traveling portfolio horror stories

Here’s a story:
My mentor said she created a good portfolio to show to a major auto
design company after she graduated. She had to fly to the west coast, so she sent her portfolio through baggage check at the airport. Keep in mind that this was the typical student portfolio case with the shoulder strap and handle on top of the box. The size was at least 18 x 24. Just the shape alone raised some eyebrows. When she arrived at the location, she found her portfolio was ripped to shreads. Work was mis-placed, edges worn and stains galore. Lesson learned: Carry your portfolio with you and even 11 x 17 is to large.

Any helpful advice or stories worse than this please share.

I have carried a 24" x 36" portfolio case in the past. When I fly I insist that I am allowed to carry it on. I tell them that the work inside is priceless and cannot be tampered with. I generally needed to run it through the x-ray machine and even sometimes open it and show the security supervisors what was inside. I have never had a problem. There are even specially designated storage compartments in most planes for carry-ons such as this.

I am wondering if your mentor ever asked if there was some other method for transporting their work. Throw on a smile and act curtious and I have found that most people will do their best to help you out.

Well my mentor said this took place back in 1992, before the terror struck. I would have thought back then caarying luggage would have been no problem but I guess she had a different situation. I remember even walking into a studio with a portfolio on wheels to a major company. The first thing the manager said was “wow big stuff”.

I had no idea you could demand that you bring your portfolio on the plane with you. Hmm.

By the way, my mentor is an American blond lady with a great personality. I was really surprised she had trouble. I was just as shocked as you were when she told me the story. I could see that happening these days but in the early 90’s. No way.

My buddy was a MArch student at UT Austin and he had a roomate, Mr.X, in college who was also in the program. His roomate was very talented, worked hard and finished deadlines with time to spare. While everyone was scrambling to finish work for the final portfolio presentation. Mr.X had finished a week prior and decided to take a quick vacation to Mexico instead of hanging around to see everyone sweat. He packed everything up in a large package and secretly stored it away it in a crawl space so nobody could mess with it. He even packed up his stuff because he was starting work right after graduation.

When Mr.X returned from vacation, the apartment complex’s a/c had turned on for the first time and condensation from the a/c had soaked through much of his work. Needless to say, he flipped out and had to be hospitalized. Although he didn’t make the final show, his professors knew he wasn’t a slouch, and accepted his back-up work graduating him with honors.

Well that Mr. X story was sad but it made me laugh. I’ve had my share of disappointments with ruined portfolios.

I remember getting ready for a sponsored project my senior year. I spent 30.00 for all of my 18 x 24 prints to be produced at kinko’s for the presentation. We were told to hang our work on a fabric wall at school using duck tape and thumb tacks. Imagine that. Well, I listened to these instructions and proceded to hang my work. As the presentation began and the professionals began to critique our work. You guess it. One by one, the work began to fall from the wall. The noise alone was disturbing and being the only female in class didn’t help my plight either. I even had to laugh. So, I did the practical thing and re-hung the work on the wall. I got good reviews but I learned a valuable lesson. Duck tape and thumb tacks don’t mix.

thumb tacks & duck tape don’t mix… true…

but let’s face it.

a female designer can get away with shit like that. I’m not saying the vast majority are bad… just… a lot of them aren’t good.

Expectations are less of females in presentation. They expect more time on their physical apperance than on the work themselves.

just a fact.


‘Guest’ - I would watch what you say about females in design. You obviously don’t respect women. I doubt you even have a girlfriend.

agree with guest.
those of you who disagree are either blind or female.

I think this sentiment can be applied to the entire profession, regardless of gender. There are a lot of fresh grads who make it through school with sub par work.

Man, what are you guys talking about guest is right.

Jes guest, maybe guest has had many experiences that contradict guests assumptions.

Guest, I suggest that you take a long look at what guest is trying to tell you. I think that guest has had alot of great insights.


I haven’t carried a printed portfolio in years. When job hunting last year after being laid off, I simply put together a powerpoint presentation and took my laptop with me. This allows for a true multimedia portfolio where I was able to combine stills, animation and video.

Everybody has a LCD projector nowadays, so all you have to do is tell the HR person you’re dealing with you would like to have one available during your interview.

Obviously, you guys haven’t read clearly or are lacking in common sense. I later mentioned this took place in the early 90’s when computers were still somewhat fresh in the industry. Imagine going to a employer in the early 90’s and requesting to use a slide projector to show your work. Huh.

Well, I am a female designer who had to work my butt off in the field. No, not shaking my butt, but sketching like crazy to compete with the guys who think those little cars their daddy gave them when they were kids makes them qualified to be a designer. Wuppie Do.

Sure I played with dolls but my passion for design runs deep. It’s a shame there are still designers who think their anatomy makes them qualified to make statements about all female designers. Really Sad. I graduated the only female from a highly accredited design transportation school. Yes, I was top of my class and my kick ass job proves my talent. I guess all the shit I went through was worth it, Hey my bank account isn’t complaining.

Yes, I’m good looking. I could have played the shake the fanny card but that is for those who really lack talent. I only wish I had the chance to sketch against that guy who originally posted that crap. I bet I could out sketch him any day.

From my personal experiences and from stories from others, woman have def. coasted through some design programs, have been guided through design process’ and been given easy critiques. Im talking about school exp. For instances, i had a person in my school, on multiple projects had the teacher build the model. another who had a ruff semester, used my initial concept as a final design a week before deadline, and got a good grade, when i was told initially that the design was no good.
Im not saying this is the case with everyone, but this is what i have seen/heard.
Congrads to you for your skillz, bank account, and good looks… you are lucky… Im sure it never played a part judging by your confidence.

Many years ago, driving to a presentation - slides in a Honeywell Slide Carousel, I stopped the car, let my associate out (he had the slides) and drove to a parking space about 100 feet away. It was slush snowing. The other guy, not me, placed the full carousel (in its box) on the roof of the car as he got out, forgot about 'em and waved me on. The carousel and box was flung off the car roof so that the carasoul flew out of the box - and it rolled along the slushy parking lot depositing slides in the goo evenly every 4 inches, successfully arranging about 75 unique color images in frozen water - about 15 minutes before our meeting was to begin.
With sinking hearts we replace the wet slides in the carasoul in the order they lay, shook it a few times and whent inside to give our presentation with a straight face.
You know what? It wasn’t a total disaster. The slides projected well, didn’t melt or run, and the meeting was a success.
But what heart burn, and several celebratory beers after.