UPDATE: Tear My Portfolio Apart, Please!


I am a graduating senior @ the Cleveland Institute of Art. I posted here a few weeks ago looking for a gut-wrenching portfolio review. The original portfolio:

I got a lot of great feedback from you all and have worked hard to shorten my portfolio + work on my storytelling. I also took a version of this to the Central District IDSA Conference and had it reviewed here. I made some changes based off of the feedback I received there. I would like to share with all my progress from above to attached PDF and get one last final review before I start sending this off + printing a few books. Also, some of my images are appearing higher contrast on my tablet/phone compared to my computer. Let me know if images look especially dark or crazy colored; I am still trying to figure out how to fix that.

UPDATED Portfolio: Caitlyn_Portfolio_Core.pdf | DocDroid

I went from 76 pages showcasing 3 ID projects + 3 personal/intern projects to 59 pages showcasing 4 ID projects + 4 personal projects.

Thank you all for your feedback. Remember, be brutal!

Very very good. You made a huge leap here.

I have a few small points.

  1. I recommend on a few of you pages zooming in a bit more to have the design fill the page. For example pg 55, really let the product dominate the page. Push in more.

  2. on the personal projects on page 54 and 55, if you could add a third it would just feel more well rounded. the rule of threes.

  3. pg 58, I recommend adding some text that says something like "While interning at Room & Board I worked on xx number of projects, xx became production products.

  4. end with a visually impactful image. 58 is not strong enough for a last image

  5. then add a slide that says thank you and has your contact information.

  6. the page numbers jump round a little. One of the things I always do is click super fast to see if things like page numbers and title blocks move… this kind of attention to detail is important and missing it can be a sign to an employer of craftsmanship. Digital craftsmanship is as important as physical craftsmanship.

Side note I’ll be at CIA on the 18th to give a lecture and demo. Pop over and say hi. Dan Cuffaro is arranging it.

Just my .02, but if you have sketches of the hardware for your kd furniture, I’d be interested in seeing them. The form is nice but if you are selling me kd, I want to see how it works.

Nice work on the Stryker project.

I couldn’t find any typos, and I can sniff them a mile away. Don’t know why, I just can. I had to look up ‘comfortability’ to see if it was really a word.

Only thing that stood out was the branding on one of the Stryker products. The logos, especially the one on the bottom of the handle, doesn’t fit in the area well. Either move the logo or make it smaller or do something else…there’s not enough breathing room around the logo. The upper logo looks stretched in a weird way.

Nice work.

Nice portfolio Caitlyn.

I have a few remarks.

  • Your title page is important as it’s a cue to be remembered by. Your first design was graphically stronger and I liked how you tagged yourself with your professional areas.
  • Your designer profile can be more specific and graspable. We want to get to know you. “underrepresented, overlooked markets” - terms you could also use are niche markets or extreme users.
  • I like how you took a more active step of infusing yourself with your research. Before you did a lot of research which is great, but I am missing the exact reasons from a designer POV as to why you did it this way and how it centered around a vision for the project.
  • I wonder about your materials research. Silicon is not all that suited, nor is it often desired by consumers, in the kitchen.
  • What I am missing and what will add to your research- i.e. intellect-orientedness is a proof-of-concept with a user test at the end of your projects.

My apologies for going completely OT.

But that is an odd thing to say. At least in the US market, there are thousands of silicone kitchen gadgets. The thermoset qualities make it well suited for high temperature applications. It is easy to clean. Takes color very well. Durable. Varying wall thickness is not an issue like thermoplastics.

What am I missing?

Well I guess it’s just really expensive.

I don’t know if there is a difference in Europe but it is super common in the US. All of our Polk BOOM speakers have Silicone outer housings, and in kitchenwares it is super common. You can find inexpensive spatulas at target will have silicon handles. There was even a great oven mitt injected as a single piece of silicon.

I have a feeling this whole OT discussion is due to ‘silicon’ and ‘silicone’ being used interchangeably. Which they shouldn’t be, of course.


I reviewed it like I reviewed when hiring.

  • I want to see some ideation sketching. I’d like to see a page of sketches for a knob or a hinge or something that you had to work out on paper how to do.

  • Your presentation sketching is really great. Your style seems to suit toys. It has a nice cartoon-y feel, but defining the shape well.

  • If you want a research oriented job, you should dismiss what I’m going to say, but you have a little too much research compared to work. I’d like to see the research condensed to 1 page, unless you did something herculean (giant ergonomic study, sat in an ER for a month). As a design manager, I know what design research is, I just need to see enough to know that you know what it is.

  • I think I’d start with the toy project. I almost stopped at the first project and that’s not a good sign. Maybe it’s just me though.

  • Graphic design is really good. It’s clear and subtle enough to let the work stand out.

Thank you for bringing it back on topic. Page 13, there is a typo, silicon should read silicone.

Hi, thank you for commenting. I was suggested in my original review to chose a project which represents the field Id like to work in. Although I did a toy internship and toy project, I do not want to work in toys. I included those projects because A) my best concept sketching and B) on-market products.

Do you think this first project isnt strong enough to start off with?

I think the first project is strong. There is a good core idea. You so research as well as good concept sketching. I would potentially led with a different image. It is just a little bit of a difficult image as you lead project first image. I think it is totally appropriate in the research documentation. You might consider making the first image a cropped detail shot of the product. I think the last image in the project could be stronger, more dynamic, as well.

Looking at it again today, I think my problem is that it seems like a concept and not a finished project. A cropped detail shot, as Yo suggests, could make it feel complete. Also, add in some manufacturing details. What material is this? How is it made? How is it transported? How is it installed?

I am missing those details too + an explanation of your design rationale i.e. why exactly these concepts were chosen and executed the way you did it.

For the cookware project, it’s a nice project and it’s completely great that you focused on a user group with special needs, but it’s not explained in much depth why exactly did you pick this solution and how exactly your research led to this. Couldn’t they just cook on induction? Maybe a new service would be more suitable, or an ambient intelligence concept with sensors embedded in the kitchen. Also your experiments with making the interfaces and environment more haptically informative could have been a great start for a concept.

For the silicone, it works for some products, for many others like bakeware - I know a few avid bakers - they do not like it for several reasons - food sticks to it, it does not crisp the edges of what you bake, also the silicone does damage and discolor when exposed to high temperatures. Often the products are not flexible enough where you want them to be more flexible or vice versa, some contain BPAs and other additives making people trust the material less. So I would want to see a thorough test that this is the right material for the product.

If you want to emphasize toy design less you can condense the Fisher Price project to one spread - keeping some of the great concept visualizations and the model making effort - It will be clear enough for the reader. I would group the furniture projects and toy projects together.

I love modular furniture concepts and yours are nice as a concept, also there I am missing details - for example in how incredibly unergonomic that sofa is, how you solve issues like cumulative tolerances between parts, and the end grain on those renders which you will want to avoid in nice woodwork.

You are starting to tell a story with your projects, and you show you have skills and good ideas, I would mostly like to see more consistency and acuity in your design thinking.

Ooo…a CIA portfolio. I expect to see good stuff. Dan’s a great teacher :wink:

Page 6: Not sure about this page. Its small and very cluttered
-If this is a teaser portfolio, keep it to the basic points
-Present the in-depth portfolio as a separate book (case study) in interviews

Page 8:
-Rethink some of the cropping of the background images. I don’t like how the background image lines up with the text bubble (being nit-picky)
-I do agree with your clear statement and showcasing whats on the market

Page 9:
-Overall, nice clean sketches.
-If you are using the sketches as a background, reduce the opacity so the text bubble becomes the focal point.

Page 10:
-Cluttered page, what are you communicating? Nice line work though

Overall, with sketch pages, I would like to see your thoughts. I would like to see your initial thinking and how you came to a final conclusion. Tell a story! Did you develop 6 ideas and then reduced them to one? Why did you choose the final solution?

Page 11
I think this can be two pages. Theres too much information on this one page.

I like the magnetic slip cover. You explained its function nicely. Could you give more explanation on the other features of your design? You mention it uses induction heating, but how else does your design help the visually impaired? Do the controls feature a special texture? Are the pots more ergonomic? I would like to hear a better explanation.

Fisher Price:
Page 19: nice moleskine sketch page. I’m drawn to the page featuring different dinosaur heads
Page 20: I would like to see more organization and explanation behind the concepts. Concept 1, concept 2, etc.
Page 21: Refinement?

It looks like a fun toy. I like the model. I may include a drop shadow under the colored sketches.

Page 26-27: Looks cluttered and hard to read
Page 28-33: Interesting final solution. It looks modular and easy to assemble and transport
Page 34: Clean up this page. I don’t care for the tilted box.

Page 37: Maybe divide into two pages
Page 38: Nice clear explanation of problem areas
Page 39: With this sketch page, could you guide me on your thoughts?
Page 40: Refinement
Page 41: I would prefer rendered sketches against a grey background vs gradiated
Page 46-47: Nice rendering
Page 48: Watch those hands! One trick I’ve used is to hold a mockup in a similar angle as the rendering and either photoshop those hands, or trace over

Nice personal work and internship work.

Final points:

You should try to tell a clear story when you lay out a design project. I would like to see a story starting out with a problem, your thought process and final solution. I don’t really see that with some of the sketch pages that have that wallpaper look.

Try to avoid cluttered pages and find the balance between being descriptive, but not overwhelm people with information. You should keep in mind that most people who review portfolios are browsing through them rather quickly.

Overall, you have some interesting work. It may need a bit of polish, but theres a lot of potential. Keep at it and good luck!

Hi Caitlyn.

My main area of expertise in furniture. I like your concepts and they show some creative thinking.

One thing that I have experienced is that with renders of furniture, making sure your grain direction is going the right way is important to make the product seem realistic. Also, when designing furniture, there’s two things that I always think of - will it stand up on it’s own and can it be made.

I’d also like to see more detail on the other projects such as the pendant light and chair.