My (First) Design Portfolio

Should you be a generalist or specialist if you want to get work?

What are employers looking for in new grads? How can you stand out? What is the purpose of your portfolio? What are you trying to accomplish with it?

Should you be a generalist or specialist if you want to get work? Chris Do shows us his very first design portfolio when he graduated from Art Center College of Design in 1995. It's a collection of logos, editorial design, layout, typography, ads and some early motion design work. Along with the portfolio, Chris talks about the importance of developing a "T" Skill. The T Skill explains why having depth is more important than being a generalist or a jack of all trades.

Keep your portfolio simple and straightforward. You don’t need to overcrowd it with work that isn’t relevant or drives any interest. Stick to 3-5 really good, compelling, and consistent pieces of work.

It should be noted that employers don’t spend a whole lot of time looking at your portfolio. Their attention span lasts for only a specific amount of time if they’re looking for something in particular, which more often than not, they are. Employers know what to look for, and if they can’t find it within a minute of browsing through your work, they’ll move on.

Be honest and be selective. Know what you’re good at, filter out the junk, and be selective. Be honest with yourself and your capabilities. Find companies that you feel you have an honest shot at working at.

When applying for jobs, profile the website of the company you’re eyeing. Look at the work they’ve produced and take note of any patterns, themes, or project types. Just like you, companies have specific niches they like to work within and have a certain style to what they produce. If you find that you don’t fit in with the work you have now, start to tweak your work so that it resembles the company you want to work with.

Get a valuable look inside the mind of Master Designer and CEO of Blind: Chris Do, as he talks about what employers, such as himself, look for in a portfolio. Learn the criteria employers use to judge your portfolio and the manner and context in which it is seen. If you’re fresh out of design school or a design program, this is what you need to know before you start putting your portfolio together.