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  • [Dogfight]: TaoBao Business Card Printers

    By Francine Yulo 25 June 2015 4313 views

    So, Dogfight is back. This time, we went on Taobao and ordered some bargain business cards. Spoiler alert: we're kind of impressed.

    Dealing with scalpers aside, nothing beats TaoBao when you're looking for a good deal. When we found out that a lot of companies offered printing services for next to nothing on there, we decided to try a few of them out. We weren't expecting much given the price points we were dealing with, but were pleasantly surprised regardless when we sliced open those heavily taped boxes. But before we get in touch with our inner Patrick Bateman and delve into the nitty-gritty of it all, a few caveats. One: the companies with really good deals and legit-looking product photos only transact in Mandarin, so best have a local buddy around to help you negotiate. Two: not all prices are inclusive of kuaidi fees, so expect to shell out a little extra for that. Three: a lot of vendors require a minimum order of 2 boxes, with each box containing about a hundred cards, a couple of vendors required even more. And four: not all of them will accept a custom design. And if they do, it's one design for one TaoBao deal--we'll get into how we learned this the hard way later, but mei banfa, what're you gonna do? On the bright side, a lot of these vendors are open to haggling negotiating. If you're looking to churn out a generic name card, a lot of printers will provide designs for you to choose from free of charge. For delivery, expect a general period of 5-7 days. Not working days. Days-days. Now, on to our haul.

    浙江尚彩印业 (Zhejiang Shang Caiyin Ye)

    That's the same card. From the same box. We kid you not. Price: 20rmb for 200 cards Delivery Fee: FREE This company was one of the cheapest we came across, but here's where we made a mistake: we sent them an .ai file with designs for two different cards which they counted as two different designs. We ended up paying 40 kuai, which, no big loss--except instead of giving us two different name cards in two different colors, they sent us two sets of cards with two people's names back-to-back. We're still wondering how that happened, but 200 misprinted cards aside, we came out of it knowing better. As for quality, the coated card stock is pretty decent save for a few flimsy stragglers here and there. But this is the first batch we got back. All in all, not too shabby. Overall Rating: 3/5 STARS

    出彩印务 (Chu Caiyin Wu)

    Price: 28.50rmb for 200 cards Delivery Fee: FREE This is another pretty simple one, and the card stock is also coated. No low-quality stragglers in this box, unlike with our first printer. It also came packaged, and it looks like the company's English name is Creative Kernel Design Speed. According to the box, it says they also do photo albums, playbills, packaging, copying, paper cups, and PVC cards. But why would we order those from them and put all of our proverbial eggs in one basket? Overall Rating: 4/5 STARS

    疯狂印刷无忧 (Fengkuang Yinshua Wuyou)

    Price: 35rmb for 100 cards Delivery Fee: FREE Now you know why we made that quip about PVC cards. While the cards are thin, they're flexible and won't bend or break under pressure after playing around with them for a while, also: waterproof. However, getting these are a bit tricky, and at any other printing shop will always set you back a bit more because these have to be screen-printed onto a super-smooth surface. One set of cards we ordered came out perfectly, another set came out with a minor smudge on the office telephone number. Not perfect, but otherwise usable. This company (who's name in English seems to be Design Origin, but whose literal translation is "crazy carefree printing") had the best offer on PVC cards, others we came across were charging up to almost 700 kuai or so per box. Ridiculous, no? Overall Rating: 4.5/5 STARS

    卡艺商盟 (Ka Yi Shang Meng)

    Price: 25rmb for 100 cards Delivery Fee: 12rmb This one is pretty nifty. The deal on their TaoBao store originally said 16rmb per box with a minimum order of five boxes, but what were we gonna do with 500 more cards? They were nice enough to negotiate with us and we're really happy with these. They use a really nice classic, sturdy cardboard, and they have a leather finish on their ink. It's not too obvious here, but I guess it looks a lot better when you get the cards embossed. And they do that, for another fee. If you want rounded edges on your card, you add 5rmb per box. They don't go for much in the way of packaging, but we will say this: it came bubble-wrapped inside its kuaidi bag. We highly recommend these guys. Overall Rating: 5/5 STARS

    尚流 (Shang Liu)

    Price: 39rmb for 100 cards Delivery Fee: 5rmb At first glance, this comes closest to our actual business card. While this is also a pretty good example of non-coated cardboard, it isn't very sturdy. It crumples up a lot easier than the last company's product, that's how we found out the card stock was significantly thinner. Compared to the other stuff we've had delivered, this feels overpriced. They came nicely packaged though in a matching box, but I guess that's where our money went. According to their TaoBao page, they can also emboss or do a coated card, or even a UV print as far as name cards are concerned. They also sell cases to go with your order, but they're pretty generic. Overall Rating: 3/5 STARS

    佳宣印务 (Jiaxuan Printing)

    Price: 33rmb for 100 cards Delivery Fee: 5rmb These guys did an okay job. We went for a UV-printed logo and now realize we maybe should have sprung for getting all the text UV-printed, for full effect. The original deal on their page said 48rmb per box, minimum order 2 boxes, but we got these for cheaper. Decent coated stock, but the UV overlay on our logo is inconsistent. On some cards it's spot-on, on others it's a little off to the right, left, top or bottom. Again, not perfect, but usable. Overall Rating: 4/5 STARS

    江苏新创名片 (Jiangsu Xin Chuang Mingpian)

    Price: 100rmb for 100 cards Delivery Fee: FREE Elsewhere online, we came across a manufacturer that could make you stainless steel name cards for that part of you that wants to pretend you're Bruce Wayne, but considering they only delivered in high volume at Bruce Wayne prices we found a cheaper version on TaoBao. While this was the priciest version in the bunch at 1rmb per card, it's also by far the sturdiest. We're not experts, but we think the cards live up to the printers' claim that they're made from an aluminum-magnesium alloy. The first few at the top of the box come in mylar pouches, but watch out: the rest of them are just stacked up in there. We speculate that with their fine-cut edges, these cards would make good self-defence tools in the event of an emergency, although we can't guarantee that. Cards are also available in gold, pearl white, and purple among others. Overall Rating: 5/5 STARS Photos by Rhiannon Florence

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  • Architecture, Event Previews, Photography, Tech

    [Out & About]: Events for Creatives This Week

    By Francine Yulo 23 June 2015 1292 views

    A lot going on this week: an architectural walk-through on the Bund, Creatives in the City, the Style-Jobs fair, Startup Grind, a tech forum and a photography conference.

    First up, tomorrow night: sign up for a Shanghai Flaneur stroll with Fanny Hoffmann-Loss for an insider's take on the ever changing architectural playground that is the Shanghai Skyline. If you're more inclined towards doing a little networking, head to The Apartment for Creative Collective's Creatives in the City meet-up featuring Christopher St. Cavish and the ladies behind BeGifted for a talk on collaborating on creative projects. Image Courtesy of Creative Collective On Thursday night hit up Green Drinks June Forum on the smart grid, a new class of tech improving energy efficiency on the grid for homes and offices. Image Courtesy of Green Initiatives Shanghai Those hunting for jobs in the fashion industry should definitely be checking out Style Jobs Shanghai, an event aimed at hooking brands up with new talent. They are pretty selective though, so head on over to the link to find out more and register if you think you've got the goods. Photo courtesy of Style-Vision Asia If you're handling a startup, or just looking for tips now to keep your company going, do check out Startup Grind Shanghai's latest event for insights on hiring and retaining top talent with Saatori, Inc. founder Mary Rezek and Management Success China's Michelle LaVallee. Image Courtesy of Startup Grind Shanghai On Saturday, feel free to drop by the Shanghai Photography Conference over in Red Town to scope out some new work or take in a workshop on basic photojournalism conducted by Sean Hanratty, Rolento Ong, Roland Fei, and Chris Page.

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  • Advertising, Architecture, Arts & Culture, Design, Tech

    [CH Picks]: Newsletters for Creatives

    By Francine Yulo 18 June 2015 1121 views

    In this week's edition of CH Picks, we've compiled a list of newsletters you should be subscribing to. If you aren't in the habit of already doing so, here's where to start.

    Quartz Daily

    For a daily update on what's going on in the world, this is an easy morning read. They also make sure it gets to you first thing. Here's how they break it down for you: What To Watch For Today lists the headlines, While You Were Sleeping lets you know what went on over on the other side of the planet, Quartz Obsession Interlude brings you a particularly interesting news item, and under Matters of Debate and Five Things Elsewhere That Made Us Smarter, you'll find even more. Register for that here.


    Vantage Magazine regularly features interviews with artists, writers and other cultural movers and shakers, and is the first bilingual Shanghai-based publication of its kind. It's only been around for five years, but so far they've been pretty on point covering arts, culture, design and the ever-present luxury market on the mainland and throughout greater China. Scroll to the very bottom of their site to subscribe to their newsletter.


    Labbrand is a consultancy firm that specializes in China brand innovation. For the uninitiated this means they do a lot of work adapting brand identities for the Chinese market. Their monthly newsletter has interesting articles about things like "Creating Chinese Names for Subcultures" alongside industry info like who's doing something new and tech's growing relationship with branding. Sign up here.

    China Luxury Advisors

    For more China-specific info on industry trends, CLA give you a pretty good rundown of what's going on. They specialise in consumer strategy, so this should be helpful for anyone working in comms. Their newsletter focuses more on bringing you insights on topics like China's import tax cuts, what Chinese tourists are up to abroad, and more. Subscribe at the site.

    Tech in Asia

    An absolute MUST, as creative industries rely more and more on tech, and as tech startups develop faster and faster. While it isn't China-specific, you can bet mainland companies feature heavily. They deliver Top Stories on Tech in Asia Today, Weekly Must-Reads about Tech in Asia, and they even send you the sporadic Tech Events in Asia in the next 2 Weeks (more for the regional traveller perhaps, but useful for everybody else nonetheless). Click the 'join now' button at the top right corner of their home page to subscribe.

    Flamingo Shanghai

    We're sure CH regulars will be familiar with Flamingo, whose monthly movie nights always serve up something interesting to get your gears shifting around. But as a market research firm, they also do a lot of cultural commentary. Recent articles of interest include, "Millions of Adult Chinese Have Learnt the Alphabet Wrong" and a piece on why James Joyce is so popular around these parts. They also write about big events in town, like the Consumer Electronics Show, Comic Con, and the Shanghai International Film Festival. Subscribe to that monthly newsletter here.


    While this newsletter looks no-frills, it's fairly content-heavy. They cover every conceivable industry, but we recommend the daily advertising, media and marketing news brief. Every day you get a Top story, a couple of creative insights, and a lot of agency insider news and info. If you feel like you've got the time to sift through more specific information, they also offer separate briefs on Marketing and Digital and Video advertising. Check that out here.


    This one is a little bit trickier to get a hold of, but it's a comprehensive media database. You have to request to sign up for their alerts, but you get a detailed, country-specific, bilingual rundown of who just joined which agency, who started writing for whom, and who just made their contact info public. If you know somebody who's already subscribed, they can add you to the alert list, but otherwise you'll have to give it a go yourself. Click the 'For PRs' tab on the homepage for all the necessary details.

    Web Designer News

    Web Designer News doesn't beat around the bush. While it doesn't get down into the nitty-gritty like her web design-focused newsletters, it serves up a healthy balance of useful information and fun bits of marginalia from around the web. It's thanks to Web Designer News that we found out about leaked emails between Jeb Bush and his graphic designer and came across an oddity tumblr that hosts a screen cap collection of source code in TV and Film. Have at it and subscribe at the site.


    For a comprehensive look at what's going on around the world in architecture and design, Bustler delivers a good sampling of news, events, and competitions (both calls for submissions and results). A sister site to Archinect, it also has a lot of user-generated content which works to your advantage. Their weekly newsletter keeps you abreast of any registration deadlines and any upcoming events in your area. While it isn't necessarily China-specific, it does keep track of regional events when other sites just plain ignore us. Subscribe here.

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  • Design, Education, Tech

    [Out & About]: Events for Creatives This Week

    By Francine Yulo 10 June 2015 1156 views

    CH highlights some events coming up that might interest you.

    Start the weekend early with a film at Haworth Organic Space for Green Drinks' monthly screening. This month they're showing Andrew Morgan's The True Cost, a documentary exploring the industrial, somewhat dirtier, side of the fashion industry by following a backwards trail to your fast fashion's origins. Details for that here. Image courtesy of Untold Creative, LLC On Friday, world-wide grassroots campaign Startup Weekend comes to town to teach you a thing or two about the basics. Startup Weekend has made the rounds in cities the world over. Image Courtesy of Women 2.0 Startup Weekend A fully-scheduled three-day program for businesses, developers, and designers culminates in a Sunday presentation open to the public. Tickets are pretty reasonable and claim to come with three square meals a day for event participants. Find out more here. Image Courtesy of Xin Che Jian If your tastes run a little more specific, hit up hackerspace Xin Che Jian in Jing'An for for their weekly 3-D Modeling & Design Meet-up, find the details to that here. Image courtesy of Creative Collective On Saturday, Creative Collective launches their monthly pop-up flea market Hidden Stash in Xuhui. Everybody's welcome to drop by, but if you're interested in flogging some wares you'd better register.

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  • Design, Fashion, Photography

    [CH Picks]: Shanghai Instagrams

    By CH Staff 09 June 2015 3050 views

    In this edition, CH brings you what some of our favorite Shanghai-based Instagrammers have to offer. Switch on your VPN and scroll away

    We know that in some hipper-than-thou circles chronic Instagram use signals the height of basic bitchiness, but we found that with the right tags, you can avoid having to scroll through all that food porn and faux-artsy-filtered fare, and it pays off with some pretty interesting stuff.


    Why she decided to affix an extra eight “n’s” to the end of her username, we’ll never know. For interesting everyday slice of life shots and peeks at lo-fi hand-made personal projects, follow now. Image courtesy of Duan


    For an architectural look at Shanghai’s sights, check out this 'fella. He takes a lot of long shots of his girlfriend but since we can barely see her face, we can’t verify that it’s the same girl or his girlfriend for that matter. But all joking aside, his 'grams really stood out for us. Image courtesy of Wu Mingshi


    When she isn’t running her taobao store, she’s modelling her wares online. With likes numbering in the thousands per post and a whopping 139k followers, her minimal muji-esque aesthetic promises to either relax you or wonder why you can’t live a life as effortless. Image courtesy of Olivia


    Shanghai-based director and photographer Charles Lanceplaine travels a lot. A LOT, a lot. So while his stuff isn't particularly Shanghai-specific, a peek at what he sees through his lens is nonetheless captivating. "The world has so much to offer, photography is just a good excuse for me to go and capture it," he says.


    Serving up some hand-drawn (and sometimes inked) psychedelia, Brandon Tucs' Instagram documents a fun mix of his creative process and says, "the weird, the nasty, the gnarly and sometimes the obscene are the things that make me do the things I do. That's what makes illustrating fun and interesting." Image courtesy of Brandon Tucs


    Tommy Zhao’s insta-bio tells us he’s a “fulltime adventurer, capturer of motion, occasional framer of life moments and avid food junkie.” Tommy co-founded MIC, a skateboard mag, and makes his bones shooting skate videos, and there's plenty of that on display here. Image courtesy of Tommy Zhao When we hit him up for a comment, he said, "Sometimes I can't believe cameras exist. Just knowing that it's possible to freeze time and capture moments of life to watch later or show others, that shit's like magical to me. I'd feel like I'd be missing out if I didn't shoot or film, like in a way, everyday is history in the making."


    Rey's already been mentioned by The Guardian as one of the best city photographers on Instagram. While he splits his time between Shanghai and London, he's definitely stacked up some frequent flyer miles based on his Instagram subjects. His best shots by far are everyday captures of Xuhui and the people who live in them. Image courtesy of Rey Canlas Jr.


    Filmmaker and photographer Leon Yan shoots local Shanghai life too, and really, what remains of local urban life in China as it transitions into the 21st century. Image courtesy of Leon Yan Unsurprisingly, Leon said "I am mainly focused on visual storytelling and suggesting possible narratives in the photos I take."


    Meet Jmart, real name: Johnny Martinez, a Shanghai-based graphic designer who's portfolio includes work for a wide variety of clients like Nike, Bund18, and American tween accessories haven Claire's. Image courtesy of Jmart An avid skater himself, J says that most of the time he shoots casually while he's on-the-go. His weapon of choice: a 35mm point and shoot camera. "It’s low-key, versatile, easy to carry around. And you get that surprise element of not knowing how much grain there will be, how the lighting will turn out or if there will be some dope photos on the roll that you forgot you took."


    "Flabjacks are flabby and friendly creatures, They wear red lipstick, have double chins and contrasting personalities. Some are nice guys, some are mean machines. All in all, they are inspired by real people and real moments, mundane experiences of everyday life. All about good, positive vibes." Image courtesy of Ton Mak Ton Mak splits her time between Shanghai and Hong Kong and sticks her flabjacks in otherwise everyday food items, sometimes she 'grams her flabjacks with celebrities like Angela Baby or, in Brad Pitt's case, photoshops them on.

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