Portfolio Feedback

Hey All,

I’m a graduate student at RISD, graduating this May with a masters in industrial design. I’ve been applying to jobs like crazy and receiving little response. I want to work in transportation, specifically motorcycles, however, I realize that may not happen right off the bat. I am applying to design firms, responding to product design job postings, and hitting up all the contacts I have. Still bupkiss.

I’m worried that my portfolio is somehow confusing. I haven’t finished my thesis yet, which I feel is my best work, and I want to include it when I apply for jobs, but it’s just not ready, so I have to rely on my previous work.

Also, I prefer using the RISD behance portfolio site to my own website (Portfolio) for many reasons. Is this bad? Please take a look at my work. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Looks like a lot of half assed finished stuff. Ideas are killed by bad execution.

Hey Marty

Welcome to the boards. I like the breadth of work and the fact that a lot of it is physically prototyped or fabricated which makes the projects grounded and real. On the flip side it leaves me feeling like you might be more interested in prototype/fabrication/model shop type of work and because of that I start to criticize you on your fabrication skills which are ok for a designer but sub-par for a professional model maker/fabricator.

You have a lot of final executions but not enough design process that lets me get an idea of what you’re trying to do. I don’t know much about the motorcycle industry but my guess is that it might be similar to the automotive industry in that form development and top notch sketching skills are a must have for most entry level positions. Of course strong foundations in fabrication and mechanical knowledge would help too but I doubt you’d get interest based solely on that.

I would first cut down the total number of projects to maybe 4-5. I think the Copiapoa does a good job of trying to tell a complete story, I would like to see more of the projects take that format. Doesn’t have to be as long, but I need more meat in the projects. Save some of the smaller projects as extras you can talk about during the interview. Projects like the sliders really doesn’t do anything for me but a project like Lean-Two is kinda fun, but again because it’s less design process focused so all I can evaluate you is on your fabrication skills which makes me (as someone who’s done some welding) really judgmental of your weld quality.

Projects that I think could make the cut:

Quarter-Twenties (Would like to see a little more sketching, back sketch if you have to. Also get a nice shot of someone wearing them out in the wild!)

Lit Kubo (I’m not 100% clear on what your involvement was, group projects are tricky so make sure your crystal clear about your contributions)

Copiapoa (The closest to a complete project, still not 100% clear on the concept but you at least tricked me into think you know what you’re saying :smiley: )

Airgo (if you add way more design development, right now it’s just the beginning of an idea)

Bru (right now it’s just renders with no explanation of the problem it’s addressing or what it does)

Woodwork (the bowls turned out great, and the forms are compelling. That level of execution is impressive)

FreePot (like Airgo right now it’s just an idea, I think there’s something there but you’d need to build out the story more otherwise it comes off as kitsch)

Also do you have a pdf version of your portfolio? I know when I was applying for jobs most places seem to still prefer pdfs since they are emailable, printable and universal. I also think it can be easier to navigate rather than going a back and forth between projects on a website. Keep the website for web exposure but if you have a pdf post it up here, if not I would definitely get one together before your next round of applications.

Best of luck, keep us updated!


Thank you so much for your meaningful feedback. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply in full with constructive criticism.

I agree on the fabrication projects. They were mostly class assignments that were not in-depth design projects, more “exercises” and as such, did not have as much meat. I’m not sure how to present them because although there was time put into them, you’re right, they don’t really stand on their own two feet.

Thanks for the individual breakdowns, I will go back and rework each project.

I don’t have a pdf version, but I should. How long should that pdf be? Is it a truncated version of the portfolio, or the whole thing?

Also, I remember being inspired by your speaker creeper sketches when I applied for school. Awesome work!



Hi Marty

I think you have some cool projects but you need to show more story telling and design process. How did you get to the final design? Why is it looking that way? Justify your design through images, making clear where is the idea coming from and how it developed up to the end. It looks like you have some mad prototyping skills, that’s awesome. I’m sure that will be an advantage for you when somebody reviews your portfolio. However, as it’s been said here, it’s important to show the whole process in a way that people can have a better understanding of how you think.

For example, on the Lit Kubo project you have a wall with sketches, captures of the 3D model and pics of the model. I would expect you to have that on the wall but when it comes to the portfolio, I want to see that properly. See the different concepts and ideas, which one you point out the most and picked up at the end, how you developed that sketch into the final prototype, etc.

The Porsche Zentrum is a bit messy, you have final renderings but no sketches and no model. You are also featuring some kind of interaction but with no visual explanation. You have a bunch of text at the beginning but it’s just too much, I wouldn’t even bother reading the whole thing. I would just go through the pics and, if I find it interesting, maybe I’d read the text.

The Copiapo project has a better layout, and I find it pretty interesting. A bit more developed than the others going from the problem to the final design. Still, I think it could be improved and it’s also important to know your role there.

If you are seeking for employment in transportation, I would also add some sketching pages and maybe also surface modelling stuff. I can’t tell from your website how good are your surfacing skills but I’d say in transportation that’s pretty important.

I believe this one could be helpful in order to make the PDF

In my opinion, he has a pretty neat porftolio.

Best of luck!


This all makes a lot of sense. I see where you’re coming from and I think I know how to get there. I’ve got some work to do. Thanks again for your amazing feedback. Would you mind if I checked in with you again at some point for more feedback when I feel the folio is in a better place?



No problem, glad it could be of some help. Definitely take advantage of continuing to post up here even if it is more rough on progress stuff. It’s always good to get some fresh eyes on things.

If you haven’t take a lot at the Hire Me Portfolio Handbook. http://www.portfoliohandbook.com/
Could be a good read before you dive into the pdf.


Very impressed by your prototyping skills. Overall I would love to see your work applied as a presentation page to consolidate some repetitive product views, esp. for your guitar stand and bru project. The photo quality of the last shot with an electric guitar take at your back porch is a bit fuzzy. Rendering it with an relevant environment (music studio?) would really elevate its story. Like Choto mentioned above, project under 5 should be more than enough to leave an impression to a prospective employer.

Landing a full-time gig after graduating is always tough…keep hacking at your portfolio and update us with your polished PDF/link! You have the tools, the degree and design mind to make your portfolio stand out. Best of luck :slight_smile:



Thanks very much for your feedback. You make some strong points. I have since revamped my folio significantly. Here’s the latest version:

Let me know if you have any more feedback. Thanks!



Other people on here will be better suited to critique your projects as I am not a transportation designer.

What I will say however is that the GQ image and the statement about Tom Hanks turned me off right away.
Point 5 only tells me that Tom Hanks is a cool dude.

I have worked in transportation for a few years, mostly for concept work.

You definitely have the prototyping skills as far as I can see but that’s not enough if you’re applying as a designer.
As I see it, your portfolio lacks something outstanding, like one major project in which different competencies required of a designer come together holistically, based on a strong vision. Your sketches aren’t bad but also not great. A suggestion could be to do some independent project to upgrade your design skills more, something like the Michelin Design challenge maybe.

From my experience, my employers were always looking for great sketching and 3d modeling skills and a feeling for form, the ability to critically think about mobility, being able to work efficiently and in close cooperation with others, and a serious motivation on a personal level.

Also your website is too much focused on you as a whole, and since you have had varied interests and focuses you may not come across per se as a mobility designer. So I would work on profiling myself as a mobility designer.
A last tip is that you have a picture that you could use if you wanted to work as a male model (maybe you do already), but such pictures are not too relevant for the job you want to have. Since some mobility design studios are pretty heavy on ‘engineering-mindedness’ they may not get a good feel about you, it’s a bit of a clash between designers and engineers in general I guess, at least here in Europe.

Hopefully I helped a bit, best of luck!

Bepster, thanks for the comment.


I get where you’re coming from. The Angell project is my year-long thesis project and I believe, when it’s finished, will be that “all encompassing” project. It has a lot more meat on it than what is there right now (months of ethnography, a full-scale prototype, a lot of systems design). What I have up there now is kind of the abridged version that just has the eye candy in it. Should I not have the project up if it is in progress?

Can you give me an example of what you would consider to be great sketches? I know the Art Center guys have those super-sexy, full 3D sweeping car sketching skills, but is there an intermediate level that would make sense?

I guess when I look at it, I don’t entirely fit the mobility designer profile. How do I come off to you if not mobility?