Archive for March, 2010

To Keep or Not To Keep, That is the Question

28 Mar

“What you’re trying to do in a portfolio is make a friend on the other side of the table” -Stan Richards


My Resume (blurred)

My Resume (blurred)

One of the most important things to keep in mind when writing a resume is keeping it brief and to the point.  If the client wants to know more about something they will ask, but if they are presented with an abundance of information from the start they will often be overwhelmed and may not even take the time to read it as a result.  A resume should never be longer than a page- that is where good design and editing come in.  I struggled originally to fit all the information in my work experience category.  This is why I then decided to create an Internships category and split up the information in a graphically pleasing and organized way.  I also began with short descriptions of each of my volunteer and extracurricular activities included, but realized they were unnecessary and made my resume too long and cluttered.

My resume now fits most of the suggestions in Cynthia Baron’s Designing A Digital Portfolio, up until the statement that a design resume should not contain “placed art of any kind”.  I was unsure of whether my logo, graphic lines,  and border along the top would be considered placed art and whether Cynthia Baron was saying that a resume should be purely typographical.  I personally think that these elements add just enough color and interest without taking away from the typographic design of the resume.

Cover Letter

Cynthia Baron also discussed elements that a good cover letter should include: standard salutation, a short reference to who you and and why you’re sending your work, and a statement thanking them ahead of time for your interest.  I have learned from other sources that you should make sure a  cover letter is specific to the company, and a person, by doing research into the company that you can then bring into your cover letter. Overall I feel that a cover letter is a large part of your portfolio that goes back to the quote I started this post off with.  This is a place to get the client to know you, like you, and hopefully become a friend who wants to hire you.


But How Can That Be?

26 Mar

Sidewalk Art by Julian Beever

Simple Yet Effective Chalk Drawings

Simple Yet Effective Chalk Drawings

For years I have seen examples of images that trick your perception into believing they are things that they are not, a seemingly 3D composition on an obviously not 3D medium, or a single image that somehow becomes multiple images right before your eyes.  Is it magic?  Not quite.  It is simply an artist with a detailed understanding of human perception.  The strangest part about these pieces of art work is that no matter how many years I see them or how much I understand about how they are created it still boggles my mind and my eyes every time I look at one.

Take the images in this post for example, although I know that they are created on a flat surface it is hard to allow myself to see them as a flat image rather than a 3D creation.  Artists who create art that fiddles with our perception build off of what we already know and expect from something and suddenly make something seemingly impossible, possible.  For example, The “Ames Room” experiment.  Because of the angle from which the room is viewed it seems as if all of the angles are right angles making the room square and making it seem like the people inside the room magically grow.  When you look at the room from a different angle as seen in the video below you understand that nothing is the way it seems yet somehow when you watch the video from that particular angle again it is still extremely difficult to see anything other than the two individuals growing or shrinking depending on where they are in the room.

Gestalt’s Theory goes into detain about the many reasons that your perception is influenced this way including figure ground, proximity, similarity, closure, and continuity.  All of these groups are based, as previously mentioned, on what we already know and understand to be true which then effects how we perceive what we are seeing.  This is a very interesting area of art and psychology that has so many different and interesting angles to it.  Hopefully in this case the angles are what they seem!


Web Aesthetics

19 Mar

As a user browsing the web, the impact that the aesthetics has upon the look and feel of the site often goes unnoticed but most likely has an impact.  Even the most simple sites that have distributing information as the primary function still have an underlying aesthetic whether the creator intends to or not.  Certain colors evoke certain emotions and feeling, as well as certain textures and images.  With a simple color choice or layout design the creator can influence the target audience and the experience that the user has within the site.




I am currently in the process of creating a portfolio site for my motion graphics work.  The original site I sketched had a very rigid grid and a clean feel that was easy to navigate, but not very personal.  The second composition I made was much more rough and with a more casual feel and more earthy colors of greens and tans.  I preferred this site to the original composition however I still felt it was missing something and did not quite fit the look and feel that I was hoping for.  The final composition that I have chosen to build of f of and begin to create started with the more earthy colors from the second site but went with a more grid like structure like what I had in the first site.  This created what I thought was a more casual and comfortable feel that fit my personality while still making the site easy to navigate and clean for the user.

The other obstacle that I hit while building the site was the use of Flash versus Dreamweaver.  As a motion graphic artist it seemed more logical to create a Flash based site; however my personal experience with Flash sites have been incredibly frustrating with load times and improper plug-ins.  I did not want the visitors to my site to experience the same frustrations that I had previously experienced so I decided to create my site in Dreamweaver and possibly open with multiple options for users with different internet speeds in order to remove and difficulty and frustration that my site may cause.


The Reel Deal

18 Mar

“the main purpose of a reel is to dazzle the client and show the diversity of your portfolio” -Kyle Cooper


In the portfolio of a motion graphic artist, the reel is going to be one of the most important pieces.  It is a creative and fast way to display a rather large variety of your work to a potential employer or client in a short amount of time and an organized fashion.  For this reason, when designing my portfolio site, I want my reel to be one of the most prominent pieces and easiest to find.

But wait there is more!

Although I want my reel to be the center piece of my portfolio site I also intend to include a good deal of other pieces, some of which may be included in my reel, in their entirety incase the client would like a closer look.  Below each of  these pieces I plan to include a description of the problem that was given along with how I developed the project and came up with the solution that I did in order to give a deeper understanding of my process as a designer.

But How?

One of the most difficult parts about having a portfolio that is primarily web-based is considering formats to use for the site.  I originally started with shockwave and then flash, but I had people who had viewed the site tell me that it was not loading properly for them.  Many books on creating web portfolios suggest opening with a page that has multiple options so the user can choose depending on what they have available to them.  You want the user to see the best quality videos and animations possible with the fastest load-speed possible and if you assume everyone has a certain plug-in or web-speed this may not happen.  One source that I personally know a number of people using, which I have never had a problem with is Vimeo, which offers an affordable and high quality player that you can embed within your page, as well as a place to store your all of your videos online.  In the end you just do not want to keep the client waiting, find a way to quickly peek their interest into your work and leave them wanting to see more.


‘She Likes Me for Me’

16 Mar

“a good portfolio should express in some subtle way who you are and what relationship you have to the world” – Sara Eisenman





I have had pieces of my portfolio build for quite a few years now, but it was not until recently that I began to review my work and how it was being presented in my portfolio as a reflection of me.  Obviously each piece was my work and thus my style, but I never before considered how they reflected a piece of who I am and represented myself and what I do in addition to my ‘style’.  From my logo all the way down to the order in which my reel is compiled and the way it is all presented, I have begun to rework each piece to more definitively reflect me and to become more unified with each other.

More Than Just What is Inside

In addition to reworking previous elements of my portfolio presentation I began thinking of additional ways to stand out among the rest.  In reading Sara Eisenman’s Building Design Portfolios, I found inspiration in many of the mailers, in particular a piece by Hirokazu Kurebayashi.  This piece began with a bag screen-printed with his name an filled with a unique set of cards portraying his work.  Many of the examples illustrated in the book were for displaying the work of print designers, but I looked closely at the pieces and began to find ways I could apply it to a portfolio that was primarily motion graphics work as well.  My first thought when reviewing these samples were “wow, how much would creating one of these to send out to every possible employer cost”?  This is why Kurebayashi’s design stood out to me as something I would be able to create on my own with skills and materials that I already have at my disposal.  With these I could create a small fabric bag embroidered with my logo to encase a DVD containing a reel that displays my work as a motion graphic artist and with the potential to include any of other design work of mine that I wish to include.


Having the Right Components

02 Mar

“More is better as long as the designer feels confident about each piece.” – Sara Eisenman

Coming from college, many students all have similar projects.  They may have some variety depending upon personal style and talent, but all come from the same generic design brief.  This means that graduating with a portfolio based portfolioentirely on the work created in the courses that are required for your major means there are numerous portfolios out there that are all, in some way, similar.  So how do you create dissimilarity between your work and the work of your fellow graduating classmates?  In Work? What Work? I discussed that a few of the design books I had read stated that clients tended to prefer work that came from a job or assignment and had a brief to projects that were created entirely from your imagination.  This originally differed me from my plans to create projects independently from my own design concepts, but Sara Eisenman made some good point about projects and concepts created on your own including the statement that “extra work shows enthusiasm and initiative”.  Internships and freelance work as well as independent studies are other ways that I have personally created variation in my portfolio in comparison to other students.

The Process

Another important suggestion that Sara Eisenman made in ‘The Components of a Great Portfolio’ section in her book Building Design Portfolios was the idea of creating a “process book” of all the work leading up to the final project for, if  possible, all of the work in your portfolio.  This book will show the client the thought and design process that you have followed to create each project as well as help to demonstrate your reliability, hard work, and competence as a designer.