I'd love to get a portfolio review and perspective

I’ve been doing web/digital design now for about 25 years, but have been freelancing down into a smaller and smaller niche with just word of mouth clients for ages. Now I need to get back out to drumming up some more work, and with a family now, it would be better for me to get a full time position somewhere with benefits. But I feel completely out of touch with where my work is and how hire able I am. With my seniority, I feel like I should be gunning for a Creative Director position, but with 90% of my current portfolio being banner ads, I feel like I’m barely qualified to be a Sr Designer at most agencies. It has been eons since I have gotten any professional feedback on my work. Where do I stand? Any perspective on positions I’m qualified for? Rates or salary I should expect?
Thanks for your help and perspective.

Brent, first of all, welcome to the forum.

My initial thought is that you have some really great looking work for an enviable client roster. Great job.

I have not looked at every single page, but my constructive criticism would be that it can be a little tough to take your work in.

Here’s what I mean by that.

I clicked on the Physician’s Choice page. Right off the bat, there are three banner ads that start playing. That’s a lot going on visually. What if instead of the “replay” button, it was “play animation” so the site visitor could selectively play the animations one at a time? Also on that page, there are four social media posts. They all tend to run together. I think they’d look better with some air separating them. Note: I am on a desktop, maybe your site looks better on a smartphone.

A couple more comments as I am going through the pages.

On the BlueLuck page, it seems like BlueLuck, Stason Animal Health, and Flea + Tick Defense are three separate clients and each should be on their own page.

On Thursday Boots, it’s not totally clear what I’m looking at underneath the banner ad. It almost looks like some mini photo galleries.

I am not going to go through every page and make notes, but I trust you get the gist – make it easier for the site visitor to take in your work.

I did notice the footer on the about page seems to be a little off (running Firefox on a desktop Mac). See screen capture below.

Don’t let me (hopefully) constructive criticism discourage you. You do some really nice work. I think you’d be an asset to an organization, and I don’t think going in as a CD is out of reach.

Thanks Steve, that’s pretty reassuring overall. I was starting to worry about all the banners playing at once as well, so its good to get confirmation on that, even if it was not what I wanted to hear. I’ll see if I can set up a quick .js event handler to catch the load and pause the banners (I’m much more of a designer than a dev, so those sorts of edits always take a bit of fiddling for me) Hopefully I won’t have to go back to all the original source files and re-export the open GL with a stop in the first frame.

The 3 sites under BlueLuck where all related, or part of the same client story, so I stuck them all together because I was not sure if they were strong enough to stand on their own. But if is causing confusion I should probably break them out or remove the second two.

On Thursday boots, the things under the banners are storyboards to more creative options. I’ll go back and label them, but if I still get comments on it I guess I should probably pull those too.

Thanks again for the feedback!

Yes, specializing in such a narrow niche would seem to argue against the broad skills, experience, and understanding necessary for a creative director position that requires managing and directing the conceptual direction and integration of skills in diverse creative teams.

However, your work shows a solid aptitude for the varied requirements involved in your niche. Even though you’ve focused on banner ads, you’ve done so in a way that demonstrates a more extensive understanding of the bigger picture, which includes everything from research, conceptualization, writing, photography, strategic thinking, design, project management skills, and more.

Perhaps you could emphasize those abilities in your portfolio more directly rather than relying on potential employers inferring them from your work. A creative director is a higher-level management position that reports to CEOs and vice presidents who don’t necessarily come from backgrounds that enable them to intuitively see the necessary qualities required of an effective creative director.

In other words, when hiring creative directors, upper management often plays it safe or chooses the wrong person based on their limited understanding of the job requirements. Over the years, I’ve seen more than one CD hired based on their bullshitting talent rather than their actual abilities to direct the work of creative teams.

Judging only from your portfolio, I think you have the talent. Like most designers’ portfolios, you’ve focused on visuals, but around half of all CDs come from writing backgrounds rather than design. One important thing that might be missing is people managing experience.

Your written summaries of the projects you’ve worked on are great, implying that you’re more than a maker of nice-looking stuff. You might want to stress those abilities a little more explicitly.

Thanks, That is a good insight. I’ll re-work my about to cover the broader soft and managerial skills. That also reminds me that I did the copy writing on a lot of the ads but didn’t list that under “Role” because I mentality bundle it in with “creative concepting”. I should probably go back through and add that.