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The Portfolio of the Future

Posted on January 16, 2012 and read 10,514 times

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ignaciocreditpic The Portfolio of the FutureIgnacio Oreamuno

I know it makes me sound old but eleven years ago I was job-hunting for my first art director job. Since I’d decided to study web and art direction at the same time, I had a combination of interactive and print campaigns in my book. The advice I got from CD’s was always the same: “If you want to be a web developer, make a web portfolio. If you want to be an art director, make another one but don’t mix them up. We don’t care if you do web.”

Fast forward five years and suddenly traditional print portfolios began getting more interactive, as gutsy juniors added banners to their print campaigns. Fast forward two more years and I remember getting an angry email from a prominent CD who had attended Portfolio Night, complaining that a junior brought his portfolio on his laptop and that it wasn’t the “correct way” of showing it.

“How wrong he was,” I thought last year, as I looked at the juniors attending Portfolio Night 9 in Amsterdam, armed with all sorts of tablets, mobile applications and laptops. Campaigns included interactive elements, films, games and more that they had coded themselves.

This is the first time since the days of the Mad Men that portfolios have truly transformed and it puts a lot more pressure on creatives trying to get that dream job. Not only do the ideas have to be great, but the media they live within has to be a perfect fit.

Here are the most important trends I see leading up to this year’s Portfolio Night 10 event.

1. Tablets will dominate. Last year saw a massive increase in tablets vs. laptops, and I expect 90% of portfolios to go on tablets this year. Yes, a laptop can do everything a tablet does, but for some reason it’s just a cleaner, better way to show it. Also, battery life is better so you don’t have to worry about running out of juice or having too many things/clutter on your desktop, etc.

2. More complex mobile/interactive campaigns. Two years ago, most portfolios began to include at least one campaign with a mobile element. In most cases they were weak, since juniors often just took the idea of a TV or print campaign and dumped it on a very crude or too complex iPhone app, assuming that made it ok. Early on that may have been ahead of the game, but now that everyone has the same iPad/iPhone app comps in their books, they must be developed further.

Remember that the purpose of the portfolio is to show that you have the thinking the agency needs, so you should have fun and push the limits of your thinking.

3. Play with the technology. I have met a lot of creatives that have learned to code apps and interactive games. While this skill set was not a requirement four years ago for, say, a copywriter, times have changed. If the people competing for your job have that skill set, it means you have to embrace it. You don’t need to become an expert, but if you can work with a creative technologist to build out some of the ideas you have developed in your book, it’s going to score you big points. Remember that if you get that dream job you’re after, this is exactly what will be required of you.

4. Surprise me. A lot of leading agencies around the world have begun to diversify their offer. Look at the last shortlist of the Tomorrow Awards here and you will find that some of the most innovative advertising work around the world is not just ads. Some agencies are building apps for themselves and putting them to market, others are creating social movements to build buzz for the agency and brand, while others are launching into new arenas like architecture. The portfolio of the future should have between 15-20% of non-ads in its arsenal.

5. The level of polish has changed. If you wanted to show off your TV skills in the past you could get away with writing a TV script in your book. Years later juniors began shooting their own videos and composing grunge-looking versions of ads. Nowadays the bar has been raised by technology. Everyone has access to HD cameras and to advanced-but-cheap movie editors. If consumers are able to create video content that is watched by millions of people, so should you, and this applies to copywriters as much as art directors. In the past you could get away with it looking amateurish, but that’s no longer the case. What do you mean you can’t compose your own music for your video using Garage Band?

In February we will be digging deep into what the portfolio of the future will look like this year. I’ll be working hard with select applicants to iStockphoto’s Feast mentorship program, and together we’ll be developing these Protégés’ campaigns to build the portfolios of the future.




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