Event Recap: Portfolio Review Tour 2017

Portfolio Days are an AIGA institution, both for AIGA Santa Barbara and the other 71 chapters around the nation. One huge day with seasoned professionals, confident (or anxious) students, and tons of design work to share. AIGA SB has hosted eight of these events over our ten year history, but for 2017 our board decided to shake things up and bring the professionals to the students instead of making them come to us. Our experimental format was informal but proved flexible, changing to suit local logistics and student needs. Three to five creative professionals traveled to each school and joined between 10-15 students for portfolio reviews, career presentations and advisory chats. Here’s how it all went down:

Santa Barbara City College, April 18

If you’re gonna go on tour, you better make sure your act works at home first. That’s exactly what we did, staging a kickoff review session at City College for the publication design and portfolio classes. Organized by SBCC instructor (and AIGA SB Education Director) Anna Lafferty, this informal session lasted three hours, beginning with brief career presentations from three pro reviewers (myself, Patty Devlin-Driskel, and Bill Kienzel) and continuing with two more pros (Melanie Bélanger and Amanda Jacobs). Five reviewers met with fifteen students for several 15-20 minute reviews, and everyone left happy.

Cal Lutheran University, May 2

Our second tour stop was a few weeks later in Thousand Oaks, where AIGA SB hadn’t previously produced an event. I myself put this one together in coordination with the CLU student AIGA chapter and was joined on campus by designer Corey Vickery. We participated in a one-hour career overview Q&A with the sophomore & junior design students, stuck around for lunch, and then in another 90-minute block we reviewed work by the senior capstone class—a group of eleven students.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, May 4

The tour’s third stop was a double-whammy: review session and after-party all in the same day. Organized by AIGA SB’s SLO board liaison Rachell Newburn and Cal Poly GRC instructor Charmaine Farber, the two-hour review session matched up 5 pros (myself, Rachell, Bill, Sarah Deiter, and Ian Sanderson) with twelve students from both the Art & Design and Graphic Communications departments. We managed three half-hour review sessions with a two-to-one student-to-pro ratio. Afterwards, thanks to Rachell’s planning, we wound down across town at The Bunker—a working artists’ studio owned by designer Missy Reitner-Cameron—for a relaxing time in an inspiring setting.

Allan Hancock College, May 5

Our final stop on the way back home was in Santa Maria, which AIGA SB hadn’t visited for an event since 2007. Organized by Anna Lafferty with instructor Mandy Schult, this small session paired up six design students with five reviewers (myself, Anna, Bill, Missy, and Danielle Fox) for about three hours of one-on-one portfolio reviews and casual career chats.

Lessons Learned

AIGA SB’s Education Committee is declaring this year’s portfolio review format a success for several reasons:

  • The total number of students reached was more than previous years’ one-day-one-venue events, which was our goal
  • While it was more of a time commitment for several career professionals (to whom we’re grateful!), each pro could choose the most convenient location, often making contacts with local students and offering them local references and perspective
  • We got invaluable logistical support from the various schools’ student chapters and faculty advisors, especially considering our events ended up during class time or near exam days

2017 Tour Honor Roll

This list is a long one, but lots of folks helped make these dates happen. Thanks to the student AIGA chapters at CLU (president: Allyssa Moscotte) and Cal Poly SLO (president: Ellen Fabini). Thanks to instructors and advisors Vicki Torf (SBCC), Dan Restuccio (CLU), Charmaine Farber (Cal Poly GRC), Charmaine Martinez (Cal Poly A&D), and Mandy Schult (Allan Hancock). Thanks to our reviewing pros Patty Devlin-Driskel (Mark Oliver, Inc.), Bill Kienzel (Typography Consultant), Melanie Bélanger & Amanda Jacobs (both SBCC Marketing & Communications specialists), Corey Vickery (Freelance Designer), Ian Sanderson (UPS), Sarah Deiter (Makers & Allies), Rachell Newburn (Collaboration Business Consulting), Missy Reitner-Cameron (iii Design), and Danielle Fox (Silverander Communications). Finally, extra super duper big thanks to Anna Lafferty for taking on this production with me and making it a great experience for the pros and the students.

Snapshots by Anna Lafferty, Keir DuBois and Charmaine Farber.

By Keir DuBois
Published May 7, 2017
AIGA encourages thoughtful, responsible discourse. Please add comments judiciously, and refrain from maligning any individual, institution or body of work. Read our policy on commenting.