Hello art & design students and graduates!
You’ve spent years at college and university and now is your time to stand out from the crowd by showcasing your hard-earned, painstakingly-produced creative work in a distinctive and attractive way to potential future employers.
Daunting, but exciting.
P&W’s Business Development Manager, Holly, discussed with company Partners, Adrian Whitefoord and Simon Pemberton top tips for students and graduates when it comes to the presentation of their work. We have collated all of the points considered into one article. We hope you find it beneficial!
TIP 1- SHOW YOUR METHODOLOGY
It has been my pleasure to review many graduate portfolios over the past 30 years and I enjoy more than anything else, to see the design process. The ability to finalise a design solution and bring it to fruition is obviously essential but the process of getting to that point is what I find fascinating. The train of thought gives an insight into your methodology, as well as your logical and lateral abilities. By revealing the journey you have taken to get to the end point, you show your potential for future excellence.”
TIP 2- BE DECISIVE
Quality always over quantity! Keep your selection considered by focusing on your strongest work. Don’t bulk out your portfolio, keep it to around six projects. This is difficult as you want to demonstrate a breadth of work but it’s better to have a confident portfolio and to not lose the recipient’s attention."
TIP 3- LET YOUR WORK DO THE TALKING
Keep your portfolio very visual and don’t overdo the copy. Let your work do the talking. Pick the words supporting your project carefully. It’s easier to write reams of text than be concise. A concise approach is time-consuming but proves you’ve considered the receiver, which is always appreciated."
TIP 4- HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY
If you’ve worked on a group project, that’s great; it shows you can work as a team and is a feather in your cap. You’ll have to work with others all the time in the ‘real world’. However, if you claim the work was completely your own and you get caught out, you’ll look and feel very silly! On the flip-side, don’t be too modest by playing down you input! It’s just that taking credit for work you didn’t do is not a good trait at any point in your career (or indeed, life!)."
TIP 5- KEEP THE LAYOUT SIMPLE
Keep your portfolio layout simple and attractive. We don’t want to struggle to navigate it. If your portfolio layout is confusing, complicated and/or generally badly thought through, you won’t make any friends!”
TIP 6- BE RELEVANT (Mostly)
It is important that you display empathy with the company you are presenting yourself and your work to. It is frustrating if your portfolio does not directly connect with the needs of the company or lacks a relevant connection. However, it is not a bad thing to display something a little unexpected too. Perhaps you also have a passion for: photography, illustration, calligraphy? 95% of your work should be focused but the unexpected 5% could be the cherry on the top.”
TIP 7- TAILOR YOUR APPROACH
'One size fits all’ does not work. Research the agency you’re applying for, find out what it specialises in to tailor your approach accordingly. You’ll also need to modify your email and portfolio to the individual company. A ‘copy and paste’ approach is obvious from a mile off. It makes you seem impersonal and slapdash. I’ve even received CV’s addressed to the wrong agency! Vacancies for work placements are often available year-round and job opportunities pop up at the unlikeliest of times so don’t wait for them to be advertised. If your application comes through at the right time, you could bag an interview whilst having made someone’s life a lot simpler (the recruitment process can be time-consuming and tricky).”
TIP 8- PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING
A really important thing for me is PRESENTATION, PRESENTATION, PRESENTATION. Don’t send a dishevelled CV’s and/or portfolios. You’re applying a creative role, yet you haven’t considered the presentation of your work?! How you present your work is a reflection of you as an individual. Scruffy doesn’t sit well with designers. This includes attention to spelling, punctuation and grammar (MAJOR bug-bear!). Get tutors, friends and family to proof-read before you send them out.”
TIP 9- STAND OUT
Think about how you are going to stand out from the hundreds of other students applying for placements and roles. Think outside the box. I received a posted CV in the form of a 3D milk carton about four years ago and have kept it. It stood out so much from the countless emailed ones and was so refreshing to see. I got in touch a few days later but was too slow, she’d already been snatched up! Most designers use online portfolios, but physical ones generally have more impact these days (it’s done a 360!) You’re a creative, so think creatively.”
TIP 10- THINK IN THREE DIMENSIONS
If packaging design is your thing, show one of your creations as a 3D mockup! It seems to not be the ‘done thing’ but I’ve never understood that. Packaging design is all about how the physical pack structure works; how it has been assembled, the materials used and how the creative design is applied to all facias for maximum impact and consumer engagement on-shelf. How about venturing to the Post Office to send one of your mockups off with your CV and portfolio, via snail mail? Honestly, that would have so much impact and would probably be shared around the studio! Take a punt. It might not pay off but trust me, it’s better than just doing the same as everyone else!”.
BONUS TIP 11- SELF PORTRAITURE!
Don’t include a photograph of yourself. Especially not on the first page. It’s irrelevant and a bit weird!