Please let me interrupt your regularly-scheduled science programming to talk for a moment about business cards.
I’m mostly writing this post to show off the gorgeous cards my friend Kit Olsen designed for me, but also because I think business cards are a great networking tool, especially for students and early-career scientists.
Growing up, business cards were what my parents had, used for luggage tags and entering sweepstakes in coffee shops. They don’t seem particularly hip. When I started going to conferences, however, I collected them from other attendees and was asked if I had one. They’re also great to hang next to your poster so people can contact you when you’re not standing next to it. And, I have to say, I wanted my own cards. It felt very adult, very official, an outward confirmation that I was a ‘real’, card-carrying scientist.
I waited to get my cards until I had a stable position that I could put on the card, but I don’t think I needed to. The most important aspects of a business card are that it reminds your contact of your interaction and provides contact information. To that end, I thought I’d walk you through how I designed mine.
Most importantly, I wanted custom artwork. Photographs are very popular, and stunning if you have a career involving beautiful natural vistas or photogenic study species. I, however, conduct most of my work on a computer. Without catchy photography, I decided on artwork, but have no artistic skill. So, I commissioned an amazing artist, who happens to be an old friend. I gave her a list of the species I’d studied with in the past: mackerel, capelin, lionfish, and cownose rays. As my current project involves the collective behavior of mackerel, they feature, arranged in a shoal. She added a little lionfish and ray. There’s also an Atlantic cod as capelin look too much like mackerel and Atlantic cod are their main predator in Iceland and the impetus for my capelin research. The card, therefore, is a visual representation of my résumé. If you’re looking for custom art, you should contact her.
On the flip side, I kept it simple, with my full name, current position, twitter handle, email, and website address. They’re in that order for the visual, not in order of importance. I’d’ve put email first, otherwise.
I used MOO to print the cards. You can either upload your own designs or use their templates. The dimensions of their cards are a little different from what I’m used to (84mm x 55mm vs. U.S size: 89mm x 51mm), more like the dimensions of a credit card. I prefer this shape. I printed them on their cotton paper, made from recycled T-shirts. The cotton is slightly more expensive than their standard cards. You can order a sample pack for free, if you want to see and feel the different options before you buy.
Oh, and one word of warning: if you’re uploading your own design, make sure it’s perfectly positioned. My text is like one pixel off to the right. Not enough to justify re-ordering, but…..ouch. Still in love with them and be assured, if we run into each other at a conference, I WILL give you one :Þ