Portfolio history. a resume of stuff.

The past few weeks (while down with a cold) and as a must do project for starting a reonovation of my studio space I attacked my portfolio. And I mean physically attacked it. Stacks of paper, samples of product and copies of publications. A vast accumulation of stuff that represents almost 40 years of illustration & design work. As you can imagine it was a daunting task – but necessary and kind of cleansing.

It was of course – like a walk down memory lane. Dozens of client projects every year, jobs and employment almost forgotten. Most of all it brought home the actual physical changes that have come about during my career. From hands on pen & ink illustration on huge silkscreens or for hand engraving of metal stamping dies to the present digital age where nothing exsists outside of the computer until it is printed. 

With all this experience behind me – my best advice ?…
Keep a copy of everything. It has been in boxes…now it is on a disc. or in the cloud.

When I started doing work for “clients” (Team T-shirt designs for Olympic Sports in North Vancouver at age 18) an illustrator actually had to hit the sidewalk with their “book”. Your portfolio book represented all the actual work – in print – that you could take credit for. Brochures, annual reports, book covers, packaging and educational material. New customers and clients wanted to see that someone else had trusted you with a creative project – and you had delivered. You could throw in a couple of original ideas at the end – to show off your best skills.

If you could get a meeting with the art director or production manager, you brought in your big portfolio and left them with a smaller book or sample sheets of your work. They kept a file of suitable artists & styles that may get used for current or future projects. Nothing but a phone number (landline) for contact. That’s when it became really crutial to have an answering machine…with those little tapes to rewind ;-)

It was all in person meetings, delivering sketches and doing pre-press work. The Facimile machine was a huge advance. You could Fax the client a few sketches and get approval/revisions without leaving home ! Printing was done by photographing sheets of final type & photos and then transferred to a 4 color lithographic plate.

I actually did pasteup for the Eatons catalog – strips of formatted type cut out by hand and rolled with a layer of hotwax on the back to be re-positioned onto blueline layout boards around the cropped product photos. That was my first taste of computer “output” done by the typesetters. There were very specific departments for publishing, design, typesetting and production. (I even did some hand typesetting of metal letters tied in a block to print on a press) there is nothing like Letterpress. 

Now most things come off of one person’s desk. Or desktop.
God it makes me fell so old. but we are only talking about 1980.

SO back to the studio.
It is no wonder there is piles of clutter and samples from dozens of years of creative work. I hated to throw anything away – as I might need it to show and impress a new client with my work. Prove that I had done things in a professional capacity before. 

In the early 90’s I began working on a computer. I went back to school (several times between jobs, family & unemployment) to upgrade my design & production skills to take advantage of the new digital “tools”. I also began to document my work in this new digital format.
Remember floppy discs? and Zip Drives ? and then lo and behold…CD’s.
Needless to say…some of my work is lost to the previous format now. 

SO the binders of CD’s began. The output of final portfolio samples and even working graphic files that I can access – when that great client comes back 2 years later and wants to do another annual report just like the last one!

I do use the cloud – I manage my thousands of photos and hundreds of creative and original images on Dropbox. It is even a instant tool for coordinating and sharing files with clients & collaborators anywhere, anytime. My clients are global. My desk is a hub that spins off creative projects in real time and enables me to share my own original work with the world.
Although who knows where the cloud might land…I do a CD back up of the important stuff. And just to document my historic journey –  I am going to keep at least one box of stuff.  In storage.


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