A few weeks ago, just before I headed off to Bristol, I decided to go a bit earlier, and catch FOWD Bristol.
Then I realised that I was running out of Moo Cards and had absolutely no time to order any more.
After casting around a bit, I remembered that I have craft supplies and quite the collection of pens, and decided to just make something.
I grabbed my hypotrochoid art set (which I did actually buy from the SFMOMA gift shop (I love a good museum gift shop, oh yes…)), some white cards (I think they were supposed to be place cards for a wedding or somesuch), my round corner cutter and my set of Stabilo Pens.
That was the easy bit.
Deciding what to draw, where, using what colours was the easy bit. I grabbed a bit of scrap paper (back of an envelope I think) and tried out a few patterns until I found the one I liked best. Then I chose the colours. Purple first (because its my favourite colour), granny smith apple green next (because I have developed an inexplicable fondness for this most difficult of colours) and finally, pewter grey (because I like it more than black). Sorted.
I'd decided to make thirty cards, ten in each colour, but hadn't considered the possibility of cramp from doing so many spirals. My hands and arms started to cramp up by the fourth card. Doing thirty perfect spirals is harder than it looks.
Once the spirals were done, I realised that I needed something more and added the "Hello!" and it was then that I hit upon the idea of using the fold in the card to get around the problem of figuring out which card to give people at these kinds of events, business or personal. I used to carry around two sets of cards, particularly when I worked at RNIB, and was never particularly comfortable with the decision making process of who should get what card when the event wasn't strictly a work event. It didn't get any easier when I went freelance either. I have a set of Moo cards that I made when I first set up my business site, but I then changed the branding so I couldn't use those, and anyway, I'm more than what I do for work.
So, whatever I did needed to work as a business card and a personal card. A me card, if you will. Some people might want to know more about my work, some people might want to know more about me. Some people might go from one to the other. Best to give them the option rather than making that god-awful networking deliberation about how "useful" people might be in terms of giving you work.
It was at that point something went ping in the back of my head, and I remembered having books which could be read from either side. One story started from the front, one from the back. To read either, you just turned the book around and started whichever one you wanted.
So I turned the card around and wrote "Hello!" on the other side. It felt like it needed a bit more, so I added the little arrow.
At this point, I started getting that little buzz of "y'know, this might just work…"
It was decided. You could open the card from either side and get either my work or my personal contact details like one of those start from either end books.
Then I got to the hard bit. The actual words. This probably took the most time of the entire process. Even though my handwriting is terrible (as a result of typing for a living for more years than I care to count), it actually took longer to decide what the words were going to be than it took to write them out twenty times. You'll notice that number differs from the number of cards above. That's because it hurt my hand so much that I just couldn't write any more. So I left the apple green ones and figured I could find a quiet moment to write them up at the conference or whenever, and anyway, I wasn't likely to hand out more than twenty cards, even taking into account the speed networking session.
Job done, I took a photo and uploaded it to flickr to try and stave off any chance of me deciding, in the cold light of day, that they were crap and should be consigned to the bin.
Happily, they went down quite well, and to my immense surprise, I actually needed the apple green cards. So much so that by the time I came back from Bristol four weeks later I was all out of cards and needed to make some more.
I'm not sure these cards would work in all situations, and I may yet wind up getting "proper" business cards printed up, but for the moment at least, I think I might continue to use these for situations where the lines between business and personal aren't entirely clear.