Remember when people used to visit one another and leave “calling cards”? Well, I have done absolutely no research about this, but leaving a calling card when you visited someone and they weren’t home and giving a card to a new contact were popular practices for years—especially before telephones, in the late Victorian and Modern times. I assume that calling cards eventually evolved into what we now call the “business card” (my guess is, from the late ’50s onward). What role did postmodernism play in this cultural evolution? I have no idea, nor do I want to get into it.
Yet I still feel little romantic pangs for the calling-card culture (and the Victorian era in general)—as many people feel for social conditions from historical eras that we just missed or that we, for whatever reason(s), feel an affinity for. That plus the fact that I’ve been learning how to use Adobe InDesign means that I made a silly card. I also happen to be participating in 30 Days of Creativity, so I can check Day 8 off my list.
What if we still used cards that were similar in format to business cards but had nothing to do with business? What if we presented other aspects of ourselves (say our friendships or general interests and hobbies, as in this example) in this format?
Then cards would be useless, obviously, except that it would be a fun and classy way to give someone your contact information. I just might actually make some calling cards for myself someday. Doesn’t this card give you a fairly clear idea about who we two are and what we two like? (Although it does not give a clear idea about what our email addresses are, and that is deliberate for the purposes of this post.)
My friend Dave actually made a personal card, while we were in university. He had 1000 printed, I think. I just looked all through my wallet for his card, in the hope that I could scan it and share it with you, but I could not find it. Alas! As I recall, it simply read (in cornflower-blue Helvetica, or something similar): “David [Surname]: In Existence for Over 20 Years” (followed by his email address and phone number). Frankly, it was awesome.
Another fun card to make would be very simple, and could just have three lines of text:
Why did I choose this as a project today? Let’s see:
1. “Business card” is pretty much the simplest InDesign template that exists, which is important to a beginner like me.
2. Samuel and I designed a fantastic logo for ourselves a few years ago, which we’ve used on comic strips and our self-published picture book. It was the perfect image for this project, in that it was available.
I must say, it was great fun. Graphic design is an area I am very happy to learn more about, and I like to think that I have a little knack for it that could be developed (although if you think this card is ugly, then maybe I’m wrong about that).
I guess what I’m saying, overall, is: let’s bring back calling cards—by which I mean, let’s not get bogged down by the strict definition of “business card” (though marketing and branding strategies still apply; jacks of all trades might be better off having different business cards for every type of service they offer, for example, rather than appearing to be an amateur at everything they do, simply because it’s all listed on one card—you know the everything cards I’m talking about, and they always seem shady). Yet there are so many of us who have multiple talents and skills and can provide a variety of services. Have a business card, of course, but maybe you’ll need a personal card for other occasions? Or maybe it would be more à la mode to make an iPhone-screen-sized card that you could swish off to people, or even a QR code that directs people to your web presence (I’m not even sure that’s possible).
I can’t really tell whether I’m joking about all this or not.