This is a quick one because folio presentations shouldn't be complex. They're simple things really — but they tend to make the best of us nervous.
Believe me, I've walked into my fair share of folio presentations feeling nervous as hell — sweaty palms, quivering voice. You name it.
I'm a lot more confident in presenting my work these days and I've managed to sit on the opposite side of the table many (many, many) times.
It's something a lot of people get wrong and a lot of people are also asking the wrong questions.
So I'm going to keep this short and to the point.
- Nobody really cares how many pieces of work are in you your folio. They're not there thinking "Oh for fuck's sake, she's got seven pieces in her folio. Seven! Who does she think she is? Seven?! Who teaches these kids?"
Trust me. No one is thinking this or anything close to this.
- Pack away your big black box of a folio, or if you haven't bought yourself one yet, send me your $200 because I'll put it to better use. The big black coffins are a waste of time and don't add anything to your work.
Your work should be the thing. Not the folio.
I'm convinced Universities must get a slice off the top, from the stationery shops that sell those big black folio boxes.
- If you don't believe in the work you're presenting. Don't bother presenting your work at all.
Too many people go through the motions and it's obvious when they are. When you're presenting to someone who has been in their career more than 15 years, chances are they've sat through hundreds of these types of presentations and they know full well, the difference between a good presentation and an outstanding one. They can also smell the bullshit from a mile away.
Ten years ago a young guy calls me for a catch up and a look at his work. He's a Strategic Brand Designer and has aspirations of opening up his own shop in Dubai. He lives there and is in Melbourne for a couple of weeks so we set up a time.
Firstly, his email to me about a coffee/catchup was certainly not the first time I heard from him. In fact, we had been chatting via social channels for quite some time. We were both very early Twitter users as well as LinkedIN connections. He was great at sending through relevant links and information, as well as engaging in conversation.
The 'ask' for a chat was months after our initial set of 'hello' messages.
On the day of our catch up we sat at a nearby cafe and he opened up a very simple, and professional folio. What struck me first was it's size.
A3 landscape and only millimetres thin. From what I could see there seemed to be only a handful of pages in it.
And I was right (for once). His folio contained five double-sided A3 pages. A total of ten pages in his A3 folio.
He talked me through a single project in an immense amount of detail.
Yes, he had one project in his folio and he flew half-way around the world to show me.
This confidence showed his maturity, his experience and his ability to do the work he did — a very strategic approach to creative work.
Starting with the context of the problem he was solving and his relationship with the client he took me through his folio. He spent a while talking about how he worked with the client to understand the problem at the heart of the design challenge.
He then spent time showing me his initial thoughts (very rough sketches) and the framework of how he took the client through a journey. His methodology was as much a part of the 'show and tell' as was his creativity.
His design work was shown in situ — beautifully photographed (he did it himself) and annotated simply.
By the time we reached the final page (a summation of the visual and verbal identity he had created as well as a list of services he had carried out for the client) I had a full understanding of the role he played on the project, his successes and his failures.
Yes, he celebrated his failures as much as the successes of the project. This, to me was one of the most interesting aspects of the conversation.
Throughout this meeting (approximately one hour) I got to understand him as a person, as well as understand how he approached his work. I got to see his creativity as well as his strategic thinking and of course, his humility.
He wasn't showing off. He was quietly confident, humble and assured of the work he had completed.
In the 60 minutes we chatted — it was a two-way conversation at all times. Sometimes we would veer off into personal aspects of our lives, and we would then bring the conversation back to him and his work.
Put simply, I haven't seen a folio presentation as strong as this since.
Ten year's later, James now runs one of Dubai's most successful strategic branding consultancies.
So, if you're curious as to how many pieces of work you should have in your folio here's your answer.