Building a portfolio

(Jason Brown) #1

For someone who is just starting out in design, and art in general (I’ve never been to school for it, can’t draw for toffee, although I’m learning and I’ve never painted). Basically I’m relatively new in every sense to all this awesome stuff on Learned Squared. I say ‘relatively’ because I’ve been studying from online and books for 7 months or so.

I’ve been learning the tools; so now I feel confident in Illustrator, After Effects and Cinema4D (Photoshop is next up!), so that’s all great but I’m a novice when it comes to design theory… it’s something I working hard on improving. My balance between using software and reading books has been uneven and I’ve favoured making half assed work in order to practice with the programs. Because of this I have a bunch of unfinished or ‘amateurish’ work that I have no intention of putting in my reel.

I know as I develop my understanding of design the quality of my work should improve. I’m seeing it as a patience thing and that’s not something I’m usually great at, especially as I’m desperate to get out of my soul destroying job and into the creative fields. But anyway, I’m kinda feeling in the coming months I need to be producing solid, fully developed pieces of work which I can include in my reel and attract potential employers. I’m hopeful that the courses here will help me do that. I’m currently enrolled in the Motion Design course and will be joining others in the future!

Any advice for someone who is doing this without the structure/guidance of the education system? Building a portfolio of entirely personal projects, is it still possible to attract employers?

I know these are vague questions and I’m not looking to open up the ‘do you really need school?’ debate but I’m just curious to hear of any other people in a similar situation to mine or just the discussion of staying disciplined to build your own education structure.


(Robin Willott) #2

Hi Jason
A lot of folks (Ash Thorp included) are recommending a book called “Mastery” by Robert Green. I’m nearly 40 and still found it to be an energising, inspiring read. I’d reckon it’s well worth a read.
As to your worries - I got a job at a VFX company a few years back, and part of what got me through the door was that my portfolio had a sense of something different to it. I don’t know if there is a universal approach, and I’m no recruiter, but my suggestion to you would be to try and set yourself a project of some sort that goes from start to end, and make it as damned good as you can manage. See it through, care about it, and try to challenge yourself.
I think these courses should give you a really great framework to get moving with - once you’ve done one of them through, why not repeat the process, but diversify it so that you write your own creative brief, and take the skills that you honed from finishing the course and applying it to your own ideas?
Best thing is that you’ll have two pieces to add to your collection that way :grinning:
I’d say that a potential employer is going to be impressed by a few different things - technical ability, yes, a sense of design, sure, but I’m certain that if you went in with a portfolio of self-generated stuff that showed you had committed to improving yourself - that would surely create a really good impression with someone.

Very best of luck


(Jason Brown) #3

Hi Rob

Thank You the reply, I’ll be sure to check that book out.

I’m currently at lesson 4 of the motion design class and its finally a tutorial that has provided me a framework to create a piece from start to finish. Its always been something I was missing, my workflow was very erratic, jumping all over the place, getting confused and overwhelmed then eventually giving up and moving on to something else for a clean start.
I’ve created style frames for the first time which I now see is a huge part of the process, so I’m definitely looking to build on the knowledge provided on this site.


(Robin Willott) #4

I’d not overtly thought about style frames either - and it makes loads of sense once someone shows you! Incorporating them into my projects now and it’s proving to be hugely helpful.