A collection of my cards.

In my younger days I often read the phrase, “He was a good artist but not good at business.” That made me think that I should make sure I was “Good at business.” It sounded like a good thing to be good at. It took me years to figure out that was a nonsense phrase.

Do you know who is “Good at business”? Business people are. Y’see business is a job. People do it full time. That’s all they do. They look for ways to buy and sell stuff and make money. They are not interested in some random artist unless they see a way to make money off that random artist. And even that is rare.

Business people do business full time. They can even be passionate about it. They might even have the advantage of having access to money. That’s a huge boost in business. There is no way that an artist, or anyone else, can compete in business with a person who does it as their job.

It took me a long time to learn that lesson. Being, “good at business” to me now means not bothering with opportunities in which the business person isn’t looking out for me. It means turning things down that offer me nothing but promises. There are a lot of offers to work for “Exposure” in the world of creatives. That’s business people looking for free work to make money off of. It’s a long shot that the creative will ever make any money.

I bring this up because of what I was doing yesterday. I was making some new “Business cards.” I put those words in quotes because although I made my first business cards in the early 1990s and have generally had some ever since I don’t think I’ve ever got any business through them. For me they are more social than business.

I was at the MoCCA Festival in March and the night before I realized I didn’t have any cards for what I wanted. All of the cards I have made up are for this very site. My webcomic and blog site. In recent years I’ve been sending people to my jaredosborn.com site because that has my social media and PDF link but I had no cards for that.

The lack of cards lead me to get the idea of putting a QR code to jaredosborn.com on my phones lock screen. That did the trick as anyone who wanted to exchange contact information could just scan my phone with their phone and go to my site.

That worked out pretty well and is also an example of what I mean by my use of business cards is more social than business. Over the years I have mostly used them to exchange contact information with other artists and creative people. I can’t think of any example of when business cards got me any business but I do find creative people to follow on social media with them.

That brings me to my new painted coats. At the beginning of last winter I painted on my new winter long coat, a duster, and then just last week I finished painting on a new spring short coat, a blazer. I wear them on my commute into NYC and on my walk from Penn Station down to 14th Street.

If you are going to wear coats with eye catching paintings on them then you had better be prepared for people to stop you in the street to compliment and talk about them. That’s okay with me because I expect it and don’t mind. It’s a nice change of pace from my normal commute where the social rule is that you’re not allowed to talk to any strangers.

So during my commute I got it in my head that I should have some cards to hand out to the people who compliment my coat. If they want to see more of my work then they can. I still have some cards with my blog/webcomic site (yeah, this one) but I wanted to have one with my list site on it. That one links to this one anyway. I guess jaredosborn.com is my master site these days.

For weeks I’ve been meaning to make those new cards but then I started on painting the short coat which took me a week, caught a cold which put me out of commission for two weeks, and then took another week to finish up the coat. The new cards were on the back burner for a while. Until this weekend.

I make the cards myself. They are the size of playing cards rather than business cards. That’s probably bad business but, as I wrote, I don’t get much business with them and I like that size. It’s a familiar size to people too.

I have some double sided inkjet paper so that I can have a back and front to the card. On the front I have a piece of my art and on the back I have the QR code, a design, and my name. All the backs are the same but the fronts each have a different piece of my art on them.

I have the digital files set up (nine cards to a 8.5×11 inch page) so that I can print all the backs, flip the paper over, and then print all the fronts. They line up fairly close to perfect. They’re no more than a sixteenth of an inch off from back to front. I can work with that. After printing them I laminate the cards and then cut them out by hand with an X-Acto knife and straight edge.

The cutting is the most time consuming part. I’ve tried doing it with a paper cutter but that way is not exact enough. Plus the lamination gives paper cutters trouble. It’s more exact to do it but hand with the razor but I have to really pay attention. Plus since the cards can be up to a sixteenth of an inch off I had to trim that small a slice off of about third of them. So sometimes instead of four cuts per card I have to make five. Even six on occasion. That adds up to more time and effort.

The final step is to use a corner rounder on them. Over the years I’ve had many different corner rounders but a few years ago I bought this big industrial looking one. It works better than all the small hand pressed ones I’ve had. It’s so effortless to use I wish I had more corners to round.

I went through the digital files of my work and set up twenty seven new pieces as cards. I also used nine cards I already had used in my old radiantcomics.com cards for a total of thirty six new cards. I printed them out, laminated them, cut them out, and rounded the corners. Then I decided I needed two of each and did that all over again.

Now I’m ready to wear my new short coat. I’ll keep some cards in the breast pocket and if anyone compliments my coat I can offer them one. It may not be business but it’s social.