I decided I needed business cards. Need is perhaps the wrong word. I wanted business cards. In this age of electronic communication, where emails can have branding and contact details in the signature, you don’t need business cards. Or so I’m told.

Usually by the same people who insist no one wants a printed newsletter. Let’s save paper, they say, produce an eZine and save the planet. Except people say one thing and do the opposite. Like the automated voice which says ‘your business is important to us’ whilst putting you on hold. It’s incongruent behaviour. Yes people may say they want an eZine. But they also want to read the eZine away from their desk, on the bus home, when they have time and anyway it’s easier to read than looking at a screen. So what do they do? Print it off, on one side only, on the high quality bleached pristine white printer paper using up a whole toner cartridge in the process. At home many of us separate our waste for recycling and visit the bottle bank. At work we print off eZines rather than admit we’d prefer a newsletter printed on environmentally responsible paper sourced from sustainable well-managed forests.

And besides people like printed material. It’s a primeval thing. Like fire. Though obviously best not to confuse the two. There’s still something about feeling paper stock, having something tangible in your hand.

This is why I’m constantly surprised by the crafty, arty types and their disappointing business cards. These are people who make their living by being creative. Yet go to any craft fayre, pop in to a picture framers, a jeweller, or a knitting shop and you’ll see the cards familiar to anyone who’s used one of the instant printing vending machines at the airport. The cards are insipid. You can see daylight through the paper. They are one big missed opportunity. Yes, your opus in silver and gold is a wonder to behold. But your business card says you spent ten seconds choosing the Arty Script font over Times New Roman as your flight was being called.

And there’s really no excuse. Not with people like Hugh McLeod of The Gaping Void. Apart from his manifesto on creativity ‘Ignore Everybody’ and his blogsite which gets 15,000 hits a day, he is primarily a cartoonist. And in his own words this is how he started off: “When I first lived in Manhattan I got into the habit of doodling on the back of business cards, just to give me something to do while sitting at the bar.” His cartoons are available via his website and would liven up even the dullest of business cards. Actuaries please note. I like to think of actuaries as the librarians of the financial services sector.

Deborah McCrorie designed my cards. When they were ready for collection I rushed down to the printers, an epic journey to an anonymous unit on an industrial park. I stood in the street clutching them to my bosom (it was raining, OK?), wild-eyed and staring, wondering what the etiquette was for offering my card to random strangers.  At this point you might expect a link to business card. But, no. It would be a disappointment. A travesty. An electronic version. You have to hold the card in your hand, turn it over a few times. Admire the design. Feel the quality.

I better end here before I go all Patrick Bateman on you. Anyone who’s read or seen American Psycho will be unable to forget the scene where characters compare business cards. Bateman panics when he realises a friend’s card is superior to his because it includes a watermark.

Something about that scene resonates with me…