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Portfolio question

melange's picture

Ok, so recently i've been reworking some of my old projects from college as well as with some of my newer stuff to go out and find a new job. I guess I have been going back and forth with myself about whether or not i should include this project in my physical portfolio, and I needed some outside opinions.

Is it ok to have controversial pieces in one's portfolio? I think I used to believe that an employer might see this as my "unique snowflake" moment, but after being in the business i'm wondering if that's the case. What do you think? should a person include angry typography posters? The way i've explained this in previous portfolio reviews is that it was an experimentation with emotion.

So, I leave the decision to you my fellow design professionals. Is it better to just show strong pieces with no negative aspects, or better to showcase how diverse your ideas can be?

I attached the piece in question as well, but this is more of a universal concept like having a hugely political piece or even something that's not politically correct

AttachmentSize
ANTIFUCK.jpg190.32 KB
stephanie's picture

Okay, I'm sure this will be

Okay, I'm sure this will be a debate, and I'm sure I'll have many people disagreeing with me, but I'll give my opinion anyhow.

I'm a very liberal person. I don't get offended easily, and I think our society takes things too personally a lot of the time. You might want to glance at the fact I'm from Utah (full of conservative mormon republicans) - maybe it's just where I'm from.

With that being said, I think your portfolio should be your best design work in -your- opinion. Not the best "I hope no one gets offended by this" design work. I think some of the best creatives are the people willing to take risks and be different. When I look at or critique someones design portfolio, the subject matters very little (in a personal sense) when it's an jaw-dropping piece of work. If people are going to get their panties tied up in a knot over only one of your designs in your portfolio, you probably will have a hard time working with them in the future, anyway.

However, keep in mind it doesn't matter what you have in your portfolio if it doesn't show quality or purpose - so I think having a bunch of posters with controversial subjects in your portfolio for no reason other than "that's what I felt like designing" wouldn't be a good idea.

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Perfectly Lost Designs

Creative_NRG's picture

Tread Carefully

This is a great use of typography but I doubt your portfolio hinges on this one experimental design. The controversial 'anti-christ' message and language could certainly offend an interviewer and I'm of the thought that you don't want to give them ANY reason to eliminate you from consideration during the interview.

Does it really say "Anti things I fucked and ate. I am the faggot anti pope"?

I'm not easily offended but I know art director's who would consider this in bad taste and a 'deal breaker'. Do your research on the business before you interview.

Every design you show says something about you personally and when looking for a new job the risks far out way the reward in my opinion.

melange's picture

good ol' Manson

Yeah, it does say that. His songs are always so eloquent, right?

Just for background, the teacher picked a random song from our ipod or cd collection. Some people got some really difficult songs. I think mine was pretty easy in comparison. No mincing of words here. I miss college...

______________________________________
life is great; without it, you'd be dead.

natobasso's picture

Hate to say it, but if it's

Hate to say it, but if it's not paid/real work then don't put it in your portfolio; controversial or not.

Like your resume you need to tailor the pieces you show to the particular employer. If you were going for a job at MTV or a record label, then this one might very well be appropriate (but paid work would go ahead of this one, IMHO). However, working for a very conservative PR firm this piece wouldn't fly at all.

Gauge your audience. Paid pieces first.

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Powerpoint is not a design application

melange's picture

hm

well, maybe this is a separate debate as well, but I would say that my "paid work" hasn't really been the kind of work i've wanted. I work at a printer who primarily does ultra small business boring work - hence why i'm leaving. That being said, my college work is more on par with the kind of creativity and jobs i WANT to be doing and not so much what i'm currently doing.

I'll be showing a few of the nicer things i've done here, but I want to show stuff that I can do if given the opportunity to do it.

Is it really that bad to show college work?

natobasso's picture

It's not bad to show college

It's not bad to show college work, but as has been said you 'need experience to get experience' so you have to use whatcha got. Definitely don't use the manson piece for anything except the real cutting edge design studios.

I remember when I first started I had almost no work to show so I just went out there and got jobs, anything I could, on a freelance basis, just to fill the portfolio with 'real' work. I think college work isn't 'real' work because it wasn't created in the same environment (deadline focused and budget and input directed) and as such isn't as well respected unless it is at a very high level design-wise. Most student work just isn't on that level.

So you have to do what you can. I think including some school pieces will help you at this point but try to relate them to a work situation if you can. What was a design challenge you overcame with the piece? Would it have saved on printing costs while still helping the 'client' send the message they wanted to send? Try to monetize your designs; businesses understand this objective quantity best. :)

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Powerpoint is not a design application

archmedia's picture

still a catch-22

"it wasn't created in the same environment (deadline focused and budget and input directed)"

I think that also depends on the school you go to. prime example was my first year in architecture school, hand drafting class, our teacher pretended to be a client wanting a new home. a few months later he wanted major changes to the plans. Now that i work in the field i can shift the view and modify things, in hand drafting class i had to start over my sheets of drawings cause i couldn't fit it on the same sheet, all that with a deadline of Friday morning 9am. I spent my 18th birthday in a drafting lab, from noon Thursday till 9am Friday morning drafting up the new plans.

the next point i think that's missing is : HOW do you present it and not always WHAT you present. if you present it as "well, i did this for a class and I'm sorta happy with it" then i'd laugh at you. If you present it as "i did this in class where our teacher pushed us, as though he were a client with a deadline, and changed his requirements a few days before the deadline" then you have my attention.

Another concept i saw from someone that presented me his portfolio was his works in progress of each project, not just the finished result. He'd shown me his schematics, proposals, tweaks and then final result. I may not have always agreed with the final result, but at least i saw that the guy could think and move something forward, change it, modify it, mold it, etc.etc.

There's a lot of things you can do as a fresh fish on the market. I agree that putting paid works shows real life experience, but something you mentioned is the firm/office your at now does shit work. if that's the case, or even if it's just something you're trying to get away from, then don't put it. just make sure you have something to back up that decision.
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Architectural Technician - Multimedia Designer
www.ArchMedia.us

natobasso's picture

Well said and no argument

Well said and no argument here. :)

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Powerpoint is not a design application

2shanda's picture

I have to agree with....both of you

I think natobasso has a great point, yet, melange, I totally understand where you are coming from. How long ago did you graduate? If it was 1 year ago, I don't see anything wrong with including SOME college work. However, if it was 5 years ago, including college work is going to make it look like you haven't done much since you left school.

I have been in jobs like yours, where you are "gaining industry experience," but you aren't really able to build portfolio pieces that will get into Communication Arts. I have asked the same question to a few creative directors and they always say, "I want to see your best work."

That said, there is nothing wrong with showing "small business stuff." Remember you only need 8-10 pieces when you go on an interview. There has to be some paid work you can focus on. Perhaps pick and choose which part of the paid work to show. If the logo was great, but the postcard sucked, then just show the logo.

Also remember that good employers (who care about design) want to know WHY you did things. College work is (for the most part) created by the way it looks, whereas paid work is created by what the client needs. Try to pick a paid project that overcame a challenge. How did you solve it?

natobasso's picture

2shanda definitely said it

2shanda definitely said it better than I did. :)

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Powerpoint is not a design application

2shanda's picture

but to get back to the original question....

Make sure your portfolio allows you to remove/add pieces. Your portfolio is always going to be evolving. But more applicably, if you are going on an interview for an in-house design job with a law firm in Salt Lake City ( perhaps near seraphim's hometown, haha) LEAVE out the Manson thing. But, if you are going to interview at a modern design firm whose principals are seen open-minded.. hell, leave it in if you feel it is one of your strongest pieces. Check out their portfolio before you show yours... it will say a lot about the company. Research is key.

archmedia's picture

some great comments to date..

Seeing as you're new in the industry, my suggestion is to avoid political, sexual and religious topics. The last thing you want to do is lose a possible job because the potential employer disagrees with your view point. Get the job first, then if it becomes a problem, at least you'll have that much experience under your belt. As you move along in your career, then you can start pushing those "boundaries".

looking at the piece in question, i personally don't see problems with it, though i'm liberal/progressive, living in a conservative state, moved here from Canada. Yes, i'm screwed! Back on topic... I'd be curious what the other pieces of your portfolio are, for all intensive purposes, you might easily be able to get away without using it.

hope this helps some what, if any.

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Architectural Technician - Multimedia Designer
www.ArchMedia.us

natobasso's picture

arch, the saying is, "for

arch, the saying is, "for all intents and purposes". :)

Otherwise, good points as usual.

Did you see US Rugby almost beat Samoa?! We're moving up in the world. Poor Canada though, tying Japan 12-12. Shoot!

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Powerpoint is not a design application

archmedia's picture

i like having flair

twisting sayings is fun!

and yes, that Japan game bummed me out BIG time. first time we don't leave with an actual win, at least it was a draw. The samoa v US game was great, a local irish pub had it on, nothing like drinking beer and watching rugby with a bunch of transplant irish! :D
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Architectural Technician - Multimedia Designer
www.ArchMedia.us

melange's picture

hah

lol rugby aside - i think i'm on the same page as you guys.

It reminds me of the first job i got out of college - gorgous studio, awesome location - it was exactly where i wanted to "look" like i worked. At the portfolio review (even after the marilyn manson poster showing), the lady said to me

"I like what I see and i want to hire you." (I'm thinking OMFG YES!) She then says "I don't hire people who smoke, drink, have tattoos or piercings - do you fit into any of these catagories?"

I lied, said i didn't do any of those things, and proceeded to be fired a month later because i was caught smoking outside with my tattoos and 1 1/8 ears showing - oops.

Just a funny story i thought everyone would appreciate, lol.

life is great; without it, you'd be dead.

archmedia's picture

that should have been a warning

smoke, drink, tattoos or piercings.. hot damn..

my current job we have beers during lunch, sometimes the owner buys. we have a smoking area, for all of the 5 employees out of 63.
tattoos are common sight, though attempted to be hidden.
piercings... i can't be bothered by them so i don't pay attention to them.

i'd freak if i wasn't allowed to drink. i'm no alcoholic, but a good beer is what i'm all about. evidently, if the rugby match is on, then i'm SET!

my last job in Montreal before leaving for the states, we'd go have "a drink" for lunch on fridays and never come back, and that too was with the owner/boss. i'm glad to say i'm in that environment again. hahaha i can't wait to be freelancing again though, then i'll be able to have a beer on the job.
____________________________________________
Architectural Technician - Multimedia Designer
www.ArchMedia.us

natobasso's picture

Ya gotta love

Ya gotta love discrimination...

very funny story though. :)

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Powerpoint is not a design application

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