Check out some great work from Steve Yee.
WS: What do you look for in a student book? And what impresses you?
SY: The thing that impresses me is strong thinking. It’s the answer any creative director will say. I see lots of books that show off how funny or how clever a creative can be, which is good. But the thing that I also look for is maturity. Show me you can think beyond a funny headline and attach it to a bigger thought that makes me think the product is cool.
WS: Can someone get a job with a book of sketches these days, or does it need to be finished work?
SY: A good idea is a good idea, so, yeah, I think a person can, but that idea better be amazing. With everything going multimedia however, a sketch may not be enough, particularly for art directors. I have to see your ability to design to properly measure you.
WS: Do you think long copy is important to have?
SY: I think so. Every writer needs to be able to write copy and every art director needs to know how to typeset long copy. Too many times have I seen creative directors compensate for writers who aren’t able to craft copy. Or craft type for art directors who don’t understand kerning. It can be frustrating.
WS: What do you think about putting things in a book that aren’t ads?
SY: I think it’s great. I actually prefer that stuff. I heard of one guy who got hired, I think at Wieden, who worked for a skate shop and all he did was make really dumb, funny videos of skaters. That conveyed so much more about the guy than a traditional portfolio. I don’t see this often enough.
WS: Do you have any tips on how to get into the industry?
SY: Go live an amazing life. Fill your head with amazing experiences and meet lots of people. Understand culture from every walk of life and appreciate it. You only have unique thoughts if you have unique experiences. If you’re a boring person, you have a boring portfolio. So I’d encourage anyone to…as much time as you spend thinking about ads, spend more time trying to fill your brain with things to put into those ads…