3 Thoughts on Putting Myself in a Box

A couple of days ago, I found out I had won a ticket to the STORY Conference thanks to Jeff Goins over at his wonderful blogSTORY 2011 is a two day experience for creatives–artists, filmmakers, writers, designers, musicians, etc.  I am SO excited to meet and network with fellow creatives, and to learn from some folks who have really “made it” in their field.

The only catch to winning the free ticket was that it was such short notice.  I got my ticket on Sunday, and the conference is tomorrow and Friday.  I looked at the business cards I had received as a college graduation gift two years ago and quickly realized they were not going to do for the type of event I was going to.  I had to come up with a new design, and find a place that would print them fast!

The latter problem was hard enough, but not impossible to solve–I ended up finding a place online that could do next day printing and delivery without costing me both my arms and legs–just one of each.  It was the design that had me quite baffled.

The whole point of personal branding (which is what I was doing by coming up with new business card designs) is essentially to stereotype yourself–to be able to put yourself in a nice little package to present to others.  Usually they list the company you work for and your position within said company, but what if you don’t have a job (ahem)?  And how do I successfully package myself when my blog topic preaches the opposite–that people can’t be defined or identified by vocation alone?

I did three different things to consider my design strategy:

  1. I included social media links to make it easy to connect online.  Many people found out about this conference through Twitter or Facebook, so having ways to connect with me through social media was key.  I included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and of course, this blog link.
  2. I utilized both sides of the business card and included key phrases to describe myself.  The back of the card has all of my social media links.  The front of the card has my name, e-mail address, and basic descriptors, so that the person I’m handing the card to has the basic gist of what I’m about.  In line with my blog entry A Living vs. A Life, I described myself with things I am literally doing as opposed to identity-limiting words (e.g. “blogging” as opposed to “blogger” – I’m more than just a blogger, but blogging is part of what I do).
  3. I used artwork that said something about me.  I incorporated a tree I drew by hand and then traced on Adobe Illustrator.  It’s a nod to my Twitter bio – “My hands are bloody from digging.  I lift them, hold them open in the wind so they can branch like a tree.” –Rainer Maria Rilke – which is something I resonate with as a poet and as someone at this unknown stage in my life.  Additionally, I’m marketing myself as an artist, so including some art I’ve done was kind of a no-brainer.  I also just dig trees.  I think they’re a great metaphor for life.  I collect them.  They’re awesome.

So, all that being said, I am NOT a graphic designer or a personal branding expert by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s what I came up with:

Business Card

I just got them in the mail, and I’m pretty happy with the result.  I am constantly evolving into the person I want to be, but for this snapshot moment in my life, this looks pretty good to me.

If you see me at STORY, I’d love to give you one, and get one of yours!  And if you’re reading this blog entry because of my card–yippee!  It worked!

What do your business cards or personal branding strategies say about you?

Designer friends–What could I do differently the next time around?

Who am I going to see at STORY tomorrow?  Are you as stoked as I am?!

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10 thoughts on “3 Thoughts on Putting Myself in a Box

  1. Wow! The cards are awesome – which seems totally appropriate, since they describe and “brand” you (at least at this moment in time!) How generous that @JeffGoins made it possible for you to attend #story11 – that’s a fabulous gift. Enjoy!

  2. These are awesome Al! I miss you lots and am so glad to hear that things are really starting to come together 🙂 we need another catch up time! There is lots to share…

  3. Hello! Our mutual friend, Alicia, recommended I check out your blog and I am so glad she did. This post is wonderful! As someone about to embark on a similar transition (leaving a graduate program to move to a place and job yet to be dreamed up) I often have to talk myself down from bring too stressed by remembering that My work is not my life. That I work to live, not live to work. And, while I hope my work aligns with my values and vision for a better community, I should not define myself by what I get paid to do. Because really, isn’t it the things we do for free that show who we are? That’s the integrity piece.

    I also love your tree! I often think about trees and how the represent three stages of who we are as individuals. The roots are our values and beliefs, they ground our decisions. The trunk is what we do everyday. It is action, it is always moving around resources and growing stronger. And the branches/tree top is your impact on the community.

    I love you business cards. Can’t wait to read more.
    – Virginia

    • So many great thoughts here, Virginia! I especially like this line: “Isn’t it the things we do for free that show who we are?” Such an excellent thing to consider. Thanks so much for the comment!

  4. Nice job on the business cards. If you are ever in need of something like that, I happen to specialize in startups/freelancers/entrepreneur-type design. So if you ever need anything like that again, and don’t feel like doing it yourself, I’d love to give you a quote and see if it works for you.

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