Monthly Archives: February 2011

Must-have business card sleeves for smart networkers

clear vinyl business card holderI’d been looking for an inexpensive giveaway to market my business at chamber and networking events, so when I ran across these clear vinyl business cards sleeves I realized that they are a ready-made promotional item for anyone who carries or collects business cards.

Not only will the holders help me promote my business, but they really are useful for the recipient, as well. I appreciate the fact that the card cases are inexpensive, and the more you buy, the less they cost. Because the vinyl is crystal clear, you can see easily see the card through the plastic so four faces are visible. The carrying case is sturdy, yet flexible enough to pack up to a couple of dozen cards, and folds to easily carry in a wallet, purse or pocket.

As it turned out, I wasn’t the only person who thought this was the best marketing tool for networking to come along since the calendar pen (I’ll save that one for another post). Now my fellow networkers are ordering these business card cases by the hundreds, so they can fill them with their cards to pass out to people they meet that might require their products or services. And, they especially love the fact that they can fill the case with any cards or message since no imprinting is required, making them extremely versatile when it comes to personalization. This card case is an inexpensive business marketing tool.


Fashion colors of 2011 highlighted

pantone fashion color report

“Designers take a painterly approach to fall 2011 by artfully combining bright colors with staple neutrals, reminiscent of how an artist would construct a stunning work of art,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Much like a painter’s masterpiece, there is a certain romance to this season’s palette.”

And because designing on paper and designing for fashion are so closely related, it’s worth taking a look at the fashion world’s color selection for 2011.

Photo mount bags put business cards in their place

photo mount sleeves

The business card-sized photo mount sleeve displays a business card or any other removable message. A card slides in easily and can be removed for safe keeping.

I’m always looking for inventive ways to attach and include a business card in business marketing and correspondence materials. As the designer for a local fitness training and dance studio, I was, once again, confronted with a problem.  I needed to design and print a door hanger on a limited budget. The specifications were precise: full color both sides, printed on 16 pt. card stock, include business card—no budget for a plastic bag, die cuts or perforated tear-off.

Peel the strips to reveal adhesive. Mount to door hangers, flyers, posters and more to include business card sized message.

Problem solved. This Business Card Crystal Clear Photo Mount stays securely mounted to paper and other surfaces. The sleeves are sealed on 3 sides and have an adhesive mounting strip on two ends. This is an inexpensive alternative to adding a custom die cut to the door hanger, folder, poster or flyer.

These tiny business card plastic bags turned out to be an elegant, yet inexpensive solution to another design problem.

Flowers, Color, Form Background for Business Card

Graphic designers have lots of problems. With every job we accept we’re presented with problems that are begging for solutions. Recently I was presented with a problem…a purple and green flower for a business card for a massage therapist in the middle of winter…in Southern California. No sweat.

lily of the nile

This is the full frame of the image that became the foundation for the business card.

When I took a series of digital photos on the macro setting, I was thinking about colors (purple and green) and holding still enough to focus the camera on a target that was swaying in the breeze. I wasn’t worrying about composition. Just keep the flowers in the frame before the wind catches them.

I had no idea if these Lily of the Nile would have any chance of working on a business card. I had taken the photos weeks before, and when it came time to buckle down and create the image that would carry the business card, I found my answer by looking at the flowers, not as a whole, but for their “parts.” Perhaps there is just a small part of the image that contains the necessary elements to play a supporting role to the typography?

In order to isolate just the right section of the image, I worked in Adobe Photoshop, but most image editing software has a cropping tool or a selection tool with the ability to crop to a selection. In Photoshop, I fixed the width, height and resolution of the cropping tool to 3.75 inches by 2.25 inches, 300 pixels per inch, adding one eighth of an inch to all four sides to allow for a bleed. When fixing a cropping area, the size of the area can change, but the correct proportions remain constant.

Photoshop's cropping tool can isolate a precise area, resize and resample the pixels to the desired resolution in a single step.

Once a specific area of the image is isolated and cropped, that segment of the photo now stands alone at the correct size and resolution to become a unique background for the business card. The same image could just as easily be cropped and sized for greeting cards, postcards or bookmarks.

Typography is always a challenge. When white type is reversed out of a background, in this case, a moderately busy background, it begins to get lost. It’s almost gobbled up by the very background that’s intended to support the type.

To prevent the white type from becoming too difficult to read as it moves over alternating light and dark leaves or purple petals, a dark green is sampled from the background and used to give it an “outer glow” effect. If reverse type is placed over a purple petal, sample a slightly darker purple for the outer glow to allow it to “pop” off the background.

type before outer glow

type after outer glow is applied

Because we designers are never satisfied with just one version of our layout, I used two different photos with a variety of type alignments before sharing them with the client.


Ireland’s Colors Drive Niamh Slack to Paint

I am a landscape artist, and I am particularly attracted to coastal and woodland scenes. I believe that there is much beauty and colour in the Irish landscape. It is that which I aim to capture in my paintings.

My art is primarily about capturing the essence of those places that speak to me on a personal level. Perhaps more importantly than this, my paintings are about my love of colour. When working in oils, I am continuously experimenting with the placing of heavy layers of colour on canvas, and I strive to see colour in the seemingly ‘mundane’ and ‘ordinary’ things around us.

I especially enjoy painting ‘en plein air’. When possible, I like to complete as much of the painting outside as possible, in all types of weather! The unpredictability of the Irish weather means that sometimes I can only spend short periods of time outside, completing quick sketches, and memorizing the scene before me.

My favourite stage in the painting process is that magical stage at the very beginning of a painting, once the design has been executed. I am then observed to work furiously and frantically!

Layers of paint are heavily placed with a palette knife, and I try to capture every part of the landscape before me. I work at this rapid pace for as long as my body will allow me. Eventually, I force myself to stand back and I continue to touch up and retouch the painting at a slower pace, before bringing it back indoors.

Once dried, even further layers of paint are added. This results in landscapes that have been described as vibrant, energetic and full of life. When depicting seascapes my interest often lies in the wealth of colours and tones that can be explored in rock formations by the sea. I am especially taken with exploring the tonal ranges that can be found in such formations. Woodland scenes have always and continue to strike a chord with me, and my work here focuses on the changing colours of the seasons, both on the foliage and the woodland floor.

My paintings are inspired and influenced by the work of Irish artist Jack Yeats and the contemporary art of Kenneth Webb. The colour, energy and movement in my brush and palette knife work have been greatly influenced by impressionists such as Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh.

Collage of Irish woodland scenes

Image of the Week

High resolution photos are hard to find without purchasing. If you are looking for photos to use as backgrounds in your artwork, look no further. To download this week’s image, click on it. When the high resolution copy appears, right click on it to copy or save it.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Haberman

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