Albert Hwang

Re: My Business Card


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Credit, Amber Case:

Okay, so my business card blew up on the internet last night.  It climbed all the way to number 1 on Reddit, in fact!  Here’s what I have to say in my defense to common critiques.

1) “Information Artist” is obnoxious and pretentious.

The first thing to clear up is that this is not a term like “code ninja” or “person who is actually just a front end dev who thinks he’s an artist.” I hate those people as much as you do. No, I probably hate them more.

This card is for my art career. This doesn’t mean the card is NOT obnoxious (art careers themselves are, by my definition, obnoxious), but it helps explain what’s going on here.

I do a lot of art work. I have a residency at an art and technology center. I exhibit my work around the world (*in fact, I’m exhibiting in NYC in a couple weeks!).   I give talks at conferences.  This is a serious title I give myself.

I will say that I have a difficult time pinning down exactly what it is I do, and “3d Information Artist” is the clearest way I’ve figured out how to do it. This is something I’m still working on.

As this card is for my new media art life, I need to cast a wide net. The tech art world is peppered with people who have never plugged in their own computer to people who code in assembly. While this is green-on-white console design makes me squeal with glee (as this redditor kindly mocked up below), I am not my intended audience. Museum curators, social media folk, internet art people… these are who I want to make a good impression on.

2) Well I’d never hire this guy!

I don’t give this card out to people who are looking for employees. I give it to people who have connections to arts foundations and organizations. If someone gave me this card and wanted to build my website, I’d also not hire this guy.

3) Saving XML as .txt file will make your computer blow up.

Okay, but seriously, yes, I agree with the overall cringy-ness of that idea. XML should be stored in an .xml file. This business card is old, and the newest prints of my card do have the proper extension.

4) “I use Vim!” “I use Emacs!”

Well, apparently even Notepad isn’t immune to this rage.

But seriously, who edits XML in Notepad?  Who still hangs around in Windows XP?

I chose XP Notepad for this card because I feel that its chrome is the most iconic digital imagery available. It is the least likely imagery that you will see IRL.

If you’re wondering, in practice I use Textmate and E Text Editor.  Also, I rock Windows 7 and OSX.

5) Notepad doesn’t have syntax highlighting!

Yep, I cheated. Deliberate choice. I mocked up a few cards that were all black and there was way too much visual clutter.  I was more concerned with connoting information than I was about the degree of accuracy of medium.

6) Whoa leading and trailing whitespace! Are you trying to tell me that your name is “        Albert Hwang      ”?

: |

Fair enough. I will be honest that I didn’t realize this until someone put it on Reddit. Not sure how to resolve this…

7) XML? Why not Json / YML?

I was considering making a shit ton of different designs and letting people choose when I gave them out. Including Mac and Vista and …. and then I got bored with that idea and gave up.

This is XML because it is the strongest and clearest visual imagery. JSON is too cluttery for those who don’t know code, and YML too neat.

8) This is Photoshopped — no print shop would be able to make those cuts.

I did these cards myself.  This is why the edging is so exact.  The card in this photo more so than many, actually.

I did find a local print shop whose technicians I’m sure hate this “Albert Hwang” guy.  The cards are no longer as exact as they used to be, but this is worth my time and money.

And now to stop focusing on all the negative feedback:

Thanks internet for making my day!  My friend Amber Case who took this photo (and I believe who is the owner of the mysterious thumb in the photo) tells me the photo got 600k+ 700k+ views!  Crazy!  If you want one, sign up for my mailing list.  I send out announcements on that thing whenever I travel or exhibit.  If we meet in person, ask for a card!

And lastly, my absolute favorite comment in the whole Reddit thread is a description of what an information artist is, by Redditor MindBleach:

Someone clever enough to come up with this idea, but not thorough enough to ensure it makes sense. (permalink)

It is spooky how accurately this sentence describes my life these days.

Update: Source File, if’n you want to make your own.

18 Responses to this post
  1. Posted December 5, 2011 by Christian Reed

    Amber sent this out this morning, and it made me smile.

    It’s a business card. In my mind, that’s good enough. =)

  2. Posted December 5, 2011 by Levi Munhoz

    Thumbs up if 9gag brought….

    Shit, no thumbs up :(

  3. Posted December 5, 2011 by len

    Notepad? No. Notepad++? Everyday.

    Your best defense: smarter people use simpler tools because they can.

  4. Posted December 6, 2011 by Ian Graham

    I think the card idea was great – simple, funny, clear, and clever.

    I wish I’d thought of it first :)

  5. Posted December 6, 2011 by Diego Maranan

    600K? Nice!

  6. Posted December 7, 2011 by Jon

    What? Why not hire you?
    Seriously. I, personally, think that a creative business card is an important factor to judge the competence of an employee, and not because it is cool, but creative people are more efficient on jobs like yours.

    Congratulations bud, you are epic! :D

  7. Posted December 14, 2011 by Kofi

    textpad would explain points #4, #5, #6… msft will probably sue you maybe you should use textpad.

    Its cool though, the imperfection is what made it noticeable in the first place. Good Luck, Dude!

  8. Posted December 19, 2011 by Dick Kusleika

    Re #6: Don’t resolve it. The whitespace makes the information far more readable and doesn’t sacrifice the cleverness. If you leave that whitespace in there, nobody will every hire you as a programmer or database administrator. So there’s two good things about it.

  9. Posted December 20, 2011 by Jakav

    Neat little idea, trust the web zombies to over analyse

  10. Posted December 26, 2011 by Don Ho

    Someone shared your awesome business card picture on Google+, and I just tracked from redditor and found your blog.

    A news about how to make a business card by using Notepad++ (which was inspired by the picture of your business card) was posted on Notepad++ site yesterday (the 25th December):

    I hope you are OK with that (since the original idea came from you). If not, please let me know, I’ll remove the news from the site.

    Congratulation for this brilliant idea!

  11. Posted December 26, 2011 by danilo di moia

    Very nice idea :)

  12. Posted December 27, 2011 by Doug

    (Followed Don Ho’s link at Notepad++ here.)

    Great card, and congrats on responding to your critics with humor and grace!

  13. Posted January 5, 2012 by Leif

    Cool idea, I like it. I like the console one too. I understand the need for whitespace. As this is a business card, it’s obviously meant for humans to read, not computers, therefore there is no concern that it may be syntactically flawed. If a computer reads this and it can’t understand that concept, the programmers have failed in their design, not you. I’m sure the trolls’ comments represent the vast minority of people.

    P.S. I also came here from NotePad++ site, where I went to download a new version today. :D

  14. Posted January 5, 2012 by Jeremy

    Also coming over from the NotePad++ site.

    This is creative and visually striking, but still clear and concise. Totally nailed it.

  15. Posted January 7, 2012 by aas4mis


    P.S. Me too!! :)

  16. Posted February 2, 2012 by kazrob

    You are very creative and original. The world needs more people like you with a spark of creativity and insanity. Insanity is not a bad thing….the more of it you are the more creative you are. Your card made my day and encouraged me to follow my trailing thoughts.

  17. Posted February 2, 2012 by kazrob

    By the way you could consider joining You have what it takes.

  18. Posted February 11, 2014 by The Business of Cards | Ray Writes Code

    […] Hwang’s Vim and Windows Notepad themed […]

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