ANDYVISION - watch me try to be creative. live.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What Comes First? A few tips on ordering your portfolio

So, you've been working on your portfolio for the last 20 odd months. You've got countless late nights and long weekends-worth of work sitting in front of you, and you're thinking, Yes. I am done. Throw these puppies in a case and get me out the door.


There is one very key step you cannot skip here: ordering your book. For the most part I thought worrying about order was bull. I sat down, thought a few minutes on how everything should flow, decided on something that seemed satisfactory to me and off I went.

I took my portfolio on a trip around Manhattan a few days later. Generally speaking, it went really well; I got a lot of positive reviews. But it wasn't until I saw Creative Circus alum Cooper Smith and Dave Canning at Y&R that I really thought too much about the order. They dug my stuff but thought it could be presented better. They told me, when they were in the height of the job hunt, they would often sit in their apartment, spread their work all across the floor and spend hours ordering and reordering everything. (Or so they told me). We sat in their seventh floor office for a bit doing just that. Ultimately, I didn't use the order they thought was best, but their obsession with portfolio ordering showed me its importance.

What was the biggest problem with my book? It didn't have an easy in. My first campaign was a beautiful three-piece print that was based on ridiculously intricate illustrations and super heady headlines. I put it there because it was a personal favorite and seemed the most impressive to me. The problem was, it was so intense, it was like getting punched in the gut as soon as you opened my portfolio. In the end, I changed the pole position to my another campaign that starts off right away with a big, silly joke. Bold, stark and black and white on the page. They never suspected a thing, but they couldn't escape it. It was the best thing I did for my portfolio.

Right off the bat. If you can make someone laugh, they've already got a big smile on their face when they're turning to that next page. And if you've gotten them smiling, they're already on your side.

From there, it's really a matter of the different pieces you have. Generally speaking, you want to kick them in the teeth at the beginning and get a nut shot in at the end. That way they'll remember you. Big, fun, memorable campaigns. In between is where your dense stuff might go—non-profits, body copy, tech heavy.

Pacing is important as you don't want someone to feel fatigued as they trudge through your book, so it's great to throw a fast, fun campaign in between two heavier ones. (Read: This does not mean do a visual solutions campaign. I am and will always be against that. Worthwhile visual solutions are dead. Just like "viral videos." Just not impressive for a student book. You can do better.)

When you actually sit down to do this, I'd start with taking all your campaigns and putting them in piles on the floor. Decide on your bookends—what's going to kick it off and then what's going to close the deal. From there, you'll likely see what should come second. If you've won any awards, I'd probably throw those campaigns in first or second, maybe last. One of my campaigns that won something wasn't the most exciting campaign so I didn't want it first. But the name dropping alone helps, so it made a great second piece. It gets people thinking early, Hey, this kid won something, I should pay attention.

And don't get too attached to your order. I hate self-editing. Once I decided on how my book would read, I didn't feel like changing it. But I'm very glad I did. It made a huge difference. So don't be afraid to get in there and mess it all up and look at it with fresh eyes.

Really, it's just like telling a good story. You've got to have a hook, development and then a big climax. Now, go make a best-seller.


Sascha Kuntze said...

pretty cool. never thought about it really. thanks a lot. love your blog!

Patio Action Pearson said...

Thanks, Sascha. Hope it helps. If you've ever got any questions, feel free to pose them, and I'll answer with my limited but verbose experience.

_ said...

Most instruction focuses on concept - what about producing and executing work? Can you share some tips on how to work with ADs, what to produce, how to produce, that sorta thing?