How much does my portfolio suck?

I tried to post a link to my portfolio site, but GDF forum won’t allow it and for some reason says I “cannot post a link to that host”. I don’t know why…

This is a modified version of the URL you can use to reach it, though, if you just type it out:

I have an AAS (associate’s degree) in Graphic Design. I’m currently a senior at Arizona State University online majoring in BAS (bachelor’s of arts and science) in Internet & web development. Next semester I just have to take my last 2 classes to graduate. One of them is a portfolio class. I’m guessing it might be more focused on stuff from ASU/Internet & Web Development major than graphic design, but idk. The 2 sections I need to finish the most are UI/UX and then also practice doing web development to gain enough proficiency for a web design job. I’d like to eventually re-do a ton of my design work in the print design & branding section, but I probably won’t have time to do it for a long time since it’s imperative I practice web development to gain proficiency in it because of my major.

This is a copy I uploaded today of my old portfolio site I made for portfolio class when I graduated from my AAS in Graphic Design:

hollyamber.com/html/OldPortfolioSite/index.html

(I didn’t bother uploading the link to the flash animation page. I might do that later, but I flash .swf is hardly even supported anymore these days anyways. I mainly just re-uploaded my old portfolio to that location so it can be used as a comparison.)

I removed my old portfolio site and started creating my current portfolio site in 2018 after I started doing my BAS in Internet & Web Development.

Welcome back TacoRaptor :slight_smile:

I fixed your link and bumped you up a notch. You shouldn’t have that trouble anymore :slight_smile:

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Are you looking for comments on the website, your work or both?

Well if you think it sucks, I probably will too right?

My take was about the same. If it sucks, why should I spend time looking at it?
You need to change that attitude to something more positive. I’m sure it seemed funny when you typed it, but you are making a professional request here.

The other concern I have with what you are saying, please tell us you’ve had at least an internship in your field? It is far easier to get a job on graduation if you have work experience.

G’day :beers:

I think your portfolio is not actaully too bad, I think some of the work is pretty good. I will say though that I think you need to filter out the garbage.

When a prospective client looks at your portfilo, they’re going to judge you based on the worst work you present (not the good stuff) and they will think: If she can do that to herself, what will she do to us?

So I would remove the weaker pieces and then I would go deeper on the the few good pieces that remain and dive into what problems they solve.

The other thing I would say is that I think the dragonfly photo on the top of each page is a bit offputting. I get that you must like the photo, however unless bug photography is what you’re planning to specialize in, I would change it out.

Is there a particular field of design that you plan to specialize in?

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In response to Steve O’s question

Steve_O
15h
Are you looking for comments on the website, your work or both?

My answer:

Mainly on my portfolio, but any advice, observation, or suggestion on my website or anything else is welcome!

In response to PrintDriver:

Yes I have had an internship back in 2011-2012 when I was working on my AAS in graphic design and a job as a web graphic designer 2015-2016. I haven’t had much luck with employment in my field since then because I had to always move or get interrupted by health issues I had to deal with. I am now finally done with that crap, so it should be easier for me to keep a job without interruptions anymore, but I haven’t worked in my field much since then. I delivered pizza for a while and will be looking for a part time job soon. I looked around a little for a paid internship or job in my field that would be flexible enough for me to also be a student, but I haven’t found one recently. I think it will be easier after I graduate to get a design job because most of them want you to work full time and won’t hire me because I’m a student. Maybe it’s also because I’m 31, so they probably figure there must be something wrong with me (even though there isn’t. I just had lots of crap to deal with for a long period of time, but it shouldn’t be an issue now) and I’m not young enough for a paid student internship or something. idk. I will not consider an unpaid internship because I can’t afford to waste my time on a job that doesn’t pay. I do at least have a few good professional references I can use from people I have worked with in the past.

RedKittieKat - Thank you!

Pluto -

Thank you for your input. I threw my site together somewhat quickly and didn’t spend much time on the banner images and just put up a few photos I took until I could spend more time on the banner design. I haven’t gotten around to it yet because I was more focused on fixing up and adding content to my portfolio itself.

I don’t think I really can afford to throw out the garbage or I wouldn’t have anything almost at all in print design or branding. I need to redo almost everything in those sections before I can remove garbage. If I remove too much garbage, I won’t have a portfolio left, unfortunately.

As far as a specialization, my AAS degree is in graphic design and my BAS degree includes web development and UI design. I’m currently working on cleaning up a few animations so I can finally get them up. Since my major(s) are in graphic design and internet & web development, I should be specialized in those things, but really I don’t think my portfolio and skills are quite advanced enough in those areas. I guess I can hardly really claim to have a specialty area of interest for my skills. They’re kind of general. I’m aiming to eventually be specialized in web design and development and possibly UI design, but able to do other things if needed. The parts of my portfolio and skills that are the best is probably digital imaging & maybe I might be second best at digital video, but I’m not sure. I actually haven’t done much digital video outside of the one class I took, but I made sure those projects were decent and I could probably do it alright irl if needed. Some of the print designs like the women’s self-defense flyer and a few shirts I did for clients turned out pretty decent or pretty good. I’m planning to finish and put up all my UI/UX stuff by the end of the semester and hopefully get to review and practice some web development before I graduate and look for a job in my field.

After I graduate, I’m going to spend the next year or so focusing on developing my proficiency in front-end web development (javascript and responsive html & css). Then I might spend the next year after that redoing some of the designs that are bad, especially in my print and branding sections.

Right now, I’m more focused on at least getting up all my skills and things so they are at least there and show that I can at least do them, even if I’m not the greatest.

I might need to add more content to my portfolio and improve some of the projects that are already in it before I can eliminate much or do much of a garbage dump.

If I dumped out the garbage in my portfolio, how much would I even have left? An art director I interviewed with once said I should have at least 4 things in each section/category of design in my portfolio to demonstrate proficiency, so I would really hate to leave less than that in one of my sections/categories.

I would love to be able to redo some of the projects in my portfolio and make them better, but I’m probably going to be too busy completing the parts of my portfolio that are part of my current degree program (which will mainly include UI/UX and web development and possibly re-working some digital imaging assignments). I have been too busy putting up more sections/categories I have already made work for to have much time to redo anything, unfortunately, but I have at least added a few more categories of skills to my portfolio and some more content. Maybe I should have waited until I have had time to focus on improving my front-end development skills before I ask for a portfolio critique because I might not have any time to focus on improving my portfolio much until then.

Oh, one thing I am going to do for my portfolio, though, is improve/fix the summerween animated gif in on my animations page.

Do you have some suggestions for that?
Would it be better to say “Halloween is Your Favorite” instead of “Because Halloween is Your Favorite?” for the tagline? I’m going to at least remove one frame that is there by mistake. I probably don’t have time to create completely new gifs until I come up with a better concept. I should have at least one in my portfolio to demonstrate ability to make them, so I’m just going to make a few improvements to that one and keep it there until/unless I make some better gifs to replace it with.

Would anyone mind making a list of all the projects in my portfolio that look like they should be purged in a garbage bin or re-done?

I would rather have 2 really good projects that I’m confident that are solid that showcase my ability and my process, than including 2 other projects that hurt me for the sake of making up a number.

I think you’ll find this video very relevant to your situation and it’ll help you understand where I’m coming from:

I think this is an important decision you need to make and I would let what you enjoy most and what you’re passionate about help drive your descison making here, because this is what’s going to get you through when times get tough.

If you read Blair Einns book: “The win without pitching” you’ll realize how much leverage you lose in your client interactions when you’re a generalist designer; Becuse there are millions of other alternative options out there for your prospective customers to choose from. When you establish yourself as an expert in a certain field you’re a lot harder to replace.

In terms of what I would filter, if you were planning to keep trying to be the generalist desinger, I think these are some of your weaker pieces that hurt you:

Women’s Self-Defense Flyer
Persona of the Director/Owner of a Creative Agency

You’ve done really well to cover so many aspects of design, you’ve got a lot of talent as a creative, but like I say: I would recomend you pick one and go deep. :wink: :call_me_hand:

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Firstly, what does that’s at about you to a potential employer? I couldn’t be bothered. I threw it together!! I’d run a mile from that attitude.

When I first visited your site, I did wonder why there was a picture of a cockatiel as the first thing I saw. My initial reaction was that this person hadn’t put a lot of effort in to thinking about their site. If I were hiring, I want a designer who will go the extra mile to come up with great ideas for my clients, because my business is based on the service I offer them. Your site needs to make potential employers, who are going to trust you to work with their clients, stop and immediately think, that this person has something special.

I’d far rather see five good projects that represent the best of what you can do, than padding to make it look as though you have done loads. It alway looks exactly what it is.

If you can put a few good projects together as coherent projects with competent, well-written rationales, explaining what the problem was and how you solved it. I’d take notice of that far more than having to wade through lots of mediocrity.

Also, showcase the sort of work you want to do, going forward. The danger is if you put lack-lustre work in areas you are not to interested in, that’s the sort of work you’ll get – or not. It will definitely be the way people see you.

Your whole attitude towards your site and your work makes you look like you don’t really care.

Tell my why I should hire you. That’s the job your site is supposed to do.

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pluto - Thanks. I removed the Persona of the Director/Owner of a Creative Agency. I was wondering though what reasons exactly you had for listing the Women’s Self-Defense Flyer. I originally didn’t add that piece to my portfolio after I did it because I was worried it might look too violent to appeal to most people, even though for the individual I designed it for, it worked well for his purposes and the client was happy with it.

I thought the Women’s Self-Defense Flyer would be the strongest piece on my entire print design page because it shows good technical use of photography I photographed myself, the trace and convert to outlines tool, and enhancing it with additional outlines I drew myself that were not automatically generated and also adding texture around the edges and in the background of the flyer.

Originally, my portfolio just had one piece in the print design section (the book at the top of the page of that section). Since someone recommended to have at least 4 designs in one of my categories to show proficiency, I decided to add some of my other print designs. He pointed out flaws with the design for that book, too, and I agree, so I want to re-design that project eventually.

When I worked on my portfolio class finishing my AAS in Graphic Design, the professor recommended having at least 1 print design and said to include that one (the book at the top of that page). She didn’t think I should add the Karma poster that I later put up anyway listed at the bottom of that page because she said it looked too “different” from a poster that would typically advertise a grand opening and people wouldn’t get it. It would also be expensive to print a die-cut. I thought it was creative and I like the design and figured the Women’s Self-Defense Flyer could balance out some of the criticisms she had and show that I could create more variety of types of designs. For example, since the flyer is black and white and rectangular, it shows that I can design something that is made to be printed cheaply on a budget (even only uses half a sheet of paper per flyer) on something simple and not a fancy expensive die-cut. The Karma poster is creative and shows a different design approach that could be used to show some variety, creativity, and originality.

If not even the book design is good, though, and I don’t have any better designs (the guy who said I should have at least 4 designs also said he wouldn’t be impressed by something like a shirt or a flyer, so I should have some book designs), then is it really making my portfolio worse to have 4 designs if none of them are exceptional anyway? Is it still better to only have one? Do you think my portfolio was better with just one book design on that section?

Sprout - Yes, I know the top banner needs to be better, but I am still in the process of building the portfolio site and was focused more on the content. I do plan to change the banner at the top, of course. I have just been working on finishing and uploading projects that are the content. Thank you for your input, though.

Pluto -

I also have this question - so if it’s better to have less to impress because of the quality, would it also be better to have less to impress because of style preference/taste?

Someone might, for example, have a lot of designs made in a different style for the taste and needs of different clients, but even if hypothetically, all of them were good, then a potential employer could still look at the work and decide they don’t like the style of one or several of them and not hire them for that. Do you think that is also a factor to consider or just the quality?

I figure at least until I get several pieces completed that are much better quality, I might still be better off with quantity if I don’t have enough impressively good ones to whittle my portfolio down to just including those…

I’m curious what peoples opinion would be on this:

What are the top 3 best pieces or sections in my portfolio and what are the top 3 worse?

My reasons why I believe this isn’t your best work, is while it’s a good message, there are issues with the typography and imagery that I think make it look kinda ameturish:

  • The use of 4 different typefaces makes it feel very disjointed
  • The choice of a grunge display typeface for the “Fun Times Self Defense…” doesn’t feel like it suits the messaging and is difficult to read.
  • The logo has a too much detail to it
  • What was the reason behind applying a crazy filter to the image?

It all suggests a lack of restraint which is uncharacteristic for a good designer.

I get the impression that this project is special to you, but from an objective outside perspective I don’t think it’s your strongest work.

That’s all very pragmatic, and I don’t know what the circumstances why were around you doing this project, but do you want advertise that you work professionally for clients that don’t have budget to print in colour - is that type of client you’d like to attract runnning your business?

Short answer is yep, but I would break the project down more and describe the problem and your solution, include more photography and make it feel like it’s worth more.

Long answer: I think the fundemental issue is the lack of specialization; because trying to show every specific thing you can do, even though some aren’t your strengths, hurts you.

For example, if you were looking for a photographer for your wedding: would you hire someone who does Wedding Photography really well or would you hire someone who does photography, UI, UX, branding, illustration, Animation, Web Design…?

That’s a good question, I think the answer to this lies in the type of clients you’d like to attract. The work you display needs to appeal to the customers you’d like.

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