Is a "design philosophy" blurb in a portfolio cheesy?

I was just curious what some of you think, when viewing potential hires portfolios, especially student ones, of design philosophies.

A part of me says “let the portfolio speak for itself”. But would the design style showcased in the portfolio be enough of an indicator as to what kind of designer you’d be or what your design philosophy is?

OR would a short blurb on a personal design philosophy not hurt but help explain it better?

Thanks everyone.

I guess, there is a risk of cheesy-ness if the text becomes too generic. Set phrases like “I live for design” or “I am a creative thinker” might not be very effective.
This is what cover letters are for. Those you ca tailor to any job and highlight whatever is especially relevant.
Generally, I would not object to a short summery of somebody as a designer, given that there is some interesting background or niche skills.

However, I don’t have it in the portfolio (pdf + print), as it is never shown without a cover letter or presentation attached to it. On my website there is an ‘about’ section, which gives the work some context and background.

For the most part - I wouldn’t bother…I think the risk of it coming off chintzy, generic, or overzealous is much higher than the chances of it genuinely reflecting you as a designer.

If I go to look at your portfolio, I want to see some kickass work that encourages me to want to meet you and learn your personality in person. Unless you have a hyper specific niche that you want people to know is your core focus (which right out of school I wouldn’t expect most people to have) then I think it’s not worthwhile. No one will deduct points for not having it, and I’d rather see a personalized cover letter than a generic statement.

If I had a mission statement it would be “Make money and enjoy and challenge myself while doing it”.

Anything customized, such as a cover letter, that speaks to a particular companies needs and THEIR design philosophy, seems more sincere than a generic design philosophy of my own. Hadn’t thought of that until you guys mentioned it. I will use my cover letter to convey that.

Thanks guys!

I disagree. I want to know what YOU are about. What you value. Where you want to go. I’ve always included a little something about my personal take on design, even if it is just a couple of sentences. Whether it is cheesy or generic is up to you and your writing skills. this is a design problem. Who do you want to be and what do you want to stand for? An employer that does not value that is not someone you would want to work for… if you are the type that has a strong internal compass.

Don’t tell me what my company is about… that is an easy place to get in trouble. But you should be able to relate some relevant story. When I was at Nike interviewing people, if they didn’t tell me one story about how Nike, Jordan, or Converse impacted them, was important to them, a product they loved as a kid, or an add campaign that tugged at their heart strings, they were not getting my vote. Same at frog, an interviewee had to articulate at least one thought pertaining to the 40 years of design that frog had done… I won’t give away what I’m looking for in my new role, but there are a couple of key buttons that have to be pushed.

but keep it short… :wink:


Thanks for the input. I took a few pointers from your own resume and noticed that you have a “design philosophy” as the opener to your resume. I really like it.

Since I don’t have any design experience, I figured I’d talk about how I think, what I value in design, in my blurb on my resume “overview”. Is that good too?

Instead of my initial strategy of putting it into my actual portfolio, I decided it would be best to showcase it as the first thing they see in my resume. and yes, I will keep it short. :slight_smile: I am the king of wordiness (or so my friends think, hehe), but I am working on that. Succinct is always better than rambling.


Definetly don’t put it in your portfolio. That is a solace to show thoughts not say them.

I think as long as it is just a few sentences it is ok. Realize at this point in your career it is important to be open. Your approach and philosophy will be forming in the coming years.

I’d be inclined to argue that your work is an embodiment of who you are as a designer far more than any “design statement” you could be making. It doesn’t matter what you say you think if you do the opposite. Actions almost always speak louder than words for me. If you find that your work isn’t properly communicating your design ethos, I’d say it’s time to revisit your work and see how you can improve it.

Besides that whole thing, I’ve heard that employers don’t often read the text in portfolios (at least during the first go-round) so I’d caution against thinking that something you write will get read and understood. It’s another reason that your work has to communicate your design ethos/mission.

Just my 2cents

99% chance it won’t be read if it is longer than a few sentences.