After years of re-tuning, re-doing, and re-freshing, I chose to scrap my design portfolio 2 months ago.
Not because I was getting so many gigs and leads left and right (because I’m not).
And definitely not because I think I’m super talented to the point where a portfolio is not needed (because it will always be needed).
I chose to scrap my portfolio because it’s not serving anybody at this point in time—not even me. So rather than hold a backlog of my experiences from 3-4 years ago in a time capsule to show to anybody who needed to see it (which is nobody, because I’m currently not seeking any design positions or opportunities), I replaced it with something more relevant and true to the present me.
While I’m not looking for creative job positions in the market, countless others are.
So I think it’s worth it to help artists and designers just like us level up in an environment where we want to do more and do better, together.
That’s the Habit Factory (where all my creative energy is going right now). We’re hosting our 14 day Portfolio Campfire workshop this February for creatives who are looking to find their next opportunity. Find the community and accountability you’re looking for, and sign up for the online program. It’s open for all creatives who need to rebuild their websites and portfolios with intent this year.
It’s no fun when you’re always reminded about how self-conscious you are and *what other people are going to think of it*, but that’s what shyness does to you.
So, who is shyness for?
I realize that shyness is a thing for the self. Kind of like a shield for when you want to get out of something you’re too embarrassed to do. Like asking that classmate to hang out, or making small talk at the cash register, or putting yourself in front of a camera.
Shyness is an effective blocking tool, as it stops us from doing the things we actually wish we could be doing.
It sucks because it doesn’t serve anybody. Not yourself, not the people you want to be talking with, not your friends, not your family. It’s a fear.
One alternative is to try whatever it is, and see what happens anyways.
Seasonal fruits are hard to count on, because they’re not always there for you when you want them (I’m talking red currants, concord grapes, apricots, figs). While their limited time offer is part of the appeal, we can’t rely on them to be a core part of our diets.
In a similar way, if we’re looking to commit to creative work, then showing up only in short, seasonal bursts only when we feel like it is a shortsighted way to creative professionalism.
The alternative we can count on is to be a staple. We can always find broccoli, spinach, apples, oranges, and bananas all year round; They’ll always be here when we need them.
Being non-seasonal makes it a promise. It’s not as splashy and colourful as a summer’s berry, but part of the hard work is to be present even when it’s not peak season.
I can’t show my designs to the client, it’s not good enough.
Nobody would want to see my paintings, I’m too rusty.
These drawings suck.
I screwed up my presentation because I was too nervous.
I’m not spending my time at home productively enough.
The first to judge is always ourselves. Most of the time, our problems are selfish enough so that other people won’t truly care the same way we do. However, that doesn’t stop us from feeling guilty, frustrated, anxious, or disappointed.
It’s okay to feel negative towards our own judgement for a while.
What’s next to consider is how we handle our own opinions.
Who exactly are the designs or paintings for?
What did your presentation audience actually think?
What instead is your time meant for, if not for what you’re already doing?
Judgement is okay. It’s normal. What we can change is how we deal with it.
A typical designer’s portfolio will hold work that’s been done in the past. While the current you is elsewhere, your portfolio will always lag behind. Yet, it’s what most employers want to see when hiring designers and artists.
Then there’s the internal guilt we feel when we know our portfolio is not nearly where we ideally want it to be.
So we face the paths of:
Doing the notorious portfolio rehaul whenever we make a pivot in our careers
Choosing to make regular visits so that it’s not months or years behind, but days behind.
But either of these choices will still speak to a past self and will only represent a one-dimensional side of you.
What’s more valuable is knowing who you are and what you stand for as a creative.
We can spend days fixing the nitty gritty aesthetic bits of a website that we’ll share around for a while, but the real work is in the person herself who exists separately from her website.