some of my work...suggestions and criticism please

i think it’s safe to assume that as artists and designers, we are all our own worst critics.

with that being said, i graduated about a year-and-a-half ago with a BA in industrial design. i felt that at the time, my portfolio wouldn’t be able catch any attention and so i set off on a job to refine and re-fill my portfolio with products and panels that i thought would convey my style and display my current talent-level (or lack thereof). a year or so has passed and after all that time, i still don’t feel like i am up to par but there’s only so much one can do by ones self and so i submit for critiques my humble work. i’m thinking of putting these panels in a portfolio of some sort and submitting them, but before i do that, i would like some honest opinions about what i can do to improve, what i’m lacking and if there’s a better way to present it. i’m going to submit these and some other works regardless, just to get a feeling of what rejection is like, but i guess i can only go up from there, right? any way, without further self-deprication, here’s what i have…

i’m also going to include my internship project i did a while back, but i don’t know how much of it i should include. it’s quite a few pages because i did a step-by-step and treated it as a walk-through of my design process along with materials used and an estimate on the build cost. i don’t know if i should treat it as a seperate portfolio of actual experience in the field or cut it short and throw it in as a regular project. anyway, here are all the panels, please…any help and advice would be appreciated

threw some work up on coroflot too…


I thought I would just offer a couple of suggestions on the presentation… particularly your first set. First of all, I would recommend pulling back the reigns on the Photoshop effects a bit. The lens flare and a lot of the blurring become distracting and take away from your actual design. Also, is there any way you can get new shots of your presentation models? The lighting in them is very harsh, which makes things stand out that you might not want to. If you can get new shots with good lighting, they will look much better.

Just a few thoughts,

This is the first time that I decided to attempt to contribute to a discussion. I hope to contribute more as time goes on.

First things first with this. The positives

I think your proficiency with digital rendering is quite good.
I also like that there is a consistent theme throughout the folio that ties it together.

However there are areas to improve…

The background graphics and typography are very distracting. They dominate, making the less important things (titles and backgrounds) come forward whilst not making the important things (the designs) the stars of the show. In MY opinion, it would be good to go for a very understated and simple background style. This makes it much easier for the viewer to focus on the designs. One portfolio site that I do like is Marc Newson’s (even with a little bias towards my fellow countryman) and I’m sure there are many others that you could gain inspiration from.

The other thing that is lacking in your portfolio for me is WHY you made certain design decisions. Pretty drawings of designs are quite common amongst designers but what makes a great designer is their decision making and problem solving skills. There would have been many decisions made during your design process that showcase you ability in this area. Show it off to potential employers!

However, I do admire that you have actually have your portfolio in a digital format. This is something that I now must do for myself.

P.S. On a separate note, I have a question/suggestion for the footwear designers out there. Why are the ankles of all basketball shoes becoming increasingly high? I know there are players that do like the high style of shoe, but why aren’t there low or mid cut models out there? I had a pair of and1 shoes that are low cuts that I bought several years ago and loved. They were lightweight, non-restricting and I never had any issues with ankle rolls or anything like that. They have well and truly worn out now and I haven’t been able to find anything that even goes close to them.

thanks for the advice and pointers. i don’t have any formal education in the graphic-design or photographic elements and i guess that’s why my portfolio suffers in those categories. i figured i couldn’t get any simpler that impact font and horizontal bars.

in terms of explaining why i designed things the way i did, i figured the conceptual sketches would show where i was coming from, but i guess it just explains my derivation from initial to final design. part of the reason for me not including inspiration, reason and inspiration was because i felt it would make my portfolio too wordy. i read that portfolios submitted only get a quick thumbing through and having lengthy paragraphs would be counter-productive to my intentions of garnering attention from a prospective company.

thanks for the advice though, i’ll see if i can re-work it to be a little more aesthetically pleasing and easier to understand.

btw, the coroflot panels have a different layout than the ones i posted on this topic.

In the end, the graphic style of a portfolio does come down to personal taste. I’m a big fan of white backgrounds and modern looking, san serif fonts (ie. Helvetica, Gothic 720), others aren’t. It could also be worthwhile changing the red (an angry colour in western cultures) to a come calming colour. A good idea could be to find heaps of things that you like the appearance of (the web is a great resource) and use these to inspire your layout. That way you get a personal expression of yourself and it would also help bring out ideas from you.

Digital cameras are getting less and less expensive these days. It’s easy enough to get a cheap setup that produces very good pictures. I was fortunate enough to do a fine arts photography subject at university. My setup was my camera, a piece of A1 paper, a lightbox made from a cardboard printer box and 2 “dolphin torches” (ie. heavy duty flashlights). You don’t need ultra expensive gear. Again, use your best friend google to find information and play around with things to find what works best.

The explaining “why” bit is not an easy thing to get right. I don’t think for a second that my portfolio does justice to the why part as well as it could.

You are right about not having a wordy portfolio but it’s convenient that Industrial Designers should be able to explain things in a visual medium (the visual bit, you have down). It could be worth a try to have small sketches (they don’t even have to be rendered; just pen sketches) that explain why (and also what’s going on in your thinking process) a bit but also gets the person that may employ you interested to find out more.

I remember at my first successful job interview (after several failures) the R&D manager was looking over my portfolio at my interview. The best project I had at the time was a footspa redesign project. One of the features was a rubber insert that flexed and massaged by using the variable pressure of the bubbles. I had a very sketchy, cutaway view that showed the schematic of how that worked. After a few weeks on the job it came up in conversation that the sketch was the deciding factor in employing me over the other candidates because I had shown good thinking and problem solving skills, rather than just being able to draw, render and make models.

It is great that you are tinkering and adjusting your portfolio. Like design itself, it is an iterative process. You having a folio in digital format has made me feel inadequate; I’ve got to get to working on my portfolio! I’ll post it on here when I’ve got something of merit to see what you think.