We all think we have the perfect portfolio. It is because we’re designers, we can do no wrong (sarcasm). But yet, we keep getting over looked for jobs and perhaps falling at the last crucial interview stage - this is a handy little list of ways to make your portfolio suck, if you can tick any of these then perhaps it is time to revisit your dreaded portfolio!
Only having an online portfolio:
In this day and age, everyone has access to the internet (well my nana doesn’t but I don’t think she’s hiring any designers soon…) so we all put a beautifully crafted online portfolio up there for the world to see. Excellent. However, this is the only way a hiring manager/director can see your work. This becomes a problem when they ask to see some of the printed work you have done….you can prod and poke at a screen all you want, but having the tactile nature of something you have had printed can tell a hiring firm more about you. Such as; can you set work for print? Can you spot any little errors? Most design companies want to see a physical example of your portfolio in addition to an online presence, with most liking a bound style book.
Work from 1999….
Try not to include items that are dated within your portfolio - yes your lecturer did like that logo you did for Cardiff Airport in a project 10 years ago but does it really reflect the type of designer you are now? Only include older examples of work if they are from a high profile client or campaign you worked on. Usually it is better to keep your portfolio fresh, only including examples from the last two - three years.
You’re here for the editorial job?
If you are going to be showing your portfolio to a company that does require specific skills, then it is more than wise to show them your proficiency in that specific skill by having examples in your portfolio. If you interviewing for a job with a specific type of work in mind, it is best to put those examples nearer the front of your portfolio, if it is for a more general position, then make sure you have a diverse range of examples.
You didn’t even say goodbye……
Don’t just up and leave from an interview and remove all trace of yourself from the room. Leave them a little something behind! Whether it be a postcard with your work and details on, a concise portfolio, or a teddy bear clutching a ‘hire me’ sign on - designers usually have a good sense of humour, but more importantly we’re like magpies - we want to collect as much cool looking stuff as possible! Remember this and chances are they will remember you!
Here are the nine volumes on my creative life….
We can all be guilty of loving all our work too much - and sometimes we do need to be reminded ‘do you really need to put that in?’
Be selective with your portfolio and don’t just put every bit of work in there, usually a dozen good quality pieces will say much more about your personality and design style than 300 pieces of everything! Less in this case is usually much much more!
My dog ate my portfolio…
Turning up with a dog eared and un-cared for portfolio is something no prospective designer should do. You want to show your work off in the best way imaginable. Don’t cram thick pieces in, keep them separate and ask yourself - do you really need to take it along? Make sure your portfolio is neat, tidy and in order.
I put the logo on that book……no sir, I did not design the logo…..
In your book or portfolio case or whatever, clearly distinguish what input you have had on each project you’re showcasing. If you were given the task of putting someone elses logo onto someone elses layout, for you to send to print, it would be hard to carry that off as ‘your work’. However if you were simply using it as an example of how you have collated ideas together and then liased with a printer to get it printed, and clearly stated that, then it is of relevance.
No sir, you cannot find me on the internet…..
Look, lets be honest here, it is 2012, you are a designer wanting to work in an industry that moves at the speed of light, people need access to information yesterday, it is your responsibility to have an online portfolio. Of course when you turn up for an interview the guys want to see a physical portfolio, but being able to just check out a concise range of work online is really convenient to flick through and get a feel for who is turning up. Make sure it looks good though, if you’ve used comic sans as your header, chances are you wont get a call…..(unless its from the asylum….)
10% of 489mb - 3 hours remaining…..
Finally, if your online portfolio is huge, because you’ve neglected to utilise sufficient image optimisation etc, it is going to take people a while to download. I have been asked in the past to check portfolios and they literally have been almost 1gb downloads. With Adobe creative suite at your fingertips it is really time you took the time to do things properly.
We are all impatient devils, and i’ve been known to throw things when that little rainbow wheel appears for more than 5 seconds - take this into consideration when emailing your portfolio, if you have to use a dropbox, then it is too big!
Just remember, your portfolio isn’t a static document, it should be constantly being updated and revised to reflect how you are growing as a designer. Spending to accumulate is also something to think about here, you are investing in your future to have a well printed, well presented portfolio - you never know, your life may just depend on it!
So, every potential designer gets to that dreaded point where we have to take on that difficult client. You know the one I mean, bad tempered, foul mouthed, indecisive, the worlds biggest critic, never happy…..
Yes, that shitty client called yourself!
You could have a client list of all the most indecisive people in the world, and yet still we are our own worst enemy when it comes to branding ourselves. Most designers need an identity when dealing with freelance work, or even to utilise in your portfolio or website. It gives you a more professional look and a good brand can tell creative agencies or PR agency just how well they can sell your services to clients.
I went for years without facing up to the fact that I needed a brand. I eventually needed one quickly for some potential freelance work, and I just went bowling in and came out six hours later with about half a dozen A3 sheets of scribbles and ideas and going WHY DID I START THIS?!
Eventually at the end of it all, it was my playing around with type rather than fiddling about with some sort of icon or monogram which I was trying to do. I over thought the situation, and forgot what I hold dearest in design, typography and simplicity. (Although one can argue that i’m quite a simple person anyway so it represents me incredibly well!)
This is my identity btw, I use it on invoices I am too indecisive to finalise a website….
So this all begs the question - what do I need to consider when i’m jumping on the ‘brand’ wagon?
- Design for yourself. You aren’t designing for another designer necessarily, but it is your brand, you want to show off every bell and whistle of design you know - but don’t! Instead approach the project as if it were for any other client, sit down list down what represents your design style and what you stand for as a designer. Clean simple branding rather than avant-garde design will not offend other designers, and won’t alienate other companies that may want to work with you!
- Listen to other people. Collaborate with other friends that are both designers and non-designers, talk them through your ideas and concepts - tell them to be honest. Friends love this because they never get the opportunity to say something you do is shit, and other designers will give you straight honest critique, but will probably help you with constructive criticism. You want people to understand your brand, and that it connects to you.
- Listen to other people part 2: Listen Harder. Being your own branding you tend to end up working too close to it and you clutch it to your bosom never wanting to hear it doesn’t look right. You basically lose all objectivity! Talk to your lecturers, other professionals you have encountered, or other designers on your course - they will bring you back to reality and talk to you objectively about the design and how it may be improved.
- Putting off designing your brand in the good times. You have left uni and you have freelance work coming out of your ears? (Hey look, it’s that pig flying past again..) Even if everything is going amazingly well, maybe you work in a studio, it is still important for you to develop your own brand image. You never know when it is useful, even if it is just for your blog or your portfolio initially, there will be a need for it when you expect it least.
- Not developing your brand when you’re twiddling your thumbs. You aren’t getting any design work? Well perhaps this is the ideal time to show off your skills and design your brand! This can kick-start your creative process and sometimes it is the fact you don’t have that professional image is the reason why your calendar is so sparse of deadlines. Remember you most of the time have to spend money to make money. A new brand identity, some new business cards and a quick small website can do wonders for a designers self-esteem and gives you pride in your own work!
- Just Do It. A simple phrase we all know and associate with Nike, wherever we see or hear it. Now i’m not saying you need to have a catchy tagline (rather much the opposite!!) but you do need to have a consistency. Like any brand consistency is the key for it to work. Make sure you are using your brand in the same manner each time; size, colours, typefaces, layout, visual identity are all consistent! This gives you a much more professional look. But it doesn’t stop there; - answer emails - make sure you start to put a consistent footer with your details under your name, not a kiss, (it never goes down well with people in the upper echelons of the BBC take it from me…) Make phone calls, talk in a professional manner, leave your business cards with everyone - sometimes it is the person you least expect to get in touch about work imaginable!
It is the hardest project for any designer or illustrator to design their own brand identity, but it really is an essential element for any successful designer. It isn’t an ego trip, it isn’t something that makes you an instant celebrity, but rather a method that you can present your professional self to other professionals.
Don’t rush it, and garner as many opinions as your fragile designer ego can take, it is better to hear something is right or wrong before you go and have it splashed across business cards or the web, and hopefully your brand will give you pride and propulsion to expand your clientele.
As always, good luck!
…as someone with no experience of tattooing, it would seem that no self respecting tattoo artist would ever want the title of ‘Inkmaster’.
Lets have a look as to what you would stand for:
I don’t know, with the exception of some of Shane Helm’s black and grey tattoos, i’m sure i’ve seen much better examples of tattoos by artists who got famous by being actually good.
The winner may be $100,000 better off, but realistically when would you ever be taken seriously within the tattoo community?
That said, the programme fascinates me - I don’t know perhaps there should just be more ‘art-based’ reality shows on tv. Car crash at its best.
Anonymous asked: You, like me, seem to like your fashion, what sort of things/people/designers inspire your "look" ??
I don’t really have any influences really - I usually just wear/buy what fits or suits.
I’ve always been a bit random when it comes to dressing - I mean i’ve had (and still do have) some shockers of outfits - but I don’t really care!
I think I suffer because i’m pretty average and don’t really look like anyone (famous) so when I look about no-ones look really would suit me.
I’ve been wearing plaid shirts since I was about 6 or 7 so that trend isnt new on me, there is a photo of me in chinos at about 4, and 8 and 13 etc - although i’ve never been ‘in-fashion’ so its funny really!
i’m not some indie guy who can get away with super skinny jeans, or a punk dude that can get away with all the over sized tees or coloured hair/piercings etc and i’m not smart enough (or rich enough) to be influenced by a smart style like Tom Ford has.
Being honest 80% of my wardrobe comes from H&M and other than that odds and sods from random other shops. Topman I think has become a scourge on the world and everyone dresses identically from there - I even have 3 students (out of a class of 13) who all came in wear the same sweatshirt that they all bought the same weekend without realising and all wore on the same day! It’s also amazingly overpriced and really bad quality these days.
It also seems the shop to go if you’re a chav and have a slight bit of money.
it also breeds wankers. Whenever I go into a Topman the overwhelming sense of others self importance makes me cringe. Poser wannabies that have no purpose in life so they get their mummy and daddy to buy them lots of clothes from Topman and tattoos on their hands and neck and then become Tumblr poster boys, or those douchebags that you find in any remotely indie bars or clubs posing about.
I’d hate to be able to be pigeon holed into a ‘style’ or ‘lifestyle’ even though it would seem that I keep being pigeon holed as a ‘hipster’ on here. If you took 2 minutes to search hipster on tumblr you’d find out what this ‘sub-culture’ was actually like. (any tags of hipster on my pictures are purely ironic - usually for the amusement of my friends aha!)
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Many people have asked me a certain question recently and that is which university is best to attend for graphic design based courses, and where would I recommend. I think this is a good question to ask, and as within the article ‘Money for Nothing?’ in the latest issue of Ampersand it is a complex question that provides almost as many questions as answers!
So let us take the first element: Do I need to go to university to succeed in graphic design?
I think it something you really need to decide and investigate into, because there are a different options out there for you, especially with the raising of tuition fees in the UK recently. One of these options is a HND course. Usually spread over two years, with the option to find a university to do a third year to top it up to a degree, it is probably the cheapest option you can take, but you have to really research into the areas you’ll cover and what you will actually get to experience.
You also have to be aware that depending on what companies you desire to work for depends on whether they will look at this route as either ‘the cheap option’ or whether they will look at it as you being pro-active and wanting to get into the industry as soon as possible. It is an option to look into and lots of colleges can offer this, Worcester College of Art and Technology runs a very direct, commercially savvy and in-depth HND course.
Next up is: ‘I want to move somewhere fun and exciting’
Well if that is the case, you would be best looking at the city-based universities, Manchester, Cardiff (Glamorgan), Leeds College of Art, Ravensbourne in London. This decision usually leads to lots of ‘live’ projects and an opportunity to work with bigger companies out there in these cities due to the links the universities have, and the wide number of opportunities in a small space. Who could fail to be inspired by the bustle and history of London? Or the regeneration of Cardiff? The musical creativity and history of Manchester? It is certainly something you would do best to explore, but just think of the cost implications - what do you get for the extra expenditure in these sought after areas?
Finally is: ‘___________ is really high in the overall league tables and is really well known.’
This can pose a problem. They may be well known and be top universities, but are they well known for the subject area you want to do? Do they have a ‘house style’ and push you into areas of design that don’t hold your interest so much? If you really enjoy typography, yet they only do one typography project in three years is that what you want to do?
Places like Nottingham are great, but are they really for you? Do you like a more personable approach, or would you rather have more people on your course and be just a number on the register of students?
This is why it is important to visit universities, speak to tutors or students - find out what the real deal is!
Just don’t leave yourself short changed!
Schools need to get a grip and deal with the big problems; students intimidating other students, even staff, bullying, drugs, learning.
Whatever colour your hair is does not reflect your ability to learn, or affect the learning of others. A child who feels it is ok to challenge a teacher on every point raised, or to disrupt others learning by being disruptive and loud etc will get nothing, and they are the real barriers to learning in a classroom.
Schools are shooting themselves in the foot with this and it will not be too long I think before someone blows this discrimination wide apart by utilising the Human Rights Act, and taking it all the way to a resolution.
Having different coloured hair.
Discriminating and punishing someone by excluding them from lessons until all the colour is gone.
I know which one would be the barrier to learning.
Each and everytime I see some peoples blogs, and how honest and real they are, it destroys me to think of some things they go through and how much I wish I could just give them a big hug.
Some people need to get off their backs just because they do or say things that are not popular opinion. They are lovely, and I wish that their families would just see it.
Anonymous asked: What would you say a 'beautiful' person is? x
A beautiful person is one that has both inner and out beauty. Someone who cares and will strive to help others and be there for those who need it most. The type of person that picks you up when you’re down, who convinces you to be happy when its the last thing you feel, who makes you realise that life is worth living.
A beautiful person will never agree they are, its part of their beauty, as is the fact you can tell them everyday, that they are beautiful, and they will always be embarrassed to the fact. They are warm and funny and when you look into their eyes you can see the amazing, fulfillment they bring to others, how they put others first and how they disregard their feelings to make someone else happy.
A beautiful persons eyes sparkle. Sparkle with wonderment at the things that they have seen, and the desire to see more. Their smile, is both with their mouth and their eyes, interlinked to show that each is genuine.
A beautiful person will look after themselves, and present themselves in a way they are happy and confident with, never changing for someone else, being who they are.
A beautiful person has a hunger for passion and love, to feel these emotions with another, but not afraid to allow themselves to appear vulnerable. To take each one of these things and put them together, I think you have found what I would say a ‘beautiful’ person is.
The award the packaging won was part of the Cardiff Design Festival, so go have a look what could have won, and marvel at the fact that the Gower Cottage Brownies packaging wasn’t even shortlisted.
The easy answer is probably.
You see, I love design. Properly love it. When i’m out and about I analyse things I see, remember things that may influence stuff I do in future, and talk about it a hell of a lot. But I have this nagging doubt now that the things I used to like, which used to influence me, just don’t anymore.
For example, Kidrobot. Now don’t get me wrong I loved this stuff, you wouldn’t have found anyone more excited when they had a pop up shop in Selfridges in London, or when I found out they were actually opening a London store. However, I don’t want any of it anymore. I look at the Dunny ranges, and feel uninspired with them, i don’t care for them any more. Designers like Huck Gee, even though I would be (and have been in the past) destroyed for saying my reaction to his work is ‘meh’, I really feel that designers like this are living of their reputation, and are being far from creative anymore. What was once fun and different has been replaced with mundane repetition. I use Huck Gee as an example because this guy could spit on a piece of paper and some
fools collectors would pay exorbitant amounts for it. They are buying ‘Huck Gee’ rather than buying what they like.
Now I am not saying for one minute that I don’t think that Huck Gee isn’t a good designer, just one that has found his style, settled into a routine, churns out a few limited or one off pieces, sticks them on ebay, and makes a fortune. He then dishes out designs for the blind boxes, of which none have blown me away for a few years. I mean, if you could do that, make the money, then we all would - I just feel that this sends the wrong message out to up and coming designers.
I would never encourage my students to play it safe with design. Design is about taking risks, thats why we are designers. If I wanted to play it safe, or for them to play it safe I would tell them to go and work in Tesco. As a designer it is the opportunity to inspire those around you with your work and creativity that should drive you forwards. To not play it safe and to set trends and develop them rather than replicate and follow trends.
A designer I knew very well, when overlooked for a position within a consultancy that offered me a position actually said to me ‘Why did they offer YOU a job, I’m a much better designer than you?’. I have never forgot this, and it still pushes my creativity to this day. The simple answer is that I took risks. I didn’t care if someone told me my end product was crap, as long as I was happy that I had produced something that was my own, oh it may well have had influences from other designers, but the key was to have it inform and direct my own creativity, than than try to replicate what I wanted to produce in their style. This is what the other designer used to do. Take whatever was flavour of the month design-wise with them, and shoehorn it in whatever they were working on. Well of course their end product was supremely polished, because they knew what it should look like. Design should be about breaking new ground, opening up new experiences to the masses and encouraging others to explore their creativity. You should be exploring you own end product, and there is nothing more exciting, but fear-inducing as the halfway stage in a project where you don’t know whether its going to turn out ok or not.
Which leads me back to my original question, do I think I am a design snob?
Well for all intents and purposes, yes, possibly, probably. Do I care? Not really.
I wish that sometimes that some areas of the design industry would take the chip off their shoulder, the one that rubs so many ‘non-designers’ up the wrong way. Yes we can all laugh at the amateur use of comic sans, or clip art in someone’s design, but when all is said and done, they don’t need an ‘expert’ to patronise them. They know they aren’t designers, thats why they approach design agencies to assist them and their businesses, but on the token, this is why people are going it alone and not consulting design agencies. I know many people who have been patronised and belittled when dealing with ‘well-known’ consultancies, made to feel stupid, and forced into going along with the ‘style’ of the consultancy. This is where I feel ashamed to have been a part of this industry, people don’t trust designers, not like they used to. People are more informed these days and rightly can make an informed decision about the direction of their project. There is an air of arrogance that surrounds many designers, who find their own self importance much more of a concern than the needs of Mr Smith the local butcher who wants to revamp his business, but to maintain his heritage, snow ploughing him into things he may not have the fortitude to disagree with, considering they are the ‘professionals’.
Now I am not saying that I have not been guilty of this in the past, because I have been. You almost get pushed to be self confident to a fault in an agency, and because there is such an atmosphere of self competition, it can cause many issues to arise. I left the mainstream industry and I am totally glad that I did. I would not like to become the person I found myself becoming whilst working in the industry ever, and I would rather be snobby about design, and what I like and dislike within design than to think I knew better than everyone else. It is my opinion on design which matters to me, it isn’t my place to tell others what good and bad design is, we are created to be objective, and thats what everyone should be. Just because I don’t like comic sans, doesn’t mean you are wrong to like it…….
but you are.
I don’t know where I stand within design anymore, have I hit a point where the design cycle is passing me by and I am starting to get fed up of current trends? Maybe. All I know is that each and every day I find something new that I love, every day seeing something different, created by some of the most creative people in the world. Do I care that I won’t be fawning over Huck Gee’s new releases? Not at all, but then again, he probably doesn’t care what I think either.
Right, after a discussion with www.clairewaterworth.tumblr.com I said that I was going to live blog X Factor last night, but tbf, I had no access to Tumblr where I was so didn’t get around to doing it, so I thought, why not retrospectively pass on my thoughts!
Last night’s theme was Elton John, who ironically about a week or two ago said ‘X FACTOR IS SHITE’ (not a direct quote, but words pretty much to that affect) and it possibly threw up one of worst X Factor weeks ever!
First up was:
Paije Richardson: Who sung ‘Crocodile Rock’
First off let me just say, this kid reminds me of Kenan from Kenan and Kel, and to be honest I would have rather have been watching Good Burger than this performance. No doubt Paije can sing, but really? Crocodile Rock? Almost as awful as the pink blazer that he was wearing with 4 extra shoulder pads, I would link to where you could buy the blazer if you so wish, but I don’t think Oxfam shops have an online store. Go back to singing soul and motown and I can see him doing well. May be bottom three…..
Aiden Grimshaw: Who sung ‘Rocket Man’
I don’t see what the fuss is about Aiden, his style of singing is awful, his stage presence is awful, and his rendition of Rocket Man could have pushed William Shatner’s version into second place of awful covers of this song. Also the theme may as well have been ‘who can wear the worst and most ill-fitting blazer’ because Aiden’s was VILE. Again not impressed, I fear for him, bottom two beckons….
Third up was:
Mary Byrne: Who sung ‘Can you Feel the Love Tonight’
…..I wasn’t. Better than her out of tune performance last week, but she really has a talent, it is just not being fulfilled. I really didn’t understand why none of the judges picked up on the fact there was bum notes and tuning issues, perhaps they just wanted her to feel more confident, but seriously, three acts in, none of whom really impressed me. Again there is a distinct possibility of her being bottom two, I think she may have reached the end of her journey, hope not though.
Fourth on was:
Katie Waissel: Who sang ‘Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting’
Now for the record until last week, Katie could do no wrong in my eyes, I thought that there was an element of bullying directed towards her, which no one deserves, even if they are an above average singer. This changed last week when she ruined ‘Don’t Speak’ and disregarded Grace Hall’s (an amazing stylist!) wardrobe advice and came out looking like a dragged up version of Madonna. This was an above average version of the song, she looked a hell of a lot better, but was just meh. A sure fire entrant in the bottom two.
Then the talent came out…..
Fifth up was:
Matt Cardle: Singing ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’
This guy would seemingly be able to do no wrong. Girls love him, I love his singing, every song he makes his own, but i’m getting a bit fed up of the song choices for him. Safe bet to stay, but could we have a song that hasn’t got to have a falsetto arrangement within it somewhere? Cheers Danni.
Sixth on was:
Cher Lloyd: Who sang ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word’ (with added rapping AGAIN)
Other than her slowly turning even more into a version of Cheryl Cole that has been put on a boil wash and tumble dried, there is little else to say about this performance. Rewatch any performance she has done bar the amazing version of ‘Stay’ she did a couple of weeks ago, this was the same. Safe, but samey…..
Next up was my star of the show:
WAGNER: Who attempted to sing ‘I’m Still Standing & the Circle of Life’
I know the ‘X Factor purists’ (boring people) want him out, and don’t think he should still be in when you look at some of those that have gone, but i’m sorry, he is one of only three people I tune into the show to watch and be excited for (the others being Matt and Rebecca). He is a showman and genuinely entertains me, every week its fun, and this week ‘I’m still standing’ was ok, ‘Circle of Life’ better off not talked about. But I was still left smiling. I don’t care if you hate him, he doesn’t care if you hate him, he seems to be the only contestant who actually seems to love every moment and cherishes it. After I vote for the next three hours, should be safe again. More bongos next week though please!
Then Simon’s only act remaining:
One Direction: Who sang ‘Something About the Way, You Look Tonight
These lads are good, polished and idolised by every girl under the age of 18. Last week they were amazing, this week were pretty good, but we agreed, if you closed your eyes, it could have been Westlife. Safe. Definitely in the final. Definitely not going to win. Definitely going to be given a recording deal. Definitely won’t go away for the next couple of years.
The final performance, and it really was the best till last:
Rebecca Ferguson: Singing ‘Candle in the Wind’
Stunning. Vocally amazing. Looked gorgeous. Seriously head, shoulders and hips above the rest of the competition. Vocally she has an old voice, beautifully serene, but I could listen to her performances over and over again. The version of the song she sang had me captivated, just like everyone else in the room as we were watching. I would love her to win, she is different. She isn’t trying to be ‘generic American Belter/Singer’ like TreyC who left last week, she makes each and every song relevant and fresh. Definitely through. Definitely in the final. Definitely in with a chance to win.
Overall the show was a 4/10 for me, they have well have started from Wagner, because we all sat soo bored through the first few acts, and I can see the first four disappearing over the coming weeks. I really hope it is better next week - and I always hope that the acts have been taught how to mime better for the group song on tonight’s elimination show.
So there were my thoughts, as trivial as they may be - see you next week for another X Factor round up!