I am in the middle of a job change and I am a professional designer. What are the differences between student portfolios and professional portfolios. What are firms looking for? Would they rather see mostly products in production compared to research? Could someone provide me an example of a professional portfolio?
I’m a bad example because my website is about to go down right now due to subscription changes, but I think I could offer advice vis-a-vis your questions, for what it’s worth.
The difference between a student portfolio and a professional portfolio is where you did your work, nothing more. Switch over to 100% professional work as fast as you can. Of course this may include fun side concept sketches, etc, but all professional.
If you want to do more research, show more research. If you want to do more pure ID, show more pure ID. While in school I was treated to a few gems of wisdom, one from a student, the other from a top tier consultancy head.
#1 - Show the kind of work you want to do more of
#2 - Don’t get too good at something you don’t want to do more of, or you will find yourself pigeonholed. I had a professor that once had his own consultancy that was very successful, and a few years in he started fresh, because he knew if he kept it going too long he’d be doing nothing but the same thing over and over again in the same industry.
Something I’ve realized about professional portfolio work is that it’s lot more streamlined and to the point.
I can’t show all my concepts sketches onlines for a professional project. Because those ideas might still be used in the future. So the portfolio you send to potential employers is a lot different than the one you might interview with.
Example: Erik Fields
Erik uses mainly final photography and very few process shots in his online portfolio. But I’m guessing in actual interview he will some process books that will go a bit more in depth to his role and process. Books that he can show at an interview, but not that he necessarily wants to leave behind.
Considering you work on watches. I find his approach to showcasing his work pretty streamlined and very effective. Sure you can show all the detail work that makes it happen. (tech packs, mechanicals, color ways, cad etc). But I once remember in an interview I had right after graduation. I got a piece of advice when showing tech packs the more technical parts of the process, that I’ll never forgot. “Eman you don’t need to show us this stuff, we understand that you’d be able to do a tech pack. We can see it in your final work and the rest of your portfolio. Focus on the story. Its much more interesting. Plus we’d have to teach you our process anyways.”
And its true. If i looks like you have a decent handling over illustrator. I’d have faith that you can execute the technical side of the process. Plus the story is more engaging story to tell in an interview.
Thats a very good piece of advice. I really enjoy sketching, and thats solely what I do for this company. I am still curious to see whats out there and see how other experienced designers work. Its good to be more well rounded.