Five Ways Not to Introduce Yourself to an Art Director

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  1. #1
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    Five Ways Not to Introduce Yourself to an Art Director

    I posted these on my blog last night. Tristan Elwell suggested posting them here, and when Tristan speaks......

    ------------


    Five Ways Not to Introduce Yourself to an Art Director:

    1) Don't give me your postcard and then take it back to cross out your web address because "the work there isn't good."

    2) Don't let me flip through half a portfolio and then stop me mid way to say "the rest is older work, you're probably not interested, and it's not good anyway."

    3) Don't show me one, and only one, image on an iPhone. In fact, unless you know I am very familiar with your work, don't show me an iPhone portfolio at all.

    4) "Hi, my name is XYZ......We're MySpace friends." Followed by silence thinking I'm going to remember you off the top of my head. Hell, I can't remember the names of people I actually meet.

    5) 35mm slides!? I didn't even think you could buy slide film anymore.

    Guys, you’re at ComicCon. Chances of running into an art director are, well, high. You didn't just happen to run into the ADs for every major gaming, comic, movie, and publishing companies at a neighborhood barbeque, so get your ducks in a row before making that first impression.

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  4. #2
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    Its proabley a good idea to never diss your own work in front of ANYBODY, its a good habit anyway.

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  5. #3
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    Dont try to be too smart for your own good. I tried that once at an interview, and all that happened were long awkward pauses while I tried to remember the 'smart' word for what I was trying to say...hmmm, on second thought that may just be my problem

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    Well boy am I in trouble...
    I would probably do the second one right off the bat. xD

    I am kinda self-conscious at times where I don't like the work I done in the past because I improved... Even though they do show improvement I just don't like them.
    My sketchbook can be like a diary at times. Depends on my mood. xD

    I'm a very silly person anyway.

    I probably won't be able to attend one of those expo comiccon places because I'm so far away. Be fun though.

    ~ '
    ~

    Will update sometime soon.
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    Let other people judge your work, don't be so hard on yourself.

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  8. #6
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    Great post! good tips.

    I've held a few interviews, myself, and my own little pet peeve is when the person getting interviewed hands me their "portfolio", which turns out to be a three-ringed binder filled completely with every ad, graphic, and piece of art they've ever made in their career. After the 16th page of "this is another ad I made for the Yellow Pages", my eyes sort of just cross over.

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  9. #7
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    I just got this mental image of someone doodleing on napkins, back of recepets and the inside of foil gum wrappers trying to pass that off to you as a portfoilo....wow...

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  10. #8
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    good tips!

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  11. #9
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    6) Oh hai thar, A.D.!!!! I can haz job now pleaz? I liek art and I do it good I sware!!!


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  13. #10
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    QN: You are right. A lot of this is just nervousness. No one means to come across poorly, but everyone gets anxious at times, or just isn’t "on".

    I should admit that I was interviewed on video at ComicCon and I was TERRIBLE!!! I stumbled over words, didn’t know what I was talking about, started sentences that I couldn’t complete.....

    We've all been there.


    We've all been there.

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    It's like at Revelations during the portfolio reviews, every piece I showed had their share of flaws but I kept my mouth shut and let the person looking give me their thoughts and impressions. Cutting yourself down in front of others makes it look like you have no confidence in yourself or your abilities.

    Though I have to admit, when Manley looked at my work I was nervous as all hell. I didn't know what to say, even though I had a lot on my mind in regards to something he said during one of the lectures. That and the reality that important people were looking at my piddly art hit me like a ton of bricks at that moment. It took a lot to prevent myself form rambling on like a buffoon or bursting into tears. That would have been even more awkward.

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  15. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irene Gallo View Post

    2) Don't let me flip through half a portfolio and then stop me mid way to say "the rest is older work, you're probably not interested, and it's not good anyway."
    I think a really good way of preventing that from happening, or help to keep it from happening at any rate, is to limit the number of pieces in your portfolio. 10 for example, or even 8. If you have a large number that you want to include, but have to edit a lot of those out chances are you've put a lot of thought into the pieces you have decided to inlcude and should feel happy with those that are included.

    Good points to remember, Irene!

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  16. #13
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    I agree.. put only your best work in your portfolio!

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  17. #14
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    7) Show up as they're hurrying to catch a plane and give them a business card as they leave, hoping first that they don't lose it and second that they happen to remember to follow the link later.

    Heh, maybe not so damning but not the best way to get feedback

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  18. #15
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    A lot of this is just nervousness. No one means to come across poorly, but everyone gets anxious at times, or just isn’t "on".
    my advice on this for portfolio reviews is, if you get nervous during a review, the best thing you can do is shut your mouth! And that goes double when the reviewer is giving you a crit. Listen, nod, take notes, DO NOT ARGUE!

    And if you feel ahead of time that something in your book needs to be defended, you probably shouldn't have it in there in the first place.

    "Every little step considered one at a time is not terribly daunting" - Ethan Coen

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  20. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavePalumbo View Post
    my advice on this for portfolio reviews is, if you get nervous during a review, the best thing you can do is shut your mouth! And that goes double when the reviewer is giving you a crit. Listen, nod, take notes, DO NOT ARGUE!
    I agree with this. I sat in on some portfolio reviews for the SND conference in Boston this past year. I was with some friends, other designers at different newspapers from the area and we were all at the same table looking at portfolios. I remember having one student in particular who seemed nervous at first and told us back-stories to every single page in his portfolio. Things like, who his roommates were and why their girlfriends, sister did something to the star football player who...blah, blah, blah. We critiqued his work and tried to be constructive on areas where he could improve. He began defending his work by arguing with us. I'll never forget his last words; "Well, that's just how we do it where I'm from." (fyi:I think he was from Atlanta)

    After he walked away, it took a second or two for the four of us to realize what just happened. I've never experienced anything like it. He had traveled all the way to Boston to tell newspaper art directors how things are done. It was a first. So, yeah, please don't argue.

    Last edited by Elwell; April 22nd, 2008 at 12:47 PM.
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  21. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meli Hitchcock View Post
    Though I have to admit, when Manley looked at my work I was nervous as all hell.
    haha, I heard he was being really tough on people. I'm sad I didn't get a chance to get beaten up by him. I got smacked around plenty by some of the other reviewers though. Fun times.

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  22. #18
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    3) hahaha,
    does that really happen?

    people just come up to you with their phones and they are like "yo bro, check this shit out!"
    and you are just like "ummmm cool bro, ahemmmm"
    "so i'm hired?" no, not really.

    that's how i imagine the conversation to go like.

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  23. #19
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    Another thing I've seen is people who have to swear every other word when they're talking. Even if it's not at you, but to you... super unprofessional.

    * Help a CA artist! Visit the Constructive Critique section! *


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  24. #20
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    God yes, LESS IS MORE at a portfolio review. I can add one from my own experience:

    8.) Do NOT bring original 16x24 charcoal life drawings and cast studies to an interview, particularly if it's for a graphic design position at a major newspaper.

    My neighbor worked at the Boston Globe and wanted to do me a favor, so he set up an interview there for me during my sophomore year in college. I didn't want a job in graphic design anyway and was caught totally off guard, since my body of work until that point was all student stuff. I wasn't considered for the job of course and the nice interviewer was patient with me, but I could tell she was thinking "What the hell am I supposed to do with these... and oh crap, now there's charcoal all over my computer desk."

    Also, I've been on the other end of things and done some portfolio reviews, both for the sake of my employer and recently at workshops. Take-aways are very important - DON'T give me a generic CD with your contact info written on it in Sharpie. Not once have I popped an art CD into my computer after an interview, it's been my experience that CDs just get filed away and forgotten. (If your demo reel is on the CD, this may be a different story, but having a personal portfolio website is always preferred.)

    Plus, I am really crappy with names and faces (like most people), especially if I've seen like 50 portfolios that day; give me something visual to easily remind me who you are! PUT SOME KIND OF ART ON YOUR BUSINESS CARD!!! I also recommend printing up inexpensive booklets to give to art directors. If you decide the job isn't for you, you can always take it back but to give it to a potential employer is not only a great reminder to them of your body of work, but it's also like giving a little gift. I have had a lot of success with giving out the books, if nothing else for the sake of networking.

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  26. #21
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    people resort to profanity when they have nothing better to say. So again, keep the lips locked and keep in mind where you are.

    good tips here!

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  27. #22
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    oh man, i didn't know you were at ny comic con, i would have brought my portfolio over.

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  28. #23
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    I admit to being guilty of #2. They still hired me though, so I guess I was just too awesome (no seriously I just have good connections.)

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  29. #24
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    Heheh loved this.
    What's particularly funny is somehow when I was showing a friend at the Seattle Workshop some of my art on my iphone it ended up in your hands afterwards.

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  30. #25
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    "I just got this mental image of someone doodleing on napkins, back of recepets and the inside of foil gum wrappers trying to pass that off to you as a portfoilo....wow..."

    WOW! Things have really changed since my first interview in 1876, Juju-bee...

    I'm going to transfer my napkin things to real paper now...

    No position or belief, whether religious, political or social, is valid if one has to lie to support it.--Alj Mary

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  31. #26
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    I will keep these tips in my heart forever.

    I was almost guilty of 2 as well with the person who interviewed me about an art scholarship. She seemed to like the older ones

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  32. #27
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    Excellent points, Jason and Steph. And everyone else. I'll be doing portfolio reviews in May so I'll be sure to incorporate a lot of this discussion into my blog before then.

    IdiotApathy -- That was different -- you were hanging out with a bunch of friends sharing sketchbooks. In that case, having a quick access to a gadgety portfolio (with good work on it) was a cool thing.

    By the way — it’s easy for me to say what’s wrong with a presentation from my side of the desk, but there is a reason I never became a freelancer. I’d starve to death while falling into everyone if these pitfalls.

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  33. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idiot Apathy View Post
    Heheh loved this.
    What's particularly funny is somehow when I was showing a friend at the Seattle Workshop some of my art on my iphone it ended up in your hands afterwards.
    naw, that was actually cool.
    You had a LOT of work, and all of it was good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSillustration View Post
    naw, that was actually cool.
    You had a LOT of work, and all of it was good.
    Plus his wonderful hand grease was all over that screen... it's a healing agent, he has the fingers of a god.

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  35. #30
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    This is some excellent advice guys. And while it mostly seems pretty common sense, having it in writing like this makes it easy to put on that mental checklist. I usually think of myself as fairly poised, but I know nerves get the best of me plenty of times- especially with that self-critiquing tendency. I don't think I've ever done it in front of an AD yet, but it's probably a habit to avoid period.

    Here's something: Plain ol' figure drawing/painting. Does it ever have a place in a portfolio? I noticed a lot of that from my fellow hopefuls over NYCC and didn't feel it was MY place to knock it, but to me it created the impression of unnecessary filler. No matter how pretty, there's just no content.

    "The merit of originality is not novelty; it is sincerity."
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