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What Sets YOU Apart?

The professional world: a vision of men and women in suits, brows furrowed and backs straightened, all seated at a round table, like the knights of King Arthur. They do not have time for silliness; creativity without necessity. They require only the best, the most efficient. Their resumes and portfolios are clean, white, and luminescent as a museum. Only their best projects are displayed. No sketches or graphite can be seen. They have no need to sketch out their ideas. Such messy acts are beneath them. They are perfect. 

Okay…this is clearly a romanticization of a high-end work place, but you get the point. These places don’t exist without the messy studios actually creating the designs underneath. As graphic designers looking to get hired we have this idea that we only want to present out best 3–5 works in our portfolios, and only at their final stages, without the ugly first or second draft designs, but what you’ll find is that employers actually want to see the nitty gritty behind your amazing projects. Every applicant they’re going to get is going to be a graphic designer, but not all of them are the same as you. What sets you apart? 

Do you do illustrations on the side? Have you ever filmed a movie? Made a board-game in high-school? Made anything just for the sake of making it? These are the projects your employer wants to know about, alongside the ones that show you can get the job done. No matter how embarrassing a project may seem, if you made it, then you have made something no one else has made.

You would be surprised how much your employer wants to pick your brain, so show them! How does your mind work? What is your process like? What kind of problem-solver are you? Include everything creative about you in your portfolio. Give your employer an image of a real person, not just a machine that makes logos. What sets you apart from the rest?

Want some pro-tips to help you jump-start your portfolio-making process? Check out these thirty pro-tips that will bring some life to your portfolio.


  1. mdecarl2 wrote:

    I appreciate you examining this question. As designers, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to our peers, which can make a designer feel like they should be doing what another designer is doing. However, this is counterproductive, since each designer has individual interests, experiences, abilities, and skills that can apply to graphic design and make them stand apart from other designers.

    Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 9:33 am | Permalink
  2. aamaya4 wrote:

    I enjoyed reading this post because I can relate to wanting to stand out. It is very easy to look at someone else’s work and want to use their ideas for your own design. The line between copying and making something your own might not always be clear.

    Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 1:16 pm | Permalink