Over the years I’ve reviewed many portfolios and met a lot of young people coming out of school, and I’ve noticed that I say the same thing to a lot of them. So here it is, the Lionel Wong guide to a successful portfolio. Now keep in mind I can’t really speak for other CDs, nor can I really comment on what they’re looking for at other shops, but here’s the inside scoop on what we look for at OneMethod.
I don’t care where you went to school
Keep your resume short. I’m not gonna read it. I’ll give it a quick skim, so make your content short, digestible and relevant to the industry. And if you’re an Art Director or Designer, for godsake design your resume, don’t use Word.
In this industry your education doesn’t define you, your portfolio does. Show me what you can do, tell me how you did it, and the thinking that went into it. Portfolio is king around these parts. And make sure you have some kind of online portfolio and that it’s easy to use! It doesn’t have to be fancy, in fact, I’d prefer it wasn’t. A simple template to display your work is all you need. We’re not judging the site itself, we’re judging the work.
And lastly, don’t tell me where you went to high school. Unless you’re Lebron James, that has no relevance to anyone. If you didn’t go to high school, I’ll probably be able to tell as soon as you open your mouth.
Don’t show me class assignments
Most of the time school assignments only make sense to your professor. They’re one off projects to make sure you have a grasp on a very specific task. But they don’t translate to anything contextual in the real world. Remember, we’re reviewing work on a daily basis with real briefs for real clients, so if you show us your homework on Photoshop Colour Saturation, the first thing any CD will ask you is – “what is this??”
My advice is always the same, give yourself a fake brief for a fake client. This will help you focus and create something that we can understand. So for example, Dog Food Brand X is looking for way to gamify their shopping experience to keep consumers engaged. Well all of a sudden, you’ve got a branding assignment, an app to conceptualize & design, and a marketing campaign to help tell the world about it. Boom. Something we can actually digest and give feedback on.
But don’t pick major brands like Coke or Nike. You likely won’t do it better than they do. That’s like those contestants that try and sing Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston ballads on American Idol. Don’t do it.
Digital is a beast. It’s always evolving and changing so make sure you’re up to date. Check out sites like Dribbble for the latest in digital design trends, follow Mashable for the latest news in social media, and make sure you’re up to date on your tech. Having a good grasp on technology is key in the digital world, it could make or break an idea.
Get inspired, but keep it fresh.
Include stuff in your book that isn’t just advertising. We’re always looking for interesting people and innovative thinkers. Not everything in your book has to be related to your discipline, if you’re a writer who happens to be an amazing videographer, show me. If you’re an Art Director who designs sneakers on the side, show me… then give me a pair.
Side projects and outside interests are encouraged at OneMethod. It makes you unique and brings an entirely new skill set to the table, who knows, we might want to open a sneaker shop next year and shoot a documentary about it.
That’s it. That’s a wrap. A few keys pointers to help you finesse your book. Good luck! And see you at the award shows.