Clare McNally gave her first-ever Zoom class about portfolios for the introductory advertising course, Reklamelinjen. She discussed portfolios as 'the perfect matchmaker for future you' – "What I always tell young creatives is that just as your portfolio is there to get you the job you want, it's also there to make sure you don't get the job you don't want. It really is a great filter and students shouldn't be trying to please everyone".
Portfolios are something Clare knows a lot about. Not only has she made a few herself, she has also been helping advertising and graphic design students with theirs for almost two decades. She even wrote a book about portfolios back in 2007 (when they were actual 'books' too) called "Portfolio Class with Clare".
Clare has been a 'Master' at many portfolio nights with 'speed dates' for students (including Young Creatives Denmark in Cannes and New Talent Portfolio Nights in Amsterdam). She has reviewed portfolios at ad schools around the world, from Miami Ad School in Miami to the Danish School of Media & Journalism in Copenhagen. Her students have consistently been placed or hired globally at top agencies and won international portfolio competitions, such as, the Cream Portfolio Competition hosted by The Talent Business in London.
There's a lot of talk about what to focus on in portfolios. Is it all about the work? Is it about you? Your side hustles? Clare believes it's about getting the balance right and doing your homework. You must aim for the 'Portfolio Sweetspot'. This is where your personality shines; your work is original, crafted and culturally relevant; and your navigation and information are clear and intuative.
The bottom line is, your portfolio must show who you are and what you like. Of course your personality should be in your 'about' section and self-initiated projects, but it should also be in your work, and in how you present it. 'Personality' is not something you create, copy or invent. It is something you discover and protect. It is you and always will be. As Erik Kessels (CD & Founder of Kessels Kramer) says: "You are what you make".
Students always have a lot of practical portfolio questions like "How many pieces should I show?" or "What platform should I use?". Luckily, there are loads of resources where you can find answers, like D&AD New Blood, It's Nice that and Lecture in Progress etc. Clare is currently also working on a creative portfolio platform herself to help advertising students. It will be a hub of fresh advice, tips and inspiration. So, watch this space! (Mission Portfolio is now up and running, find it here)
If you'd like to know more about portfolio reviews, talks or workshops, please get in touch
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