Check out the work of Justin Drape.
What do you look for in a student or junior portfolio? And what impresses you?
Unique thinking and a willingness to learn. I don’t think you can teach either of these things, so it’s really important. I’ve met some juniors who are interesting thinkers but they have attitude problems and/or a sense of entitlement that will not sit well within our company culture.
Also, in regards to their unique thinking, it doesn’t necessarily have to be advertising work. If somebody has a unique take on the world, you can see that through a piece of writing, a new business idea, or a personal art project. If they are showing initiative and a willingness to experiment, then that’s the type of person we want in the agency. Some of their work might not be perfect, but if they’re trying new ways of doing things, that’s important to us. It’s okay if you try and fail, but it’s never okay if you fail to try.
Do you think it’s good to put that stuff in with your ads or keep it separate in another section?
At the moment it feels like everything in the industry is converging, so I’m always interested in seeing creative thinking beyond advertising. At The Monkeys we’ve created quite a few projects without brands. We’ve created TV shows, a couple of art installations, books, etc., and they don’t have brands attached to them. We have people that have come onboard from various backgrounds. One of our art directors, for example, was a designer at Mambo and helped set up Deus [Deus Ex Machina] which is a unique brand, and when he came to see us he actually had his sculptures on exhibit downstairs in a well-known gallery. He brought in some examples of his sculptures and we were really impressed by that. He hadn’t worked in advertising before but, after joining just on three years ago, he’s now won awards from all of the major shows around the world. He’s just focused his innate energy and talent on advertising projects.
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Can you think of any examples of portfolios that have stood out?
Sure. The best portfolios stand out because of the thinking inside, but occasionally they stand out for other reasons. I received a personalized app last week. The team went to a lot of effort to bring it to life, so it was interesting and showed good initiative. We didn’t end up hiring them though.
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Do you have any other tips for someone about getting in touch with Creative Directors?
Use all of the contacts and resources that you have, and if you don’t have any then find out who some of the most influential and trusted headhunters are and show them your work so they can make contact for you. And only try to get in touch with a CD whose work you respect. You’ll hear a lot of advice when you’re starting out and not all of it is good. If you can observe, learn, and absorb everything from somebody who creates great work, it sets up the foundations for the way that you will approach your work in the future, and osmosis is a powerful thing.