Michelle Clark Graphic Design

A Killer Portfolio Event @ Office PDX
April 10, 2009, 7:08 pm
Filed under: Art, Design, Inspiration | Tags: , , , , ,

Last Wednesday I attended an event called How to Create a Killer Portfolio in NE Portland. They had represenatives from Rumblefish and Adidas talk to aspiring designers about how they got where they are and what they view as successful strategies for building a portfolio that gets you hired.

  • First of all, one thing they really stressed is that you need to tailor your portfolio to the position you are applying for. Don’t include things that don’t have any relevance to the client or the position. For example, if you are applying for a job in web design, you shouldn’t send a portfolio that’s primarily print design examples.
  • The less clicks the better. If you can find a way to condense your portfolio pieces, perhaps by grouping like projects or projects with related elements together, that’s preferable.
  • Nonetheless, they want to see more! The phrase “the more the merrier” was repeated about six times. Include your other talents that are relevant-your photography, paintings, drawings, etc. They mentioned that more often employers are looking for a “jack of all trades” so the more diversity you have in your portfolio, the better.
  • They want to see concepts. If there’s any way a designer could integrate their concept process (research, mood boards, color palettes, sketches, etc.) with the finished outcome of a project, that lets them know how well you can conceptualize and how your beautiful mind works, or just that it works.
  • Another plus is to showcase some of your personal work. They emphasized that they would much rather see a designer who is passionate about what they do and has some quality design work they’ve done on their own then someone who has only school projects in their portfolio.
  • They’re not only looking at your content but also at your character. Know where you’re applying, research the company and get a feel for who’s working there or what the environment might be like. They want to hire someone with whom they are comfortable, and vice versa. Some environments call for very laid-back casual personalites, and others call for more conventional, formal ones. Know which one you are and work it.
  • An important personal asset in designers these days is dependability and diligence. Have good follow-through, communicate clearly and often with your co-workers and clients, and commit to your responsibilites and see them through. Don’t be someone who, just because they don’t have to come into the office everyday, leaves for two weeks and fails to inform everyone else, leaving a project hanging in the balance. Likewise, don’t be that person who just disappears and stops answering their phone or e-mails.

The conference was a fairly short one, a few minutes shy of an hour, and they had some pretty good information for us. I was especially intrigued by how much they are interested in sketches and concepts-things that you might think to toss out when the project is finished (I know I’m often guilty of it). Office PDX runs this event quarterly, so there’s usually one per season. The next event will be in August. During these events, they sell their portfolio materials for 20% off. All in all its an event worth attending, the only strike against it being that when they weren’t conferring, they had Weezer on repeat.