How important are portfolios in the creative industries?

Friday, 24 February 2017

As the job, internship or course hunt in the creative fields intensifies, there’s a need to ‘level-up’ in order to stand out from the competition. It’s easy to talk about your passions and your familiarity with software and programs, but what if you could show the interviewers what you’re actually capable of?

In this blog, we receive expert advice from Tamara Popper, AIT’s Industry and Internship Liaison Manager on how you can arm yourself with a ‘stand out’ portfolio.

What is a portfolio?

The word portfolio can be deconstructed into two parts - portare meaning “to carry” in Italian and foglio meaning “leaf” or “sheet”. Translate that into English (in the context of employment) and it simply means packaging the best of your work (resume, design work), in a portable form.

A portfolio reflects your creative strategies and serves as a display of your abilities and what you can contribute to the job. While a resume gives the hiring managers a summary of where you’ve worked and what you’ve done, the creative industry relies heavily on presentation. In order to stand out, your resume needs to be accompanied by a great portfolio.

"In the highly competitive creative technology job market and limited places at educational institutions, a stand out portfolio is what you need to ensure you‘re on the ‘YES’ pile of the interview list,” says Tamara.

If you don’t see a space to attach a portfolio when applying for a job or course online, make sure that you have a copy (appropriate file size and format) ready to send out just in case the hiring managers make contact.

“Sending over your portfolio can be defined as your first chance at securing that sought-after job or the place in a course you want to study," Tamara adds.

3 things to consider when creating a portfolio:

  • Selection
  • Presentation
  • Formats (Printed and Digital)

Selection:

One of the most important questions is - who are you creating this portfolio for? Are you applying for a job or for admission into a field of study? This identification of audiences should guide the selection of pieces.

“Selecting what works to include in your portfolio, that best represent you and your skillset, is crucial. Step back from each piece and try to be as objective as possible. If you feel any of your choices are not up to scratch or not quite there, leave them out for now - in these cases, less is more,” says Tamara.

A good way to see if your curated pieces resonate well with your target audience is to seek opinion from others - are they able to follow your journey and identify the contribution and highlights of your works?

“Positive criticism is essential, so don‘t be afraid to ask your teacher, colleague or a trusted friend to give feedback. You‘ll learn from this and your work will improve!” says Tamara.

Presentation:

Now that you’ve selected your few prize pieces, the art of presenting them comes into place. Ask yourself what is the main purpose of this portfolio? Do you want to capture your learning journey in digital design? Or do you want to showcase your final products and best works?

Originality is also key.

“Employers want to see you shine through your work. Create your own work to include and try to avoid ‘assignment‘ style exercises. If you do have work that you‘ve collaborated on, clearly state what your role was on the project. Keep the layout and design of your portfolio clean and simple with limited distractions for the viewer, we want them to be captured by your work alone!” says Tamara.

Formats (Printed and Digital)

Having a digital portfolio is as essential as having an offline one (hardcopy version). There are numerous sites, like Behance, which displays your works in a readable and attractive format online. An online portfolio also allows the interviewer to view your accomplishments and gain an understanding of your skills before meeting you face-to-face. Not to forget that a digital portfolio also allows you to create a brand image online.

“Everything is online now, making it a great way to display your work. Sharing it is also as easy as sending a link. Research the platforms for hosting your portfolio or showreel and remember you can have a presence on more than one,” Tamara states.

Don’t neglect the hardcopy portfolio though - they’re handy to bring along with to interviews and meetings. “For artists, designers and graphic artists online is important too but it‘s still very cool to walk into an interview with a portfolio in hand to present.” Tamara advises.

When you finally combine your resume with your portfolio, both of them could increase your chances of securing that job or clinching that place in the educational institution.

Need help with your portfolio?

Would you like help with your creative portfolio? Whether you’re graduating from High School or changing careers, head down for a Portfolio Workshop organised by AIT and let us guide you through the creation of a professional portfolio. AIT also accepts students based on their portfolio, so seize this opportunity to learn how to create one to aid in your admission!

Topics:

  • Plan your portfolio structure and delivery
  • Learn how to create your own portfolio website and showreel
  • Examples from past and current AIT students
  • Tips on how to apply for creative institutions like AIT
  • Find out what’s happening in industry with Film, Animation, Game Design, IT and Digital Design
  • Find out where to go for networking and popular hangouts and meetups
  • Networking 101 tips

Sydney - Wednesday 22 February

Melbourne - Tuesday 14 March

Register here!