The Fine Art of Creating Business Cards

I’ve finally decided to take some images I created into a business card format using thick paper and printing on both sides. The rear side was really quickly done yesterday using Illustrator and the front on iPad using Artstudio. Here is how they came out:

After, looking at them over and after trying to cut them into size, I realized I had to redo them. Their proportions for one didn’t match exactly as when they cut, the back section’s corner lettering would be off or get cut off. Not only that, but due to their 640×480 dimension sizes (even though I created both image assets with this ratio) came out too large at the heigth and overall I realized that many wallets wouldn’t have pockets wide enough to fit them. Not only that, but I realized on the upper-right section of the back image, there are two capital letters as part of “i po Polsku, i po ANgielsku,” which definetely looks unprofessional.

I changed some aspects of the card’s images and overall dimensions, but it has been a good learning experience creating such cards and my next prints should come out better. Here are my new card images with dimensions that coincide with the average european business card aspect ratio standards (85mm x 55mm or an aspect ratio of 1.586). These new dimensions of the cards I will be printing come in 576 x 374 pixels. They should print well into the standard business card format of 1.586 or close enough to it that many a wallet shouldn’t suffer.

Now the question is how to print them. The print shop I went to here in Warsaw didn’t seem like it had people too familiar with business card printing as not only did the paper seem to thick and not smooth or grainy enough as most business cards come printed on, but they wanted me to align the images in some PDF file with both images on one file. However, I am not sure how to do this and they didn’t explain it well. I will look forward to this method, but the way they printed the previous cards seems like it may work as well in this case, with these better dimensions and no letters near edges on the back this time.

They simply reprinted the same already-printed page on the back side with the second image and they aligned pretty well as the dimensions were the same and settings for the print remained unchanged during both prints (both sides of each hard page). So I hope this method will work this time and if not I have to figure out the dual printing process where specialty printers that many print shops have can print each side of a page simultaneously. Either way, these images should at least work better than my last try.

[edit: more below]

After posting all this I went to a print shop today and learned something else. This was much more of a legitimate print shop with various types of paper on offer, many of which are traditional or standard business card fare and not just thick cardboard paper like the other shop printed my previous batch with.

The shop owner told me that my aspect ratios were food, but resolutions too low and it will only work well on the Web. This is something I forgot from not having to print stuff physically for so long. I should have kept the same ratios, but the resolution much higher and better yet, created everything using Illustrator because vectors scale real well unlike bitmap images.

The owner also told me that jpeg isn’t a good format for physical cards, and really only good for the Web. So if I come back, I should save the files in either PDF or Illustrator (AI) file formats (this must have been what the guys in the previous shop were getting at, however the way I understood it they mentioned some alignment and two images in one file rather than seperat eimage files). It seems strange he said this considering the previous batch printed pretty wll in JPEG although the paper wasn’t great quality.

I will keep working with this business card idea though. Right now I will just use what I have even though the back looks bad in terms of alignment and formatting. It is a good learning experience because I am so used to working with digital and Web content I forgot efficient printing procedures and file formats that work best with specific printing needs.

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