Sunday, May 17, 2009

Seven Reasons NOT to Print Your Own Business Card

By now I've heard from a number of people anxious to hear about good sources for affordable, professionally printed cards. Fear not; that information is being compiled and will be posted early this week. In the meantime...

(image: Pansy with Two Skies, oil, 20" x 20")

I know that some of you print your own cards from your home or office printer (or are thinking about doing it). That's how I made my very first ones, too, and if you really want to know what I thought of the experience, they were worse than no cards at all (and I spent a lot time and money on them, too). In the end, I threw them out.

It was a good learning experience, and I'd like to give you the benefit of my early disaster.

Seven Reasons NOT to Print Your Own Business Card

  1. COST - Think you're saving money by printing your own cards? Think again. The cost of a pack of Avery Clean Edge Business Card blanks is about $15 at your local office supply store, plus figure in the cost of both a color ink ($20-35) and a black ink cartridge ($12-20), because these take a lot of ink, and you're looking at $47-70 to print 200 cards (IF they all come out, which is doubtful; see #6).
    You can have 250 cards professionally printed starting at about $10 (-- this would include 'free' offers, so this is mostly shipping cost).
    You can have even higher quality cards printed for $25-40, and in a later post I'll lead you to some reliable sources.

  2. PAPER QUALITY - Because the cards need to be thin enough not to jam the printer (which they often will anyway), the paper tends to be on the thin side, and will often curl once you separate them into cards.

  3. PRINT QUALITY - Standard business card blanks are of a somewhat soft paper, which helps it absorb ink. This gives the card a dull appearance. It can also make your type appear fuzzy.

  4. PERMANENCE - Ink jet ink runs if it comes in contact with water (think of an outdoor show, and it begins to sprinkle, or a hot day and sweaty hands). It also tends to fade fairly quickly.

  5. TIME - When printing cards on your printer, you pretty much have to babysit the whole time to make sure they don't jam up or that your cartridge doesn't run out of ink. Wouldn't you rather spend that time painting?

  6. FRUSTRATION - At least half the sheets tend to get stuck in the printer or don't line up correctly.

  7. PROFESSIONALISM - A card printed on your average inkjet printer is never going to have that certain 'je ne sais quoi'. It's going to look, and feel, exactly like what it is: a card you printed yourself. A professional card will enhance your professional status as an artist. You'll look like you really mean business. Plus, you'll feel better about giving them out.

Stay tuned: Sources and tips for getting a professionally printed card coming very soon.


  1. You are so correct, R. I get mine at Modern Postcard and it isn't that expensive and looks great. I am sure there are other places almost or equally as good in quality. Most of us would rather be painting, right?

  2. I agree and think your point #7 is the primary reason to have cards printed by a professional.

  3. I want to comment on your lovely piece of artwork. I love the concept of pansy with two skies. Makes me think of the work by Magritte, which in my world is a real complement. Keep on doing what you are doing. I love them.

  4. Cathyann, Modern Postcard was one of my early sources for show invitations; it was quite groundbreaking in the early 90's.

    Thanks, Kim, for your concurrence.

    Mary, thank you! I am rather fond of Magritte. Although I'd not thought of it before, perhaps his work was inspirational in this painting.

  5. I agree; after the last post I've been redesigning mine to get it ready to be professionally printed. Great concepts to share with all of us.

    Oh yes, your "Pansy with Two Skies" is just striking. Love it.

  6. Love the pansy R! The skies are very cool in the background!
    Yes... I've learned not to print anything on my! Right now I'm looking for the right printer for artist's greeting cards. Not an easy task!

  7. It is always tempting to think you can do it yourself cheaper and easier. I look forward to your tips on getting professionally printed cards, R.

  8. Hi R.,

    I will take your advice for a major event, but
    growing up working in the print world, I know my
    own cards printed on glossy photo stock represent my current work well. People come back for seconds, and put my cards up in their houses. I see them on bulletin boards at school. My printer is excellent and I only have to print what I need, plus the information is up-to-date, and the image usually my latest work, or tied to a specific show, or client.

    Your blog is great. Gets me thinking.

    Take care,


  9. Such good advice. "Do it yourself" just looks unprofessional when it comes to printing. Looking forward to the next post.

  10. Awesome painting as always, R. Hey, since you seem to be able to influence a lot of people on this blog, can you suggest that people consider printing on recycled paper to help our forlorn environment? It sometimes costs a few cents more per card, but...

  11. P.S. My verification word just now was "revismo". Awesome, more pseudo-Spanish! :D

  12. I love your pansy! Something about pansy faces--they're so open and guileless!
    I have my cards printed by an online service, but never get "great" results ... I use their templates, which restricts me somewhat, but don't have the knowledge/expertise do design one from scratch!

  13. Love the pansy painting. Thanks for the wonderful advice R!

  14. I will never print my own cards again!

  15. Thanks everyone for your good comments!

  16. Okay..
    You've convinced me about the professionalism... I have been doing my own and while, I like them, I do agree that they probably would look better if they were professionally done.

    I do like to have different images and I can't imagine what I'd do with 500 of the same business cards.

  17. Hi Marian, I'm with you... 500 takes quite awhile to go through (about a year). 250 seems to be a good amount at the moment.

  18. I never even thought about it before, I just print off a few cards as I need them. You are correct, they aren't the best quality but I have to have cards with only the gallery information on them for when I'm working there and another card with my contact information when I'm not there. Even so, it would be more cost effective to have them professionally done. Thanks for the cost break down, that was very helpful.


Thank you for your kind comments! They always make my day.