Ignacio Oreamuno is the Executive Director of the Art Directors Club, who we are honored to call both a partner and a friend.
Juniors and schools producing juniors have gotten one thing disastrously wrong: the loss of craft in portfolios could not be more obvious.
From a business perspective, it is easy to understand that schools have been forced to re-structure their curriculums to appear more modern and to shift from producing print books to digital books with integrated media and social media in them. It’s a catch-22 because although agencies are seeking juniors who understand the digital craziness that the world demands now, this has caused everyone to ditch craft.
Three or four years ago, portfolios started being infiltrated by stock images shot on iPhones. Every junior pasted every app, social media integration idea that they could come up with on that iPhone mockup. It worked the first year, as well as the second, but nowadays it’s overkill. Advertising portfolios have become a SXSW, wannabe-techno-geek affair.
I’m not an old fart and am a techno geek, but I also understand the importance of craft. Ideas, whether they are digital or “traditional,” need craft. Everything, from a simple banner to a microsite, needs attention to typography, balance, color and white space that we put into doing print ads 20 years ago. Anyone who has studied art direction and practiced print grids knows what I am talking about. There is no difference between a poster and a screen, they are both flat pieces that contain art and are trying to attract attention and response.
“Everything, from a simple banner to a microsite, needs attention to typography, balance, color and white space that we put into doing print ads 20 years ago.”
For a while, everyone got a get-out-of-jail card because fonts were tricky online. “Flash this and flash that,” html5, blah, blah, blah... Those days are changing, as we see more web kits that enable beautiful use of typography online. Kerning and leading will become included in everything from an iPad app to a banner. Juniors, it is important for you to understand that there is very little literature on how to apply typography skills online because everything is changing so quickly. Nevertheless, you could indulge in typography books and techniques to practice them online. The result will likely be an eye-stopper campaign that will make your book stronger than the rest.
Do you want proof of this? Apple is currently doing a big revamp of the craft and art of the design of its IOS apps. It’s always the same story isn’t it? Design always comes back to simplicity, balance and de-clutter.
Also, an important matter is photography. It used to be acceptable for a junior portfolio to have a crappy photo or stock shot with low resolution, pixilation and blurred watermark. Those times are gone. There are great stock companies (like iStockphoto, one of our partners) that are charging very reasonable rates for extremely high-quality photos. And if you want to craft it yourself; well, you must be two degrees of separation from someone with a SLR and probably three degrees from someone with some lights, which they can lend you. The days of crappy photos are long gone, so make sure your portfolio reflects that.
“A good designer is not just one who knows where to put beautiful elements, but also where not to put them.”
Another element that is long forgotten in digital is white space and clean designs. Take a look at your favorite apps. I could bet money on your favorite ones being the ones that are simple and clean. A good designer is not just one that knows where to put beautiful elements, but also where not to put them. Having a portfolio with good use of “white space” in all media shows confidence, attention to detail and restraint.
Finally, it’s important to remember that craft should go into every detail of your portfolio. Even if you have a solid presentation on the iPad, make sure that the typography of descriptions, titles, your resume and your card look cohesive and clean. Ten years ago, you were expected to work for brands; nowadays, you are expected to behave like a brand, so act accordingly.
The golden rule is simple: if it’s too easy, it’s probably wrong; if it hurts a little, if you feel it is hard, then you’re going in the right direction. So go full speed into the future of digital, but don’t forget to pack a healthy dosage of craft and art from the past.
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