Archive for October, 2010

Troy Woods, owner of Clark Bailey Photography, a consummate professional photographer who works out of Washington D.C., called me up not too long ago looking for some new business cards. It didn’t take long for me to figure out this was a man with strong ideas and a bold approach to his business. Working with Troy was a pleasure and the cards that came out of our conversations are so beautiful they hurt your eyes.

We foil stamped the cards on super-thick, black, 4-ply Museum Mount in gold, with a just a gloss black foil for the word “PHOTOGRAPHY” (a subtle but powerful black-on-black effect) on the fronts; the backs are all in gold foil. There is not a single thing shy about these cards, but they are totally understated and distinguished.

Here are Troy’s own words about our process to get to the result he sought:

Instead of being typical and waiting until the new year, over the last couple of months or so I have been slowly rolling out the re-brand of Clark Bailey. I put a lot of thought into what I wanted to do for the re-brand, answering the questions: What does Clark Bailey stand for? What does Clark Bailey Photography at it’s core represent? I discovered three core principles to which I always strive to take my photography.

  1. Boldness
  2. Strength
  3. Luxury

I didn’t want to complicate things with crazy designs or a lot of bells and whistles. I started changing my online presence to include my blog and website first. And then I moved to my business card. There are SO MANY options available for business cards today and they range from cheap to expensive. Most people order business cards because “It’s the right thing to do in business”. The most dangerous thing I believe you can do is not to put any thought into the card or design. A client or prospective client typically receives your business card one of two ways, after a conversation with you or from someone else as a referral. That is why, for me, it is vitally important to make sure my card represents myself and my company to the best of its ability.

Over the years, I have had my share of business card designs. I received many compliments and comments on my last set of business cards but my brand has changed and I needed something else with more impact. Well what was I going to do this time to top what I did the last time? I finally decided to take a second look at letterpress. At this stage in my business, letterpress really embodies and represents several things that I feel are important to communicate to my clients or potential clients.

My clients typically have had some experience or at least knowledge of letterpress and understand that it cost more than a standard or traditional business card but however it is a great investment. That’s the exact message that I want to carry over to my photography. With that in mind, I made the decision to contact Zida over at Studio-Z Mendocino in California to help me bring my vision together for my new business card. We talked back and forth via email and phone, sent mockups back and forth and finally settled on something that I felt was perfect. Below are a few photos of what she put together for me and like I said, I couldn’t be happier. I recently handed someone my new card and he said “With a card like this, I know your photography is incredible”. Mission Accomplished!

Zida, thanks for making this happen! I really appreciate how easy you were to work with and how you created exactly what I wanted! I can’t wait until phase 2:-)

Me, too, Troy. I think these business cards speak volumes about your way of being a photographer. I love what you say on your web site about photography not being something you do but an extension of who you are. This artistry shows up in every shot you take. You can see Troy’s work on his site and blog.

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Oh, sorry about the length of the title on this post. I couldn’t stop.

Louis Bohannan and Alan Ahtow are my dear friends who recently took a media class through Fort Bragg’s local television station, MCTV, to add yet another layer to their already incredible skill sets, and gear up for additional services they offer through their marketing-hospitality consulting-graphic design firm, ImageMendocino.

Louis produced the video and Alan was the host. I am really impressed with the results of this first project. Not just because it’s about me me me, either. These guys are great at whatever they take on and I am very grateful they chose me as the topic of their first go-round with this new art form they have chosen.

Click the button below to see the video interview, which has a link on my home page.

Or you can also see it here on YouTube.


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I used the term Less-Is-More to describe the design of Laura Gordon’s scrumptious new letterpress business cards. By that reference, of course, I mean they are impactfully minimalist, pared down to the essentials, yet packing so much substance onto a two-and-a-half-inch surface that it just bowls you over. Less is more, indeed. Then, I thought it would be interesting to track down the etymology of that phrase and came to this:


The notion that simplicity and clarity lead to good design.


This is a 19th century proverbial phrase. It is first found in print in Andrea del Sarto, 1855, a poem by Robert Browning:

Who strive – you don’t know how the others strive
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
(I know his name, no matter) – so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.

The phrase is often associated with the architect and furniture designer Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969), one of the founders of modern architecture and a proponent of simplicity of style.

When applied to letterpress, the mandate of “simplicity and clarity” goes without saying. The letterpress aesthetic expresses this as a matter of course; the technique itself demands it. Sometimes, though, I am so thoroughly struck that it shakes me up, as in the case of Laura’s amazing letterpress business cards.

Nothing could be simpler than a name foiled onto a square, thick surface in gold metallic: To the point, no?

The contact information beautifully typeset on the back: Clarity. Simplicity. Beauty, too.

But it is more than that. It is the totality of the form of it, the luxurious feel of the super-thick 600 gsm Cranes Lettra paper (environmentally friendly 100% rag paper made from recycled scraps from clothing manufacturers), the way the gold foil and black ink interplay on the page, the typography and the type form itself, impressed into the sheet in moderation, not smashed in with all the might of the Heidelberg press that did it. Nothing overdone, nothing excessive. Yet everything is in proportion, everything tells more than the sum of parts. Even with the distinguished, conservative design, there is this little edginess implied that also reflects Laura’s work, some of which you can see in these gorgeously shot photos, and more of which you can see on her Facebook page. Go see!!

What i am trying to say is that THIS is the essence of what you want in a business card. It says more than it says. It means more than it means. It looks like the simplest thing in the world, and then you realize that it makes you FEEL something. There is something thrilling about it, strong. It’s white space. It’s the Golden Mean. It’s timeless fashion, not fickle trend; eternal proportion, not fad; edginess that comes across classy rather than trying-too-hard. Air is where the soul lives, in jazz and blues and all music, and in graphic design as well. All that white space is the air and these are soulful, simply.

Edginess (pun intended).

Here are architect Dieter Rams’ ten principles to “good design”

Good design is innovative
Good design makes a product useful
Good design is aesthetic
Good design helps us to understand a product
Good design is unobtrusive
Good design is honest
Good design is long-lasting
Good design is consequent to the last detail
Good design is concerned with the environment
Good design is as little design as possible

At Studio Z Mendocino, when we do business cards or invitations or web sites or stationery for a client, I think of the process as a conversation. It is a back and forth that determines how things will turn out and it is a big relationship that develops as we go along. Thank you, Laura, for having this beautiful conversation with me that led to such a stunning result. I love your work and I loved working with you. Next up: Laura’s thank you notes!

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Our friends, India and Luke, had their east coast friend, graphic maven Su Barber, design their wedding invitations, which we printed on the venerable letterpresses at our shop here in Fort Bragg, California. The bi-coastal effort resulted in this invitation that we all love. We flew out east and, after stopping in NYC for a couple of days and seeing the musical South Pacific, at Lincoln Center, drove up into New England to join friends and family for the sweet, joyful mid-summer event.

We loved the warm yellow, mandala-like flower they used for the front panel, which matched, among other details, the dresses India hand dyed with turmeric for all the flower girls. Stately typography in black ink got everyone to the backyard on time.

It was a warm, sunny pre-fall day and the garden setting could not have been more inviting. Welcoming, gorgeous people, a wonderful ceremony,  perfect, bright-tasting food, and the most hilarious toasts we ever heard at a wedding, or anywhere else for that matter, preceded dancing in the barn.

They say many hands make light work, which is not necessarily always true, but in this case, many hands certainly made loving work for dear friends on their unforgettable day.

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