In case you missed it, check out an open letter from Rick Boyko to the next director of the VCU Brandcenter.
WS: What do you look for in a student book? And what impresses you?
RB: What I have always looked for in any book are consistent conceptual and strategic solutions to legitimate business problems. No longer can books be filled with fun, little, easy-to-do, local-business print executions. We challenge Brandcenter students to take on real brands with difficult problems as assignments. Then they have to build out communications across whatever mediums best come in contact with the target, which in almost all cases include or begin with a digital, social component. Any book that does not demonstrate the ability to think about real brands strategically across multiple mediums will most likely not even get a viewing by most agencies today.
WS: How important is finish? If ideas are the most important thing, can sketches be enough? Do you look at actual books anymore, or is it all websites?
RB: Execution is still very important because craft still matters. You have to be able to demonstrate that you are not just someone who can think strategically and conceptually but you can also execute. So, while ideas are king, being able to bring them to life is just as important. While most books today are first viewed on a website, I still believe having a tangible one is valuable to bring the thinking to life and helpful in judging craft.
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WS: What do you think of showing work that is not advertising?
RB: Anything that helps bring who you are to life is worth including. In the end, no one hires a portfolio—they want to know how the person they are looking at thinks. So what other ways you express yourself and how diverse you and your interests are is important to demonstrate.
WS: Do you have any other advice for a student or junior trying to get into the business?
RB: This is an exciting time to enter the business because of the pace and speed which opportunities to help build and tell a brand story are changing. Yet most people looking for a job do so in a very pedestrian fashion. So when seeking a job, think about and approach it just as you would an assignment you’d be given. How do you make yourself stand out and stop someone who is inundated with people just like you trying to get their attention? You can demonstrate that you think in new ways by what you do to get a potential employer’s attention.