How to Create a Portfolio and Get Hired

ht-porfolio-cover-2Just like storytelling is important for brands, it is equally as important for creating your portfolio. The second edition of How to Create a Portfolio and Get Hired is a guide for graphic designers and illustrators. Discover how to put together a successful professional digital or print portfolio. Learn how to effectively organize and display your work, so that you tell the story of you.

This is not a book that’s overly preoccupied with style. As author Fig Taylor says,

“The world is full of coffee-table tomes that wax lyrical about the stylishness of contemporary design and illustration; this is, first and foremost, a book that’s concerned with content.”photo (4)














It is also a book about transition: the groundwork you need to lay in order to establish yourself in a chosen career.

The book is beautifully laid out. There are numerous Illustrative examples on how to put a portfolio together, in addition to, an overview of the range of options available to you. Quotes from key players offer soundbites of good advice. It includes information on research and cold-calling; good interview and presentation techniques.

“Those who phone have 95% done their homework. 
Those who email are 75% relevant.
Post is worst; at least 60% is inappropriate.”
~ Martin Colyer, Art Director, Reader’s Digest

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Thinking with Type

A black page or screen confronts the creative thinker with fundamental questions. What type of typeface to use? What size? How those letters, words, paragraphs should be aligned, spaced, ordered and shaped. As a copywriter, you are always thinking of the best way to make the words leap from the page; as a designer you’re constantly pushing yourself to make it happen. And, as we know, magic happens when words and design dance together.

Thinking with Type, the revised and expanded 2nd Edition of the classic design handbook will help you get thinking about how to think and create by playing around with type. But instead of trial and error, it will provide you with the principles, examples and exercises, to ensure that you don’t commit type crimes.

thinking-with-typeThis is not a book about fonts. This is a book about how to use them. Typefaces are an essential resource employed by graphic designers, just as glass, stone, steel and other materials are employed by architects.

This updated edition has been widely adopted by design programs around the world. Created to form a better understanding between design and text, it’s beautifully combines a world when the two collaborate. It aims to be relevant across the media of visual design, whether its on the printed page or the digital surface.

Building on the basics of Letter, Text and Grid, the reader is enlightened about the cultural and theoretical issues that fuel typographic design.

Words originated as gestures of the body. Typography shapes content, giving language a physical body, and enables the social flow of messages. The book is about thinking with typography.

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“Designers create hierarchy and contrast by playing with the scale of letterforms. Changes in scale help create visual contrast, movement, and depth as well as express hierarchies of importance. Scale is physical. People inevitably judge the size of objects in relation to their own bodies and environments.”

Thinking in Type by Ellen Upton, is published by Princeton Architectural Press and distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books

Creative, Inc.

There is no greater joy that running your own show. You get to pick your own projects and call all the shots (well, with the client’s approval of course). From years of working in an agency environment, I was able to hone a keen understanding of what the client wanted. And, once you listen to the client, you can use your creative skills to create a mutually beneficial relationship based on trust and hard work.

But if you are a young creative thinking of venturing out into the world of freelancing, where do you start? What do you need to pitch a client? How do you go about creating an estimate? How do you invoice your clients? It can all be a bit daunting, but with the right steps you will be successful in laying the foundations of a great venture.


Published by Chronicle Books and distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books.

I came across a book that I think is just the absolute guide to running a successful freelance business. It’s called Creative Inc. This handy guide is packed with real-life advice from freelance superstars who have excelled in their industries (and made mistakes you can avoid). Most creatives aren’t born with a calculator in their hands. They don’t love to crunch numbers, or have the innate ability to write up estimates. And why should they? They are creative after all. Their minds think up absurd designs and concepts and campaigns.

But if you want to get out on your own, you need to at least learn the basics of what you need to succeed. You could go back to business school and learn it (which is never a bad thing, by the way) or your could read up on how to do it. With the internet, there are countless resources to help you do so. But, if you had one book that was easy to read that could teach it all to you in a step-by-step manner, then Creative Inc. is the perfect companion guide. And, a bonus to this is if you are like me and love a physical book that you can put on your bookshelf and reference at the drop of a hat. (Remember, you will be wearing a lot of hats, running your own company.)

By the way, here’s a good segue if you haven’t read Arlene Dickinson’s book All In, to decide whether you really want to do this (before you dive right in).

So, here are a few things that Creative Inc. (the Book) by Meg Mateo Ilasco & Joy Deangdeelert Cho will teach you.

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Learn how to:

  • Create a standout portfolio
  • Set your fees and terms
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Create an estimate/invoice
  • Handle your bookkeeping
  • Grow your business
  • Give yourself a vacation




Creative Inc. is sort of a text book, except personally I think it’s handier and easy to reference. It may help you demystify your fears, but what it will help you get are solid building blocks to get you started in a world that can be very rewarding.

The Filmmaker Says

Francis Ford Coppola once said, “If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before?”

The art of film making is like any other craft. You need to have passion and you need to take risks to make that passion a reality. And to keep at it, you have to be inspired. Where do you get your inspirations from? You get them from quotes, quips and words of wisdom from people who have trekked through that exact same path — famous Hollywood directors, filmmakers and other creatives.

the_film-maker_saysIn the book The Filmmaker Says published by Princeton Architectural Press you’ll find just that. This collection gives you insight into the conversations that filmmakers have had and in the process of reading, perhaps you may be inspired to formulate your own views on what matters — about the movies or about creativity in general.

No doubt this is a book that you will go to when you need a creative nudge or a pick-me-up. And in doing so, you just may get closer to making your dream a reality.


Published by Princeton Architectural Press and distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books

without risk
is like having
no sex and
to have a baby.
You have to
take a risk.

~ Francis Ford Coppola

The Designer Says

More often than not, designers have to compromise on their vision and conform to what the client or creative director wants. “Make the logo bigger” is one of those phrases designers will hear at least a thousand times in their career. But true creatives just create because they love the art of creating.

In those times, it’s nice to have a little pick me up, to remind us of what truly matters. Sara Bader has complied a list of quotes, quips and words of wisdom, in one lovely reference book: The Designer Says. Published by Princeton Architectural Press and distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books, this compendium of insights from over one hundred of history’s leading graphic minds, is a delightful must-have book on every designer’s shelf.


Saul Bass (1920-1996)

thedesignersaysThe Designer Says is a perfect pick-me-up on a day when you’re feeling down and wondering why you ever got into this crazy, demanding industry. It will give you a smile and inspire you to never give a damn what anyone says. You are your own worst critic. Just keep on designing.




Andrew Blauvet