Event Recap: Portfolio Day 2016

For Game Two of AIGA SB’s “April Double-Header Weekend,” we returned once again to Brooks Institute in Ventura to produce Portfolio Day 2016. Though at the same venue as many past Portfolio Days, this year’s event (the 8th overall) had a distinctly different vibe than any previous edition—much more mellow, intimate, and relaxed. Students and emerging designers still got a great opportunity to connect with working creative professionals, receive feedback on their work, and gain insights on finding and keeping a job in the industry.

23 attendees and 13 reviewers took part in three 30-minute discussion/feedback sessions. While smaller than last year, the number of students and observers still represented many schools from all over the 805: Cal Lutheran, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara City College, Brooks Institute, Moorpark College, and California State University, Channel Islands.

Reviewers once again spanned industry disciplines; this year’s group were professionals in graphic design, web development, photography, typography, copywriting, content strategy and more. Like last year, attendees chose which reviewers they spoke with, and one of every three sessions expanded to a roundtable discussion.

The roundtables were last year’s novel idea, but this time they served as a way for attendees to get more general information about their creative professional career path. Would they go freelance, join a creative firm, or work in-house for a company? How should they present and defend their work in the context of a job interview? Attendees were encouraged to use and refine their creative skills where needed, and to discuss their work and goals with confidence.


The day’s overall objective was for attendees to understand that their portfolio and its presentation was a crucial step, but only the first step, in their creative career. They 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 topical books on portfolios. Some reviewers and volunteers then decamped to Café Fiore in downtown Ventura to wind-down from a very full weekend.

This was my second Portfolio Day as AIGA SB President, and while last year went well, this year was great—even and especially as the second of two back-to-back events this weekend. That success was a direct result of eight years’ worth of work to lean on, done by previous AIGA SB presidents, education directors, board members, and volunteers—many of whom reprised their roles again.

My sincere thanks to all the reviewers, students, emerging designers, and observers who made Portfolio Day 2016 a reality. Thanks as well to the AIGA SB staff of volunteers: Jennie Jacobs, Marianne Cothern, Gen Matsui, Susan LeVine, Anna Lafferty, and Jan Helsel. Special thanks to 2015 Portfolio Day star Zachary Hill for creating 2016’s super-fun event artwork. Extra-special-super-duper thanks to Barbara Obermeier and Chris Buckpitt of our chapter sponsor Brooks Institute for preparing the venue on Friday night while the rest of us were converting like crazy.

Rock Star Gig Rating: On a scale of “zero” to “insane,” this one, like the previous event, was insane in the very best way. Like Lollapalooza returning to Chicago every year, AIGA SB’s annual Portfolio Day really does have a special home at Brooks in Ventura.

Photography by Jennie Jacobs and Marianne Cothern.

By Keir DuBois
Published April 20, 2016
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