Check out some great work from Tom Matano.
AH: You have had quite a long and illustrious career, so I’m curious: what would you say has been a trademark of a stellar or successful industrial design portfolio? What is the common thread?
TM: Over and above strong basic skills such as drawing, graphic sensitivity and digital skills in 2D and 3D are important. Thinking process needs to be visually explained. They also need to have good observation and analytical skills and show personality, not the school color.
Thinking process can be visually displayed by showing ideation sketches, thumbnail sketches, or diagrams. Observation can be displayed in a storyboard style. Analytical skills can be shown via positioning maps or other visual aids, such as infographics. Personality can come through in the style of sketches, the graphic layout of the portfolio, the color sensitivity of the product, and the overall story building.
AH: Have you seen an industrial design portfolio recently that resonated with you? What about it stood out?
TM: There was a broad range of design vocabularies within, alongside creative and innovative solutions with well thought-out design. Essentially, there was a completeness of story, told visually. The story should unfold in a natural flow from page to page. No holes. No gaps. Viewer should not have to go back to previous pages or revisit prior pages to make the connections.
AH: If an industrial design student came to you looking for advice on how to prepare their portfolio to get an internship or a job, what would you tell them to do? What should be in their portfolio?
TM: Portfolios for an internship and for a job requires two different things. A portfolio for a job requires more diversity and maturity in design, versus an internship portfolio. You become an art director or conductor of the orchestra when you are making a portfolio, so exhibit the best of all skills you have through various projects. Show process. State the problem statement, show research and analysis, set the criteria for the design solution. Explore many ideas, and then reflect back on the criteria to select a final design direction.
AH: What has been the most common mistake that students (or junior designers) make in how they present their work or their portfolios?
TM: They don’t prepare the portfolio from the reviewer’s point of view.
AH: What advice would you have to someone preparing for an interview at a design studio?
TM: Listen to comments that reviewers make. Pay special attention to constructive criticisms. Don’t just listen to what you want to hear, as you will miss out on many good points. Consider an interview as yet another learning opportunity.
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