I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to review student work at the AIGA Student Portfolio review a few weeks ago. Here was some advice I had for students…1) THINK BIG IDEAS.
… What’s the bigger picture in all of your assignments? Think of the core purpose of the product/client you’re working on. A ‘purpose’ is not what a company sells, but it’s what it stands for.
2) COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS WORTH DESIGNING BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY DESIGN.
See above. Come up with new media ideas, programs, product designs, events, pr ideas, anything that pays off a company’s purpose. Once you have some great ideas, then start designing. This kind of thinking tells me how you view the world and how deep you can think about your client’s business. It doesn’t really matter if your ideas will work or not from a practical/budget standpoint. You’ll have plenty of naysayers to tell you they won’t when you get a job. I just wanna see how you want to make the world a little bit of a better place.
3) THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT. AND IT SUCKS.
Don’t be a slave to technology. If you’re gonna have an app idea in your book, ask yourself, “Would I really download this thing myself and use it to help count the number of eggs in my fridge, so I can then exchange egg recipes from someone in Tulsa?”
4) DON’T SWEAT ABOUT HOW THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR PORTFOLIO LOOKS.
Remember when John Travolta opened up that briefcase in Pulp Fiction and he pretty much saw God in it? Yeah, I don’t think Travolta remembered what the outside of the case looked like either. Same goes for your site. Keep it simple and easy to navigate. Save your thinking and energy for where it matters most: your work.
5) KNOW WHO YOU ARE. STICK TO IT.
You will get a thousand opinions for every hundred people you show your work to. At the end of the day, it’s your work. Listen to your heart and go with your gut reaction. You know the kind of work you like to do. Don’t change your type just because an instructor likes Gotham over Din. PMS 146 over 194. It’s your stuff. Same goes for changing the work in your book to match the style of the place where you’re interviewing. You can’t be anybody but yourself. And the more you are yourself, the more different you’ll be from anybody else.
Working on your portfolio? Check out The Austin Creative Department.