what you need to know. what we wish we did back then.

Not Quite There Yet?

Because we know that everyone grows, we want to provide you with some great resources to consider in your journey as a designer. This is the best of the best, and the type of feedback we at QCMG wishes we had when we were in your spot. Below is the top feedback we wish we could share with everyone whose asked to join us and hasn’t.


“Creating the Breakthrough Portfolio,” by Ken Thurlbeck

This book is practical, straightforward, and thought provoking. It’ll help you learn how to in 30 words or less share who you and create a conceptual-driven portfolio. If you could tell someone you’re a “highly-conceptual art director with a forte in women’s retail packaging,” that would certainly help nail your job, etc.

Your portfolio needs to capture who you are and needs to be the same as who you say you are and what you can do. This book is a must. Also, consider your presentation; ask yourself “Does my portfolio, in 3 seconds or less communicate who I am, what I do, what I’m good at, and sell me well? Does is conceptually capture my essence and what makes me remarkable?” If not, start over. Read the book above and it’ll help get you on the right path. If your strength is illustration, show it – focus on your strengths and show people that.


Today’s designer needs to know print, web, and how to art direct over new media. Showing you know how to design more than just one medium shows you’re progressive and understand how media is converging. You don’t have to know how to code a website, just how to design a beautiful one.


We know that as designers, you should know what’s hot, what’s not, what’s new, and what’s on its way out. Be sure to consistently review the styles of websites of http://www.dafont.com, but purchase fonts from http://www.veer.com/type http://www.typography.com.

Discover great foundries is important to building typographical acumen. Also, learn the difference between font types, legal issues, and don’t use downloaded ones with “baggage” attached. Bad font, boo.


To fully understand practice and process, check out the handbook on branding. “Designing Brand Identity,” by Alina Wheeler offers the thought process that you can’t learn just by going to school- you have to learn by experience, even if it is someone else’s. If you want a career in design, consider this as required reading and your first purchase for the library.

It’s important to stay on top of what’s happening, EVERYWHERE. But, that’s hard, right? Not when there’s people who have that passion. Check out http://www.adage.com, http://www.brandrepublic.com, http://www.brandchannel.com.

Go to Interbrand’s website.

Sign up for Stefan Luite’s Weekly Wire (every Monday) at their website to know exactly what’s happening in the world of branding at http://www.grapefruit.ro.

Check out our friends and competitors, Brains on Fire and Matchstic. There’s enough work for everyone in this world, we promise. Download people’s white papers.

Find three design firms (one large, med, and small) that does what you think you love doing.

Find one person that you think has the job you want. Learn their career path, see if you can get them to lunch sometime. Even ask them what advice they can give you to get where you’d like to be. Even ask them what they see in you that you may not.

The world changes when you ask and listen, rather than pursue and reach.

Design your resume. Make it look like belongs to a designer. Spiffy up your resume content- go to places like resumeedge.com and look at their samples, but don’t copy them.

Accurately describe your experiences and what you learned. Why was Cracker Barrel on there if you didn’t?
Send PDF’s, always–never Word documents or text files. PDFs of your portfolio. PDFs of your resume.

Get rid of the college email “Brittany_rox_and_is_cool_900@yahoo” (we made that up, we promise) or the screen-name sounding stuff with animals, nicknames, or codes.

Get your name at a respectable email service, and consolidate all your emails into one.

When presenting your portfolio and resume, reply back with PDF’s, not word documents, and ask for an interview. You’ve already lost the job.

Professional designers don’t use myspace, DeviantArt, or Flickr to showcase their portfolio. If you need an online site, there are professional services that are worth paying for, and some are free. Layout it out intuitively, think about how people experience it. Check out Figdig.com, Qfolio.com, Thewhole9.com.

Be Yourself
Sometimes its not what you say, its how you say it.

On one side, if you talked to people the way advertising sometimes does, you’d punch them in the face.

On the other side, if we all talked the way cover letters did, we’d punch ourselves.

Remember to be you, connect with the company somehow, and show that you’re real, passionate, and unique. Be direct and cordial, get rid of the “fluff,” and don’t try to sound important or intelligent. They’re the employer, and have lived without you thus far.

Employers do however want to hear what you’re able to do, and how it could help them. That means you do research, find out about their clients, and even come up with creative ways to get their attention. They respect tenacity, creativity, but most of all maturity and professionalism.

Don’t do spec work for any candidate jobs either; they should pay you from day 1 for your work

If you’re serious about your career, check out “48 days to the Job You Love” by Dan Miller. It’s a fail-safe, mature, comprehensive plan. Read it and apply its steps, and you’ll be father than where you are now.

You wouldn’t expect getting a salon haircut from a tractor supply store. So go to the salon.

This applies with job-site. Check out the legitimate creative sites that specifically apply to the Graphic Design Industry. Check out: http://www.krop.com, http://www.aquent.com, http://www.talentzoo.com.

We hope you the best, hope the next steps in your journey are fruitful and rewarding. Continue to work hard, be on top of trends, know your programs, and don’t pirate anything – software, music, or fonts. Be respectable and make a name for yourself the old fashioned way – work. This means, its not overnight, but one day at a time.

Design’s BEST,

For Your Consideration

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