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Portfolio Review

Postby Sketchgrad » November 21st, 2014, 4:58 pm


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So I thought it was time I got some much needed feedback on my current portfolio that I have been working on and using in my job search.

I've had a couple of incredible interviews recently and whilst I wait for feedback/job offers I would like to get the esteemed opinion of the board.

The first iteration of my portfolio I did when I graduated and went on the job hunt never really got the reception I wanted, it was too wordy and lacked important skills such as sketching, CAD, rendering and model making etc.

This time I've tried to keep it as clean as possible with minimal text and showcasing as many different skill sets that I've either picked up or enhanced in my time in the professional world.

Personally and being self critical I feel it's missing a "clever" project that involves a bit more research. Also, I know the sketching still needs to be improved by developing a style and becoming a bit "looser" in what I showcase (trust me its a lot better than what it was two years ago).

I'm working on adding new projects, redoing a few old ones (such as the Harley Camera recently). But as it stands I'd love to get everyones opinion on things I'm doing right, and on things I'm not.

I send it out as a PDF but for the sake of everyone here I hope that a link to my Behance suffices: https://www.behance.net/_iamdave

Thanks in advance!

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby Dan Lewis » November 22nd, 2014, 1:38 pm

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Just a quick crit. You have a section entitled 'Model Making' -- I don't see any model making, cardboard mockups aren't models. I'm curious to know if there is any real model making at Quirky or is it mostly mockup stand-ins for renderings?

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby Sketchgrad » November 22nd, 2014, 2:01 pm


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Dan Lewis wrote:Just a quick crit. You have a section entitled 'Model Making' -- I don't see any model making, cardboard mockups aren't models. I'm curious to know if there is any real model making at Quirky or is it mostly mockup stand-ins for renderings?


But cardboard mockups are models? You're going to have to elaborate a little more on that point for me so I can take the criticism on board....

In my PDF 'book' that section is cut down to two pages as I feel showcasing as much as I do on Behance would become a bore. In my opinion there are plenty of models in my projects however I believe those "mock-ups" do show a real skill that I have. In fact in most interviews its one of the first thing that gets praised followed by the comment "most of my team can't make models like that".

To drive my point home - even though they aren't a part of a projects process, not everyone knows how to turn a flat sheet of cardboard in to a 3D form like that. It's much cheaper and faster than 3D printing too in order to help prove a concept.

As for "real model making" at Quirky, then from my experience of working there I can say yes there is but it depends on the project and whether they put images of it on their website.

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby Jboogie941 » November 22nd, 2014, 11:14 pm


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I believe cardboard mock ups are merely exploratory. They do not hold any weight as a model. Whenever I created models, be it in school, work or for myself, I used hard foam sculpting and went thru the process of fiberglass reinforcement, sanding etc. Sometimes an actual working prototype was created. :D

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby sketchroll » November 24th, 2014, 11:43 am

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I like the plate pals concept. I think kids would love it. In fact I would take it one more level and make it more kid friendly. Maybe its like a boat, airplane, or monster. The monster pal would always be for hamburgers for example. Kids would be like mommy can you make me a monster for lunch? Just riffing off your idea. ;)
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Re: Portfolio Review

Postby Sain » November 24th, 2014, 2:07 pm

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The projects you show on your portfolio are well documented and presented efficiently. Nothing I would really change on them.

One thing though that you could benefit from would be changing the scale/scope of projects a bit. They're all small household goods, going through a very similar process. Would be nice to show a differnet type of project. Larger scale medical? Sporting goods, small wearables? If your going after a consultancy you might be jumping between all these categories. I know this comes with time and experience, but maybe next personal project try and do something in a different category.

Also presentation wise, can there be a more sketch heavy project; a project that has emphasis on the CAD development (draft, reveals, bosses, pcb/components clearance, etc); one project thats all about money shots and Editorial style renderings; or maybe one thats all about materials explorations, etc. Show that you can take whatever style of problem and work through it. Sure all projects hit on these parts, but each project should showcase one of these skills. Its better to be a master of something than a jack of all trades, especially in presentations.

Finally, try and figure out a way to add a bit of personality into your portfolio/website. Once the work is good, the next question is "Is this person a good fit, Are they going to be fun having around for the next couple of years." Presentation style, selection of work, showcasing hobbies/interest. All this factors in as well. I didn't see your PDF, but people often neglect this part.

A few questions to always ask yourself when building a page/portfolio project. "If I wasn't here to explain anything, what would the viewer thing I'm trying to say on this page"

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Re: Portfolio Review

Postby bepster » November 25th, 2014, 3:41 am

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No bad at all, Dave.
Renders and products look really nice but it feels as if you are leaning to heavily on Quirky work. I agree with Eman, the portfolio lacks a little bit of diversity.

In terms of the model making, I'd agree with you. I would definitely call those models and think they fit the category of model making.
It is just a very specific medium. If you have a dedicated section for model making, maybe it would help to include other media as well such as foam.

I would rather question to have a specific model making section at all. I can tell you spent a lot of time perfecting this skill but I am not sure if it actually is that interesting.
Those are not your designs are far as I can tell and they don't really show any development. Basically they just seem like props for more realistic renderings.
This is fine and certainly useful but to me it would make more sense to see this skill applied in in your projects.
Were you applying for a model maker position, then definitely a specific section would make sense.

I am not a huge fan of your "block model" renders. It looks a little like you are trying to make them look like physical models but clearly they are not. I don't really get why you rendered them onto a shop table.

But overall, I really like your work. I just would love to see more diversity and it all presented in a portfolio context instead of individual projects on Behance.

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby Sketchgrad » November 27th, 2014, 11:50 am


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Thanks for the positive feedback so far everyone! This went down ALOT better than the last time I posted work here.

I'll try to address everyones points/comments/feedback below:

sketchroll wrote:I like the plate pals concept. I think kids would love it. In fact I would take it one more level and make it more kid friendly.


Thanks! This was a project I was a little unsure about when it got handed to me but turned out to be a lot of fun once I got my teeth stuck in to it. I did really want to push a kid friendly aspect and tried to achieve this with the overall form language. However, as the inventor imagined this for BBQs/picnics I had to try and incorporate a more adult element in. This ended up being a project where I had to reduce the overall components, whilst creating a family of products all tying in together.

Sain wrote:Also presentation wise, can there be a more sketch heavy project; a project that has emphasis on the CAD development (draft, reveals, bosses, pcb/components clearance, etc); one project thats all about money shots and Editorial style renderings; or maybe one thats all about materials explorations, etc. Show that you can take whatever style of problem and work through it. Sure all projects hit on these parts, but each project should showcase one of these skills. Its better to be a master of something than a jack of all trades, especially in presentations.


I'm actually, going forward, very conscience of this when currently thinking of different projects I could be working on. I did try, even though subtly, to achieve this in my current portfolio although know there are certain skill areas that do need to be showcased more. I'm just curious though, wouldn't focussing on a particular skill in one project and another skill in a different one be showing you are a jack of all trades than it would to have a consistent master skill throughout? None the less I get your point though and will be focussing on achieving this going forward!

bepster wrote:No bad at all, Dave.
Renders and products look really nice but it feels as if you are leaning to heavily on Quirky work. I agree with Eman, the portfolio lacks a little bit of diversity.


Thanks Bengt! I'm very aware that at the moment my portfolio is very Quirky-centric, the catch 22 though is that those projects showcase some of my best work to date. The learning experience I had there helped me grow exponentially but unfortunately that means everything before it is just so sub-par in comparison and not something I want a potential employer to see. I'm working on new things but I'd rather start to put feelers out than sat at my desk doing "just one more project".


bepster wrote:I am not a huge fan of your "block model" renders. It looks a little like you are trying to make them look like physical models but clearly they are not. I don't really get why you rendered them onto a shop table.


This one was tricky and to be honest I'm not sure how to present it in the best light. As the project process was more CAD based, this is where most of the development happened with figuring our scale, form, mechanisms etc. A senior designer suggested displaying them as actual models but maybe I took it too literally? I'm 100% open to suggestions on how better to showcase this part of the project if anyone has any ideas?

So unfortunately today I found out that I am out of the running for what is my dream job currently. The company is fantastic and the facilities incredible (I realised I thrive somewhere with a workshop), unfortunately I don't have some of the skills they were looking for.

I had a great rapport with my interviewer, the design lead - he loved my projects, thought process, the way I presented myself and was interested in me. He did say that my sketching was a bit of cause for concern, although admitted it was him just being hyper-critical.

This sketching black cloud is something that keeps following me and although I try and improve, it will just never be my 'selling point'. I believe I have plenty of other skills under my belt that make me a good designer and at the end of the day sketching is just a tool for communicating an idea. I just wanted to put it to those of us that aren't in the 'elite' sketching crowd, how do you get around this?

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby Sain » November 27th, 2014, 12:14 pm

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I'm just curious though, wouldn't focussing on a particular skill in one project and another skill in a different one be showing you are a jack of all trades than it would to have a consistent master skill throughout? None the less I get your point though and will be focussing on achieving this going forward!


In the end, design is a jack of all trades, some people just are better at other parts. My whole comment is based around, trying to make sure your portfolio pieces don't feel like cookie cutter copies of each other. Ask what was the most important part of this project is, "I modeled this piece for production" or "I helped develop the clients form language" and showcase that as the hero process step.


I'm 100% open to suggestions on how better to showcase this part of the project if anyone has any ideas?


Render them straight on and call out feature sets of whats going on? Or bite the bullet and 3D print them.
Ive used http://www.3dhubs.com/ in the past and just used a guy who had a makerbot. (ended up being much cheaper than shapeways) He even shipped it out to me.


So unfortunately today I found out that I am out of the running for what is my dream job currently. The company is fantastic and the facilities incredible (I realised I thrive somewhere with a workshop), unfortunately I don't have some of the skills they were looking for.

I had a great rapport with my interviewer, the design lead - he loved my projects, thought process, the way I presented myself and was interested in me. He did say that my sketching was a bit of cause for concern, although admitted it was him just being hyper-critical.


This is not a bad thing, keep up the work. Dream job can always wait a few years. You'll be much better position for it after you get a bit more experience.

This sketching black cloud is something that keeps following me and although I try and improve, it will just never be my 'selling point'. I believe I have plenty of other skills under my belt that make me a good designer and at the end of the day sketching is just a tool for communicating an idea. I just wanted to put it to those of us that aren't in the 'elite' sketching crowd, how do you get around this?


You sketching isnt bad, It just feels forced. I don't consider myself to be a hyper-elite sketcher. But I am confident enough to sketch an idea out and it communicate it, without having to think abut drawing it. This to me is an effective sketching style, even if its not hyper realistic. Its all about communication. If you don't have to worry about construction lines, drawing through, to mee thats when your sketching feels the most natural .

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Re: Portfolio Review

Postby Sketchgrad » February 6th, 2015, 7:24 pm


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Hi all,

So it's been a few months since I posted this and wanted to share a few updates for a bit of feedback.

I've finished a new project and rearranged a few older ones that should be the foundations of giving my portfolio that depth and diversity, whilst documenting my skillset.

All projects individually can be viewed on Behance as before: https://www.behance.net/_iamdave

I've also uploaded my portfolio in the format it is sent in my job applications: http://on.be.net/1EWnZ6g
For this I tried to keep the projects in a sort of sh*t sandwich format, well more like sh*t club sandwich. Not that I think any of my projects are bad but obviously some are stronger than others so I layered it: good project, ok project, good project, filler, ok project, good project.

And finally, a new project I worked on that reimagines what a Sony Walkman phone would look like in 2015 after seeing the new High Res walkman at CES this year: http://on.be.net/1EWmEg2

A few points with this one, as Bepster mentioned to me privately that some of the renders are a bit jagged which I am aware of. I had some issues importing the model. Even though I rendered it on a high resolution and did render passes I still couldn't get it as crisp as I'd like, so I'll be redoing them. However, I just needed to get it finished to a good presentable point to show in a few interviews I had this week.

I also have some models I need to photograph as well to show in the process ranging from card to 3D prints. Unfortunately I haven't had great natural light at the moment to do this, if anyone has experienced a UK winter you'll know it's 90% grey overcast most days. So yeah, models will be added as soon as possible.

Sain wrote:Render them straight on and call out feature sets of whats going on? Or bite the bullet and 3D print them.
Ive used http://www.3dhubs.com/ in the past and just used a guy who had a makerbot. (ended up being much cheaper than shapeways) He even shipped it out to me.


Thanks for the tip on this! For the phone project I used 3Dhubs for some iterative models which were done on a Makerbot and then for the final model theres a firm here in the UK called 3DPrintUK (www.3dprint-uk.co.uk) and uses the same process as Shapeways (laser sintered nylon) but at less than half the price. In regards to the popcorn maker those models are just far to big to 3D print but I do have some images of the mechanism printed at Quirky so I'll look in to rearranging the process shots on those.

Sain wrote:You sketching isnt bad, It just feels forced. I don't consider myself to be a hyper-elite sketcher. But I am confident enough to sketch an idea out and it communicate it, without having to think abut drawing it. This to me is an effective sketching style, even if its not hyper realistic. Its all about communication. If you don't have to worry about construction lines, drawing through, to mee thats when your sketching feels the most natural .


You're completely right, a lot of the time it is forced as I feel there is a certain level to reach. The problem I find is that my hand sketches, although they're good enough to communicate internally my intentions to a colleague they just aren't something I personally want to put in a portfolio. I feel I am getting to a stage that I can show a good process and try to focus on my other strong points though.

I was actually saying in interviews "I'm not the best sketcher but I am good at X, Y, Z" and offering to them on a plate my weakness, which a few latched on to. More recently I've not mentioned it at all and no one appears to pick up on it.....still waiting for a job offer though!

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby sketchroll » February 6th, 2015, 8:07 pm

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I really like the brush concept. Such a simple solution! I wonder why I've never seen that before? Maybe its more expensive to produce?
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Re: Portfolio Review

Postby rkuchinsky » February 6th, 2015, 9:09 pm

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Will give more detailed feedback when I review off mobile, but overall I think very strong. Good range of products and skills, clean easy to read presentation and graphics, and no pages felt weak or extraneous.

I think it's very solid. Only thing I'd like to see is more sketches. Your sketch level looks decent and I would hide it, even if more sketches are doodles or exploratory stuff. For sure, some higher level sketches and renderings would be a bonus though.


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Re: Portfolio Review

Postby nicolelsmith » March 17th, 2015, 7:10 am


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Thanks for good portfolio review.

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby Sketchgrad » May 3rd, 2015, 5:17 pm


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Here is my portfolio in it's most current and up to date formate. Please let me know if theres a better way to showcase it on the forum without these links:
- ISSU: http://issuu.com/davebull7/docs/master_ ... 5/12635507
- Behance: http://on.be.net/1EWnZ6g

So over the last 9-10 months I think I have been on about 10+ interviews and not had a single offer. The companies have varied in size from small 5 people outfits to large companies, from consultancies to in-house.

I'm at a point where I really don't know what it is about me that isn't winning these people over. There have been a few of the smaller places that have backtracked and found that the workload has slowed down and no longer need the hire. However, across the board the rejection emails are usually the same. I'm generally being applauded on my digital approach/cover letter, my portfolio is appearing strong enough to get me an invite but in the end I'm faced with a "your experience does not fit our current needs" - for which I never get a response when I ask for an explanation.

This leaves me a little baffled as they can see my resume and body of work before they even respond so I'm not sure what it is that I'm falling short on in the interviews. I take with me physical printouts of my book and don't rely on showing it on my laptop/an iPad, I bring with me a couple of 3D prints to talk through and showcase, I smile, I dress appropriately in a nice button down with black slacks and some nice shoes (not sneakers) and finally I believe I answer their questions appropriately whilst showing a bit of personality.

I know I am not the most charismatic of guys and wouldn't be one to instantly warm a room, I can be best described as a slow burner. However, it's getting to a point where I can't keep traveling out of town to these places out of my own pocket so am looking to the boards to see if there is anything I could do to enhance my chances?

Is there more that I could be adding to my portfolio, is doing another internship somewhere going to give me that extra experience, any tips on what you judge someone on in an interview? All this would be a huge help!

Re: Portfolio Review

Postby bepster » May 4th, 2015, 6:13 am

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Hey David,

As stated before, your portfolio is really strong. And you have also demonstrated tenacity in the way you have continuously polished it.
That being said, I think there are still details that can be tightened up.

What you are experiencing is very frustrating.
I know, as I have had almost a year of travels across Europe and to both US coasts and then crickets.
All of a sudden however, the most amazing opportunity opened up and kick started my career.

Obviously it's hard to make any comments or assumptions as to how you carry yourself in interviews but you seem self aware and contemplative so if there would be anything that might trigger a negative impression, I would believe that you can identify and correct this.

You ask if another internship is the answer. That of course depends on the situation but for me, this was definitely the right decision.
Though the trainee position in SF was much more of a jr designer role than a classic internship, with a clear goal to convert to fulltime and a salary that reflected this.

Are you only answering postings or are you also cold calling firms and studios?

So there isn't much more advice I could give then to keep at it and not give up.

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