Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Excerpt from Look @ Me! Look @ Me!

(This is an excerpt from another book project of mine.  This one deals with the problems of creating and marketing your portfolio or demo reel.  I decided to work on this project because of all the questions I get from students.  It seems to me that there are always a lot of questions and concerns with what should be in your book/reel and what should not.)
Organization and Reasoning of this book
     I wrote this book because, well...I want to be famous.  No, really I did.  It may be a selfish reason, but you know, I can live with that.  I mean isn’t that why you bought the book.  Because you want people to look at you and your work and go “WOW”.  The point of this book is really to teach you how to get your work seen by as many people as possible and how to organize it and arrange it so that you really impress the hell out of them.  I mean come on, deep down don’t  we all want to be admired by our peers, and held in awe by the common man.  Or maybe it’s just me?
     This book is arranged into two major parts.  Part one entitled “Creating a Portfolio”, covers pretty much what it sounds like,  the nuts and bolt of putting your work together in a way so that you get the most “bang for you buck”.  In this section I will discuss not only how you can organize your portfolio and gear it to the specific industries you are interested in, but also how to go about physically building one when you are ready to do so.
Part1: Creating a Portfolio
     Why do I have to create a portfolio?  Well oh, uh…so that you can get a job?  While a good portfolio doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the job you want, a bad one will most certainly guarantee that you won‘t.  A portfolio is a sampling of your work, and it is the standard method by which you demonstrate your skill as a creative professional to prospective clients.  Whether the portfolio is a good old fashioned presentation book, a web site or a digital display is irrelevant at this point (we discuss the physical forms the portfolio can take in chapter 4), what I am trying to get across at this stage is that there are certain qualities that all good portfolios regardless of the specific profession should have in common.
     At this stage, my goal is to get to you to start actively thinking about your portfolio.  What can it do for you?  What do you want it to do for you?  How much work do you have ready to go into your portfolio?  How much of what you have shouldn’t you put in?  These are the questions you should ask yourself at this stage.
     When creating your portfolio you should always keep in the front of your mind the purpose of this portfolio.  The same principle holds true for when you design the individual pieces that will comprise your portfolio.  Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by extraneous things.  
     A: A few rules for everyone
     Regardless of what specific type of job you are going for, there are certain guidelines that all creative professionals would do well to remember.  
     1: Gear your portfolio to the specific industry you are going for.  
     It doesn’t do you much good to show cd cover designs to a corporate art director who is looking for someone to work on his annual report.  Likewise, the last thing a busy senior animator wants to look at is your flying logo, or a gig poster for your favorite punk band.  You should only show the types of work that shows you have the skill sets that match the current job a prospective employer is looking to fill.  If you have a wide range of skills and wish to demonstrate them all, more power to you, but in that case you should create multiple portfolios each geared towards a different  industry.  Remember, the people who are going to evaluate your book are busy, don’t make them think they are wasting their time.
     2: Always lead off your portfolio with your strangest work.
     3: Always, Always show the complimentary material.
     Employers are not only interested in seeing finished work but they also want to see if your have the conceptual skills to really market yourself as a creative pro.  To this end, lets say you have a DVD cover in your portfolio, not only should you include the finished, printed cover, but you should also include: The design brief, the thumbnails, and the comps.  To further enhance this piece you could also include the DVD booklet and back cover, you could also add further promotional materials, brochures, flyers, and even perhaps a point of purchase display.  This is the kind of thing that Art directors want to see because it shows that not only can you put a pretty picture together but that you also have a brain in that head of yours and that you can understand and handle a wider range of responsibilities.  

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