Enjoy the Ride

‘Enjoy the ride’ is a 3-minute TV spot by 303 Advertising for the Road Safety Council of Western Australia.

Instead of just telling you to drive slower, they explore the idea a little further. The result is another benefit of driving slow that people tend to overlook. It answers one of the most common problems people face in their everyday city life, which I myself among many others can really relate to.

The ad itself is 3 minutes long and that in itself makes people stop their fast-paced life filled with 15-30 second ads and listen to what they have to say. At the same time, it is engaging and leads the audience to watch till the end.

One irony, though, is that the people who made this TV ad probably lead a very stressful and fast-paced lifestyle. (I mean, who doesn’t in the advertising industry?)


‘Miss Turkey’ – Carl’s Jr.

A TV spot promoting Carl’s Jr. new charred turkey burger by David&Goliath, Person Films and Union Editorial.

It’s cheeky and memorable. It uses every shameful cliché found in many shameless commercials, but they do it in such a way that nobody can really say anything bad about it.

“Q: What’s the best way to sell a burger? A: With a girl in a bikini. Duh.” –Communication Arts news

My first InDesign experiment

The other day I had an IT session on InDesign. Click here to see what I learned.

At the end of the session, the tutor gave us some homework.

We were given a chunk of text and some images. Then we were supposed to use them to make a three-page document using InDesign.

Here are the specifications:

  • Install at least one font from DaFont.com
  • create 3-page document with a master text frame
  • Width 150 mm
  • Height 205 mm
  • 2 columns with a gutter of 3 mm
  • Top margins 10 mm
  • Bottom margin 10 mm
  • Inside margin 5 mm
  • Outside margin 7 mm

In the beginning, I pretty much had no idea where to start, as I had never really designed a magazine before. But I looked up some examples of design magazines and got some inspiration.

Click here to see what I arrived at.

“Why You?”

Yesterday, we had a talk session with our guest speaker Dave Davidson, the Design Director at Infinite, on the topic of “Why You?” regarding employability.

Dave Davidson is originally from Newcastle upon Tyne and was also a student at Newcastle College. He graduated in 1996 and left for London, since it seemed like what everyone needed to do. He got there and hated it. So he came back to Newcastle and remained unemployed for 12 full months before getting a job at an agency here.

He’s worked for Dance City, the Metro, One North East, End clothing brand, Saints Hotel, and many other personal clients.

He talked us through some of his work, some good and some bad, but all had stories behind them that we could learn something from.

I found the stories very interesting. (It was very long so I’m not going to tell all of it here.)

Dave has been through a lot: bad and good experiences regarding agencies, clients, etc. but the main thing to learn from his stories and to always keep in mind is to stay tough and stay excited.

“Why You?”

What the agencies look for is a series of attributes of a person.

It varies from person to person, from agency to agency. (Sometimes the interviewer will even have the list of attributes they are looking for and tick off one by one as they interview you.)

For Dave himself, he said, he looks for the three P’s: Personality, Portfolio, Passion.


  • Relaxed: Remember you are only there talking with someone who has the same interest and passion as you do. Both of you are there to talk about the things you both like and enjoy.
  • Professional: Be there on time and be prepared.
  • Honest: Some try to be what they think the agencies are looking for. The agencies will see through it. Just be yourself.


  • Genuine: Only show your own work, and be honest about how much you have put into each piece of work. Everyone knows someone who knows someone in this industry. There are a lot of tragic stories of those who try to claim others’ work to be theirs. They are always found out.
  • Confident: Be confident about your work.
  • Receptive: You have to get used to being critiqued. You are, most of the time, there to ask for their opinions anyway. Don’t defend your work. Listen to what they have to say about it.


  • Brave: Sometimes you have to take risks. Show a piece of work you’re not sure of. Sometimes what you think is bad, others might find good. They might be able to see the potential in it.
  • Committed: If you really believe in your idea, stand by it. Explain why you think it could work. But do it comfortably. Don’t say “No, you’re wrong and I am right.” Take what they have to say on board, while explaining what you think.
  • Positive: With all the above in mind, you will come off as a positive person. After all, if they hire you they are probably going to spend more time with you more than their own spouse. They have to make sure that they will like you.

Personality is important. If your portfolio is great, but you have a bad attitude, they probably wouldn’t want you around in their agency. But if your portfolio is alright, but you are a great, positive, fun person, they will find the potential in you and help you grow.

You don’t have to start off being the best in the industry. As long as they see your potential, you’ll be fine.

At the end of the day, what they probably care most about is whether you can help them make money.

Portfolio for creatives

Yesterday we had PPD session on physical and online portfolio for advertisers, graphic designers and web designers. It reassured and confirmed a lot of things I was unsure of.

There is no specific number of pieces of work that should be in a portfolio. But the average is around 8-12 pieces and around 6-8 projects (in one project there can be more than one piece). However, in the end it’s the quality of work that matters and not quantity.

The first piece of work or project you put in your portfolio should be your best and strongest work. It should have that “wow” factor. Also, it’s important to end strong as the last page of your portfolio tends to be left open while you talk afterwards. The rest of your portfolio should also be strong. Meaning you should be comfortable and confident with every single piece of your work that you put in there.

In your portfolio, there should be various types of work, unless you choose to specialize in a certain kind of area. For example, choose different kinds of clients, utilize different styles, etc.

When choosing work, you should also keep in mind to choose according to the type of agency you’re applying for.

Also, your portfolio should reflect you. Put some personal work in, something that can show them a little about you.

If you have done some relevant work on your placement, you should put it in. It doesn’t have to be the best campaign or design in the world.

One essential thing is to spell check. Errors will really stand out and it makes you look like a sloppy person. (Having mentioned that, I would like to state that the presentation the tutor used to present this had at least two grammar/spelling errors.)

You should always keep your portfolio current and up to date. When you are working on a placement, keep updating it. Wherever you work, you should keep all the files so you can use them whenever you want to update your portfolio.

You should also pay attention to details, as in the layout, etc.

When buying your portfolio case, bare in mind that the style and format reflects/affects what is inside. There are no rules regarding the portfolio case. You don’t have to spend a fortune on it. In the end, it’s the work they are looking at. Here’s a list of site you can check out for portfolio cases:

All your work should be protected with sleeves or laminated.

Most professionals prefer A3 to A4 format, as it retains more details in design. A3 is not too big and not too small. No one would want you to crowd their studio space up with your A1 or A2 portfolio. However, half-size is the lowest you should go when reducing the size of your work. If you have to go smaller than that, don’t show it.

When putting together and designing your portfolio, approach it like a design job. It is yours after all. Treat yourself like a client. Think about what you want. Think about different designs, grid and layout, while making sure it is consistent. Try using InDesign if you can, as it makes your job easier.

Think about the different types of work that you have (TV campaign, print campaign, package design, branding, etc.), how you want your work to be seen, and how you want each page to look.

If you want to brand your portfolio, it is your choice. But if you choose to do it, make sure you keep it small and subtle. The focus should always be on your work.

Also, think about titles and project description. Keep it short and to the point. Sometimes you won’t get to be there when they look at your portfolio and explain everything. Make sure all the necessary information is there. Keep the labels consistent.

Background color should be neutral color, like white or light gray. If your work has white background, don’t use black background. Draw a frame around it instead. Use 0.5 pt and make it 75% instead of completely black.

When you decide whether your portfolio should be portrait or landscape, look at your work first. When arranging your work, never mix landscape work and portrait work in one spread. Always think about consistency.

Make sure to put spacing around your work. It draws the eyes to your work.

Hawaii Design website has a very nice way of showcasing their work.

It is also very important to be able to talk about your work. You should know everything about every single piece of work you put in your portfolio. They might ask you what typeface you use for one piece, and make sure you have an answer. One tip is to write down everything about every piece of work and read it through before going into an interview.

The more you practice, the better you do in an interview. Talk through every piece of work, over and over. Talk to someone. It might be awkward in the beginning but it helps eliminate uncomfortable feelings. Also, make sure you don’t ramble. People you meet tend to be very busy and make sure you don’t waste their time.

Networking is essential. It is nice to know a lot of people you can go in to show your portfolio to. Most creatives like to give honest opinions. When you go in to show your portfolio, don’t talk too much. You are there to listen and only talk when asked a question or to explain something.

Be punctual. Always get there on time. It’s also nice to make friendly eye contact, and show that you have done your homework.

Be prepared. Find out the address and phone number of the agency in case you get lost. You can even go down there before the interview to make sure you know exactly where it is. Bring a copy of your CV or business card, to have something to leave behind. Bring a notebook and a pen to take notes when they give advice. If your work is digital, bring backup files.

Mostly, what agencies look for are logical thinking, creative understanding, talent, and personality.

When it comes to online portfolio, it is the first contact you have with the agency and you won’t be there to explain anything. If they ask you to email them a digital or online version of your portfolio, don’t send all of the work you have (send four or something). Give only samples. So when you actually go in for interview, you’ll still have something else to show and talk about.

When making an online portfolio or a website, know your goals (freelance work or to get hired) and your target audience. It will determine the tone of voice. The focus should be on the content, and shouldn’t be distracted by the design.

An example of how to title each section is:

  • Portfolio: your work
  • About: your bio
  • Contact: should be easy to find
  • CV: not necessary

You can also categorize your work, according to the type of media, for example. Work is the main focus, and don’t overcrowd.

Keep your website simple and easy to navigate. Again, don’t show everything you’ve got.

Here are two books that the tutor recommended:

“How to Create a Portfolio and Get Hired” by Fig Taylor, Laurence King Publishing

“How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing Your Soul” by Adrian Shaughnessy