Expert Tips on How to Create a Killer Digital Portfolio

Online portfolios are of the utmost importance for creative professionals today. If you’re in the process of developing a digital portfolio, you can’t afford to view it as a mere collection of work samples; you need to think of it as your preeminent marketing piece. Following are expert tips on strategically developing a digital portfolio that pops.

Ram Castillo is an award-winning designer and art director, and author of How to Get a Job as a Designer, Guaranteed. He’s also the instructor of a CreativeLive course titled Create a Knockout Design Portfolio. Here, Castillo walks us through his top digital portfolio tips — what to include, what not to include, and how to put it all together to land that next creative job. Read the article, here.

Job Interviewing Tips for Recent Grads

With so many recent graduates vying for jobs in the creative industry, it’s integral that you bring your A-game to the job interview. Here, leaders from three prominent creative agencies offer interviewing tips and weigh in on what they look for in entry-level talent.

Brian Collins (founder of COLLINS), Amy Marshall (talent director at Hornall Anderson) and Michael Osborne (principal of Michael Osborne Design) are always on the lookout for strong creative job candidates to join their respective — and highly respected — firms. We spoke to them about what newly minted graduates need to know when they walk through an employer’s door. Gain an edge in today’s competitive job market by considering their interviewing tips:

What advice do you have for recent graduates going on their first interview? What materials should they prepare? 

Collins: It’s simple: Bring the kind of work you long to do.

Marshall: They really need to be prepared to talk through their work. Not just what the assignment or project was, but why they made the decisions they did regarding the design or strategy. What was the concept or idea behind the creative decision? Even if they think it may be obvious, they need to be able to articulate the idea.

Osborne: Good candidates know how to articulate their ideas and solutions for the projects in their portfolio. In the presentation, you can pretty much tell who loves what they’re doing. I’d rather get someone who’s passionate and has great potential. I can teach the person to be a great designer, but I can never teach them to be passionate or professional. Read the rest of the advice here.

Q&A with Rule 29’s Justin Ahrens

Want to build a firm with strong organizational values? Follow the lead of Rule29’s Justin Ahrens.

As founder and principal of the creative firm Rule29, Justin Ahrens has built a creative culture based not just on doing good work but also doing actual good. It’s the kind of ethos that builds team loyalty and creates a healthy work environment conducive to creative problem solving.

Here, Ahrens discusses Rule29’s organizational values and the positive impact that extends far beyond the walls of his Illinois-based firm.

How does one establish and lead a company with strong organizational values? Are there key concepts or rules? 

Culture is created by defining what your company stands for and making decisions based on those values. Workplace culture is the manifestation of the company’s beliefs and values. It ultimately becomes the “How We Do Things Around Here.” These beliefs and values have to be established early on and used to help identify the right fit for the right employees and the right clients. The rules that need to be followed are pretty straightforward ­– be true to your values. They need to be your benchmark. Read the rest here.

Aaron Draplin: Being Productive Anywhere, Anytime

Meet Aaron Draplin: Award-winning designer, noted conference speaker, frequent flier and to-do list crusher.

Aaron Draplin likes to keep busy. He’s been the proprietor, designer, janitor and receptionist at Draplin Design Co., in Portland, Oregon, since he opened shop in 2004. And that’s just the way he likes it.

Draplin’s identity work has been recognized by leading design publications and he’s often asked to speak at industry conferences. This year alone he’ll be doing a workshop at Design Ranch in Austin, Texas, speaking on the main stage at the HOW Design Live Conference in Chicago, and presenting at TYPO Berlin, among many others. And when he’s not doing work for clients such as Timberline, Union Binding Co., and Gnu Snowboards, he’s making his own DDC merch and selling the products on his site.

This big man – in life and personality – has a relentless travel schedule, so we caught up with him to find out how he manages his projects and conquers his daily to-do list, all while staying true to his character. Read the rest here.

 

Stewart Scott-Curran Explains How Sprite Markets to Two Very Different Demographics

Stewart Scott-Curran wears more than one hat—he’s an art director, graphic designer, and illustrator. Currently he’s he art director at CNN digital, and he hosts Creative Mornings in San Francisco, where creatives of all walks of life share their experiences with a group of like-minded individuals looking for inspiration and the motivation to take the next step in their careers.

Curran values his deep connection to the creative community and how important that is to the development of designers, writers, and artists, which is why he facilitates Creative Mornings. He also regularly speaks at creative conferences, and here on CreativeLive, he is teaching a class on drawing in Illustrator.

Here, he talks to us about the Sprite campaign he developed while he was an in-house design manager at Coca-Cola in Atlanta. Read rest of article here.

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The Reinvention of Robynne Raye

In 2011, Modern Dog cofounders Robynne Raye and Michael Strassburger, were facing a legal copyright battle with Disney Consumer Products and Target Corporation, and they had to make some difficult choices. If they pursued the copyright lawsuit against the mammoth companies, they would need as many resources as possible, which meant possibly going bankrupt and losing their business. Or they could give up, which is what a lot of small companies do when faced with this reality. Raye says she learned a valuable lesson from this case: “Copyright laws are pretty much set up to protect corporations, not people or small businesses, because they are the only ones who can afford to fight it.” If you’re not familiar with the case, you can read the back story here and here.

Fortunately for the design community, Modern Dog did fight back. After more than two and a half years of building a case and hiring attorneys and expert witnesses—which created a financial hardship for Raye and Strassburger—the defendants eventually settled with Modern Dog rather than going to trial. But, the damage was already done. In the process, they downsized and restructured Modern Dog, letting go of their employees, and selling the building that was home to their studio. Strassburger got a full-time job, and Raye teaches full time. Modern Dog is now a part-time endeavor.

However, instead of being bitter about this, they are relieved. After running a business for 28 years, they were burnt out. Raye says, “Every month we knew we had to pull in $25,000 just to keep the business going—paying employee salaries and health benefits, taxes, and everything else.” She also admits that many times her business judgment was clouded by emotions. “I’ve taken care of a lot people. Before I would pay myself, I did things like pay attorney’s to help sponsor H1B visa employees . Extra costs are really hard for most small businesses to absorb. I don’t regret any of it but I do realize that it did not necessarily make me a good manager. I just don’t want to take care of anyone any more.”

She adds, “It’s actually quite liberating not having a staff that’s dependent on you. I’m a lot happier and I’m making the same amount of money doing less projects because I don’t have all that overhead.” She brought Modern Dog home, literally, building a new office in the lower level of her home using some of the money from the sale of the studio. She and Strassburger now take on limited projects as Modern Dog, which allows them to pick and choose what’s right for them. “I have to be really careful not to overbook myself. If someone needs something fast, I can’t do it. After working this long in the field, I feel I’m entitled to working under different, and more realistic, conditions. My work is much better when I have time to think before I hit the paper or computer,” she says.

In the end, Raye has created a nice life/career balance. She teaches design full-time at Cornish College of the Arts, which still enables her to nurture people, without being emotionally and financially invested in their lives. She also loves the creative work she is now doing. She recently finished a big project for Nordstrom, in which she created cityscape illustrations for gift cards. When she showed the project to a friend—someone she’s known for 15 years—he said he had no idea she could do illustrations. It hit her, that as a business owner, she turned over this kind of work to her staff, rather than taking it on herself. “It’s so nice being able to do more of the creative. Working with Nordstrom was fun and I’m really proud of the work that I did for them.”

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Raye designed this announcement for the Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival.

Meet Montreal Design Studio Valleé Duhamel

Montreal-based designers and art directors Julien Vallée and Eve Duhamel continually surprise and delight their clients (and their clients’ customers), by creating complex narratives that marry lo-fi, hand-rigged objects with high-end production techniques. The results are often mind-boggling and leave the viewer to wondering, “How’d they do that?” Their video and animation work for clients like Reebok, Hermès, MTV, Coca-Cola, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as a smattering of niche design publications and events, has garnered awards from Adweek, Communication Arts, and Applied Arts, among others. And Vallée, who’s also a Young Guns winner, has already had his monograph Rock, Paper, Scissors, the Work of Julien Vallée published by Gestalten. Read rest of story here.

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What Does it Take to be a Great Leader?

Some people think that to be a successful creative business leader you need a killer instinct or take-all mentality. But Stanley Hainsworth, founder and chief creative officer of Tether, says true leadership requires generosity, compassion and a willingness to let others lead.

Stanley Hainsworth may be the most eccentric person I know, but he is also humble and kind, which may be the key to his success. I’ve witnessed the hoopla at industry conferences after he presents to the crowd. Creative professionals flock to him to ask questions, get advice, or just be near him (and his hair). Hainsworth exudes a certain je ne sais quoi and he takes time with everyone who approaches him, intently listening to their questions and offering guidance, all with a smile on his face.

Hainsworth single-handedly started Tether in 2008 after spending three and a half years as the chief creative officer of Starbucks. Since then, the creative firm has moved three times in its Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle to accommodate a growing staff of interactive, industrial and graphic designers, writers, and videographers. Tether now has 75 employees and a second studio in Portland, Ore.

I asked Hainsworth about his path to success and how he inspires his staff to continually churn out amazing work for clients such as BMW, Red Bull, Gatorade and more. Read the rest of the article here.