The Iconography of Business Cards

Posted on 4 April 2010 at 1:16 pm in Photography.

Since I’ll be heading to the CARL conference pretty soon — a great place to meet interesting library professionals and make new contacts — I thought it was a good time to get my own set of business cards. In the hopes that I’ll hand a few out, and a few of the recipients might find there way to this website, I thought I’d explain the images on the back of each card.

I used a printing service called Moo to make my cards, and one of the options they offer is to print a photograph on the reverse side (fantastic print quality, by the way — I’m very happy with the results).

I chose six different images, all taken by me.


The one in the upper left is a photo of the grand reading room of the New York Public Library, which was one of the first things I posted on this blog and the background image on my twitter feed.

The second image, upper right, is a little more personal to my family. In the late 1920s and early ’30s my grandfather was a marionetteer, and the image is a detail from the letterhead of his company, the Domino Marionettes. The surviving collection of his handcrafted wooden puppets — a mix of billy goats, characters from Greek myths, and Punch and Judy handpuppets — is one of our most treasured family possessions.

The third and fourth photos were both taken in the printing press room of UC-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. I find the iconography of print — both in its historical context and the newer, digital iterations — fascinating, so I took a few photos during a Lissten-sponsored tour and chose to use these two on my cards. One is the stack of type trays, the other is a page laid out ready for printing.

The fifth photo, on the lower left, is the first image I used in the ongoing Diptych project. It’s actually a photograph of the penguin tank at my erstwhile place of employment, the California Academy of Sciences. Obviously, there are no penguins in the photograph — it’s just an abstract image meant to capture the concept of “water”. The sixth photo, on the lower right, is a spinning sand table at San Francisco’s Exploratorium (I recommend going to their webpage and pressing the button. The one they tell you not to press).

Full size images — plus an uncropped version of my grandfather’s letterhead — are available on flickr.

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  1. Comment by Savi on April 4, 2010 at 2:39 pm.

    I wrote this same msg on Flickr — are all the chosen pix together on each bus. card? or do you have a potpourri mix, one image per card? And what pray tell does the flip side of the card look like? Inquiring minds want to know. Love, Aunt Savi

  2. Comment by Daniel Ransom on April 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm.

    One image per card. I think Moo lets you have as many as 25 diff’t images.

  3. Comment by Kellee on April 10, 2010 at 7:24 am.

    I love Moo! Those are some great images. :)

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