It's that time of the year when the perpetual act of political campaigning pushes into hyper-drive in advance of the fall elections, so that means Hotcards must again do its part in cheerleading the process. Like virtually any printing business, we're up to our ears in direct mail pieces and lawn signs this time of the year, and naturally we have our favorite mediums. In fact, we'll go out on a limb and state that we think direct mail pieces are the most sensible thing a candidate can employ. And employ often! That's our suggestion anyway.

Now, it does depend on how much attention is paid to creation of the thing. A slothfully-created, black and white piece of campaign literature isn't gonna sway anyone but the candidate's mother. But a well-put-together, four color piece which at least takes a stab at persuasion is more than likely to be a home run. It may be a two run homer when the opponent has an insurmountable lead, but that's not a failure of the direct mail piece. It ostensibly did its job.

Now, you might be thinking this isn't the slickest way to pursue young voters... but guess again! A 2011 study by TRU shows that 65 percent of Millennials (those born after 1985) say they prefer to read something on paper. Remember—there are more than 100 million Millennials in the U.S.! Besides that, how many times do people have to note how infrequently and erratically they vote anyway, before people cease casting their lots with them? You want people who vote en masse, you want old and middle-aged people, as well as Millennials. No medium serves as a guarantee that all intended targets of a piece of campaign literature will read it, but direct mail does rather well in this regard. There are lots of academic studies out there that show political direct mail works, and there are campaigns and organizations that run tests that show that political direct mail can have a statistically significant impact.

So really, you can go to all the Knights of Columbus Pancake Breakfasts you like and plaster your electoral district with billboards, but there's nothing as simple and persuasive as dropping a direct mail piece in the voters' mailboxes. Of course, it would probably be sensible to do all of the above. Your opponent probably will.


Political mailing 

Logos with a Stench of Ripoffery

It's a sad day indeed when individuals purloin the hard work of others and present it as their own work.Call it desperation, a lack of pride, or cases of shameless hackery on parade - but the net result is the same: Representing another's work as your own. For shame, I say. Why did you get into this line of work to begin with if not for the satisfaction of work well done? It kind of makes one's skin crawl a little, but now, without further ado, shameful logo rip-offings, courtesy of the logo rip off catchers at Logothief.com.

It was noble of the offending sushi bar designer to white out some details in the sushi bar design they ripped off. The logo is testimony to the lack of freshness in the place, however.

Sushi logo

 There's just no way in heck that two people pull this visual image out of the atmosphere. Sometimes great minds do think alike, but this ain't one of those times. Pure, shameless, ripoffery.

harrolds logo 

Maries. Aventino One in English. The other in Italian. You can say one good thing about the Maries logo: At least they purloined it from a disparate culture. You almost have to wonder who the habitue of both spots is who noticed this blatant rip off:

Maries logo


Hey, at least the purported rip off artist in this instance put the logo on an angle and added a star. So they tried to make it their own, even though anyone who glances at both logos know exactly what they did:

z logo 

This could be a case of great minds thinking alike, but it ain't very likely, plus, it's much more fun to point the finger at people for stealing. So, stealing. Stolen. Ripped off design. For shame:

car logo 

This image is so dreadful that it's a minor miracle that anyone bothered ripping it off. But they did, so take a bow schlocky coffee image thieves:


 And what to say about this one? Someone horked their turdblossoms! It's hard to deny the similarities here, though to these cynical eyes, the ripped off version seems like an improvement. And as a general matter, that's not what one usually looks for in judging rippoffery:

 rip off logo


They're Weird, But These T-shirts Actually Have a Point, Usually.

The world is positively swimming in people who see themselves as t-shirt designers/ illustrators. Ads for their puntastic-abominations are everywhere on the internet, and in most cases, the stuff is pretty much... well, you get it. One exception is a chap from Malaysia by the name of Chow Hon Lam aka Flying Mouse, who lets people have it with both barrels when he unleashes a t-shirt design. There's an element of absurdity as there pretty much always is with this stuff, but the concepts and illustrations go farther than the usual pun stuff. They're pretty funny!


 Tshirt 1


Tshirt 2


Tshirt 3


Tshirt 4


Tshirt 5 


 Tshirt 6


 Tshirt 7


 tshirt 8






A Traveling Retroprospectus of Poster-Like Objects

It's time once again to ooh and ahh at the lovely posters that designers hath made. Yes, the National Poster Retroprospectus is here. Well, maybe not where you are, but it is worming its way around the country. No word on just how many of the posters were fabricated simply to fish for such acclaim, but does that even matter? They've been made, and now they're being celebrated. In all, there will be 300 posters on display crafted by luminary artists and designers. (Who do you consider the most famous poster designer? Maybe Shepard Fairey?) Here are some of the posters that will be on display at the NPR.


 Poster 2


Poster 3


Poster 4


Poster 5


 Poster 6


Poster 6 







Will Phermone Infused Business Cards Get Me Dates?

AXE, the men's care line that has dutifully portrayed its users in commercials as being relentlessly pursued by scads of hot women, has taken a subtle and interesting turn by passing out pheromone business cards to its employees. It certainly seems like a lunatic concept, but AXE is betting on their employees being somewhat irresistible. One can only hope, I suppose. For real business cards that rely on one's charm to be irresistible to the lady folk, there's a nice batch of them ready and waiting for you here at Hotcards. These work for women, too. No guarantees that members of the opposite sex will be tearing off your clothing comes with the order, though. You'll have to rely on your own charms for that :)

 Axe Business Cards 1

 Axe Business Cards 2

Buffoonish Design Mistakes.

I've gotta be honest, nowhere that I've ever worked would be capable of putting out something this immensely ridiculous. The people are too smart. Too many people eyeball everything before it makes it out the door. And again, people are too smart. But Luckily, the world is populated by people who care so little about their work - that their work makes great fodder for my blog posts! So there's plenty of work out there to laugh at.

Pepsi doesn't seem like a company floating in incompetence, but someone had to be sniffing glue when they ok'd this layout. Can't say that people being taken aback by the gratuitous word "rape" necessarily surprises me, even if it is technically an "a".

Pepsi Ad 

What's actually missing in this ad? Well, the art directors IQ for one thing.


The family that hangs together, dies together. Reassuring imagery at a place that's devoted to healing people.

Hang together 

Pepsi again. This time revealing a hatred for punctuation. Tasteless sugar, that's a new one.

Pepsi ad 2 

This one pretty much makes the only argument you'd ever need for keeping art directors away from the crack pipe. I suppose that there's an attempt at a semi-joke in there, but really, the jokes on whoever designed this. Who says that Millenials are illiterate?

Wander Ad 

And really, this is a word salad that would be at home in an Arby's.You can only hope that someone got fired for this monstrosity.

Xbox ad 

This one's kind of luck. Who knew that the distortive effects on the words would be so unfortunate?

suit yourself ad 

Someone with eyes could have helped here though.

Birdy two mouths 

Poor fools probably had to put a word on the can, lest anyone mistake it for a beer. College administrators are really sillyheads enough to overlook this.


Poolife. Get it? Pool Life? Talk about being too danged clever by half!


Funny Greeting Cards

I'll admit right off the bat that I didn't get the humor in all of these, but I'll assume that's a function of my abysmal and rapidly degrading cultural literacy. I'm concerned for the current generation of young adults (which I could be classified under), as I think that social media and smart phones have degraded their brain stems. But anyway, back to the topic, which is the often very funny and always attempting to be so "Dear Blank" greeting cards created by Lisa Krowinski. She works for a letterpress print shop in Pittsburgh that specializes in stationary, invitations, announcements - all letterpress. Her designs are driven by typography and are generally intended to be humorous, which they are, more often than not. Enjoy! (oh, and by the way, you can print your own greeting cards at Hotcards!)

















Myths About Green Printing

1. Green printing is a lot more expensive. It has been more expensive to print green in the past, but this isn't necessarily the case any longer. Prices for green printing have been continually going down, and have become somewhat competitive with means of traditional printing.

2. Recycled paper results in lower quality. Another myth that may have been true years ago but isn't the case anymore. These days, a high-quality recycled paper is virtually indistinguishable from paper fresh out of the mill. And customers are always noting this, so it's not like I'm blowing smoke here. But don't take our word for this, ask us for some recycled paper samples!

3. All recycled papers are the same. The fact of the matter is that recycled paper can be composed of varying degrees of post consumer waste content. Post-consumer waste is what most of us would consider to be "recycled," as it denotes paper that has been disposed of in a recycling bin. But, such is not always the case with the paper used in recycled paper.

4. Going green means not printing at all. Sure, there are instances when not printing is the wiser choice. Most people would rather have their primary photo album on their computer, for instance (although, photo books, photo mugs and photo greeting cards are da bomb!). But there are also times when printed material is very necessary. For instance, a business card seems a mandatory implement for people with jobs. And you're not likely to show up at a trade show without a full complement of banners and brochures, either. On occasions like this, green printing seems like a no-brainer proposition.

5. Green printers are all the same. Hmm… would you say that there's a difference between a printer who only pulls out recycled paper upon request and one who uses it as their house stock? How about one whose green printing practices have been verified by third party audits as opposed to one that hasn't? Those are some of the ways that green printers can be considerably different. Not all are fully walking the walk, so to speak. We are certified at Hotcards and all of our house stocks contain post-consumer waste. It's just good business to be green!

3D printing: A Beast Upsetting the Apple Cart?

Every time I think I have a handle on 3D printing and its potential to change the world, something comes along to suggest that I have no clue. In general, the big movers in the 3D printing space have employed a razor and blade business model whereby they offer the razor at a significant discount while offering the blades - in this case, printing materials - at a significant price hike.

But one company, 3COR, a 3D printing company in Ireland, is turning things on their head by printing with the kind of paper that's readily available in any office and most homes. So there's no effort to lock users into buying proprietary materials at a considerable markup through the printer's life. It's kind of like giving away razor blades to go along with your razor. But, of course, it seems more reasonable to discuss a company which prints with paper on a traditional printing blog. So there's that.

Anyway, what 3COR's technology does is employ selective deposition leveling, or SDL. which involves a water-based adhesive and a tungsten carbide blade to precisely adhere and cut paper one sheet at a time to create a three-dimensional object after multiple repetitions. They make both full cold and black and white printers which both use A4 paper, and they boast an operating cost that's at least 1/5th of the industry average. Their technology is only intended for prototyping and modeling applications for professionals seeking quick and affordable high quality prints. And it strikes this writer as a kind of techno Plaster of Paris. But anyway, while it isn't as versatile as other competitors platforms, there are significant cost savings.

But while 3COR's total potential market size may be more limited than other competitors, every product out there begins at the prototype or model stage. So a company like 3COR is positioned well to take advantage of this space. You're not going to print parts for a spacecraft or a jet airplane with it, but that's not exactly the sweet spot in the consumer business anyway. So 3COR may very well be able to carve out a significant chunk of the 3D printing business for itself. 3D Printing using run of the mill paper. Whodathunkit?

3D Printed Head 

Corporate Logo Changes For 2014, Part 2

We really left the most exciting changes for last. Just kidding.

University of Illinois. The fighting Illini. A program which shows its face in the Rose Bowl every 50 years or so, has eliminated its own state from its logo and gone for a classic block "I". Not exactly original in the world of college athletics, but it does look classier. And who knows? Perhaps a winning season is in the offing.

 Illinois Logo

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have themselves a sporty new logo. Well, not new exactly so much as a new illustration. But it's pretty dang good. Greg Schiano may have gotten the old heave-ho, but the 'eers are heading into the future with a snazzy and simplified logo.

 Tampa Bay Logo

Reebok had kind of a dumb-looking logo to begin with, so the fact they've modernized and simplified things a bit would normally be an improvement. But the fact that a shoe and sportswear manufacturer's logo now looks like that of a generic tech company isn't going to fire many imaginations. And come to think of it, there are tech companies with more interesting, more imaginative logos.

Reebok Logo 

Next up, Fandango I'll have to admit that I've NEVER even heard of this company. Evidently they have something to do with movie tickets, so I'm basically admitting to being an insular dweeb. But still, never heard of it. But anyway, their old logo featured an "F" which kind of looked like a movie ticket. The new one doesn't, nor does it look like its trying too hard, either. Still not a terribly attractive logo, but it is an improvement.

 Fandango Logo

Oxford Dictionaries got themselves a logo overhaul. The former one was pretty generic type of the words, while the new one is a more modern typeface and additionally a symbol. Big improvement, really, though who even knew that something like a dictionary company needed a logo? I suppose that they do, but I can't imagine them going through the process of changing it.

Oxford Logo 

Morton Salt has an updated logo. In fact, you could say that the changes are so minuscule that you almost have to wonder why they bothered at all. I mean, really, looking at the two of them at the same time its like there's barely any difference. The "R" in Morton's is now curved anyway.

Morton Salt Logo 

Visa now simply spells out its name, whereas previously it spelled out its name and had a gold flourish on the "v." Hopefully they didn't pay a corporate identity firm a six-figure sum to come up with this dinky, inconsequential change. I mean, really, its hard to imagine what symbolic importance the flourish had, so I'm not gonna think less of them for losing it. In fact, I can honestly say that I never even noticed it.

Visa Logo 

And, finally, Netflix has got a new logo. I like it. Its basically the name, as it was before, but now it's very simple and doesn't give off a corporation vibe. Seeing as it is an actual corporation, my statement doesn't make whole lot of sense, I grant you, but the internet is a humungous place, and you're free to find a place to post different opinions.

Netflix Logo