Introduction: Decoder Business Card - QR Coded Secret Message

About: Bilal Ghalib is interested in doing things that surprise him and inspire others. Let's create a future we want to live in together.

Having a good business card can help you maintain contacts, promote yourself and your business, and make friends. By creating a personal business card that involves the recipient actively translating your card will make him more likely to remember you and share your card.  

Remembering the decoder rings and my fascination with secret messages I thought I could make an interesting business card that could not only tell a story, but give useful information on how to contact me. I did this first using just a block out grid stencil, and secondly with a QR code acting as the grid. 

Here's a video demo:

Step 1: Write Out the Story

This is the fun part. You can be creative here and write a fun story or any sort of document. A bit of spam perhaps, or something that describes your work. That is one of the more interesting things you can do with a decoder business card. Rather than worry about cramming all your contact info along with something that describes what you do. You can add both!

Make sure to include all the characters you want decoded.  I started with a "B" because I wanted the first part of my name to show up on the upper left. 

Step 2: Edit the Stencil With a Vector Graphic Program

Using Adobe Illustrator or inkscape run through the following steps:
  1. Create a business card sized rectangle over your story.
  2. Put the transparency down to 50%
  3. Draw the white rectangles that highlight the text you want to show up.
  4. With the pathfinder tool find the exclusion.
You have now created the stencil! Cut it out or follow the next step to create a sun decoder card.

Step 3: Print the Stencil

You can either print both the decoder image and the text separately. Or by flipping the image and printing it upside down attached to the text (see image two) you create a card that you can read by flipping it inside out and looking through it at a light source. 

Step 4: QR Code Version

To do this with a QR code as a stencil you first need to create a QR code. By making the QR code translate to the text you want encoded on the front you create an interesting situation where the person decoding your card can either decode it digitally or by using the structure of the QR code also decode the SAME message by hand. Use this generator to create your code:

Once you have your QR code you now have the image you will also use as a decoder stencil. 

Step 5: Create the Text to Decode

Yay! More creative writing! This time you use the QR code under 50% transparency and write your text so that all the text you want decoded appears under the white part of the QR code. Flip the image again and place it under the text to use as a folding decoder and you're done with your second decoder business card! Let's pass them out and use them!

Step 6: Give It Out to People:

Business cards serve many purposes. Having a IQ testing business card may make you stand out from the stack of cards in someone's drawer. Here's some images of the cards being used.