Does my Portfolio suck?

Hey, I’m new here and am hoping to get some thorough critiques. I have been applying to countless graphic design internships and jobs with no success. I’m still in school in a 2-year college (2 semesters left). Does my work suck, am I too inexperienced, or is it just that the market is so heavily saturated with other designers? Please let me know if you think I should get rid of any of the designs in my current portfolio, or if I should just focus on improving my skills instead of job searching: (go to portfolio - digital art and graphic design)

Sorry, this forum will not let me post links for some dumb reason.

Thank you!

It’s not so much “dumb” as it is a means to keep newly registered spammers from posting links to whatever they’re selling. I’ve fixed the link and changed your permissions to enable you to post them yourself.

Your illustrations are good, but what are you marketing yourself as — an illustrator or a graphic designer?

You wrote that you’ve applied for “countless graphic design internships and jobs with no success,” yet your portfolio contains almost no graphic design. The few pieces of graphic design that are there seem to have been tossed in for the sake of having them there, but it comes across as though graphic design isn’t your focus and that you’re not especially interested in it.

It’s extremely difficult finding regular work as an illustrator. Once Photoshop, digital photography, and cheap stock art came along, the demand for illustrators dried up to a trickle. The cost of paying an illustrator for two days worth of work when a $15 piece of stock would do the job, just sort of shifted most everything away from illustration. Most illustrators I know are exclusively freelance and only hired for piecemeal work. My wife is a very talented illustrator who successfully worked for years in the field, but no more — nobody’s hiring. She finally went back to graduate school and got a degree in something unrelated to illustration.

In various jobs, I’ve been a creative and design director, and I’ve seen hundreds of portfolios from students and professionals looking for work. So from that perspective, as I said, your illustrations are good, but…

If I were the one interviewing graphic design intern candidates, and if I saw your portfolio, I’d likely not interview you for the simple reason that it contains almost no graphic design. You have a very well-defined illustration style, but unless I needed an employee with that particular style of illustration who dabbled in graphic design, I’d likely hire someone else who focused specifically on design. If that person dabbled in illustration, that would be a bonus, but an illustrator dabbling in design, um, probably not.

Your work is good. You have talent, but if you want to be a graphic designer, you’ll likely need to focus on that if you expect to find work.

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Unless I’m missing something I see really nice art pieces. No Graphic Design.

And … this is a major bug-a-boo of mine. A portfolio should be a portfolio … not a sales page.

That can be a major turn off for some.

But, on the upside I really like your Illustration style. I especially like your sea monster :slight_smile:

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Thank you so much for the detailed feedback! I really appreciate your honesty and advice. Is there a way for me to edit my post? I wanted to post the link to the specific graphic design section of my portfolio but I don’t see an option for me to edit my post.

I had previously built my website for my artwork, but then decided to go to school for graphic design because it’s very difficult to make money with traditional art. I don’t intend to only do illustration work - I would like to focus on all print media (business cards, brochures, etc.); and 3D modeling/animation once I have the time to teach myself how to use a program for that.

I established a separate page in my portfolio dedicated to my graphic design - it sounds like you may have been looking at my main portfolio page that displays all the categories. Would you suggest that I buy a separate domain specifically for my graphic design work, instead including it on my art website? I have considered that but I was under the assumption that people might be interested in seeing the full breadth of what I can do - I can see how people may view me as a design dabbler though!

Thank you! That’s my homepage - you would have to go to my portfolio page, and then go to the “graphic design” section.

I too am looking at that graphic design section and don’t see much graphic design. The boxes of tea and perfume are graphic design, and so is the soda can, but everything else is illustration. Different type of creative art, different skill set, different marketplace. You’re not catching any fish because you’re fishing in the wrong lake with the wrong bait.

A graphic design portfolio should have lots of ads in lots of different styles. That’s how you impress people. Good graphic designers are chameleons, constantly shifting styles to adapt to the visual needs of the client’s.

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Thank you for your feedback, I see what you mean! I intend to add more work like that once I get the time and start working with more clients.

New forum members only get 15 minutes to edit their posts. I’d need to bump up your permissions level a lot higher to bypass that — either that or change the settings altogether, which I don’t want to do. It’s probably better if you just include a link in a new post. I could also add them to your original post if you’d like me to.

Yes. It’s good that you already found that out, but your portfolio seems to suggest that you’re mainly focused on selling your art rather than graphic design.

I was looking at this page. There’s graphic design there, but it’s still largely centered around your illustrations. Graphic design should always be centered around the client’s or employer’s needs. If your illustration style is the right fit for a project, great. Most of the time, it won’t be, however. Your graphic design style should reflect the flexibility needed to accommodate whatever works best for the job at hand.

Maybe. If you’re trying to do separate things: your artwork and graphic design, I’d probably divide them up since one tends to undermine the other. A few select illustrations in your graphic design portfolio would be a great way to show off a related skill, but if you’re trying to bill yourself as a graphic designer, your portfolio really does need to center around graphic design.

Cool, you’ve been extremely helpful! That’s okay, I’ll just keep my post as-is here. I’ve had a few people tell me that I need separate domains for each thing, so that’s definitely something that I’m going to do. Maybe I could post links to each respective site too.

You need to make sure whatever portfolio site you use doesn’t ask me to sign up for your newsletter or whatever that was. The second time it did it, I clicked off.

You have another issue going on here that B didn’t hit upon. You are in your last semester of a 2-year program. Do you already have a Bachelor’s degree? We hire interns, but not usually in their second year. And where B used to work, they didn’t look at anyone that didn’t have that bachelors.

That makes sense. I will be creating a separate website that does not have a newsletter popup. I do not have a Bachelor’s degree and don’t intend to get one because I will eventually be working from home, most likely on a freelance basis, while my husband makes the majority of our money. It’s also not a requirement in the field as long as you have a strong portfolio and a fair amount of experience.

That depends. When working from home for clients (like I’m doing today, which is why I’m online), no one ever asks about degrees — it’s all about portfolio, connections, and experience.

However, if you applied for a job at one of the bigger ad agencies in Minneapolis (your website says that’s where you live), that degree would likely be an entrance requirement.

At most places I’ve worked, every job announcement got 160–200 applicants. I couldn’t look through 200 portfolios — it all turns into a big blur — so we just started making rough cuts to narrow down the field. The first cut was always either no four-year degree or limited experience. I’m sure we eliminated some good people that way, but when we made those cuts, we didn’t even see their portfolios. Lots of companies seem to make those same sorts of rough cuts.

There’s a big continuum between working from home and running oneself ragged at an agency, so much depends on what your objectives are. The competition is pretty steep, though, as you’re finding out.

I love your work. My comments come from over 30 years as a Graphic Designer. So glad you reached out for help here. First you are not a graphic designer. You are a very talented illustrator who is confused as to what graphic design entails. This is why you have no success when applying for graphic design. Your work needs to be sent to a graphic designer to get printed. Since you have made it clear that your husband will be making most of the money you must decide where your passion lies. Do you want to spend the time (years) learning the boring details and trench warfare of TRUE graphic design OR do you want to continue doing GREAT illustrations like you have been? If I had your talent and situation, I would just continue doing great art and let others struggle to get it printed. Again, love your stuff.

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