Quick-n-Dirty Bcards: Please Critique...


I will be attending the IDSA Northeast conference next week and really wanted to have some business cards to hand out to people…because I would like to have a real job someday. Would the cards below be a wise investment or not? I do a lot of freelance work dba “Flit Designs,” but I don’t want the cards to preclude someone from hiring me for a full-time position…should I strike the logo to prevent that? Any and all comments are welcome.



ps. if these are not professional enough please let me know. The line is thin between memorable and just plain annoying…

Hmm… I don’t know what’s the deal with business cards for fresh grads looking for jobs. I mean, what are you going to put as the title to yourself? You aren’t designer yet, and you are not a student anymore, so…? Some portfolio class instructors in my school make their students work on business cards. I just think the time can be spent on the actual portfolio.

I think a resume and teaser is a much more efficient and effective way to get known.

anyhow, I think your layout needs to be cleaner and simplier. It’s loud, but in a negative sense. It needs to be more refined. I like the idea of using typography to create your layout, but it will be even better if you can get someone who is experienced to help you out. The back page looks like a local restaurant flyer. I am not trying to be harsh but I really think so. Your messages make you sound like you are really inexperienced and really desperate but show little professionalism. That’s not good though.

My sincere suggestions:

Make it simple, really simple. Instead of trying to cramp everything on that tiny piece of card, why not just put:

Troy Barber, Industrial Design
Tel: xxx-xxx xxxx

This will serve as an introduction to yourself, and people will go to your website for your complete resume and/or portfolio. this also gives you the opportunity to give a set of complete information about yourself without killing the first impression.

I’ll have to disagree with MC on his stance that “you aren’t a designer yet.”. You are a designer. There’s nothing wrong or inappropriate with putting that on your resume, business card, etc…

A business card, while easy to pass out, and easy for prospective employers to hang on to, doesn’t really show off the talents and skills you’re trying to market yourself as having. Graphic design skills are definitely important, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s not what is going to land you an ID job. So, making a teaser of some kind might be a good idea, as well as taking your portfolio there with you, though I suspsect you’re doing that anyway…

My opinion on business cards is that they should be the standard 3.5" x 2" size, but that’s a personal hangup so I won’t tell you it’s the only way to go…because it isn’t. But keep in mind that if it’s too small, or too big, it may not fit into whatever holder your potential employer might keep it in. If there’s not clean and easy way to store it, it will probably make it’s way to the trash…

I appreciate the design from a “keeping it simple” standpoint. But don’t get too crazy with how large the font is. Also, graphic design is about the communication of information first and foremost. It’s not all about how cool it is. It’s important that there’s a heirarchy of information, so the reader knows what to focus on. With that said, I would emphasize, as MC pointed out, your name, your profession, and your contact information. It looks to me like the most important thing on your card right now is “design…industriously” and that your name and your info is secondary. Also, if you’re looking for a job WITH a company, and not as a consultant, you might want to ditch the “Flit Designs” but it’s not really necessary. If you’d like to keep it, I would print the logo on one side, and your contact info on the other side. If you want to include your skillset on the card, make it much smaller. You can get away with smaller text than you may realize on a business card, especially when it’s not filled with lots of backround graphic noise. Besause you’re working with solid color fields (black and white) you don’t have to worry about making sure the text is BIG and BOLD. I would look at making the skills and stuff 8pt and your contact info, name, etc, a little larger, say the 10-12 range, while keeping the smaller text “light” and making the larger text in the “medium” to “heavy” range. Playing with the weights and sizing of the fonts will help you keep in mind that heirarchy of infomation.

This is what I did for the Midwest conference a few years back, and this actually worked:

Make yourself a mini portfolio that you can carry around in a small backpack or even in your back pocket. The one I had was around 7" wide by 3.5" tall with a simple binding done at kinkos. If you have the time do the binding yourself, it will demonstrate better craft and that you pay attention to details. Do the layout in whatever program you are comfortable in: photoshop, illustrator, indesign, whatever. Put a good range of work in it from school and try to get your process work in it as well. Then if you want business cards, design the card so that it matches the general style of the mini portfolio. Instead of putting all the text on the back and trying to make it clever put an image of your best project on the back side. This should be your most striking or memorable portfolio image - something that demonstrates your style.

In between presentations at the conference, stop talking to your friends about whatever it is you talk about, get out of your seat, and go work the crowd. Corner as many professionals as possible - walk the room and look at the name tags until you find someone from a company you’re interested in. If that person is busy find the next available person. Introduce yourself and take out your mini portfolio for them to look at. Try to stike up a good conversation while they flip through your work. If you’re lucky one of their friends or collegues (most likely another professional) will come over and then they can look at your mini portfolio too.

When they have looked through everything listen to their feedback and thank them for taking the time to talk to you and looking things over. Then give them your card and ask them if they have one as well.

The next week or so after the conference send all of the people you met emails thanking them for taking the time to speak with you and let them know that you are currently seeking a job and that you are interested in working for their companies. Include a link to your online portfolio or include in the email a signature that includes the EXACT SAME image you used in your portfolio and bcard. This will help remind them of who it is thats emailing them and will put a face with the name. Like any form of branding you need to be consistent. These guys are going to meet a lot of students and you need to make sure that you stand out.

Hope this helps,

I think a miniMINI sampler would be cooler the a BCard. If it was an accordian style booklet, printed on both sides, could be 1.5" x 2.5", and it had a couple of your best sketches, your best rendering, your best comuter model, and your best physical model a small picture of yourself, your contact info, and bullletpoints of your experience… that would be memorable to a professional who is at this thing for 3 days, getting innundated with BCards.

why dont you keep it the standard size?
i think with a bunch of cards, it would be annoying with one being odd.

i kinda understand it, but
think about what you gain from it. would they really think you stand out or is more creative by tweeaking a size of the business card?

i think the minimini folio or that type would more be warranted for standing out, than mere irregular sizing. (but keeping it about the standard business card dimensions).

Ever go to conventions and have to deal with 500 brochures, fliers, and pamplets?

i’d omit “adept at”… and just leave it bullet points.
mention school, not just majors
omit the asterisk. thats not what its used for. its a punctuation, not a graphic.

good luck

p.s. are you a native mandarin speaker? or learned it? if latter, any suggestions or advice on learning that language?

Thanks for your feedback. I’ve sold printing for some years and found that the most successful business cards did something a little differently, but not differently enough to annoy. I had a few clients who got great responses from 130# uncoated stock, and some that wowed people by having alternating back images on their cards, like 4 different styles in a deck. I’ve had just a couple people give me the smaller, shorter 1 1/2" tall cards, and for some reason it has had its appeal with me. I’ve kept them around!

I will focus now on a smaller portfolio–and do like that direction–especially being able to personalize it a litte bit more (i.e a picture of myself, even) because after meeting several hundred people I can see how it would be tough to remember particular designers. I’m not sure if this should be done in conjunction with an oversized portfolio of tabloid (or 13" x 19") pages (probably glued to gator board)? Or does the smaller teaser replace that? Again, I really appreciate the feedback. Sometimes things get discussed in this forum, and sometimes they don’t.




I studied Mandarin during my undergraduate and graduate years to poor effect, but really only made substantial progress by going to China for a year, living in a small technical institute where no one spoke English, and sitting in a classroom with another American and a Frenchman for 18 hours a week and getting taught by two Chinese teachers. It was pretty swell. Actually, the language is pretty simple if you’re not a fan of verb conjugation…because there is none in Mandarin (though suffixes do clue you in on tense, etc.). Heck, you could probably teach design at some small institute and take Mandarin at the same time. I lived very comfortably for the year on under $6k (in 1993/1994 dollars).


…the response to the Mandarin query was misdirected to Yo. All your terrific responses bled together…

embarassed in raleigh,


this might be hard to take:
Your graphics on the Bcard is bit weak. It really shows that you have no skill in graphic design throughout your entire website.
It’s not bad that you cannot design a good business card to impress…
A good industrial designer don’t need to know it all. Just don’t show your weak side, especailly on the first impression…
I suggested to find some graphic designer to do it for you.

I also agree with Honest guy. Your type is really bad. Have you printed this out.? I suggest finding someone in the graphics department at your school to help you out. You don’t want an unprofessional card. As long as you are not seeking a job as a graphic designer there is nothing wrong with ‘hiring’ someone to do your card/idenity. Maybe you could design and build a box/baga portfolio for the graphic design student as a trade.

Its important to have a business card. You never know who you are going to meet. Its easy to give someone your card. Even if you had a resume to give, people don’t like to take something that big.

…it’s probably too late to try and get these offset printed before Thursday afternoon, but the mistake I made above was to try and rush through something in the hopes of getting something (anything) printed last week. Well, things can look a lot different at 4:00AM in the morning. Here’s a new version incorporating most of the helpful suggestions above. It’s almost 4:00AM and these look better to me already. Any graphic designers out there who know what they’re doing?



It’s 4am here too, and I am not sure if I am seeing something below the title… It’s distracting and doesn’t help you tell your story at all. Otherwise it’s a lot cleaner.

You might want to choose another photo of yourself, a photo that shows more confidence. I don’t know about the dot filter though. Again it’s not comfortable to the eye… at least for me.

I don’t know if the different arrangements of the text is working( refering to the backside). Somehow I want to see the card and be able to read everything quickly. Forcing me to read it separately doesn’t help me unite your education history to the set of skills you have listed.

Personally, I think the black is a bit heavy. Of course all these comments are made based on my own preference.

Juan Haoying,

Thanks for your comments. I fixed the blurred defect you noticed (which was my contact information, but what do I care). I will more than likely incorporate the artwork above into a teaser of sorts, probably a regular-sized business card thingy that folds in two (unfolded being 7"W x 2"H). Regarding the halftoning, we used a similar effect for a IDSA conference display last year that went over very well; sure, up close the effect is unsettling, but as you move away it comes into focus. I’m sure it will get piled on and I’ll have to see more graphic designers before the day is up.


mothy / Li Fashi

Ps. I thought the picture made me look like a beaming (confident) Buddha…