Is this portfolio strong enough to land something new?

Hi everyone,

I’m looking for some feedback on my portfolio. Any and all constructive critique is welcome and appreciated. Thank you in advance to anyone who takes a look and gives me some critique!

Portfolio: https://www.zanehoekstra.com

Background: I’m Zane, a junior industrial designer working for a health and wellness company in Michigan, USA. Currently, I’m working in a corporate environment and would like to work at a consultancy, but I’m also open to another corporate gig as long as it is in a fast-paced environment with a team of designers that will push me hard to improve my skills. I’m thankful to have a design job and the projects I get to work on are interesting, but I am the only in-house industrial designer and am starting to feel a bit stuck with no one around to critique me or push me to improve.

  • Zane

It can be really difficult to grow as a designer if you are the only one there, especially right out of school. The good thing is I’m sure you learned a lot from your peers in engineering, marketing and product development that many young designers don’t learn if they go to a consultancy or even larger in house group out of school. I think you have rightly identified this is the time to make the jump. Here are some of my thoughts:

1 - Atmosphere Mini. Solid project.

2 - Nutrilight Packaging. I understand this was likely a highly constrained project. On the page marked 30, the danger of showing a page like that is that the ceramics you are showing are so beautifully resolved and material dependent that it lessens the impact of your final product. The viewer ends up comparing these blow molded packages with something from a totally different category.

3 - Scope. Solid project.

4 - Merrell Air Drop. I’d drop the “sponsored by” on the lead page. I get it is a school project, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to shout that on page 1.

5 - Sketches. More please. And don’t be afraid to make them crisper. One thing I see from a lot of your designer’s sketches is an overuse of airbrush that makes everything a bit soft.

6 - Project volume. I feel like this could use 1 or 2 more projects on the level of Scope and Atmosphere Mini.

7 - Travel photos. I enjoyed seeing that. Adds a little dimension.

I hope some of this helps?

Hey Michael!

I really appreciate you taking the time to look through and type this all out. I definitely learned plenty from my cross-functional coworkers and the skills I’ve learned are going to no doubt be helpful throughout my career, but you make a good point about the lack of sketches and aesthetic development which is probably what the studios are looking for. I like the suggestions of 5/6 as further directions to pursue.

1/3. Glad to hear it. Thank you!

  1. Thanks for catching the page number 30 (that wasn’t supposed to be there.) :stuck_out_tongue: You make a good point about showing the ceramics and possibly having them outshine the final bottles. I’m going to rethink that approach.

  2. Good point.

5/6. Definitely going to push this. Any suggestions for topics/ product fields that would help round out the portfolio?

  1. Glad you enjoyed the photos. :slight_smile:

Zane, that is a big reason why I joined the forums back in 2000. I was working for a small firm of 5 other people and I wanted to learn from other designers outside my immediate area.

RE 5/6, I’d say whatever interests you the most. I hired a designer from the core77 boards a few years back, Cameron Nielsen. Very good designer but what separated him from the pack for me was he designed these baby teething rings. He had a little kid going through teething and thought of an interesting take on teething rings so he sketched them out, CADed them up, put together a few nice renders. The project was maybe 2 pages but it showed me he had initiative.

That makes sense. I scrolled through a bit and there seems to be quite a bit of diversity and expertise in these forums. I’m excited to get more involved with this online community!

I have a few ideas of projects that have been floating around in my head so I’ll start with those, then circle back when I have something to show. I checked out Cameron’s page and saw that project you were talking about with the key ring teether; such a clever idea. :slight_smile: Thanks again for your time and feedback!

no problem. I used that as an example because it can be a simple thing. It doesn’t have to be a fully blown out project, you have a couple of those already. Basically something in between the sketch pages you show and a project.

Michael, I remember being so surprised you said that’s what stood out to you. Mostly because I was concerned about the ‘constroversial’ nature of the concept. As I think back, I did that project over two weekends because I was not satisfied with the current state of my portfolio (too many bad sophomore/junior year projects) and my ‘official’ school assignments weren’t giving me the opportunity to replace that work quickly enough. I also wanted to do something provocative that challenged people’s assumptions and something that showed some more refined design language/detail stuff.

Zane, I don’t have time to review your stuff today–Monday morning and I’m sick :frowning: - but I definitely agree with Michael. This is a great community and being proactive about your career will only make you happier and more successful downstream. Best wishes.

Michael: I’m glad you used that example because I’m the person that would’ve felt like I had to go do a giant project to “match” the other projects that you thought were solid. That description about shooting for something between a sketch page and a project helps a lot. Thanks again!

Cameron: No worries; I hope you start feeling better soon!

It definitely are the original projects like that that can land you a job.
Companies need fresh ideas and the people who can bring them all the way towards realization phase.
From what I can see this is a great portfolio already, showing a range of skills and projects in the classic sense of industrial design. Your web design also fits your projects, it adds that old-school ID feel.

I enjoyed seeing all the sketches - but I wonder, there is a good concept sketch of Atmosphere on your sketch board, why not include that in the project section as well. It shows your initial vision, and the final product showed how much you were able to stick to it. It tells a good story that way. Note by the way how the angles and placement of display completely changes the gestalt of a home interior product like this.
Since you are a designer of details, one thing that irks me are the circular fillets that I spot on the cutout of the display. The curve that way appears to sink in at the end of the fillet, therefore above 5 mm it is always good practice to utilize curvature fillets.

The scope project also stands out and you are heading somewhere with your form language and use of color and detail - very nice. But I am missing a proof of concept - does the technology work, what kind of footage do you actually get from that kind of angle, how easy to install-demount, will people forget it, steal it, abuse it etc…it is always necessary to have some POC studies done for new interactive systems before even starting to work on the ID.

Overall a good portfolio. I would definitely like to see some more sketches and ideas in your sketchbook, especially regarding footwear since you have a good sense for it.

Hi ralphzoontjens!

First, thanks for taking the time to look at my work and post some feedback. I appreciate your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed looking at the work. I have a couple clarifying questions.

Are you referring to the picture of me drawing on the board when you mention the concept sketch for atmosphere on my sketch board? That’s a good idea to include a sketch of the initial vision and show how it stayed true to the vision. Also, when you mention the circular fillets on the cutout of the display, are you referring to the cutout in the front (white) shield piece or something else?

I’m glad you enjoyed scope; that is one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on. A proof of concept is a good suggestion. Since this is a conceptual project the technology does not exist yet, but I like the idea of putting a camera in the tree to look at camera angles and going into more detail about setup/ teardown, etc. Those are good suggestions.

I’m actually working on adding more sketches and returning to marker renderings to change it up a bit. I’l definitely do some footwear sketches too.

Thanks again!

Hi Zane, I enjoyed looking at your work! Great sketches and process, easy to understand your thought process.

Scope project stands out for me as a solid project. I would like to see more concepts that were in the running in addition to the final one you chose to refine. Are there other competitor brands that have market share in this, and if yes maybe show some market landscape and state why your design would stand out from current offerings. I might need something like this for my next car camping trip…although, I’m not sure if car camping spots are often bear-prone? Usually faced bears on backcountry backpacking trips with very little foot traffic. Just a thought.

When you say face-paced environment (on your CV), that might translate differently for everyone. Does it mean you want to work in a place that launches products in a quick span of development time, or a place that may work quickly and hectically (with long hours!) to deliver concepts but products may never see the light? face-paced environment can be one part appeal of a job, but I’ve also seen that mixed with…design this in a week and launch something you’re never going to be proud of. I understand it’s a little slow right now being in one-person team. But as an example, if I were to review a CV with a statement at top ‘would like to work in a face-paced environment,’ it might question the fit and wonder if you’d ever be happy at a sometimes-slow, somestimes-fast environment. Hope this makes sense and helps.

Excuse any grammar mistakes. also sick this morning :slight_smile:

Hi smyoung!

I’m glad you enjoyed my portfolio and thank you for the compliments!

scope: I think that’s a great suggestion to show some of the other concept contenders. I actually do have a competitive matrix that maps out smart/ connected vs. disconnected devices and portability vs. stationary devices from a year or two ago and have considered adding it to the presentation. At the time, this was the only product that I could find that was connected and portable. Most of the competition was smart home security and trail cams though one or two people I interviewed said they use a baby monitor to achieve the same result so I knew I was onto something. :slight_smile: I live in MI and we definitely get black bears at the car campsites, but that’s a good point that I should look more into whether or not bears are a widespread issue at car sites. The product was targeted towards car campers because of the weight issue and because the backpackers I talked to said they weren’t interested in carrying more weight for something that didn’t really worry them.

I’m glad you shared that about “fast- paced” on my CV because I hadn’t heard that from anyone else yet, but now I definitely see how that could be a detractor to a hiring manager. I think that I could definitely clarify what I mean by rewording that a bit so as not to turn anyone off.

Grammar mistakes are excused. :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for the comments!