Personal Project Protocol

Looking for advice about how to approach personal projects that I would be adding to my portfolio.

How are personal projects viewed by potential employers?
Should I seek out some form of mentor to lend credibility to the projects?

After finishing an internship and some contract work (none of which I can show) I feel like I could produce projects that are better than my academic work. I am not working right now, and don’t know how long it will be before I can land ANY job that takes advantage of my ID skills (thus keeping them fresh). I see plenty of posts supporting personal projects on the forums here, I am simply searching for a more in depth discussion of the process.


I think having personal projects is great, it shows you have initiative, passion, and that you are proactive… all things potential employers love to see. You can also tailor the projects to show off your abilities or to work on a weak point, or to learn something new.

I wouldn’t slow yourself down with a mentor. If you can pick one up along the way, great, and definitely show your work around in progress to get feedback. Otherwise it can feel like an echo chamber. I think putting a quote like “done in conjunction with” or “done under the direction so and so from whats that place” could be a bit cheesy unless it is a recognized name, or the place they work for is recognized.

I’ve always done personal projects, helps you to stay sharp and have fun.

You absolutely have to do your own personal stuff, even big design firms do it. Use it to showcase what you’re interested in and capable of. They can even help you sell your design skills better than something that went on the market but the final outcome went through the “marketing filter” and ended up way different than your input. There’s no shame at all with the personal projects, just go ahead and do them just as if you were doing them for a client, use all of your same skills, etc… Good luck.

I truly feel as a designer you can’t really think of it as a job. It has to be part of you and you have to have a true passion for it. Because of this I think it also becomes a hobby which is what causes most of us to go home and get immerse in our own personal ideas and projects. I love personal projects. I have done quite a bit just to keep me thinking about other types of ID than what I do for a living. I work of course as a Package designer and by doing personal projects it allows me to break out of that mold and really test the waters in other areas as well as keeping my skills up in other parts of ID than Packaging. At the moment I have taken a project that I did in school (which was quite a bit ago) and redoing it in much more detail. I have done this with most of my college project to bring them up to the level that I am today.