Event Recap: Portfolio Day 2015

After three years at lynda.com HQ in Carpinteria, AIGA SB returned to Brooks Institute’s Ventura campus for our 7th annual Portfolio Day. Brooks set us up in their cavernous Studio B, a working sound stage equipped with a massive green-screen backdrop, lending the proceedings a somewhat otherworldly feel. While downsized from years past, the event still offered students and emerging designers a great opportunity to connect with working creative professionals, get feedback on their work, and gain insights on finding and keeping a job in the industry.

42 attendees and 24 reviewers took part in three 30-minute discussion/feedback sessions. Students and observers came from all over the 805: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara City College, Brooks Institute, Moorpark College, and California State University, Channel Islands. Reviewers spanned industry disciplines; graphic design, marketing, typography, web development, multimedia, animation, hand lettering and more were represented. Attendees chose which reviewers they got to speak with, and one of every three sessions expanded to a roundtable discussion for diverse dialogue.


The roundtables were this year’s novel idea, and they seemed to work well. At each table, up to 5 students participated in give-and-take with one reviewer for multiple views on their work from both pros and peers. The reviewers’ task was to help students and emerging designers determine how well they presented and defended their own process and work—from concept to composition to execution—in the context of job interviews and/or client presentations.

Attendees were encouraged to use and refine their creative skills where needed, and to discuss their work and goals with confidence. Their objective was to understand that their portfolio and its presentation was a crucial step, but only the first step, in their creative career. Attendees also learned that taking direction, accepting criticism, working well with others, and creating against a budget/timeline were just as essential to landing and keeping a professional creative position.

After the final review session, we held a quick raffle to award lucky winners choice prizes like an AIGA membership, a Skillshare subscription, and a few other goodies useful to starving students. The reviewers and volunteers then decamped to Paradise Pantry in downtown Ventura for a wine & cheese-fueled wind-down.

This was my first Portfolio Day as AIGA SB President, and I won’t lie—I was worried that the various changes and moving parts for this event might not stack up well against the past 6 years. However, everyone came through like champs and we got it done. Thanks to all the reviewers, students, emerging designers, observers, and volunteers who made Portfolio Day 2015 a reality. Special thanks to Barbara Obermeier and Brooks Institute for hosting us during their time off between semesters. Extra special life-saving thanks to AIGA SB Treasurer and Past President Patty Devlin-Driskel, who went above and beyond yet again to tame a monster event.

Photos by Bill Thompson, Gen Matsui, Patty Devlin-Driskel, Jacob Tell, and Keir DuBois for AIGA Santa Barbara.

By Keir DuBois
Published May 3, 2015
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