How to print sexy business cards

Are business cards even a thing anymore??

Cream cardstock business card with dark green graphic letterpressed detailing

In an age where we're all asking - "Are business cards even a thing anymore??" we're here to tell you yes. But only if you do them right. If you plan to print off 2,500 business cards for $20, you're better off buying some 5-cent candies and going the cyber route with some digital business cards.

What the heck are digital business cards?

Smart business cards are reusable plastic or metal cards you can tap on someone else's phone. Your contact info, website, etc., will be automatically added to your new friend's phone. There are options like Ovou, Mobilo, or even options like Beaconstac that scrap the entire card itself and instead opt for a tap-on-tap phone situation. Honestly, we can 100% see the benefit of going digital entirely. It's with you wherever you go, it's eco-friendly, and until it becomes wildly popular, it could very well come across as innovative to prospective clients. That being said...

We're major print enthusiasts (and by major, I mean obsessed). We've experienced firsthand what it's like to pass a copper-foil, 540gsm, handmade work of art to a client, and we can definitively say that it's a lasting first impression – almost as much of an impression as the term "540gsm" has on our brains (what does that even mean, amiright!?)

In our experience, good - nay, GREAT print is the key to success (or at least the success of your card, not necessarily your business – that ones on you!). For maximum impact it all comes down to minimal design, clear type, great paper choice, and a dedicated printer. These are the ingredients of a gorgeous business card.

Check out some of our fave business cards that we've designed at the bottom of this page.

Here's how we approach business card design + printing to get a slick outcome every time.

1. Get clear on your print budget and how much time you have.

We usually ask our clients what range they are comfortable spending and how many sets of business cards they need. If they need three sets, we'd typically give them ranges like:

$250-$500+ per 100 cards

With this kind of budget, the sky is pretty much the limit. We once printed a VERY sexy batch of cards for about $600 per set (your math is correct- that's $6 a card), and we can attest that they were show-stoppingly stunning.

$150-$200 per 100 cards

This budget is a bit too low for our speciality printers, so we know we're likely going with something like Moo or one of our fabulous local print partners like Mountain View.

$150 or below for a set of 100

This isn't unworkable. We typically recommend choosing a nice white cardstock, your primary brand colour for text, and keeping things clean + legible. And in THIS economy, knowing that a relatively affordable option is still out there makes our little wallets sing.

Timeline-wise, if you're getting a high-end card, it's safe to budget 3 - 4 weeks minimum after you deliver your design files to the printer. If you're letter pressing anything, they'll have to get a custom plate made, which takes time. They may also have to order in your chosen paper, which takes time. Then they have to make the thing, which👏takes👏 time. So remember: all good things come to those who wait, and a sexy business card is definitely worth it.

2. Pick what kind of special finishes you're after.

It seems counter-intuitive to pick whether you'll use foil, spot gloss, embossing, or edging before you start designing, but not every printer does all of the above. Depending on the brand, we'll usually have a sense of whether or not we're going for boujee and polished (think rose gold foil on an evergreen paper stock) or bold and fun (think BIG type with neon pantones on a high-contrast paper), or subtle and renowned (think letterpressed ink on a perfectly creamy thick cardstock with flicks of natural linen). Once we know what type of special finish we want to explore, we reach out to one of our favorite printers, check with them to ensure they can do it, and finalize the design.

Edged | Carbure (by Carbure)
Foil example | Le Mise (by DIA Studio https://www.behance.net/gallery/35335621/Le-Mise)
Blind debossed | Poble (by Poble) printed by Granja Grafica
Holographic Foil | Sage (by Dot Studio https://dotstudio.xyz/)
Letterpress| by Lilly Friedeberg  https://www.behance.net/lilly_friedeberg
Neon | Miki W (by Miki W) https://www.behance.net/gallery/95359537/mikiw)
Spot Gloss | Un.titled
Blind debossed | Poble (by Poble) printed by Granja Grafica

3. It's time for design, but keep it simple. REAL simple.

We don't overdo it with design elements. Throwing in every pattern you have, every logo, a picture, and a QR code? That's the recipe for a cheaper-by-the-dozen-looking card, and although that is an excellent movie, we're going for elevated. We're going for WOW. Less is more. Make the focal point your logo and your name.

4. Ask your printer how they need the files prepped.

Depending on your finishes and your printer, they'll likely need your design prepped in a certain way. That can mean duplicating a layer, removing the background, and turning the text magenta (usually a signifier of what's being foiled or spot-glossed), so if you're not familiar with how to do that, it's best to have your designer do this for you.

5. Get a digital proof, and take a very close look before you hit the green button.

It's happened. We've seen it all: a wrong phone number, a misspelt URL, or a botched logo placement. We triple-check all of our proofs with fresh eyes for optimal quality. We also have all of our print work sent to our office before the client sees it - we want to ensure everything has been printed correctly before they touch our client's hands.

5. Ask your printer ALL the questions.

We've been fortunate to form some great relationships with our printers, so if there's something we don't know or need their advice on, we call them up or head to their shop for a meeting. Printers are typically very willing to show you what they can do and what their capabilities are, especially if those capabilities are juggling (I kid...kind of...)

Our favourite printers for different types of cards:


*Random thoughts*

What about cool shapes? Circles, clouds, pineapples?

Listen - you do you, but as designers, there's something about wacky shapes that feel a bit off to us. Sure, there are some neat options, but we always ask the question, "does it have longevity?" and the answer is usually, no. In our opinion, the good ol' rectangle is truly your best bet. And let's be honest, whoever got mad at a rectangle? Not us, that's who.

I want to put a picture on the card. Thoughts?

It'll look cheap. We promise you.

Triple thick cards—yay or nay?

They can be pretty nice-feeling, but at a certain point, uber-thick cards become impractical. If you can only fit three cards in your business card holder, it's probably too thick.


What other questions do you have? We'll answer any lingering q's over on our Instagram stories next week.

In the meantime, peep some of our favourite prints we've worked on: