I came across a comment by someone recently that I found interesting. I didn’t save it but basically it was a graphic designer complaining that most of the time when he directed people to his online portfolio he never heard from them again and how he thought portfolios and websites were over-rated.
So here I am a couple of weeks later still thinking about this. I wish that he had provided a link so I could have checked his site out but here are some assumptions, right or wrong that I made.
1) His site is poorly designed.
2) His portfolio is poorly designed.
3) His marketing sucks.
4) And to be brutal his work probably sucks.
Here’s why I say this. I have seen many, many sites where budding graphic designers and other artists have built their portfolio around school projects. This is almost never a good idea. DON’T DO THIS. Those are projects to use in a classroom environment and are not something a client should base the decision about whether or not to hire you for their project. Take time to build a portfolio that will attract a client. It needs to show not that you are a good artist but that your art can sell their product. Big difference.
Another problem is a poorly designed website. Your website is extremely important and it shouldn’t be cheesy or sloppy. Make sure it is professional and highlights your talents in the best possible light. If you are not a web designer, hire one or use a site such as www.wix.com. DO NOT throw something up that looks ridiculous. Buy your own domain name. People will take you more seriously. Your website is part of your business and this is where you are sending clients and employers to view your work. Be awesome.
And then there is marketing. I cannot stress enough that if you are a graphic designer you need to take time to build a cohesive brand for yourself. You are trying to find work representing other people’s brands so you better have yours spot on. Take time to develop your logo, your style and really work on your presentation. Write a business plan. Set goals. I can’t even begin to stress the importance of goals. If you don’t know where you are headed how in the hell do you expect to get there? Your image particularly online has to be representative of not only who you are as an artist but who you are as a business person. Decide how you are going to market yourself. How ever you decide to do so learn about that, too. Be the best at selling you.
Of course, maybe none of this matters. Maybe the work just sucks. If you are truly passionate about design but are not getting the work you need reevaluate. Take time to learn more. There are so many tutorial sites that can help you develop real-life skills that you would NEVER learn in the classroom. Get busy and improve your work. Be honest with yourself. Are you really good enough to make a living designing at this time? Would it help you to go to work somewhere that can help you learn as you go? If you aren’t honest with yourself about your skill set will be on rough road. Pick one thing and work to be good at it. Then pick another and another. DON’T EVER STOP LEARNING!!!!
Develop yourself and your brand and you may be able to go out there and compete but if you don’t take yourself and your business seriously I hear McDonald’s is hiring.
Make Good Art. – Neil Gaimen