 AM on December 28, 2004

Unfortuneately no pictures to be found, but I remember an article I saw on business cards, a design firm hand-dipped their white business cards about three-quarters of the way into a watercolor mixture. The result was that each business card had a unique, "organic" quality that looked pretty cool. I've always wanted to experiment with it . . .
posted by jeremias at 9:47 AM on December 28, 2004

Wired did an article about the most sought after business cards (with pictures) out there back in January 2001. My personal favorite was the seed card and the onion card.
posted by icontemplate at 10:16 AM on December 28, 2004

I printed mine on a letterpress. I'm so in love with the result, i can hardly bear to give them away. I do, though. Usually to people I want to impress.
posted by redsparkler at 10:47 AM on December 28, 2004

When I was in design I did my own with "writer • artist • lackey" under my name, and then my email/phone. My favorite biz cards were a friend's, who drew each card himself, but sort of in a business card style - so it didn't look like just writing his name on a napkin or something, but each one was personal and sort of cute. He used colors and sometimes had little cartoons and stuff, but he wasn't a fancy dancy artist of any sort. Some were funnier or catchier than others, but when he was bored, he'd just make a bunch of them.
posted by mdn at 11:44 AM on December 28, 2004

I know a guy who takes color-sample paint swatches from the hardware store, cuts 'em in half and stamps his info on the back. (Like the EAB thing. Also like EAB, the size is a bit off.) He's a hopeless tool but I like his cards.
posted by vetiver at 11:48 AM on December 28, 2004

I was thinking if you wanted a cheap, raised-print feel to a homemade business card, you could always get one of those square embossers and ink over the imprint.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:08 PM on December 28, 2004

You know, I want to echo those 'basics of designs' from the Speak Up link.

* Stick all of the important info on one side. Otherwise, your card won't make sense in the rolodex
* make sure the card can be photocopied and remain legible
* a full bleed across the top can be a simple way to have your card 'stand out' in the rolodex
* Put your name on the card and make it noticable...more so than the other info. That's what people are looking for when digging through their cards.
* Use 10+ type. Even old people need to read business cards.
* A blank back can be a handy place for notes.
* non standard sizes and vertical-layouts don't play well with rolodexes
* Anything embossed will always attract attention when handing out your card. Really thick stock helps too.

One thing that many designers forget when they're trying to 'make a statement' -- business cards are tools, and people will use them as such. They will take notes on them to remind themselves where they met you ... this is a good sign and you want them to do so. Discouraging that behaviour will confuse the user of the tool. So when you put something on the back that prevents note-taking, watch them scribble in the whitespace on the front. ;)
posted by SpecialK at 12:17 PM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]

For my business cards (run a restaurant), I decided to do something that would help people. While the front of the card had the standard contact info, the back of the card (self-links) had lines for jotting down info, a map of how to get there, and a little publicity for my restaurant web site.

Since parking is a major problem in my city, the map also displayed the parking spot. And the space at the back lets me jot down my cellphone number only for people I think should have it.

(Hey, I was a usability guy. That is why the "design" isn't that cool.)
posted by madman at 12:45 PM on December 28, 2004

Next time I'm in Bangalore...
posted by Captaintripps at 1:00 PM on December 28, 2004

My favorite descriptions on business cards I've seen:

"Unreliable Narrator"
"Cognitive Dissident" (on John Perry Barlow's card)

And once I made up one for my stepmother that said:
Professor of English
Expert on sex, death, love, religion, and the comma splice
posted by Vidiot at 1:21 PM on December 28, 2004

I met a guy at a trade show years ago who, when asked for a business card, took out a deck of playing cards and handed me one. He'd had them printed with his business card on the back.

All these years later, I remember the card, not the guy...
posted by i love cheese at 3:14 PM on December 28, 2004

A neat (but expensive) trick was the business card made out of that temperature-sensitive liquid crystal stuff that changes color from body heat. I've always wanted business cards on that stuff, no matter how impractical. Science is cool, dagnabbit.
posted by Eideteker at 8:50 PM on December 28, 2004

I haven't worked through every link here yet, so it may have been mentioned in one of the links - but if you have some software to distribute, some people have business card shaped/sized cd-roms.
posted by kreinsch at 4:04 PM on December 29, 2004

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