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Clown Business Cards: What’s Included?
By Richard Snowberg
Many professionals share information about themselves on small 3” x 1.5” cards. These small pieces of paper usually are printed in landscape format, and fit easily into wallets or business card holders. Oftentimes business personnel that obtain large numbers of these cards place them into easy access folders or Rolodex type rotary holders.
Let Me Introduce You
A business card provides a brief introduction to the person that it represents. The cards can serve several useful purposes. Professionals-salesman, realtors, lawyers, professors, and persons in many other occupations, utilize business cards to primarily pass on their contact information-address, phone number, and e-mail address. A second purpose of a business card is to attempt to very succinctly share something unique or commendable about the card bearer. And finally, a business card’s quality and design can often be interpreted to say something about the person it represents. A business card isn’t intended to say everything about the bearer’s background, qualities, or experiences. It might best be thought of as a brief introduction.
As the director of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Clown Camp® program, I’ve received hundreds of clown’s business cards. It has been interesting to look at these cards in preparation to write this article. I’ve discovered many differences in these cards, but also consistent similarities between many of them. Whether the cards represent American clowns or clowns from other locales throughout the world, there are a lot of similarities. In the remainder of this article, I’ll share some of my observations, and hints to help you design cards that meet user purposes and produce desired results.
Just like traditional business cards, today’s clown business cards should to be designed to meet specific audiences. A card intended to garner clown business with a corporate client, might need to be considerably different from one designed to generate birthday party clown business. Some clowns utilize clown cards for children, while others intend their usage with adults.
Allow me to share a personal business card that I found useful about ten years ago. This card, seen here, no longer is current. (My character is no longer a whiteface, and the address, phone number, and e-mail address have all changed.) The card illustrates how you can include a color photograph, (sorry the notebook pages are not able to show color images) as well as pertinent information for potential clients. As you see, I’ve included my clown name in large type, and my actual name in small text, because it is much more professional to have your actual name available for corporate clients. Of course this card is used exclusively for adults, and for children I have a different card that does not include my telephone number or address. Finally notice the small claim: “For entertainment supreme call….” This is an example of some personal information or indication of professionalism. While you can’t see this, the photo is in color and all text is printed in black ink-as this is more legible than colored text. A blue border around the card serves to bring the image and the text together. I don’t have anything printed on the back of this card.
Business cards are commonly designed in landscape format. In other words, the rectangular card is wider than it is tall. On my example card, I’ve placed a portrait format image onto a landscape format card. I’ve used this specific card to show Clown Campers that you can employ a taller image on the common card format, rather than turning it sideways and designing a tall or skinny card. While some clowns use this less common format choice, these cards are not easily readable when placed into a standard business card holder/binder, or a Rolodex carousel.
The KISS Principle
You don’t have much space on a business card to capture a lot of visual or text information. Effective cards are ones that follow the KISS principle-Keep It Simple Stupid. Keep your design simple, clean and uncluttered. Remember the card is an introduction, not a presentation of everything that you’ve done or can do as a clown. Keep it simple! Performers when on stage or off should leave their audiences wanting more. Again I need to state, a card is an introduction. I’ve looked through my collection of cards and found some cards with 50 or more words on them, and this is not counting the words for their name, address and phone number. (Some cards I’ve seen require very sharp eyesight or a magnifying glass to read the extremely small print that has been employed.)
One technique to enable you to incorporate additional information is to print on both sides of a card. The cards of this type that are effective, keep one side exclusively for a photo or clown caracature and perhaps a clown name, and the backside for the print information. I would not recommend placing print on both sides-this isn’t a book! Using this technique, the print copy should be large/legible, and concise. Dee De’s card, shown here, is a two-sided card, with photo on one side, and this text information on the reverse side. (I’ve blocked out her phone number and e-mail, although it is printed on the actual card.) Her copy is very legible, well organized, and reaches the maximum for readability and need.
So What Should I Include?
In addition to your basic contact information, an effective card should in some way establish your professionalism or credibility. It should instill buyer confidence in the potential client, and in some way set you apart from other clown arts entertainers. Remember, this is a business card. Some examples of things you might mention to establish your credentials, are: insurance coverage, bonded performer, professional associations or offices, and significant awards you’ve received. Here are some actual quotes from cards in my collection: “Proud member of World Clown Association”, “Member of Guild of Master Craftsman-England”, Children’s Entertainer for 15 Plus Years”, “Performed with Royal Hanneford Circus”, “Past President of World Clown Association”, “WCA Clown of the Year”, and “International Clown Hall of Fame Inductee”.
As a clown, what is it that you do? What sets you apart from other entertainers in your area, or to potential clients? Tell a card reader something either about your abilities or the audiences for which you work. Are you a children’s entertainer? Do you have adult shows? Do you employ balloon sculpturing, magic, puppetry, storytelling, juggling, or physical comedy? Here are some actual examples to illustrate these abilities: “Specializing in Conventions and Banquets”, “Specializing in Clown Ministry Programs”, “Specializing in Colorful Fun”, “Face Painting”, “Singing, Parties & Games”, “Professional • Reliable • Reasonably Priced”, “When You Want the Very Best”, and “Professional & Fun Entertainment for All Ages!”.
There are many different types of paper on which to have cards printed. Don’t select lightweight paper stock. This is easily bent and has the ‘feel’ of being cheap. Some inexpensive normal card stock paper is very soft, and will also bend easily as well as not print a crisp image of text or photo. A hard surface paper with reasonable thickness is desirable. The card’s text can be embossed, which gives it a raised and somewhat shiny appearance. This is an indication of quality, which is something you are trying to tell a potential client. If you are not using a clown image on your card, you can still utilize color on your card. Either the card stock itself, or some selective type can be in color. Use color for focus on some specific part of your card.
Small print shops, such as a Kinko’s or Office Depot, can provide you with fast turnaround of limited quantities of business cards. These businesses also have many different sample paper stocks, text fonts, and different pre-set designs from which you can choose. Check out several printers to see which options best meet your needs.
Finally, it should be mentioned that business cards may be produced with a home computer and an inkjet or laser printer. Commercial papers for either printer type are available for the purpose of producing business cards. By producing your own cards or having a friend do this, you can produce as few as ten or less cards. In this way you can generate cards for very specific audiences, or make frequent content changes. If you use an inkjet printer, be aware that your ink colors are not ‘set’ and may run if exposed to moisture. A laser printed card is always more durable or long lasting.
While not true ‘business cards’, many clowns have moved from using the typical 3” x 1 1/2” card to a larger trading card sized card. These 2 ½ x 3 ½” cards are called trading cards, as they are the same size and often design used on sports trading cards (baseball, football, etc.). The usual format is portrait, with a clown image and clown name on one side, and text information on the reverse side. It might be possible for you to have a large number of these cards printed with you clown image on one side, and then have some of your card backs printed in two or more different designs. You may wish to have one card usable as a giveaway to children. On this card you won’t likely want to include your address or phone number. However you might want to have a place on it for your autograph. The card might be a Fan Club membership card, on which you can write the child’s name, and then a signature line for yourself. Another group of your cards might contain the same sort of information, as you’d provide on a traditional business card.
For either business cards or trading cards, consider not including your phone number on the printed card. Instead have a self-inking rubber stamp produced that contains your phone number. Now you can selectively provide cards to youngsters that don’t contain the phone number, and cards with your phone number on them for potential clients.
Good luck to you all as you design and produce your personal clown business/trading cards.