Chronicle has great craft how-tos, pattern libraries and my favorite business guide for creative professionals, Meg Mateo Ilasco’s Craft, Inc. I think Chronicle carries a lot of really useful and well-designed titles, and I’m not just saying that because there’s a mini Hambone in their Softies Kit.
If I want to transition into doing more editorial-prop-type work, I’m going to need to beef up my portfolio. I’ve already done some work for book publishers like Chronicle and Scholastic, but most of it’s not very sophisticated, being geared mainly toward the kindergarten crowd. My portfolio needs a lot more examples of the kinds of projects I’d like to get hired for. It needs to demonstrate that I’m capable of handling more complex work of various scales, while appealing to the needs of marketing and art directors.
I’ve therefore begun an on-going brainstorm (which I will turn into a static page so I can keep updating it) of potentially interesting portfolio pieces. The idea is not to get through the entire list, but to create enough options that at least one of them is exciting to me on any given day, no matter what my state of mind. If you have ideas to add, please put them in the comments and I’ll add them to the project brainstorm page.
- Design a new title page for a boring magazine article
- Design two interesting settings in which to photograph jewelry
- Design a window display
- Design a trade show booth
- Design five DIY holiday gifts, and five DIY holiday decorations
- Design a political package for an issue or candidate, including poster, bumper sticker and button (or other schwag)
- Design a piece of wearable clothing not made from fabric
- Create three unsettling plush objects
- Create a pop-up card or book spread
- Design something to indicate the passage of time that is not a clock, calendar or hourglass.
- Shoot a handcrafted animation
- Create a kit to help solve a common problem
- Create a diorama
- Create a shadow box
- Create a papercut
- Design something to help organize your workspace
- Make a gross or boring job or product look sexy
- Create a trompe l’oeil
- Create a map of an imaginary place
- Make a pocket square that looks like something other than a handkerchief
- Make a memory game
- Take photos and then alter them in a barely noticable way
- Create a shrine to an obsolete technology
- Create a board game to illustrate a process
- Make a family tree
- Diagram something emotional
- Create an introduction/thank you piece a la Jeffery Rudell
- Make a weird cross-stitch/needlepoint sampler
- Design a poster for a quotation using at least five different fonts
- Design 5 simple-to-make but elegant DIY wedding items
- Make an advent calendar
- Make something useful out of 100% garbage
- Design the childhood bedroom of a fictional character
- Re-create an often overlooked household object that is ten times larger or smaller than usual
The other day, my good friend Eleanor over at The Present Group sent me a link to the post “Eight Things They Never Taught You About Networking“ on Coroflot’s “Creative Seeds” blog. That post, and indeed, that entire blog, is a useful web resource in and of itself, but coroflot.com has a lot more to offer. Now, I realize that many designers, especially if you went to design school, already know about this site, but I think it may actually be most useful to those of us without the benefit of a “career services” office.
Coroflot.com is a one-stop shopping clearinghouse for those longing to be part of the design industry. You can create an online portfolio (really great if you don’t have the skills or funds to create your own web site), search for jobs, and create or join groups based upon shared interests, training or geography. In other words, you can find a job you want, network with someone at the company and show them your work all in one place. I started drooling a little over the posting for Chronicle Books’ semi-annual fellowships today. Other useful things on Coroflot include the 2007 Design Salary Survey and Coroflot Magazine, which regularly features work from online members.
Tip: To keep your portfolio at the top of the stack, update it a little every day.