American Psycho

When I decided to go to CalArts, my mother said, “Well, once you’re eighteen, you’re on your own.” I’m not sure if my parents lack of interest or support was due to my choice of school, art school over Harvard, or because they were too busy arguing to notice. They seemed confused about my college until I graduated, telling friends I was at CalTech. The upside of this was absolutely no interference with any of my own decisions. The downside was the financial responsibility to pay for college on my own.

I hate that some of my students now have similar financial struggles. This is the time they should be free to focus on becoming the best possible designer and finding their own distinct voice. I do what I can personally with the scholarship fund but this can’t solve someone’s entire college expenses. When asked me to design a set of business cards, I was interested. They are the best quality, printed on beautiful Mohawk Superfine paper. When they told me I could dedicate the Art Center Scholarship Fund as my charity, I was thrilled.

Now, this is one of those classic “do whatever you want” assignments. These sound great, but lead to sitting at my desk staring at a blank pad of paper. So, I thought about cards I want. First, I’d love a set of nautical themed cards, and a set of vibrant patterns and color, then, disturbingly, a set of really depressing places. The nautical and pattern cards are perfectly logical. Who doesn't want nautical business cards, or bright and cheerful color and pattern.

I admit the depressing cards are odd. But I love the idea of shaking someone's hand, smiling and handing out a business card with an image of a place of despair. These are the spaces where people gave up. They stopped trying. They are about lethargy and exhaustion, places where all else failed. What could be more fun?

To paraphrase Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, "I don't ask for much." Now I'm asking that everyone spread the word, order some cards, look better when trading business cards, but most importantly, help a young designer as they struggle financially.

Pocket Pal

If you want to write a best seller in the graphic design market, write 100,000 Business Cards. My books sell well, but they are pussies next to the business card books. Why? I don’t know. At most, I give out 10 business cards a year. And the ones I like end up in a box marked “favorite business cards”. The one in the front is not by anyone famous or avant-garde or even a designer. It’s a business card from Hi-Speed Advertising Typography. Hi-Speed went away along with all the other type houses, but their card lives on.

I’m a sucker for type cases. I worked in the metal type shop at school, and learned the California case like the back of my hand. As you can imagine, that’s come in real handy over the years. I’d like to have a type case that I could use to hang on the wall, and organize little objects. Perhaps these would be pieces of wood type, rocks, or shells. The Hi-Speed card is a tiny representation of a type case. I know it’s not accurate, but so what? It has a cool big hand and row of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln. That is why it is currently the favorite of favorites in the business card box.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Priscilla's Beauty Salon, Los Angeles, California

We are now traveling along the Burning Settlers Cabin Trail leaving the world of high-end classic design and entering the land of wonder. This business card may, indeed, be the most inspiring and influential business card in history. First, who knew that business cards could be die-cut with a palette shape. Second, why have I not used people's heads on my business card design? And finally, gradated pastel rainbow forms create an etherial tone. The miraculous Tadanori Yokoo obviously used this business card as the basis for all of his work, as evidenced below.

Tadanori Yokoo, Koshimaki-osen, 1966