Can any employer please help me with some advice.

Well, the other day I went in for an interview. The interview went quite well. I didn’t get the job though and the lady that interviewed me gave me some advice but I’m not sure I should follow it. I made a portfolio in book format. I made it real creative and used hardware, fabric, paint and other things. I’ve had good feedback about it from the few people I’ve shown it to until… this interview. She suggested that I buy one of those portfolios that they sell in art stores, you know those typical plastic covers with clear plastic sheets. She said it would look more professional. I was shocked to hear this because all of my professors hated those things. They always suggested that we make our portfolios unique. And that those plastic ones were very tacky. Now I’m confused and wonder what advice other employers could give me before I go on another interview. Also, say for example I have my designs printed onto a plain white page. Is it better to have it isolated like that so nothing will distract the interviewers eyes from the main design, or should I design the whole page around my main piece? Thank you for your time.

During my final semester in school I consulted 3 people on writing a good cover letter and resume my ID professor, a friend who was a copy writer and a professor who taught technical writing. All 3 had differing views on how to write a resume.

Don’t stress out-you’re likely to get conflicting advice in the future (this forum, for example). I’d place some weight to the advice in the interview. Frankly they are the audence who are going to offer the job, not your friends, family or professors. The hand-made portfolio is meant to show you have the cabability to design something of your own-but you’re not looking for a job binding books or portfolios or being crafty. At some point you’re portfolio will evolve with new projects, you’ll edit things out or add work depending on the focus of the job you’re applying for. Do you want to remake a new portfolio each time?

In my humble opinion and experience, I think that the portfolio should:have a professional looking cover; be versatile-pages can easily switched out, removed or added; page sizes 8.5x11 or 11x14 are ideal, easy to carry-anything larger is, well, too big. There should also be consistancy to the format of each page-font size, color scheme, etc. If you were to loose a page from the book a stranger should be able match it to your portfolio based on the way you’ve designed the overall layout.

Other suggestions:

What if you cut several black matte board pages so that images can be mounted on each page? This would eliminate the glare put off by those vinyl sleeve-pages. Minimize the number of craft elements to your hand made portfolio. Without seeing it and hearing that you have incorporated paint and fabric sounds a little crafty.

Be thankful that the interviewer offered candid advice.

It’s hard to say without seeing some shots of your portfolio, but I have seen some designers put so much work into the design of their portfolio that it over powers the designs in the portfolio. Maybe this is what your interviewer was picking up on?

I would definately drop the crafty home made book (don’t know if that accurately describes it) - get a nice one from Pina Zangaro - that is professional and it is easy to update and move stuff around - I got a really nice one from there and all the interviewers are impressed with it


i think the simpler the better, show them the best you can do but in a clear and professional way.

portfolios to me are like the actual interview…there is no need to tell them EVERYTHING about yourself, just the most important things.

Portfolios, like resumes, should be tailored as much as possible to give an effective presentation to a specific audience. Think of it like a marketer trying to reach a certain demographic, or a TV advertisment being targeted at a certain person. Granted you won’t know exactly who it is you are talking to, but that is something you can ask previous to interviewing - who will be involved, who will you be meeting with, and what will the format/room be like?

If you were meeting with engineering/design at Boeing it would be quite different from meeting with Astro or JDK, and your presentation should be tailored to that as much as possible.

I know this stuff is expensive - I’ve done it dozens of times over myself and it’s tedious - but the interviewer’s comments were generally OK too - however the creativity you put into it wasn’t necessarily bad but maybe overpowered your work.

The nice store-bought leather folio is a nice touch but not essential - I’ve found success even using a good archival box with loose boards, 1 or 2 per project, that can then be laid out on the table as you walk through the presentation. that way there’s no flipping back and forth, and no sticky vinyl pages. I’ve got loads of those darn pages if anybody wants some.

Sometimes ‘creative’ portfolios and resumes scream student! and don’t look very professional - this is probably what she is getting at.

If you are an employer interviewing lots of people /reading tons of resumes, you just want to get down to the nitty gritty and not be distracted because the resume is stitched together with wool - know what I mean?

I remember a job I worked at where we were renowned for our creative shoe designs. We would get no end of odd/creative resumes sent in - but it just becomes irritating after a while - how do you file those things for a start?

As for portfolio’s - when you’ve been lugging your portfolio around for a few years, you soon realise that a vast behemoth is neither practical nor professional. Save the creativity for your actual design work.

If you are going for a job where you will be presenting to clients, they will be looking for someone with (what they perceive to be) a professional way of doing things. They won’t want to send someone who behaves like a student.

You need to look at it from the employers point of view.

Unfortunately you do get a lot of conflicting advice from professors, possibly because they haven’t worked in the actual industry (apart from teaching) for a while?

I just wanted to thank all of you that replied. All the advice was very helpful and I think I now know where I need to go with my portfolio. I really appreciate it.

I forgot to tell you that you have a beautiful eye.

thanks newbie :wink:

good luck with your future interviews!

show us pictures of your porfolio…pictures please…maybe it look cool to u but it may not look serious…

…your portfolio should communicate that you are competent and unique…that is, they should remember you and your work, not your ‘book’.

Its really about what’s IN the book not the book itself. I wouldn’t recomend getting one of the cheap plastic books though. Don’t go too trendy either. Spend the money to get something nice and professional. When I got out of school I spent more than I wanted but it lasted 20 years… and I would continue using it but its a bit too beat up now.


from my perspective as an interviewer, if your physical portfolio book is the most memorable part of your interview, then the work content isnt worth anything. For me crafty books scream student or too much free time.

I am thinking about using two sizes for my portfolio. 8.5 x 11 for mutliple misc. sketches + 11 x 14 for refined pieces, photos of models, and some sketches. Or vice versa with the sizes.

Does anyone else do this? What your suggestions? Any opinion is appreciated.

By the way I am a Junior Industrial Designer.


Problem: Most schools don’t do a good job of teaching students how to create a portfolio beyond work that hangs on the wall. These days most students won’t get hired from the senior show. They will have to beat the streets with their portfolio that consist of work that is anywhere from 11 x 14 to whos knows how large.

So how do you translate the work on the wall into a format that is both design specific and can be portable on the plane. Luckily, I have found a way to do that and it seems to work every time. I had to be self taught with this and compare my style to classmates at the time. So many companies see the same type of portfolio every time someone comes in to interview because these schools keep teaching the same boring format.

There are too many clones in this business rather than people who will take a risk, go against the wishes of their institution and just be DIFFERENT!

I have seen students come for job opps and I almost fall asleep when they present their boring 11 by 17 format of digital images in that standard black binder sold at art stores. BORING

Whatever happened to original sketches, I mean the kind from vincent vellum, that require Prismacolors and pastels. There are too many digital kids and not enough original kids. I graduated at a time when they still taught rendering on canson paper. Scary I know but this gets it done! These kids don’t even know where to look for canson at the art store. Wake up design students. There is more to design and portfolios than just a slick digital image.

Luckily, I have found a way to do that and it seems to work every time. I had to be self taught with this and compare my style to classmates at the time.


You don’t really state the way you found to do it. Is it the sketches (stated at the bottom of your passage) or something else?

So you would say can the 8.5 x 11 and shoot for something larger? Still carry-on size of coarse.

My school (The Art Institute of Pittsburgh) also taught rending on canson paper as well. I have no problem with showing off some mixed media renderings. But as you say, each professor I had wanted them in different sizes, 15 x 20, 20 x 30, 19 x 24 and such mounted on matte boards. To me it just doesn’t look professional having so many different sizes in a portfolio. Basically unorganized.

I would possiblly like to have a very clean looking 11 x 14 with photos or scans of these mixed media renderings scaled down to fit into a one size portfolio. Also add in the developmental sketches, digital images, photos of models + etc… What are your opinions on that thought?

I just need some advice before purchasing a portfolio case and then hearing I bought the wrong size in a interview or on this board.

One more thought, is it wise also to have your portfolio scaled down to 8.5 x 11 so you can leave samples behind?


Well Eric,

If I tell exactly how I put my portfolio together, I might have other people copying my style and once again we would become design clones. However, I will say this:

The kids that graduate from crafts, metals or other design couses might have more creativity than the ID student.

Basically, look at the other departments at your school. Ask yourself why are they able to get ID jobs when they didn’t study ID in school. I know someone who graduated crafts who had no drawing experience and they got a job at an interior design company working in the advanced studio as a interior designer (sketching).

They are given more free reign than the typical ID student who is so over critiqued by the professors idea of what he would like to see produced rather than the students idea of design.

Other departments don’t teach their students to focus on scanning in images and matting on matte board. I bet he even told you what color matte board to use. I can’t believe thay are still teaching this matte board non-sense. Listen, go to the art store find a thin board that is light, easy to carry and easy to cut. Do what the professors ask just to graduate but when you have to job search do it your way. I know its hard becuase the school can be so controlling over students. They even have power over who gets jobs and who gets shafted.

Ask yourself why the worst guy in class got a job offer. Things that make you go Hmmmmm.

Thanks guest5!