Q: Is it ever ok to include rejected pieces in my portfolio?


A: I don’t care


Hey, I understand the question. We all have great pieces of work that never made it, and that we wish got to see the light of day. You think you’re the only person whose Magnum Opus got speared in the neck by someone in a lacklustre suit?

You’re not.

Pour one out, and get through it. We’re here to win, not to lose and say the conditions were bad and also it rained that day and also some other bullshit that makes you feel ok about not producing.

I see a lot of folios, and here is the truth —I don’t care at all what is in there. If we are talking, good work is the baseline. And to be honest, I have no idea if you even did the work in your book — how could I? You could have lifted every single damned piece, and I’m not on dribbble so I’ll never know.

Pixel-perfect? Fuck you.

I do not care.

At all.

Unless you can sell it to me.

When you walk through your book, it’s not an opportunity for you to describe the typefaces, the colours, and the grid you used; I have eyes, and I have been doing this for quite a long time. What this is, is your moment to unlock the work in a way that only a designer can. Don’t point at something and tell me what it is; look me in the eye and tell me why it is.

The why is the only part that matters.

When you get the moment to show your folio, it’s not a chance to show people what you did, it’s an opportunity to explain why you did it. So sure, show me the work that didn’t win. Show me the work that did win. Show me the work you did for shits and giggles because you just love design so damned much. If the work is good, I am all ears.

Ears, not eyes.

Your portfolio is not a picture-book to be described — it is a story to be told.

The individual executions are simply cue-cards to remind you of the beats; a prompt to talk about how that thing came to be. Tell me that story.

So, can you use pieces that didn’t make it? Yes! Sell them to me, don’t bullshit me (if you’re interviewing for a junior position I know you didn’t design that Monocle cover), and just present. Once you’re in the room, it’s not how beautiful the work is; it’s how crucial you were to the work.

Now it’s all you. And I believe in you.

Ross Floate works in Melbourne in a firm just north of the river and thinks sometimes he is answering questions the wrong way entirely.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: