Just to recap where we left off on this post.
You’ve just gotten done thinking about your goals, finding inspiration, picking/or creating work you are proud of, and you’re now ready to start building a visual identity. Before we start, I want to clarify that creating a logo and materials to be ready for your next job does not mean branding yourself. Creating a brand is a complex process that involves graphic design, marketing, language and psychology. We could say that designing a visual identity is part of building a brand, but far away from being the same thing. So, where do we start?
Let’s identify what is the purpose of having a visual identity. A visual identity is formed by several components with a logo being its key. A logo is the most basic representation of your brand. Every time a person sees your logo, they should be able to recognize who it represents. The purpose of creating a visual identity is then to communicate. We are communicating who we are. Besides from a logo, a visual identity has other elements, that should be all consistent in order to transmit a clearer message. Some of these components include letterheads, business cards, and websites. In this process, we will focus on creating a logo, a resume, and a portfolio that showcase all the projects you consider as the best of the best. This is the minimum you will need to create a legit presence. A website isn’t a must, but it will definitely set you apart from the other candidates. Think about it as an opportunity to showcase more work, more personality, and more information about yourself. Remember employers aren’t just looking for a great resume, but also for a great fit.
Create a Logo
Creating a logo is not easy, and definitely impossible to talk about in only a few paragraphs, but I will try to make it short and sweet. The most important thing is to be resourceful! By now, you have a clear idea of who you are, what you are trying to achieve and hopefully a wide range of inspiration. Use it! Define your aesthetics and start designing in that realm. I can’t tell you what makes a logo be a great one, but I can give you some advice that will direct you into it.
1. Treat yourself as a client. Set yourself a Creative Brief. What kind of information would you like to display? Full name? Nickname? Initials?
2. Make sure it feels like “you.” Don’t try to look super formal if that isn’t your style. This job is about you, take advantage that you can do anything, you are after all… the client.
3. Keep it simple and versatile. Make sure it works in different sizes and colors. Don’t over do it. Make several rough drafts and ask for feedback.
Here a few articles & books on creating a logo. Check them out for a deeper understanding on how to create a logo from scratch.
Not a boring resume. please.
Long gone are the generic- standardized resumes. Like I said before, any chance you have to show your personality is a chance to stand out from the crowd. Take it! With that being said, remember a resume is an overlook of your knowledge and background, which means it should highlight your credentials, and state the truth. It goes without saying…don’t exaggerate what you know, or be too modest. Either way, your employer will find out how capable or not you are. Be honest. If there is a quality in the job description you don’t have, try reading about, taking a class or getting familiarized with it. You might not qualified for the job position, but it will for sure impress your employer and might give you a higher chance to get the job! I have compiled some resume inspiration for you. Check it out!
A killer Portfolio
Remember all that work you did in Baby step 4 in the last blogpost? It’s time to use it! Gather all your work and organize it by themes or some sort of categorization. A word document and folders will do for now! Think about it like an experience. Make sure there is a natural flow between one project to the next one. For each piece, also consider adding some extra information, such as client name, industry, a small description, and maybe even your role in the project. All this information will help the viewer with context and a clear idea of your involvement. Once the structure of your piece is set, and you have decided how many pieces you will show, and what copy will accompany it, it is time to decide on a format and start designing it.
Most creatives have two pieces they show as their portfolio. One that is easily attachable to an email, and one that lives online in some sort of platform. Instagram isn’t a professional way to show your work. I personally recommend creating a pdf file, and a website. Design wise, the best way to make a piece you will be proud of is treat it like any client job. Come up with several looks, based them on the aesthetics you are passionate about, and make sure you love every graphic you make. Create a consistent layout and style throughout. The presentation of this piece will showcase, as much as your work, your talent and skills.
Things to consider while making a PDF portfolio:
- Keep it clean, to the point, and concise. Don’t add too many bells and whistles that make the update of it impractical. (Example: Using custom calligraphy for titles! Imagine how much work that would be!)
- Make sure your work stands above the design of your portfolio. Don't forget that the main focus is to create supporting material.
- Create an intro page, that quickly welcomes, or maps out what the viewer will be looking at, some creatives do a table of contents, and some just a small paragraph.
- Display your contact information! You can’t forget this one!
- Name the file with something professional. AKA don’t name it portfolio_version90_colorway2.pdf
I get a lot of questions about this topic. Which one is the best platform? Which one is the quickest to make? How expensive is it? The answer isn’t simple. The one that works the best for you. There a lot of platforms out there, and many with affordable pricing and templates. I am currently using Squarespace and I love it. I find it extremely easy to manage, and super convenient to keep my work up to date. They have beautiful templates, and typefaces options, as well as functionality and help forums. I am also familiar with Wordpress and Wix, and both are, to me, not as good, but some people seem to like them! So really it is up to you! Do the research, test platforms, read about pros and cons, and make a decision!
Some recent graduates decide to go with Behance portfolios instead, and I think that is pretty smart. It is hard to develop a cohesive visual identity after school, especially because you don’t really know what you like or don’t. I had a teacher that said that what you need is versatility. Behance is a good option for that, since it requires minimal visual identity, but simple enough to look professional and get the point across. I do think though, that the more experience you have, the higher the expectation of having a website becomes. Just keep that in mind.
Things to consider while making a Website:
- Your landing page is the most real state you will ever get. In the worst case scenario, someone goes to your website by accident…your landing page will be reason they stay or leave. Make it great!
- Count how many clicks it takes you from the moment you land on the website to the moment you see your work. It shouldn’t be more than two.
- Make it simple to navigate, and pleasing to see. Don’t use crazy harsh color backgrounds… and please please please… Do not play music unless there is a play button. That is just annoying.
Having a portfolio that you are proud of is a constant work in progress. As soon as you are done with it, you will see areas of improvement and pieces of work that aren’t relevant anymore. This is why it is important to think of how easy the platform and files you are using are to update.
create some buzz!
You have your logo, your resume, your portfolio and your website ready. So, now what? Tell the world! It is time! Sharing your work with others is key in landing job opportunities. Not saying you have to sit back and wait for them to come, but sharing certainly helps! Most opportunities come from word of mouth, so start spreading the word! Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are good places to start! If you want to bring up a notch, make yourself some business cards. Anything that lets others know what you are up to, will do the trick. If you are scared that promoting yourself as an artist might bring you trouble with your current job, think about it this way. Being open to let other opportunities fall in your lap, does not mean you are unhappy with your job. It just means you want to keep striving forward. There is nothing wrong with wanting to keep growing. Any employer would agree with this. Now, this doesn't mean being vocal and loud about it. No one likes dealing with coworkers that have one foot outside the door; but having an exit plan is always a good idea.
Wrapping things up
We have gone quickly through the process of creating a successful portfolio. It all starts with identifying why you are doing this, getting inspired, and setting yourself some goals. After that you have to make a short analysis of what kind of work you've got, what do you want to use (or not) to promote yourself; and if you don't have enough work, then make some! Once you are happy with the quantity and quality of your work, start working on your visual identity. Create a logo, a resume, a pdf portfolio and an online portfolio. Once you are ready with all your material, create some buzz! Share with others what you do! And that pretty much sums up what you need to do to have your work up to date. Now, how to keep it that way? Every time you finish a project you know you want to display on your portfolio, do it. Make sure every time you add one, you revise all the other ones that are there and rethink if they deserve to be called "your best work." This way, updating your portfolio won't be as much work each time you decide to apply for a new position. Also, while designing your visual identity, make sure your elements are timeless. Don't try to follow trends, they get old, and dated. If you do so, you will be redesigning a lot, and making yourself work twice as much.
I hope these two articles push you to think about working on your portfolio. Remember building a portfolio is hard work. You will not have time to work on it, unless you make time to work on it. The same way you make time to go on vacation, or watch Game of Thrones. It requires will and discipline. So, are up to the challenge?