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Low blow from a job agency

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by graphicbreeze, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. graphicbreeze

    graphicbreeze Member

    So I have been contacting job agencies all around the UK, especially ones that specialize in our field of work. And today I got quite the low blow to my self esteem in regards to my ability as a graphic designer.

    Especially coming from a job agency, as job agencies here in Canada won't hesitate to add more job seekers to their pool for the employers to pick from. So when a job agency tells you your work is unacceptable then there must be some serious problems to address. Which now has me second guessing the positive feedback I have received from my instructors and that makes me quite mad.

    But at the same time this has been a nice little wake up call and I am happy it happened. Till this point I have only been told positive about my portfolio with the odd comment on how to improve something. Now I am starting to wonder if people have just been giving false positive feedback to avoid confrontation fearing I may get mad and upset or just to be friendly. I am also starting to wonder if the intern I have lined up are just another company looking for a monkey to make them tea and do clerical work for free.

    I still have 4 months before I plan on leaving, so there still is time to fix my portfolio to some level of graphical proficiency that is acceptable in the UK working world.

    If anyone could please check out my portfolio's and honestly tell me why you feel, of all people a job agency, professionally told me to get lost, your input would be extremely appreciated.

    thx in advance

    here is my portfolio
    Andrew Cameron on the Behance Network

    Also here is my freelance site

    and for kicks I have a 3rd one (dont mind the off subject url)
  2. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Firstly, most recruitment agencies are elitist. They only take on very well qualified, highly experienced candidates so if you've been knocked back by a few then don't take it personally.

    There's some great stuff in your portfolio but theres also a lot that says inexperience and the fact that you don't mention any formal training or agency based experience means that most recruitment agencies won't touch you.

    I have to say that your site doesn't work for me, It feels like you've thought about what you want to do and then been distracted by animated GIFs and bright colours. Spelling mistakes don't help either. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being snobby or anything, I am genuinely awful at building websites (ask anyone theyve all seen my efforts) but you could probably do with droping the animated gifs, bright blue background, and those massive blue buttons (which are aggravated by the fact that they're not aligned).

    Something I was told at Uni while compiling my portfolio was that a portfolio with a few really well polished projects is better that one bursting at the seems with average work.

    Why not look at the websites and portfolios of established designers already working in the UK and see if there are any ideas you can take from them to inspire your own site.

    I Hope some of this helps.

  3. TheNoone

    TheNoone Member

    I imagine that is hard for anyone to hear.
    I'd suggest look at what people are doing and how design is produced these days.

    On looking at your logos, it seems like they have been produced on Photoshop.
    This is a big no-no in most cases. Get your Illustrator handy kit out and do some theory
    into design on logos.

    A good task for you could be do a bit of brainstorming, come up with a fictitious company,
    something that is exciting to you. Point out what you perceive that company to be, look
    at some logos on say LogoPond - Identity Inspiration - and take some of the elements of some logos on
    there and produce something really nice, this should give you an idea on the guidelines of
    creating a logo and should help for future practice.

    Remember K.I.S.S
    Keep it simple stupid. A phrase most designer know!

    Hope this helps,
    and good luck in the U.K it's a dog eat dog world in this industry!
  4. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    Professional recruitment agencies (commonly known as headhunters) make their money by placing highly desirable candidates into high earning jobs so you really need to be somewhere near the top of your game to be of any interest to these sorts of people.
  5. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    Sorry to hear about your feedback from the recruitment company...while their comments may seem harsh, it doesn't mean that you won't be able to get a job in the UK.

    I think the first thing you need to address is your website - it my opinion, I would completely scrap the design and start again. It's not doing your work (or chances of getting a job) any favours.

    To save time, I would look at using a CMS platform like WordPress or Joomla and then choosing a portfolio theme that give you the chance to present your work in the best light.

    The second thing I would do is to be extremely critical of your folio content and stop using any pieces of work that are not up to the standard of your best work. Even though it might leave you with only 7 or 8 pieces of work, it's best to have them on show than sub-standard work.

    You must also be aware of spelling mistakes, typo's and other things on your website and folio that demonstrate a lack of attention to detail.

    Good luck
  6. graphicbreeze

    graphicbreeze Member

    thk you all for your useful input :)
  7. I would suggest only uploading your best work to a portfolio, don't let people see stuff you're not 100% happy with yourself
  8. SparkCreative

    SparkCreative Member

    Not being funny, but do you have any design training?
  9. graphicbreeze

    graphicbreeze Member

    Hmmmm I truly hope you didn't look at my links in the original thread before your post or that means I wasted a lot of time & money on my schooling.
  10. linziloop

    linziloop Member

    Honestly, I was going to ask the same question. To what level are you trained, or would you mind me asking what age you are at? Because (and I feel terrible for saying this but someone needs to), the design of your website looks amateurish and although no design agency has the right to be rude to anyone, I can see why you were turned down.

    I ask to what level as it would help us to know where exactly you are at in your training, as this doesn't seem anywhere near the standard of work that would come from a recent graduate of a degree for example.
  11. graphicbreeze

    graphicbreeze Member

    No worries your honesty is best blunt instead of tippy toeing around the subject indirectly

    To what level are you trained? I graduate in 10 weeks
    or would you mind me asking what age you are at? 32 so its not a case of me making parties and drinking my priority.

    by the sounds of it the odds of me finding work are almost nil (recession or not)

    I am starting to really wonder why I was accepted for an intern in Liverpool now

    you mentioned the website is amateurish which i am now already redoing. What about it has you running or is the entire thing just a pile of rubbish.

    thx for the input
  12. Mattie7777

    Mattie7777 Member

    Hello buddy im in the same situation as you! Graduate in 2 months time and now looking to get the portfolio sorted and website done.

    Here is a link to my behance site Matthew Miller on the Behance Network

    Website wise I think you need to research and look and other designers websites, you seem like you have to much on there and it is crammed with writing.

    Let your work do the talking!
  13. graphicbreeze

    graphicbreeze Member

    The writing is mainly for the insertion of keywords for seo purposes. Not sure of any better way to help rankings in google.
  14. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    External links from other sites with relevant keywords as the anchor text will help you a little with SEO.

    It's worth adding a link on here in your signature with a descriptive, keyword filled anchor :D
  15. SparkCreative

    SparkCreative Member

    Okay, you asked for blunt.

    It doesn't look like you've had any design training at all. You don't seem to have a natural eye for this - the quality of the design in your portfolio is really not good. I can't really be more constructive than that really - it's not about specifics, you just need to think again. What kind of course are you on and at what University?

    Sorry, but I'm saying it as I see it.
  16. graphicbreeze

    graphicbreeze Member

    Curious if anyone out there agrees with SparkCreative. Please don't fear retaliation if you do agree.

    Fos spark, what about my quality of the design do you think it is lacking.
    I am at the pacific design academy in victoria bc. I am taking all the adobe creative suite programs, typography, history of design, graphic design business, storyboarding and a variety of different design disciplines.
  17. willfu

    willfu Member


    First of all thanks for sharing your work. Now I understand the agency could have put it in better words however I do tend to agree with them in that there would be no point in using you as your work is way below a workable standard. Don't forget after study, its a dog eat dog industry they will be sharp and straight to the point.

    Don't take this to heart, its all a learning curve and you WILL improve, as everyone does even the people at the top of the ladder are learning everyday.

    My main concerns are that you seem to lack skills in typography and layout. It feels like you have just taken some photoshop courses and decided to sit down and design things straight from photoshop.

    I think you need to take a step back from using the computer and get stuck into some good books with work examples to really see and get to know what makes successful design in brochures, flyers, logos etc.. It will really improve your eye for detail and begin to condition your skills to start creating better design.

    At the moment getting a job would be really tough in a design agency/company, as your skill set needs a lot of improvement. Realistically you could get a foot into the industry by working for small printing companies who deal with small local projects. This gives you the chance to gain experience in working in the print industry as well as being able to do some basic design for small clients who wont be too demanding, at the same time you can continue to improve and eventually start applying to more specialist graphic design places.

    Anyway keep it up, remember this is not personal I'm just being realistic and honest.
  18. SparkCreative

    SparkCreative Member

    Ok, trying to be slightly more constructive - I think you need to get back to basics. Draw. Draw a lot. as The problem isn't so much technical skills as having an eye for what looks good and what doesn't. You should be able to clearly see your work doesn't match up visually to more established designers.

    You should be able to see, for instance, that your 'graphic breeze' logo looks bad because, among other things, you've used a nasty typeface and artificially stretched it (not stretching fonts is typography 101). This should come naturally - the training you have should be where you learn how to fix it.

    If you want to pursue this, I'd say Wilfu has some good advice. If you have technical skill, but your 'design eye' is lacking, I'd start in a studio, artworking other designer's stuff. That way, you'll see how they do it and hopefully learn that way.
  19. linziloop

    linziloop Member

    I think the others are starting to hit the nail on the head - it's really hard to pick out specific things because at the moment there's simply not one thing I would keep. In addition to the bad typography and apparent lack of "design eye" there is also the lack of consideration put into colour (for example those garishly bad buttons on your homepage, the blue background, the black header and footer), the lack of balance (again, i refer to those buttons), and the absence of any real exploration into what you can really do with design.

    I am beginning to realise that the courses you say you have taken are more about technical skills and practical advice than they are about creativity, and as the others say, you really need to be getting pen to paper, honing your design skills, learning about layout and colour , typography and exploration, all the things that make the difference between somebody who can use the software and somebody who can design.

    VLAHAKISA Member

    Moving Forward With Your Goals

    When it comes to design employment I will be totally honest and say that you will struggle to get yourself into a graphic design position (ie employment) in the UK.

    Competition is so fierce that for any sort of decent design job you need to really be near the top of the game yes. Your standard of design work isn't near that level yet.

    Therefore it's highly likely the only sort of design job you may (big may) be able to get yourself into in the UK, would be a very low paid position carrying out highly uncreative work. Perhaps working for a printing company in their graphic design department. I cannot stress enough that even this will be difficult to acquire, and it WILL be low pay.

    You may possibly do a bit better as a freelancer, but I think you will struggle still to earn a decent income sufficient to support the living costs in the UK. This is because your standard of design is at a similar standard offered by designers in countries such as India - these firms design at this standard for peanuts and you will not be able to compete with them whilst maintaining a roof over your head and food in your stomach.

    The only way to compete with such firms is to have a higher standard of design that commands higher pricing.

    If you want to earn a decent living as a graphic designer, freelancer or otherwise, you really do need to practice lots more and get your standard up. You also need to spend a lot of time reading the blogs of more experienced and skilled designers and learning from them and also to become creatively inspired by what they do and what they show you.

    I agree it's not about your technical skill (after all graphic design is not about the software, anyone can learn the software), it's mainly about your creativity at the moment. You need to spend some time looking at what others are doing. I think this will be a useful exercise.

    Take a look at these blogs, they are useful for creativity and learning and hopefully will get you to see where you need to be and what you need to do to get there because you aren't there yet.

    David Airey, graphic designer
    Identity Designed
    eightyone design / graphic design for print and web / torquay paignton brixham devon
    Logo Design Blog
    Truly Ace Graphic Design Blog ( hee hee, that one's mine ;) BUT seriously, it's useful, I promise. There is even a guide for startup freelancers )


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