You are always judged by your worst piece

With all the design students getting reading to start their year and summer nearing an end, I was thinking about all of the portfolios I’ve seen coming across my desk lately. I’m often asked to give advice on portfolio preparation, and this is usually where I start: “You are always judged by your worst piece.” Don’t assume that this advice falls under another adage (you learn more from your failures than your successes) because anything that’s a failure probably doesn’t belong in your book anyways – this advice is really about standards.

Potential employers can tell what details you might let “slip,” where you might have weaker skills, or worse yet, where you have exercised bad judgement by that one piece you put in your portfolio and shouldn’t have. Not all ideas or designs are good, so part of what we do is an editing process. That “worst” piece in your portfolio is a direct reflection of your standards so make sure you show potential employers that you have standards and will apply that same effort for them.

If you need professional advice, just remember that AIGA Houston has a student portfolio review every April, or you can get in touch with the AIGA Houston Board if you’d like help connecting with a design professional for mentorship and guidance. I’ll be sending reminders throughout the year, but in the meantime, I hope you will act on this advice.

By Robin Tooms
Published August 20, 2008
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