Sunday, March 3, 2013

AIGA Portfolio Review

Every year the St. Louis chapter of the AIGA invites area students to an annual event that includes a portfolio review. Reviewers include business owners, design directors, and creative leaders.    

Founded in 1914 as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design with a mission to advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force. AIGA represents a variety of professions under the umbrella of communication design and supports design professionals, educators and students throughout their careers. The annual student conference and portfolio event is a great example of AIGA at its best. I am happy to be involved with the review again this year.     

I started my own career as a graphic artist and as such I have an affinity for helping young talented designers. The format of the review is a sort of “speed networking” format where sessions of 20 minutes with reviewers make it possible to get a lot of feedback for a Winter Saturday afternoon. It is exciting to see so many students with so much passion for design. I met with six individuals all with unique stories and circumstances. At the risk of being pompous and in light of an increasingly competitive marketplace I offered each of the students two pieces of advice.

1.      Be ready with a well crafted answer to the question: So what do you want to do? The clearer you communicate the answer to this question the greater likelihood that you will have productive and satisfying interviews. You will need to have multiple conversations with people in your quest to find the perfect job situation. Your portfolio will, of course, speak volumes about your skills, but potential employers will also factor in a sense of your ambition and focus. That short declaration of your mission will let them know you have given considerable thought to how you hope to manage your career.

2.      Get a board of Directors: Your personal board of directors should be people you admire. You should seek their guidance and advice. Building this group of 3-5 people with whom you can be honest will be invaluable. By forging these relationships you will be able to revisit these individuals as your career progresses. (And don’t make the mistake of only approaching your directors when you have setbacks. Celebrate your successes and share progress when things are going well and your board members will be ready and willing to help you when you need guidance through those rough patches you will very likely experience.)       

Thanks for sharing and I hope I you take my input as a sincere expression of interest in your success. Anna Clark (UMSL), Shelby Wade (Webster), Anna Leroy (Stephens College), Chris Myers (SIU), Kristin White (University of Missouri), Kate Crawford (UMSL) and Alana Downie (Washington University, St. Louis) – I really enjoyed meeting you.

Update 3/22/2014 Another year. I was equally impressed and thrilled by the individuals I had a chance to meet with this year: Matt LaRose (UMSL), Samantha Engel (Mizzou), Garrette Daugherty (UMSL), Christa Pfile (Missouri State), Craig Morris (UMSL), Jeremy Zirkelbach (Maryville).

1 comment:

Moke said...

This is such a great process. A great opportunity for young designers. Thanks for contributing to it, Wes.