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  • Keeping a fresh and creative portfolio while working in corporate environment

    I'm finding a lot of my work samples from my full-time gig are pretty rigid and don't really reflect my personal taste of design and artwork. When working under non-designers, most of my ideas get superceded by those above me, and sometimes I wouldn't even call the final work my own anymore.

    I'm sure I'm in the majority on this one, so I was wondering what you would do about keeping a fresh portfolio of quality work that matches your resume.
    Do you feel obligated to show samples from every job on your resume, even if you don't have much creative and memorable work to show for those jobs?

    What if what you have been doing doesn't really match your long-term creative career goals? For instance, if I am going to take on part-time freelance work, I want it to be work I enjoy doing, and not more of the same corporate work I do Mon-Fri.

    Do you focus on showing samples of the work that best respresents what you WANT to be doing, even if they haven't been published and are only personal projects or mock-ups?

  • #2
    I cater my portfolio to whomever I am showing it to. I have samples from web design, logo design, photography, print, advertising... you name it. I show what the employer wants to see as per the job.

    I don't always keep work from each job, nor do I show work from every job. I show work that is good work. Whether I may have liked the project or not doesn't come into play. I just want my design to speak for itself.

    And there are many times I wish I was doing exactly what I wanted to, but life isn't always good to everyone like that. Bust your butt and you can be doing it. I thought I wanted to freelance much of the time and I found that I enjoy a mix after a time. Keep at it!


    • #3
      No way - pick the stuff you (or others you trust) think are the strongest. Personal projects are great. I've found the stuff I've done out of my day job are the ones that I have the most creative fun with.

      There are heaps of jobs I do at work that while I'll put them down in my CV as clients I've worked for, the stuff I've done for them are not things I'm proudest of.

      Especially when you have clients come in with little or no scope of any creative input and all you are doing is putting together elements they have supplied. Don't be putting it in your portfolio if you don't think it's that flash!
      It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh


      • #4
        The sad truth is many designers get few chances at really creative work. In the corporate design world the client reigns supreme and often swings his septer like a club. Many clients just don't get it and insist on doing their own art directing and designing to the detriment of the creative. Some designers, studios and agencies are powerful enough to tell those "bad clients" to take a hike but often there are bills and salaries to be paid, so guess what?

        Relish the chances you have to really express yourself creatively. And grab even free work if you will have creative license and that is the only way you can get creative stuff in your portfolio.

        As someone who reviews portfolios I am sympathetic to this designer problem and understand their portfolio may be more the product of a bad client as it is that of a talented designer. Therefore, I am open to that argument from the designer and am willing to consider "other" non- professional work in considering qualifications. If the person is a good designer, that should show up somehow in the portfolio. We portfolio reviewers must sometimes look for that hidden and untapped talent.

        In addition to talent I also look for experience, and often the most experience-producing work is not the most creative. In the end you will have to decide for yourself what to show, and ideally it should all be solid work.

        Is it art? Is it a business? It is both!


        • #5
          Thanks for the help! I think the biggest challenge is finding enough work to pay bills, etc., from the corporate clients (that often leave the least room for creativity) while keeping some side projects going that may not pay much but allow you to spend time being creative and exercising those brainstorming, "daydreaming" muscles to allow you to be unique.

          The only work worth doing is the kind that allows you to lose yourself in and not be aware of what time it is (unless there's a deadline, of course).


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