Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Business Cards

Every little while, just to keep your hand in and your design talents sharp, it's wise to reinvent your own marketing. I review and revise my own identity systems (letterhead, logos, business cards, envelopes, etc.) every six months to a year. You don't have to do it that often, but it's a pleasant way to spend a free afternoon designing and illustrating.

I've actually gone so far, in the past, as to invent phoney bands and fictional design firms so that I could create an identity system for them. It's quite fun, really, and it does keep your skills sharp.

This afternoon I made a new set of business cards versions, to reflect my own changing priorities and needs at this time. Since I am writing music on commission now, and since I am also wanting to restart my photography and graphic design career, post-surgery, I thought it was a good time.

I started by playing with my photography business card. The background illustration is a grayscale photograph of mine made in the past few days. The image is screened back so that the type stands out in high contrast in front, without being drowned out by the photo.

I made two versions of this photography card, the only difference being in the choice of typefaces. The first version uses some more obscure and decorative fonts, for a retro Art Deco look. After completing that version, I wondered if the typefaces would be too challenging for some folks, so I redid the card using more plain and legible typefaces.

(Note: I've obscured my cell-phone number here, as I don't intentionally put that out on the internet; although my email is open news, so I left that in.)

The next card I made was a card advertising music composition. I began by playing around with ideas using clip art with musical notation to accompany the text. That seemed a little boring, though, so I then thought about using my own musical scores for the art. Regardless, my thinking for the design of a music business card was not very different from these pjhoto business cards.

But then I had an inspiration. I have used Scrabble tiles in the past to make messages, words, short phrases, haiku, etc., then photographed them to make a design image or illustration. It's a fun way of playing with handmade typesetting; the look and feel of the wooden letter tiles has its own beauty.

So I got the inspiration to make the music card out of a Scrabble-tile illustration. I chose the phrase "Words and Music" and my name for the card, and laid them out using tiles. I made a background out of the very music and words I am writing right now for the new music commission. I made an arrangement of notebooks, writings, blank score paper, and Scrabble tiles. Then I photographed it in color and B&W, to get enough material to work with in Photoshop. I photographed with enough margin to be able to crop and edit the edges to make the business-card-sized illustration. A standard business card size 3.5 x 2 inches in dimension.

I added the phone number by laying out blank Scrabble tiles, using their blank backs, then typesetting the numbers onto the blank tiles in Photoshop. Since Scrabble tiles use a generic sans-serif font, I used Helvetica for the numbers.

Then I copied the phone number art into the business card art, and fused them together in Photoshop, using layers. I intended the numbers to be smaller than the words on the image, so I scaled this whole image down once it was made, before inserting it into the business card art.

The blank card-stock paper I was using to print these new business cards is a light tan parchment in appearance, so I color-shifted the entire artwork towards sepia, using the Color Balance dialog box in Photoshop. Sepia is a toned effect I use often for my monochrome photographic prints, and used here it is a complimentary color to the card-stock, giving an overall effect of being contemporary yet also somewhat classically antiqued, like an old photograph. I think the end result is rather pleasing.

Last, I thought to use the back of this business card to provide more detailed contact information, laid out more clearly, as pure type. The front of the card is after all an artistic illustration, so the back can be just type, with all the relevant data laid out very simply.

So, that was an afternoon of design play. I like the results, especially the music composition card. To do it as an illustrated art-card was a genuinely useful but of inspiration. This is the sort of design idea that makes your work stand out and be memorable: it's unique, customized, and different from the norm.

Next, I'll use this or a similar idea to make flyers, letterhead, and other materials for a music composition identity system. Later for that.

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Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

The Scrabble card is a great idea. The others are just what everyone else is doing. This is different.

3:01 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks for saying so. That was exactly my hope and intention. A very different kind of card will hopefully get one noticed, stand out from the pack, etc.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Jim, an afterthought. Since the music card is different enough to be unique, I wonder about going back and redoing the photo cards with similar front-and-back illustration and info. Not in an identical or even similar way, but following a hopefully also-fresh idea along similar lines.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

Sound like a plan.

9:36 AM  

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