hanging out the fifteenth floor

January 20, 2009

Advice about portfolios from designers already working – thanks RV and Finch!

“Have more than one portfolio. Have no more than a dozen pieces in each portfolio as well. If you are sending a portfolio off to a childrens’ publisher, make sure all the pieces relate to that. If a packaging company, tailor it to things you believe that company might enjoy. Don’t include too many different styles…that can be confusing for the person looking when it comes to keeping you in mind.

Best way to start talking to companies? Do you mean cold-calling them? Well, I would suggest calling/emailing and asking if they take portfolio submissions. It’s politer than just sending stuff in unannounced.”

“2nd-best piece first; best piece last — leave them with a bang. also follow submission directions to a tee — when I review submissions I have a folder for junk (Incoherent submissions–you’d be surprised–or ones from out of town or contracting companies), a folder for “can’t follow directions,” and a folder for promising work submitted as requested.

I look at the work in the last folder first, then the second only if I haven’t found what I’m looking for in the first. The third folder goes in the trash, as does much of the second. Stuff in the first folder gets filed in case we need it at a later date, but I empty it once a year.

Make sure everything is consistent and neat: I once brought my book for an interview and got scolded for not having replaced a clear plastic sleeve that was getting a bit worn. I realized I never would have done that for a client, so I should treat my own work likewise.

I used to have a huge case with everything mounted on 18×24 black board — it was really heavy to carry and difficult and expensive to update. Now, a couple versions later, I’ve settled on a nice simple black 9×12 book (I’ve got 2) with clear plastic sleeves (replaceable), and I get heavy weight black paper and mount stuff on that so the look is consistent. Use tear sheets and actual printed pieces where you can (not applicable for web, obviously).”


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