Why You Need an Online Portfolio

written by Georgia Schumacher 1 July 2014

Online PortfolioThere are many reasons why you, as an art school student or graduate, should have an online portfolio, but finding jobs and landing project work are certainly two major reasons to make sure yours is up and running. It doesn't matter if you're a freelancer trying to fill your schedule with client work or a career creative working your way up the corporate ladder--an online portfolio is one of the most important assets you can have. Here's why:

Freelance Creative Professionals

As a freelance creative professional, you're asking clients to take a chance on you. Until you have a reputation for delivering quality work, your portfolio is the only thing they know about you and your services.

Take photography for example. Today, everyone has a friend or family member with an fancy SLR camera that seems professional. However, not all of these photographers compose professional images or have studied photography at an art school. An online portfolio helps clients figure out who can deliver top-notch work versus those whose pictures are less polished. The same is true of other creative services where the lines between amateurs and true professionals can be hard to see without work samples.

Creative Careers and Job Searching

Sticking with the photographer example, it's easy to throw the title “photographer” on your resume. Anyone with an SLR camera and a single paying client can call themselves a professional photographer. This makes it difficult for hiring managers to differentiate between the top talent and relative beginners. However, one look at your online portfolio will let an employer know exactly what type of work you can deliver.

Even better, having your work show up in search results can yield unsolicited calls from staffing companies looking for your skills and services. Rather than plastering your resume all over town, create an online portfolio and employers can contact you directly.

These same ideas apply to all art school students and creative professionals, including web designers, game designers, photographers, interior designers, animators, graphic designers and all manner of creatives. Starting an online portfolio will help you:

• Land freelance gigs.
• Find side projects.
• Get in front of interviewers.
• Have your projects appear in search results pages.
• Land the job you've always wanted.

People need to see what you've created if they're going to hire you for their next project, and an online portfolio is one of the best ways to display your talent for prospective clients. Get started on yours today!

Interested in attending art school? Learn more about The Art Institutes!

10 Names Everyone in Fashion is Expected to Know

written by Georgia Schumacher 10 June 2014

fashion designers

Want to carve out your place in the fashion industry? The history of fashion design is filled with brave entrepreneurs and artistic trailblazers who defined the styles that surround us today—and as someone with a passion for the field, you’ll be expected to know the clothing and history of these important fashion designers. Remember, their names are more than labels or brands; they are legacies of determination and creativity.

1. Elsa Schiaparelli

This Italian designer found much of her inspiration from the Surrealism and Dada art movements. A rival of Coco Chanel, Schiaparelli is known for the avant-garde creativity in her designs, which included such oddities as a lobster dress and shoe hat.

2. Pierre Cardin

Cardin's highly original style centered around geometry, and he's attributed with creating the modern bubble dress. He later developed one of the first package trims available in American cars with the AMC Javelin's colorful interior.

3. Coco Chanel

One of the most prolific and influential fashion designers of all time, Chanel rose to fame in the 1920s with her innovative use of jersey fabric and the development of every woman's wardrobe staple: the little black dress.

4. Yves St. Laurent

This legendary designer is best known for creating the first French ready-to-wear line, as well as developing menswear styles for women, such as the innovative and renowned "Le Smoking" suit.

5. Hubert de Givenchy

Givenchy worked alongside designers Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen while dressing icons such as Grace Kelly. Most notably, he designed almost all of Audrey Hepburn's classic movie wardrobes.

6. Azzedine Alaïa

When Cher from Clueless insists that she can't ruin her dress by lying on the street during a robbery, she gives one reason: "It's an Alaïa." This elusive Tunisian fashion designer is known for dressing an array of celebrities while never selling out in his marketing.

7. Vivienne Westwood

Westwood began her career working for Malcolm McLaren of the Sex Pistols, and her contributions to punk fashion and new wave street style are unrivaled. Carrie Bradshaw's Vivienne Westwood wedding dress in the Sex and the City movie is considered one of the show's most notable designs.

8. Miuccia Prada

The founder of both Prada and Miu Miu, this legendary Italian designer is known for her minimalist and comfortable styles, with Miu Miu a more affordable take on her personal wardrobe.

9. Valentino Garavani

The man behind the Valentino label has designed for a collection of starlets and socialites such as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Lee Radziwill. Jackie Kennedy's gown for her wedding to Aristotle Onassis was a Valentino original, and he's well known for his vibrantly colored "Valentino red" dresses.

10. Paul Poiret

Poiret is credited with introducing the draping technique to fashion, thus giving women an alternative to corsets and launching the modern aesthetic still seen today in fashion marketing and sales.

Interested in fashion design or fashion marketing? Learn more about our programs today!

Essential Advice for Pursuing a Creative Career

written by Georgia Schumacher 3 June 2014

Person Starting a New Career

You're a creative person, and you've always wanted to pursue your passion as a career, which is exactly why you came to art school. When you have that special combination of talent, passion, and a drive to succeed, an art school education followed by a creative career is an obvious choice.

You bring a lot to the table as a creative individual, including innovation and a unique way of looking at challenges and tasks you encounter in a day-to-day workplace. With the possibility of automating more menial tasks in many industries, employers look for employees who have strong critical thinking skills, interesting perspectives, and thought processes that can't be replicated by a computer—employees like you. However, to set yourself up in a creative career that is fulfilling and financially stable can take hard work and dedication, so here are some techniques to get you started.

1. Market yourself

"Show your work" is a common adage in the arts, and it applies just as well to creative careers. Learn how to sell yourself. Your business skills are arguably as important as your creative talent, and if you can't market yourself, it doesn't matter how good you are at what you do. Learn how to reach clients through social media profiles, maintaining a blog, and creating an online portfolio so you can easily show it to companies looking to hire. These skills serve you well whether you're after a job at a corporation or agency, or you want to end up creating a thriving freelance business.

2. Bolster your network

The next essential is networking within your industry. Many jobs are all about who you know, and in the creative field, that means who you sees your profile and portfolio. Stay in touch with the people you went to art school with and get to know other alumni. Talk to people about your work, attend trade shows, conferences, and directly visit businesses that hire for the type of work you're looking for. You want to get to know people, companies, and the movers and shakers in your field.

3. Plan your progress over time

It’s always good to dream big, but you’ve got to plan a path to reach your end goal and accept that working your way up will likely take time and hard work. Remember, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities only come around, well, once in a lifetime!

You may not end up in your ideal job immediately after graduating from art school, but as long as you're actively taking steps towards career progression you can build up to the position and salary you desire. Two ways to move forward in your career after art school include taking freelance jobs to expand your network and your professional portfolio, and applying for jobs across a variety of industries that may be interested in your particular creative flavor.

Resources

12 Practical Tips for Those Pursuing Creative Careers 
9 Dream Jobs that Actually Pay

3 Proven Sales Techniques in Fashion Marketing

written by Georgia Schumacher 30 May 2014

Fashion display

You (or your company) may have found the hottest fashion line in existence, but now you need to get it in the hands of consumers. Start by developing a sales and marketing plan with fashion marketing strategies and tactics that ensure that you get the attention of shoppers and stores worldwide.

1. Think about the whole picture

Keep the store flow in mind. Every retail store owner has a specific store flow that they use to direct customers around their location. The store layout utilizes racks, end caps, window displays, and other arrangements to show off the merchandise in a way that's accessible and desirable. Visualize what the clothing you're marketing will look like in each prime store flow location, so you can describe to the store owner exactly how well your fashion fits into their store vision. You want the store owner to realize that you know about their side of things as well and can help them make more sales.

2. Get social

Create a fashion marketing platform using social media and social networking. When you show that you already have popularity, you create a demand for your fashion designs. Whether your pieces are in front of millions on high end fashion blogs or you have a thousand dedicated fans following your or Instagram account or Tumblr, showing that people want your clothes helps business owners make their purchasing decisions. Sites such as Pinterest are particularly useful for fashion marketing, especially if you catch the ear of some of the most active pinners on the site. The visual-based medium of this site is also helpful for showing off your clothing properly, and most sites allow users to easily share content from Pinterest so it's much easier to get a viral reach throughout the Internet.

3. Put people in your clothes

Set brand ambassadors forth in the world. A brand ambassador wears your clothing and talks up your product to their peer group. You want brand ambassadors who will give your products a good reputation, so make sure that you screen potential ambassadors so you aren't on the receiving end of an embarrassing viral video campaign that shows them behaving badly. Not all press is good press, contrary to popular opinion.

Read More: http://www.specialtyretailcollective.com/traffic-flow-make-it-work-to-maximize-sales/

Working with Clients: Balancing Opinions & Expertise

written by Georgia Schumacher 1 May 2014

CommunicatingAn inevitable occurrence in the life of every art school graduate is a conflict between your vision and the opinion of the client you intend to serve. You can imagine some of the issues when disagreement arises — for example, clients who are steadfast in their ideas, emboldened by the fact they are paying for the service and therefore, assume a sort of authority, challenging you, the artist, who is trained, experienced, and demonstrates a true talent for your craft. Added to this dynamic is your desire to prevent a rift so contentious that you damage the relationship and threaten to destroy your chances at future business from the client.

Even if you learned an array of impressive new creative skills at art school, communicating your clients is a skill you can’t afford to ignore. So, what are the best ways you can balance the opinions of your client and your experienced ideas and vision?

Keep an Eye on the Big Picture

First and foremost, whenever a conflict arises with a client, be sure to keep it all in the proper perspective. Oftentimes, an artist will take the discontent personally and allow a range of negative thoughts to be injected into the project. Allowing the disagreement in artistic opinion to affect you personally is not a healthy and productive way to operate and will do nothing to solve the issue. Avoiding the feeling of a personal affront is easier said than done but is, nevertheless, a point that cannot be overstated. What is most important is your ability to satisfy the client’s requests while making every effort to provide your experienced and talented artistic eye.

Keep an Open Mind

This advice seems to go without saying, and should be a standard rule of working with clients and colleagues. However, in the case of dueling opinions regarding a client’s project, you should make a special effort to remain as personally detached from your ideas as possible — enough to give the client’s suggestions a fair and dispassionate review.

Remembering to maintain objectivity not only affords you the ability to absorb your client’s opinions in a fairer and more approachable demeanor, doing so will allow you to better understand what is going to be required of you once the back and forth has ceased. You do not want to be so intransigent in your position that you are unable to hear the countering opinion, only to be left without definite direction once the dust settles, as you go about altering the project.

Give the Client Some Credit

While many of your clients lack the artistic education and experience you bring to the table, the client has at least one advantage — perspective. Your client is likely skilled at identifying the target audience in ways that you may be unable to perceive. The client’s perspective is honed over time and should be revered for nothing if not the experience that informs the opinion.

A client who has a different set of goals and offers opinions as to how to achieve those goals, no matter how different from your opinion, is not always doing so from an undeservedly powerful position. Their experience should be duly considered, and you would be wise to listen to their perspective and needs.

If you still disagree with their opinions, then calmly and professionally communicate your reasons, backing your opinions with evidence and data from user and case studies (some of which you may have saved from your art school classes) as well as blogs and expert opinions where possible. Explain how your choices could benefit their business and help them achieve their goals, as well as how doing something else may detract from these same goals. Ideally, you can combine their audience knowledge with your creative expertise to build something truly effective and inspiring.

Resources

www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/12/10/how-to-explain-to-clients-that-they-are-wrong/
www.artpact.com/Articles/42/Dealing-With-Difficult-Clients
www.hubpages.com/hub/The-everyday-life-of-a-digital-artist-Dealing-with-difficult-clients