About a dozen Creative Directors (CDs) from top agencies in Scotland and the UK were in attendance to review and offer advice on student portfolios...for FREE. Wow.
I remember events like this offered by the Graphic Artists Guild in the states, but I don't recall an event like this ever being FREE.
At my age, I'm not the typical demographic for this event, however, I am indeed a student. Add to that, as I reach the end of my MFA here at the University of Edinburgh College of Art, I've put together an entirely new body of work and a new portfolio, and it has been ages since I've received a portfolio review. (I've given plenty of portfolio critiques, but it's hard to evaluate your own work with objectivity!) I liken my time here at uni as being in a creative chrysalis for the last two years. I also don't know the UK market as far as who the top design firms are, who the top artist representatives are, what they're looking for, etc. I had to go, and I'm so glad I did!
First, I learned so much about where CDs are going these days to find talent. The top contenders weren't a surprise, like CIA and AOI (which I plan to join as a graduation present to myself soon). However, the big surprise was Pinterest. The site has cleaned up its act since its early days when copyright protection was such an issue. Nowadays, artists can upload an image under a tag like "monkeys." If an art director needs an image of a monkey, they can do a search in Pinterest, find a monkey style they like, and find the artist to hire... all through Pinterest. Who knew!?
I was also reminded that preferences are completely relative. I had one CD tell me the work in the center of my portfolio was weaker in comparison to the front and back, only to have a later CD tell me my work in the middle was the strongest and blew them away! I had another CD tell me they loved how many different styles I showed because they like to work with a creator who can address many needs, only to have another CD say they preferred a creator to have one identifiable style.
My take away on that? Just keep creating like crazy and let the market figure out how it wants to label me, rather than the other way around.
I gave out my card and received many in return. I'm following up with folks today - new potential avenues for freelance work in the future.
All said, this was an amazing event that came at just the right time for me. As I go forth into the world with this new ideology on how I create, I was given confidence in the strength of my new work and contacts with CDs who might hire me for freelance work. Fabulous!
Many thanks to Story for hosting the event and being so gracious, as well to idm for putting together such a valuable affair.
Also--go with your gut.
And as Tomie de Paola once said, "Never put in your portfolio something you hate because that might be the one thing every art director loves and you will be stuck drawing it for the rest of your life!"
Indeed! Good advice, Jane! :) e
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