Post ADC portfolio review and some beers, I think it's time for my rundown with my experience. Walking into the exhibition, and getting a glimpse of some of the other student works that were on display, I had to admit, I was feeling a little intimidated, and sort of outclassed, as there were a lot of schools with art and art focused programs, as well as actual portfolios. Once the show started, it was time to really sell my work. But enough of about my experience, here's what I discovered with my observations that are about what companies are looking for at the conference:
1. Interactive: People who had websites or other interactive pieces either on their laptop or in their portfolio had top priority in the eyes of the professionals in the New England area. As much as designers enjoy sifting through stocks of various paper stock, the internet is the great equalizer in design, though we can safely say that 99% of the web has design that really honestly sucks. So if you are creating a brand or developing an identity, be sure to consider how the brand will translate over the web.
2. Selling your work: Some of the designers were kind of griping that they were bored despite all of the people and the buzz that was surrounding. But those who were drawing people back to their work were also the ones who were personable, assertive, and confident in their work. Despite that being told that "your designs should sell themselves," but you have the story, the background and the idea behind it, and though to some degree your work should be able to sell it, you gotta stand behind it and sell it like no tomorrow.
3. Book Covers and Complete Books: There were folks that were seeking those who had some really unique editorial and layout skills, especially those who are from major publications (Conde Nast was one of the participating agencies).
4. Product line exploration: Agencies and Design studios were also looking to see brand exploration as well as product line expansion, so those who have a series of products within a range will usually get some face time.
5. Actual portfolios: Yeah, still being in school, I only brought my pieces on mounted blackboard, thinking that would be sufficient, but seeing people with various approaches on how their works really showed the amount of drive and desire that they would do for a career in the world of design, and made me feel like I used my pieces like place mats and ate fried chicken without a plate or napkin.
6. The extra mile: Collateral was also a big draw for some pros. Varying from mini portfolios and books, to flip books, buttons, stickers and any other form of swag will make these people happy. I had my business cards which was fine, as did everyone else, but one man had buttons, a few had mini books, one lady had clear bags with jelly beans and a pamphlet of a sampling of her work. The extra incentive to become more memorable will prove to be a valiant though pricey effort.
Out of the 50+ professionals attended the exhibition, I had about 28 people come to my table, greeted, handed my business card and show my work with a big smile on my face, and it was kinda cheesy, it was effective because I talked to others and made an effort to make a connection and know that I'm appreciative for them to come and look at my work.
Those are my observations from how people were behaving.