Some advice for emerging designers

Here are four tips for second and third year design students thinking about building their portfolios.

Design | 1 minute read | Gary McIlwaine

Some advice for emerging designers
Some advice for emerging designers

1. Embrace the screen 

Ever thought about how your lovely poster would appear as a web–banner, or how your brochure would work as a website? Do it now, quickly. The project doesn’t need to work functionally (agencies have people who will do that). But it’s your job to grab attention, communicate and make it look good.

At the same time, you should forget letterpress posters and pretty handmade books. Leave them on your Granny’s shelf. She will love them; most clients don’t.

2. Find real projects

Find a few freelance jobs, no matter how small. Do your best to get some experience working for a client.

Don’t just dive in to designing. Begin by trying to understand what the client wants. Get under their skin and try to see the world from their perspective.

3. Be ruthless

We recommend just four projects in a portfolio. Ideally this would be:
2 college projects
1 real project that had a client (or a ‘sort of’ client) 
1 personal project

When showing a project, include a synopsis of the brief. Then show your working process for at least one of them before presenting the final design.

4. Read

Of all the great books, we’d recommend Shaughnessy’s ‘How to be a Graphic Designer…‘ It’s full of great material.

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