Saturday, 26 November 2011

Portfolio Visit 1 - Taylor O'Brien

On Tuesday 22nd I had an appointment to see Helen Taylor at Taylor O'Brien, which is based just off Piccadilly in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. This being my first portfolio visit, I was quite nervous and unsure of what to do. However, Helen made me feel really comfortable and led me in with a few questions about what I was doing at the moment and where I would like to be in a years time. We were also joined by head designer Lee Millward, who was equally nice and easy to talk to.
We then moved onto my actual portfolio...not being sure what to do, I just opened it up and started to explain the first piece (Wellspring). I basically just ran through the brief, my various ideas and how I eventually created the piece.
This process carried on throughout the rest of the portfolio, Helen and Lee made the odd small comment but they saved the majority of their feedback until they had seen everything - this scared me a little, I didn't think they liked anything!
However, they really liked the graphic style to my work saying it was very commercial and they could easily visualise it being used in magazines etc. Helen in particular really loved the Russian page from my zine book. She said she could see it in a travel magazine/guide as it encapsulated Russia perfectly and the image was very tight and together. She suggested adding other pages from the book to my portfolio (which I've since done) to show how the images work together. Helen loved the relationship between all the elements, they all looked as though they belonged together and had the same style.
Looking through my portfolio again Helen and Lee agreed that the black and white and two tone images were the strongest. This quite surprised me - as I love colour! They said the Wellspring, the spot 8x8 and the Craig poster all seemed very bold and attention grabbing. They asked me about how I found working in black and white and I explained that I wasn't very confident so I would create a colour image and greyscale it. They said it would be good to see other images in black and white and that this could strengthen my portfolio and show a greater range of my capabilities.
Helen also really liked the James and the Giant Peach cover, saying it was very psychedelic and reminiscent of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. They liked the fact that I had gone against tradition and chosen not to include the main characters on the front and focused on the smaller elements.
They said my portfolio showed a really good variety of work; I'd included characters out of context, photos of work in context, editorial and book covers - so this was good to hear. They said it was different to the other portfolios they'd seen from Stockport, which they liked - it showed everyone has really individual styles.
They then asked quite a few questions about working with clients and how I've found those experiences. They were also interested to know if I'd ever had to change my work for clients and how I coped with it. We also talked about how I was getting quicker at using Illustrator, which was good as they said a lot of editorial jobs required quick turnarounds.
Overall I think it was a successful and worthwhile visit. Helen and Lee were very helpful and seemed to really like my work, the fact they can visualise it being used 'in the real world' was extremely encouraging. Although I was nervous, I think I came across relatively calm and felt confident in explaining my work and thought processes. It was really useful to receive feedback from people in the design industry, Uni is a bit like a bubble so its always nice to get out and hear other people's opinions. Thanks Helen and Lee!

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