Rebranding personal portfolio

Hello everyone. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I am brand new to this forum and decided this might be a good time to reach out to other designers for advice and opinions. I am going to be finishing a contract with a design agency in the middle of this year and absolutely think my portfolio website is outdated and needs a fresh coat of paint.

My question is this. What is your process to marketing ‘Yourself’ and the work you do? Do you use your own name or create a clever moniker? Really ANY input is welcome here, any direction to get my creative thoughts flowing and direct myself to a result.

Thank you. :slight_smile:

Is your goal to get hired, get freelance work or start a company?

Ideally my goal is to get hired. I do not have much freelance experience, as most of my work has always been done at or for an agency.

I would however welcome notes and thoughts on freelancing, as that may be something necessary to moving forward in my career, in at least knowing what I am worth.

I once drew up a little ditty and shot it for a folio background image.

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Before going full-time with my own business a couple of years ago, I spent most of my career in and leading various creative groups. I must have seen close to a thousand portfolios and interviewed dozens of applicants. So with that perspective in mind…

The strongest and weakest pieces in your portfolio are most memorable. A single bad piece outweighs everything else, and not in a good way.

Your portfolio needs to show that the work you’re capable of doing is a good fit for the job you’re going after. This might seem obvious, but when applying for a job at a power tools manufacturer, don’t load up your portfolio with wedding invitation designs.

Depending on where you’re applying, an HR department might make the first pass on everything and veto any application that doesn’t meet minimum requirements. We’d routinely get around 150 applications per job at places I worked, so HR would weed out most using their computer programs. In other words, aim your application at checking all the boxes that HR might require. Otherwise, no one in the company will ever look at your portfolio.

If called in for an interview, assume an art director has already checked out your online work, looked at your social media accounts, researched who you are, and knows a good deal about you. Don’t come to the interview only to rehash what they already know and have seen. Surprise them with some physical samples that aren’t in your portfolio and some stories to go along with them. The whole in-person tactile aspect changes the dynamic from pictures they’ve seen on the web to actual stuff they can hold in their hands.

In the interview, say and do something memorable. A dull person ends up getting lost in the sea of new faces. Something needs to make you stand out. When the interview team gets together after the interviews, you want them to remember you as a distinct person rather than a blur. Interview days are tiring for the people conducting the interviews. Much gets forgotten in the big blur, so make yourself stand out (in a good way, of course).

Don’t be one-dimensional. When asked (and interviewers almost always do ask), tell them about interesting things you like to do — things that give them the impression that you’re a smart, well-rounded person who would fit in. When I conducted interviews, we’d often talk about the applicants’ interests more than anything. By the time the interview rolled around, I’d already seen their online work and researched them. I already knew if their work was up to speed, so I’d be looking for what else they’d contribute to enhance the creative team.

When it comes down to choosing the winner out of the finalists, a relevant side skill often clinches the job. For example, if you’re applying for a web design job, showing that you can also edit video or write well might be what separates you from an equally qualified competitor.

I could go on, but that’s enough. Gotta get back to work.

When looking for employment, use your own name. Doing otherwise would be weird. “Hi, my name is Bill, but please call me Crazy Elephant Graphics.” Um, no, don’t do that.

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I am legitmately amazed that you are able to have the confidence to just roll with that. What inspired you?

I appreciate the feedback.

I am currently in a position where I’m trying to rebrand myself in more ways than one. I am trying to transition from being just a desktop designer to a web designer.

For the last several years I had been employed at an agency and then later at a private company as a graphic designer, but during that time in both cases I improved my web design skills and was able to assist my various employers with their digital designs and websites. (Hell I basically tripled my previous employers income by designing and setting up his online store.)

I have some examples that I can show to demonstrate my web designs, although only images as the websites themselves are no longer active or have changed domains.

In regards to my current agency however, due to legal reasons, much of the work that I have done at my current agency I am unable to display (the EU is quite strict on displaying medical products and so I do not believe I could even display some examples of the final brochures, packaging or websites that I designed without possibly incurring legal ramification.)

My current position is as a web designer who also assist with graphic design projects when needed. I could not have gotten this far without some skill and a hell of a lot of determination to keep improving and learning code, but I suppose I am at a bit of a loss as to how to move forward with my portfolio, apart from the rebranding, in order to help myself stand out.

My plan is as follows:

  1. Update and polish old projects and recent minor freelance work that I had done in the past.
  2. Attempt to show what work that I can from my current place of work that is not of a medical nature.
  3. Attempt to show how I have grown by the way one interacts with the online portfolio itself by designing it as best I can.

With all that said, my confidence is somewhat at a low point and feel like any criticism has now morphed into “you can no longer be a designer” or “your designs suck” :pensive:.

Hence why I want to reach out to other designers. How do you unstick yourselves? Get that confidence to trust your own designs, to look at it and just casually think, “Yeah I made something cool, people will like this.”

On the webpage it’s just a background image, darkened with an orangey overlay. No confidence required. And it was inspired by my fist name, Sheldon. You get it? The graphic is an abstract shell. I think it’s rather clever and attractive, if I may say so myself. :relaxed: