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There's magic in sharing Mathematics

Some subjects lend themselves naturally to MiniCards and Business Cards – what could be more tempting than a picture of, say, a tin of sweeties, or a delicate filigree necklace? And other subjects are little more challenging. Like, for example, mathematics. How do you promote yourself when you're a Cambridge-educated maths genius with a clutch of degrees and a bundle of prizes to your name? How to stop people going "Ew, maths – boring!" and trying to run away when you start talking about what you do?

Matthew Handy knows how. He's a private maths teacher, providing tuition to individuals and small groups to help them pass their Maths and Further Maths A-levels. He helps with undergraduate courses with mathematical content, and advises pupils on UCAS, including Oxbridge. He also designs some rather nifty business cards – take a look at these Bauhaus-inspired beauties...

His cards feature mathematical theorems and diagrams in classic red, black and white colours, turning what might have been a potentially dry and challenging business card into a beautiful visual object that can also, of course, double up as a study aid. We got in touch with Matthew to tell him how much we liked his cards, and to find out how a maths guru like him developed such a knack for canny self-marketing.

We love the design of your cards – very creative and graphic. How have the cards been received? Do they seem to stick in people's minds?

The first print run (of 200) ran out within a week! Students love them because they cover the topics that they have the most difficulty remembering. Although mathematics is about understanding, it is much easier if you've learnt the building blocks. For younger students it's the times tables. At A-level, it's the material that I've put on my cards. I got so frustrated at writing out those formulas over and over again and this seemed the perfect way of promoting my services and demonstrating how useful they could be.

If you don't mind us saying, graphic design and self-marketing is not normally a skill you associate with maths tutors, yet you seem to have quite a flair for it. How do you come up with your marketing concepts?

I've always been fascinated by page design. As a young kid I used to collect headed notepaper. I would write to big companies, just so they'd write back and I could add to my collection. I first discovered the Apple Mac at university - it blew me away - and since then I've worked on a number of design projects: from books and newspapers, to corporate image work for schools, a restaurant and a record company.

You founded Ivory Tower magazine at Cambridge, and launched MXpress, a newspaper for young people, after you graduated. Is the creative and practical side of magazine publishing something that appeals to you?

I love the whole process of producing something printed. Watching the first copies of MXpress coming off the presses was incredible: this huge room-sized machine, manned by half a dozen people, churning out tens of thousands of copies of something I'd created. It was like watching the birth of my first child. I love print.

Speaking of print - paper finish: Green or Classic for your Business Cards?

I've so far always opted for the Classic. It's beautiful. That's part of the pleasure I get from print: the physical feel of the material. I really should try the Green, though.

Did you find MOO's creation and ordering process easy to use?

I'm a control freak, so I love the process. I can change things as often as I want without annoying anyone!

Any plans to use MOO cards in other ways in the future? For example, have you thought of doing a set of 50 and giving / selling them as a complete set of study tips?

That's certainly on the cards (excuse the pun!). I've also thought about using the MiniCards as key-ring crib sheets.

Are MOO's short print runs useful to you?

I'm a huge fan of MOO. Everything is so stylish, and it's all done with a real sense of fun. The small print runs allow experimentation and flexibility, which is terrific for a small business like mine.

Thanks to Matthew Handy for chatting with us - for more information about his tuition or to book yourself a lesson, visit his site.

And for those who are confused by the 's' on the end of the word 'math' - that's just the way we say it in the UK ;-)


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