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Mockup use in Portfolios. Yay or Nay?

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  • Mockup use in Portfolios. Yay or Nay?

    So it's about time I put up a professional portfolio on the web. Something I've been putting off for a while. I am struggling with the advisability of using mockups for my portfolio however.
    Trouble is, I have very few photographs of my printed work in physical form.

    My portfolio will encompass designs ranging from A4 fliers and logos to 8x3m banners. So while the smaller stuff might be fine showing as plain graphics, I am afraid the larger, more impressive work is going to lose its context if it's just a plain graphical illustration. A proper mockup gives the illusion of space, depth and scale. And I think that's an appealing quality to have for your work. Additionally, I don't want my portfolio to look so barren of any real life representation that it might look entirely hypothetical. But on the other hand, I don't want my portfolio to look cheesy or otherwise a copy/paste of the other one thousand and one portfolios that also use very similar mockups.

    So in short, what is your personal take on the use of mockups in a professional portfolio? For it? Against it? Used in moderation? Any and all opinions are much appreciated.

  • #2
    The purpose of a portfolio is to show off the kind of work that you're capable of doing under realistic circumstances. If everything in a portfolio is a mock-up, it sends a signal that you've done no actual work. A few mock-up, though, won't cause anyone to question anything -- especially if you've got good reasons for them being mock-ups instead of actual printed pieces or photos of real work. Sometimes a screen capture of, say, a PDF will show your abilities a whole lot better than a photo shot of the final printed piece.

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    • #3
      As much as I despise mockups personally (I more commonly call them fake-ups), I'd have to say that if the nature of your work is such that a portfolio with no mockups would display 0% practical application of your designs, then I'd say a very few well-considered mockups will help it. Just try to do something original with them. When it's those same 6 3D wall logos and textured letterhead fakes that every young designer pulls out of some online generator, the work is overshadowed by contrivance.
      I'd rather be killed than come to your party, but if you don't invite me, I'll kill myself.

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      • #4
        I think the key is that the mockup should actually add something to the display of your work. As mentioned, those 3D mockups of logos on walls, etc can be distracting from the design and people may focus more on the mockup than the work it's supposed to be showcasing.
        Design is not decoration.

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        • #5
          Depends on the job.

          If you are applying for work at an architectural firm as an EGD, at a studio specializing in exhibits, or at a sign shop, your choices on how something is placed on a wall or other object may very well matter a lot more than the icon itself. This applies to freelancers as well as those looking for an in-house job.

          For instance, as a sign shop, we might look for a designer to do a lobby fit-out and the logo may already exist. What a designer can do with the logo to brand the space tastefully is more important, since the mark already exists.

          Identify your market and build your portfolio appropriately.

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          • kemingMatters
            kemingMatters commented
            Editing a comment
            unfortunately the majority of logo on wall mockups don't consider things like real world limitations or cost.

          • PrintDriver
            PrintDriver commented
            Editing a comment
            That's part of my job though.
            Most designers have no idea of the physical limitations that go along with their thought drawings. I'd say at least 90% of designers don't.
            The thing is, the more outlandish and detailed the idea is, the more there is to work with. There is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat.

            I like a challenge. Most things are putting stainless steel pieces on drywall. Sometimes the biggest challenge is figuring out how to drill holes in the wall, or if you can't, what do you do next that fulfills the client's design. We had a student design on here the other day that put a big logo on a stone facade. There would be onsite coordination needed to hit the mortar joints (most landlords frown on drilling holes in their stonework) and to determine if the facade was real stone or a faux overlay, and what was behind it that would support the weight of the metal going up. If a new space is being built, it's always a good idea to consider extra blocking in the lobby area walls to secure stuff like this. Nothing sucks more than having wall anchors fail in drywall.. There are always a lot of considerations beyond the feasibility of the logo itself.
            Last edited by PrintDriver; 12-24-2015, 07:08 AM.

        • #6
          Thank you for the insightful suggestions guys. I think I can make my decision more easily now.

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