It’s important to design things you love. Working with ideas and concepts that inspire you is what makes designing fun and that’s the best part about this job, it can be really fun. Design tutors often use this technique to get students thinking and engaged in the wonderful world of design…
When showing your portfolio to a potential employer however, it’s important to show diversity so often it’s these pieces that will bring your work down. They stand out in a portfolio like a beacon – so much so that we’ve coined the phenomenon the ‘The CD Cover No-No’.
As a designer, being creative is only half the challenge. Being creative within the confines of a client’s brief can often be what takes a real stretch of the imagination and this is what we don’t get to see in the example cover art you’ve mocked up for your favorite band. Work like this makes up a very small part of the workload too and is more often than not shopped out to illustrators or artists so instead of showing us how creative you are without constraint, show us how you bring that passion to other things.
Just because you don’t have real clients doesn’t mean you can’t create real briefs. What does your Uncle Frank do? Own a garage. Does your next door neighbor still run a health and fitness business from home? Yes. These are your clients. Create your own brief from here and start designing around it.
Develop Uncle Frank a ripper logo, create some indicative stationery or maybe what his imaginary service car could look like. For your neighbor’s fitness business mock up some brochures, a web splash page or even some social media design. Yes, this is imaginary work but I guarantee it will better show your understanding of what’s involved in being a designer and go a long way towards you actually selling your skills and abilities to prospective employers.
So get rid of the cover art you did for your mate’s MySpace band page. It’s a definite folio no-no. Instead, show work that highlights your ability to come up with inspired and creative ideas no matter what the job. If you can make a family garage or backyard fitness business look just as interesting as your favorite indie band, then you can probably make someone else think so too – and that’s what makes a designer.