Advice on Portfolios

“Never apologise for dodgy ideas: take them out or redo them”

Michael Johnson, Creative Director

Step Two.
Put together a short, emailable PDF crammed with fantastic ideas, demonstrating unique thinking and doing. Then, in real life, projects can be expanded, personal work shown, stories shared, and it all ends happily ever after.

Step One.
A handy checklist of dos and don’ts before you press send.

Do send a short PDF. Don’t send a 56-page magnum opus – you’ll have nothing for the next stage. Downloadable zip files? Dropbox links? No. Crashed computer, waiting to happen.

Do include a link to your site – as long as it doesn’t look like every other designer’s website. Your site’s navigation shouldn’t overpower or undermine the work.

Do take care. You’d be amazed how many emails johnson banks get asking to work at Wolff Olins. Or how much they’re looking forward to meeting Michael Banks. True.

Do spellcheck. It’s already painfully obvious that most designers cannot spell. You don’t need to hammer it home.

Your Cycling Proficiency badge, killer GCSE results, that logo for your Uncle’s wine bar? Lovely. But what matters most is where you studied, your grade, where you’ve worked and what you’ve done.

Don’t show work that isn’t up to scratch. Never apologise for dodgy ideas: take them out or redo them.

Don’t pass off other people’s work as yours. It will come out in the wash, believe me.

Do study your targets. Take johnson banks – we don’t do packaging. So, please don’t send us packaging projects, unless they are unlike any other piece of packaging we’ve ever seen before.

Do demonstrate potential. Don’t grumble about the lack of opportunities on your course, or in your job, to do decent work. Develop killer ideas at the weekends and show, that given the chance, you’ll shine.

Done all that? Now you’re ready for Step Two.

Michael Johnson is Creative Director and Principal of johnson banks, the branding agency he set up in 1992. 

Posted 01 June 2017 Collection: Portfolios
Disciplines: Graphic Design
Mentions: Michael Johnson, Johnson Banks, Wolff Olins


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