Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Pupating pixels: my new Bonkers 'business card' is born...!

As you may have gathered from my recent post on where my 'civilian' friends keep / display their perfume collections, I have a nice social circle in my adopted home town. After all, most of the photos were submitted voluntarily, and even the people whose bottles I covertly papped would probably have said yes if I had asked them. To further illustrate how friendly and giving Stafford folk are, only this morning a friend swung by - the one who curates his perfumes in a fridge, no less! - and gave me a knife sharpener, a Victorinox paring knife, and a creme brulee he had just made, recommending I eat it straight away.  So I did, and felt a wee bit queasy afterwards to be perfectly truthful, as it was a particularly rich one. But a kind thought, no question.

And it is thanks to friends that I am now the proud owner of a 'business card' for the blog - or should that just be a 'blog card', or a 'visiting card', I don't know? I suppose I might hand it out when I am not technically visiting someone. But you get the idea.

Work in progress - cake not illustrated

The process started with the help of my artist friend David - whose work I often share on Facebook, as well as featuring them in blog posts in the past - for it was he who created the design. David came round to the house one Sunday evening, bringing all his art materials with him, while I provided cake and biscuits, which was all he wanted in return. Within a couple of hours he had painted two different 'flittersniffer-themed' pictures - appropriately based on a butterfly of the Vanessa genus! - and both of which I liked a lot. However, a friend to whom I showed them both the next day observed that the sillage on one of the versions looked like the butterfly was having a p***, which it sort of did, now he mentioned it, so I duly plumped for the other one! It is also good to have friends who tell it like it is...;)

Soaring above sillage or taking a leak?
The next step was to turn the image into artwork, including the lettering on the reverse, and here another friend, Dawn, who is a photographer by profession - but also pretty knowledgeable about desktop publishing (is that the word?) - stepped up and offered to lay it all out for me.

So I went to meet her at the very aptly named Gainsborough Artworks(!), a rabbit warren of artists' studios housed in a converted shoe factory opposite the prison. As Dawn worked on my design, I had a good old nosey round her vintage artefacts, many of which are used as props for her photo shoots. I 'paid' Dawn in cake and vintage knitting patterns and women's magazines (of which I have loads, as it happens!), which she seemed to think a fair exchange for her time.

Armed with the digital artwork, I used a company called Moo to actually print the cards; they were very reasonably priced, with phenomenal customer service. I say 'phenomenal', because they did not one, but two reprints of the cards free of charge, as they kept coming out with a pink wash on them, even though the background was supposed to be white.

The 'Bonkers Blush' version

After each print run, Dawn sportingly took another look at the image, checking that the so-called 'CMYK values' were set to the all-important 'Coated FOGRA39' Moo had specified(!) - and to our delight the cards came out perfectly white on the third attempt. It was quite baffling though at the time, and at one point Dawn and I exchanged a series of emails entitled: 'Cow Bizarre!' I would heartily recommend Moo though if anyone is thinking of getting some business cards done, as they truly bent over backwards - at their expense - to get things absolutely spot on.

You can almost see Rolf Harris from here!

Oh, and there was another twist in the story, for after the initial 'pink' print run, I was down in London in March for the Jasmine Awards and met up with fellow blogger Sabine of Iridescents. She is a 'card carrying' graphic designer by profession - in every sense of the term indeed, as she also copped for one of mine, hehe. And over dinner Sabine suggested moving the blog title to the back of the card and creating more white space between the different text elements. I have to say that as soon as she mentioned these possible tweaks, I thought they made for a subtle, but definite improvement.

So when the second print run - which was in progress at the time - still came out a bit pink, Moo offered me not just another go, but another go with a different design(!). This gave me the perfect opportunity to introduce Sabine's changes, with a little more help from the ever-patient Dawn, whom I was still plying with cake.

Yes, all in all my Bonkers business card has had generous input from a painter, a photographer, a graphic designer, and a printing company named after a cow. Now I just need to go forth and meet people, to have an occasion to give it away!

PS Specially for Asali, here is a shot of the cards in their holder, nestling amongst my emergency tea bag stash.


Carol said...

Flittersniffer perfect!! Good to hear positive stuff about Moo - I was thinking about using them for my business cards, but since they were more expensive than Vistaprint, I went with the latter - but I'm not real happy with them so I should have went to Moo from the beginning. Live and learn.

Tara said...

The card is just perfect! Although with David doing the design I'm surprised it wasn't a perfume bottle with three kumquats perched on top :)

What great team work all round and so many talented, creative friends you have locally.

That was a good spot about the butterfly pee and Sabine thought of the final finishing touch. I love the bartering too. You outdid your elderly friend there!

Vanessa said...

Hi Carol,

I do think it is very suited to a flittersniffer! Oh, Vistaprint, don't get me started...I had some stuff printed by them once, and it was cheap - not spot on, but good enough. No human communication during the process, but I was relentlessly pursued by their direct mail machine for months afterwards. It was like that Signature Fragrances mailing campaign I blogged about, and took the mickey out of? Oh interestingly, they wrote to me and said that in the light of my post, they have reviewed their marketing strategy and decided to dial it down. They didn't even take offence, but could see the funny side of their non-stop campaign! So yes, I am a Vistaprint user who has lived and learned. Though you may not have had quite the same issues as me?

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

LOL at the notion of a perfume bottle with kumquats perched on it! That would be so like his style, haha.

I do feel lucky to live in this talented, generous community. I am also hoping that the friend whose cat I feed will teach me to knit in the round some time. We are good at this bartering lark, no question. I am flattered that you think I outdid my elderly friend in that regard - she is a real pro!

Anonymous said...

What a pretty card! Do you have a nice, bloggy conference to go to soon, so you can impress people with it? --AnnieA

Carol said...

Vistaprint - I didn't talk/email them at all - I figured w/the few bucks I spent I wasn't going to deal with it. Going to go with Moo instead. All my old cards I'll use as price tags or something.
Oh how cool that SF heard what you had to say - and you know what you're talking about!

Vanessa said...

Did you experience the annoying mailshot thing with Vistaprint? That was my main gripe rather than the work they did. Do you have Moo offices in the US then? I wish you could be assigned the wonderful customer service lady I had in London. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Thanks! And I don't believe I do, though that would be just the ticket - a conference or one of the perfume trade fairs in Italy, say. I did have my first batch of cards on me at the Jasmines, but I was so overawed by the whole thing that I only talked to one lady - the Marketing Manager from Yardley - and did manage to give her one at least!

Asali said...

That's a beautiful blogger-card. Indeed you're very lucky with all those nice and talented friends, and they are lucky to get your cakes and good company of course :-). Do you have a special card holder for them?

Poodle said...

How long before we see a perfume release with butterfly pee as a note?
The artwork looks great.

Sun Fontaine said...

OMG Vanessa, that is so beautiful!! I envy your beautiful card. :)

Yuki said...

Your card is a piece of art :) I was slightly amused after reading the commentary on the first design!

Anonymous said...

Pupating pixels indeed! A perfectly perfumed papillon pronouncement. ;-)
That's a very beguiling card and how wonderfully appropriate that there is a Vanessa butterfly genus. And, clearly cake corrals creativity.


Lavanya said...

Lovely business card and enjoyed the story of its evolution. I loved how it evolved in such an 'un-predetermined' way. I have heard of Moo! I was considering using them (for something 'blog-unrelated') - good to know their customer service rocks.

Ines said...

I want one! They look amazing. :) You can come meet me. ;)

Unknown said...

I can't wait to them, and you, in the flesh.
And I had the same experience with vistaprint. I blocked them in the end, but becasue they kept changing their address some still went through.Horrible company. I did my current ones with moo and the colours aren't exactly as wanted, but OK for the price.

Anonymous said...

I am going to frame mine. CQ xxxx

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

I do feel lucky indeed. Not sure that even cakes and magazines were adequate remuneration, but they didn't seem to mind...

I do have a special holder - a cloth wallet with a retro print on it. It also houses my emergency tea bag stash. I might add a photo in fact!

Vanessa said...

Hi Poodle,

Not for nothing do they call you the 'Poodle of Doom', haha! I am sure it can only be a question of time. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Sun Mi,

Glad you like it. With all your remodelling expertise, I bet you could come up with something perfect for your own blog!

Vanessa said...

Hi Yuki,

It is a piece of art, I agree. But even the artist could see the funny side of the sillage mishap!

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

You are so going to get the call if I ever go the guest blogger route...Awesome alliteration as standard!

Yes, David asked which butterfly I wanted to be. I think that might be Vanessa Atalanta crossed with Vanessa Cardui ('the Painted Lady'). The latter name amused us as I don't tend to leave the house without slap on.

LOL at 'cake corrals creativity'. You are the best!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

I will give you as many as you want if I can come and meet you! Waiting to hear where my upcoming job might take me...it's a foreign one, you see, after an interval of four years - so you never know. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

Thanks so much for your help tweaking the layout - am very happy with the results. You should definitely have one!

Sorry to hear about your bad experience with Vistaprint. They were so difficult to shake off! Interesting that you also has colour issues with Moo. I think that aspect is tricky to get spot on - even with your knowledge of design and print etc - one doesn't know how their machines are calibrated. I guess I got lucky in terms of my customer service person!

Vanessa said...

Aw, shucks, Val. xxx

Vanessa said...

Hi Lavanya,

Thank you! Things certainly did evolve in an 'un-predetermined' way - that's a great summary of the card's gestation. ;)

If you do use Moo, I hope you get as good service Stateside as I did. FYI, my London-based lady was called Hayat.

Gil said...

What a heartwarming tale, Vanessa! Your friends sound absolutely delightful. :) And gorgeous card, too! Definitely changes my mind on the industrial design I had in mind for mine, an illustration is so much more special.

Anonymous said...

That's a sweet offer, but alliteration is the only review skill I have and it's totally inspired by your blog post titles. Speaking of titles, I read today that the headline writer at the New York Post has died; he was (in)famous for coming up with "Headless Body in Topless Bar".

-- Lindaloo

That is a beautiful card holder and now your cards will be scented too!

Thinkingmagpie said...

Vanessa, that really is a fabulous looking card! I want one!! I have to say, what a great idea to use one of the vanessa butterflies for your card.
By the way, I love your card holder(?). Cute!

Vanessa said...

Hi Gil,

Thanks! And I am happy if this post has set you off in a different design direction for your own card - I am sure you will come up with something distinctive and unique to you.

Vanessa said...

Hi Thinkingmagpie,

So glad you like it, and the butterfly theme. The cardholder was a gift from my friend Caryne and intended for tea bags, as she knows I get caught short when travelling abroad. Now it has a double role as there is ample space for both items!

Vanessa said...

Well, I am flattered that you got your alliterative inspiration from me. ;) And that headline from the New York Post is quite magnificent - I would have liked to have shaken that man's hand.

Yes, my cards will be lightly fragranced with tea!

sunnlitt said...

Those are gorgeous watercolors!!
I hope that you are able to frame and hang the original--it would make me happy to see it on my walls....
You do have a wonderful circle of friends! How lucky for you all.

Undina said...

It's a great card! I meant to comment on it earlier but you know how hectic my life is these days. But I really-really like the card. and I hope you'll have many chances to use the :)

For the last... many years I was dreaming of a laser-cut visit card for my blog (with the mermaid design that I used for a while on my blog header). But aside from the fact that it's not easy to find a company that makes that type of cards and their cost, knowing myself I won't have too many chances to present them to anybody but my fellow-bloggers. But maybe one day... :)

Meanwhile I'll enjoy your card.

Vanessa said...

Hi sunnlitt,

Thank you - David would be pleased to know people like his work!

I should frame the original really, what a good idea. After all, Val above said she was going to frame the card itself. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I do know how hectic your life is at the moment - I never expect you to be able to drop in, and really appreciate it when you do!

I probably shan't have many chances to use my card either - considering that there were lots of industry people at the Jasmines and I only gave one away - I mean, it is not as though you necessarily talk to people for starters, and even if you do, it has to feel appropriate to give someone a card. I did to an SA in Bloom, now I think of it, as I mentioned I had a blog.

I think an Undina card with a mermaid on it would be amazing - don't give up the search, as it would be a thing of beauty in its own right. ;)

The Scented Hound said...

Sorry... late to the game. The card is STUNNING!

Vanessa said...

Not late at all, and thank you very much, Steve!

Vanessa said...

Not late at all, and thank you very much, Steve!