A portfolio is basically required to obtain or even just apply to many positions in the creative, business, and overall competitive workforce. I didn’t need to show Pizza Hut or Papa Murphy’s my portfolio of amazing pizzas I have made over the years to apply. They wouldn’t have even cared if I had hated pizza, I would have still gotten the job. The web designer job I currently have, was obviously much different in this aspect. My employer wanted to see websites I’ve made. Finished pieces of web design that are on the web live, that people use. I needed to show my creative skills and what I can achieve on my own. And while it was easy to show them via my online portfolio this work didn’t represent me as a designer. Though I complete a few personal projects a month outside of work, I experiment all day. I have a folder called “some test” that is one page with a whole lot of different html elements, css, and jQuery. The UI and interactions I make don’t necessarily look all that awesome, but they are much more complex and unique in their function. So complex or unique that I don’t have a use for most of them. They just are what they are. Think of it as a web page with lots of different sections of UI and information, that do something very different than the others around them. So in a sense, it’s a mess, but my concepts are contained and shown in their output.
I see a major flaw in hiring somebody based on their personal completions, unless the job requires them to work almost exclusively on their own. My current position puts me into a medium sized company as the only web designer. Meaning, they really should care about what I personally can achieve since I am the only one who will be working on the web based projects. Where as whomever I am hired by next, hopefully would have a different interest in their candidates I want to work on a team with other designers and developers. Therefore, in this situation, you would think that a potential employer is much more interested in the ideas I bring to the group. They aren’t so much concerned with the projects I can finish on my own. It’s more a matter of the ideas I can come up with on my own and bring to their table. It’s each person’s parts or personal experiments/ ideas, like I mentioned above that make up the final product.
In my portfolio, if I just show you completed work, you will have no idea how I arrived at the conclusion you’re seeing. If I show you the process and final product, I’m limiting your reaction from all of the other possible outcomes for the process shown. If I just show you my awesome photoshop skills, clean layout, and knowledge of current web trends, how will you know how I think. You can teach me Illustrator, or how to model in 3D, but you can’t teach me how to think outside the box. You can’t teach me how to think like a designer should. Maybe there is minimal CSS and graphic design highlighting my work, but that’s the point. I want my potential employer to hire me because of the concepts I put in front of them. With a passion for inovation, a few years of experience, a hand coded portfolio and multiple examples of “what I’m currently working on”, the question of, “can this guy make it?” changes. On a team of other creatives, the question is no longer, can we make it? It’s, should we make it? Good luck answering that using the Creative Cloud.
Though design skills using standard tools in the industry is a major plus, anyone who chooses to get into this competitive work space has the self motivation and problem solving skills to use them effectively. There are experts in Photoshop and 3D modelers that can build chrome in their sleep. These people will always be required to complete the final product. But most of us aren’t these people and get distracted from what we can really offer a company, by trying to be this person as well. When it comes to my portfolio, I want to show projects that I’m working on now, and they most likely will not have finished look to them. But to do otherwise would not be an accurate representation of my strengths. While I’m able to complete projects and do quite frequently, what motivates me every day is to build a new idea off of the current one. Even if that means stopping where I’m at right now to continue this chain of new exploration. Saying, “check out what I made!” can be a good representation my accomplishments. But if that’s all I show you, then how I think and how I design is not represented. You really have no idea if you need me or the next thinker I graduated with. In this industry, we can all think effectively, we can all design strategically, but how do we show that? Is this more important than the finished product. I’d like to think is and it will be when I go to hire my first designer.