Thanks to the expansion of the internet and the growth of digital technology, the career opportunities for graphic designers and commercial artists in South Africa have never been greater. The flipside of this, however, is that competition is intense. Everybody wants to work in the creative industries, and when you leave college and start applying for work you’ll be competing with the best in the field, including both industry veterans and recent graduates.
So how do you make sure that you’re not overlooked or left behind? The answer is to come up with an impossible to ignore portfolio. But it’s not quite as simple as creating incredible work. You need to make sure that it’s relevant and presented correctly as well.
Make a website, and make it good
A portfolio needn’t be a physical folder full of easily lost or damaged but irreplaceable work that you lug around from interview to interview. These days, your portfolio should be online. If you don’t have a website as a budding designer then nobody is going to take you seriously. But it’s not just a case of having one- it has to be impressive, both in terms of content and user experience.
Only show your best work
Include a gallery for every project you’ve been involved in, but don’t put everything on there. Potential employers don’t want to have to wade through hundreds of images, and they’re more likely to be put off by encountering sub-standard or so-so work than they are likely to be swayed by the odd moment of genuine greatness. Similarly, keep the text short and to the point- let your work speak for itself.
Creating a moving gallery of your work using a video maker download can be a great way to show off what you can do in an arresting and exciting format. Different pieces can be segued so interviewers don’t have to click through from one to the next. Alternatively, you could create a short animation, or even show film of you working with clients, creating the work, or showing your designs in use.
Make it relevant
On that last point, it’s as important that your design work is relevant to the industry you’re applying to work in as it is that it is attractive to look at, perhaps more so. Your designs should be applicable to real world problems and it should be clear how they can be used to help solve those problems. Do your research: show how other companies and designers have tackled the problems, and how you’ve learnt from them.
Bring at least one physical item
Your main portfolio may be online, but you should still bring at least one physical object with you to an interview. People still like to see and handle physical media, and it looks more impressive than a tiny image on a smartphone screen. And just in case you can’t access your website, you know you’re not going in empty-handed.
A portfolio needs to be eye-catching and immediate, but also fit for purpose. Make best use of technology, but don’t forget about the basics. Above all, think creatively and show your work to your best advantage while making your mark in this competitive market.