Category Archives: Graphic Design

Rock n Roll Bride Issue 9 On Sale Now!

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine

Issue 9 of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine just went on sale and though I haven’t had a chance to do a full design recap, I wanted to give a shout-out to Kat because I think this issue is the best one yet.

Though I’ve always been an admirer of magazines and editorial design, it’s not until my studio started working on one that I realized just how much work goes into sourcing original content and putting together each issue.

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine

I admire people who come up with an idea, especially when it’s a passion project that doesn’t necessarily pay the bills right away and run with it, nurture it and grow it into something amazing. I’ve watched Kat take this magazine concept from a 40 page freebie she handed out at wedding fairs 5 years ago to a full-blown glossy on newsstands.

Stories like this remind me to keep going with my own projects, even when things get hard or burnout hits. We’ve all been there…but it’s when we push through those moments that something great can transpire.

The covers of magazines are always the hardest part to get right and I absolutely love this couple photographed by Dale Weeks. They had an entirely vegan wedding, her beautiful sequin dress was custom-made after the first dress didn’t work (it’s never too late to change things up!)….and they met on Myspace 10 years ago! So good!

Nubby Twiglet | Rock n Roll Bride Magazine

Anyway, you can pick up an issue in person at grocery stores and newsstands across the UK or order it from anywhere in the world here.

Thanks for your support!

Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

Every year around this time, Designer Vaca opens up for registration and since this is usually the only design-related event I attend all year, I want my portfolio to be updated and looking as polished as possible. I registered last week and it’s always a good kick in the ass to get things in shape!

Portfolios are a popular search term and I can see why — as creative business owners, we need them to get more work! I made some updates to the Branch portfolio over the weekend and hope these quick and easy tips get you inspired as you’re working on yours.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

1. Larger Images

Three years ago when I launched my portfolio, the sizing of images was a lot smaller. My early projects were sized at 1000 pixels wide but with retina displays becoming more common, I noticed my images weren’t as crisp as they could be. I just resized every project in my portfolio up to 1800 pixels wide in the hopes that even though they may take a touch longer to upload, I won’t have to redo any projects for the foreseeable future. Save yourself time by going bigger now!

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

2. Introduction Graphics

One thing my portfolio was lacking was a sense of cohesion from project to project since the work spanned over such a long period of time. I just made an additional graphic for the beginning of each project with an intro that briefly sums up the brand. Whether you’re doing a digital or print portfolio, an introduction is a simple way to add whitespace and let the design work breathe.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

3. New Color Swatches

In the past, I used various charts to show a brand’s colors within a project but once again, these were all over the place style-wise. After doing some research, I really liked the way Brand Minute showed colors with Pantone-inspired swatches so I’ve switched over to this style. Whichever way works for you, make it a consistent, signature element from project to project.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

4. Better Mockups

Over the last year, mockups have gotten much better. The detail these days is incredibly realistic, whether you’re showing a new line of t-shirts, beauty products or stationery. I use mockups to showcase finished projects because they help me stay consistent, repeating certain visual elements, colors and lighting styles throughout the graphics. I am a fan of Pixeden but also buy a lot of pieces off Creative Market, like this set I used to create visuals for Kate’s new essential oils.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips to Update Your Design Portfolio

5. More Flat Lays

Showing a logo only gives the viewer so much information about a project — seeing the pieces in use and how the varying elements work together really helps them understand the breadth of your work. These can be time consuming but well worth it to break up the simpler images and increase visual interest. I like pulling elements in from various mockup sets and arranging them in new configurations so nothing feels too canned. The key is to make these scenes your own.


As creatives, it’s our jobs to show and explain to potential clients what we can do — and our portfolios are a look into not just what we’ve done but what we want more of in the future.

Sometimes, I feel that putting together a portfolio is the hardest project I’ve ever done. Do you, as well? Doing work for yourself always somehow feels more monumental and stressful, doesn’t it?

Making the time is hard — it means stepping away from something you enjoy and investing it towards your business, with no guarantee of a return. But, as more of the right clients begin to roll in, it is always worth it when you’re able to take on more of the work you enjoy.

Your turn: Do you have any portfolio questions? Let me know in the comments!
Featured project: Kate Eckman by We Are Branch.

Creative Chronicles: 3 Sources for Choosing a Color Palette

Nubby Twiget | 3 Sources for Choosing a Color Palette

I saw the images by photographer Dominik Tarabanski featured in this post months ago and have been thinking about the color palettes ever since.

There’s something about the bold hues that draw me in — they’re soft and slightly unexpected yet thoroughly modern.

When I see a color combinations as unique as these, I often wonder how the creator behind it pulled it together.

What was their inspiration?

How did they know it would even work?

I’ve always struggled with color palettes — they just don’t come naturally to me. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you can see that outside of the client work I produce, my personal style veers towards a very minimalist palette of black and white.

When it comes to choosing unique palettes for branding projects (I often have 5 going in the studio at any given time), there are 3 tools I use to source the right mix of colors.

Nubby Twiget | 3 Sources for Choosing a Color Palette

1. Color Lovers

I’ve been using Colour Lovers to gather unique combinations for years because I love the ease of searching by keywords. Depending on what my client is drawn to, I’ll type in a variety of search terms just to see what comes up and screenshot my top picks to sample from. This process has a bit of market research thrown in, too since you can see which palettes have the highest number of “loves” and votes from the community.

Nubby Twiget | 3 Sources for Choosing a Color Palette

2. Adobe Kuler

Kuler isn’t just another site full of cool color palettes — its secret weapon is the camera icon in the top right. When you click on it, you can upload a photo that’s full of colors you love and it will pinpoint the key swatches for you. Creating your own original palettes has never been easier.

NUBBY_TWIGLET_CREATIVE_CHRONICLES_COLOR_PALETTES_4

3. Pinterest

When I’m doing image research for a client project, I usually start with Pinterest which is also super convenient for color palettes. Tons of folks keep inspiration boards dedicated to the subject and you can check out my color study board here. I’m always adding combos for future reference.

Between these three sources, I never feel stumped when it comes to building out a fresh color palette and I hope they help you do the same!

Your turn: Do you have any special techniques for pulling together color combinations?


Photos: Dominik Tarabanski for Thisispaper.

Creative Chronicles: What’s Your Story?

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

As a designer, your portfolio is important because it helps potential clients connect with your visual style. But beyond that, there’s another key part to standing out: telling your story.

About pages have been on my mind A LOT lately…because I desperately need to re-write mine. It’s so easy to procrastinate and push these kinds of things to the bottom of the list because you may be like me and find creating visuals much easier than writing.

For a lot of creatives, images flow easier than words. Sometimes, you just don’t know what to say. That’s compounded even more when you’re asked to write about yourself. Maybe you’re convinced that you’re happier saying less anyway. Maybe you think your work can do all the talking.

Whatever your reasoning, people are more likely to hire you if they feel a personal connection.

Nobody said it was easy but learning how to convey who you are in words can help you stand out in a crowded market. Never underestimate the power or telling your audience who you are and what you stand for. Remind yourself that people might not remember every project you’ve created…but they will remember a great story.

So, how do you get started? When I’m feeling stuck, I love looking at the about pages of people I admire and learning from them. Some are short, some are long, some are funny and some are surprising. The key is that each fits their unique personality.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

5 Great About Page Examples

1. PAUL JARVIS

Key to standing out: relatablility and humor

Never underestimate the power of being funny! Writing a bio (let alone reading it!) can get boring really fast so spice it up with some fun, random facts to add dimension and show who you are beyond just your job.

Excerpt: “Never someone to sit on his laurels (what are those “laurels,” anyway?), Paul has also been a touring musician, veterinary assistant, paperboy, and ad agency monkey. He began working for himself full-time in 1998, so he’s pretty much unemployable now – and that’s a really good thing.”


2. SIAN RICHARDSON

Key to standing out: personal design flourishes

One of the reasons I admire Sian’s design style so much is that she’s brilliant at piecing together images and type. When you look at her page, there’s a depth that immediately comes through. It’s simple yet exudes an edgy style.

Excerpt: “Once upon a less-than-awesome time, I worked in an office 9-5 as a graphic designer. My day-to-day projects were a mashup of snooze-worthy deliverables: car decals, banners for banks, casino promos… yawn. Before long, it hit me: I was not cut out for cubicle nation. I spent most of my days staring out the window at the beautiful sunshine of Sydney, Australia (where I’d moved to start my career), and a whole country waiting to be explored. Why the hell was I locked inside for 80% of the week, designing pieces that weren’t exactly fulfilling?”


3. MARIE FORLEO

Key to standing out: making you feel like her success can be yours, too

Marie is massively successful but her about page comes across as welcoming instead of intimidating. Sure, there’s candids alongside Oprah and Richard Branson (no big deal — ha!), but she tells her story in way that makes you feel like somehow, you could do the same. And with all her accomplishments including founding B-School, that’s no easy feat.

Excerpt: “After several failed attempts at corporate jobs and a lot of angst trying to choose just one thing to be in life, I realized that my unusual combination of interests and skills was a strength, not a liability. I gave up the security of the 9-5, began bartending and waiting tables and doing a multitude of odd jobs to keep a roof over my head while slowly building a coaching business from the ground up. I later coined the term “Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur” because I just didn’t (and never will) fit into a conventional box.”


4. ALEXANDRA FRANZEN

I adore Alex’s about page is because it’s very clear and direct, just like her copywriting. There’s a conversational tone that comes across as approachable, like you’re having a good chat over a coffee date with a friend. It’s positive, inspiring and has a few funny moments woven in…like the one below!

Key to standing out: a warm, conversational tone

Excerpt: “I started my “writing career” with a self-published coloring book about flying unicorns, which I photocopied and sold for 25 cents a piece to my 3rd grade classmates. It was a big hit! Sadly, the project got shut down by a teacher who felt that charging money for my book was not appropriate. (In my defense: I was merely responding to market demand…)”


5. DANIELLE LAPORTE

Okay, so Danielle’s about page is really long. But, everything she says flows and makes you feel like you’re on a mini journey through her life. The #1 thing I LOVE about Danielle’s about page is the timeline, hilariously titled Creative Highlights and Lowlights. Take a journey back to the beginning and find out what went right (and what went terribly wrong).

Key to standing out: going big and sharing it all

Excerpt: “I think the best self-help is self-compassion. I hear a variation of this all the time — when I get off stage, from readers, through friends of friends: “It was 11:30pm the other night and I needed something [soul salve, a kick in the ass, wisdom for a friend, a confidence boost for work…] so I went to your site and got what I needed. Really, I just wanted some encouragement.”

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

5 Quick Tips

1. Great about pages don’t feel sleazy or sales-y. All of the above examples were written by successful entrepreneurs yet they feel genuine and even relatable.

2. Always look at about pages outside of your niche. It’s important to get a broader perspective and the best ideas often come to you from beyond your chosen industry.

3. Not sure how to start off your bio? Use Alexandra Franzen’s free template. SO GOOD.

4. There is no such thing as a finished About page. I’ve rewritten mine at least 10 times since starting this blog. It’s meant to grow and evolve so let it go.

5. If you need more help and want even more about page examples and templates, You In Words is brilliant.

And with that….go forth and write! Share your story.
You never know who will stumble across it…or where it will take you.


Your turn: Any tricks for writing an awesome About page? Let us know in the comments!

Photo: Made U Look.

An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

It feels like just yesterday that I started running a creative business full-time….but it’s already been nearly three years! Time flies.

When running a business, beyond the usual ups and downs, I’ve noticed a specific trajectory over the last few years and wanted to talk about that today in the hopes that if you’re thinking of starting a business of your own or in the early stages of running one, you can start imagining what the future will look like. The more you can visualize and plan, the better.

Your first three years in business will probably look like this:

Year 0: The Preparation

Year 1 :Work, Work, Work

Year 2: Attract and Repel

Year 3: Diversify, Baby

Let’s dig in…


Year 0 — The Preparation

This ain’t gonna be easy.

Leading up to starting your own business, you have to prepare. Ideally, six months to a year in advance, you’ll be tallying up your monthly expenses and visualizing what your working environment will look like.

Do you plan on working from home, in a co-working space or in an office that’s all yours? What do your rates need to be like to afford your new lifestyle? How will you find new clients? And….what’s your plan if it takes a few months (or longer) to land that steady stream of clients?

I first started freelancing on the side back in 2006 while still in school. While my side business steadily grew, I began freelancing at agencies and worked a few full-time design jobs in-between to pay the bills.

This went on for years….and looking back, there was no balance in my life whatsoever. To be completely honest, I had no life. I held out way too long because I was afraid of how I would pay my mortgage without a steady gig. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough clients. I was afraid of what would happen if things slowed down. Fear kept me hanging on by a thread, even though I was completely exhausted.

The tipping point came in the form of a small business class about 6 months before I left my full-time job. Our teacher asked us to write our worst case scenario on a piece of paper if our dream didn’t work out.

As soon as I wrote mine down, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought. My plan was to find a corporate gig for a year and then try my dream out again. The writing was on the paper, literally: I had to push the fear of the unknown aside for good because my lack of confidence was holding my dream up.

After that class, I slowly built momentum through trademarking my business name, working on the branding, building a media kit and designing a very basic website.

A few months later, I gave my notice and walked into my new life which was set up in a spare room across from my bedroom. My dream was 5 steps from where I woke up but the best decision I ever made.

Advice: Only prepare as much as you need to….and then go live your dream. Gaining life experience is infinitely more powerful than sitting around and reading about it.


Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Year 1 — Work, Work, Work

Work all day. Work all night.

The first year in business tends to boil down to taking on any and every project you can get your hands on to gain some stability.

When it came to bringing on clients, I definitely went for quantity over quality because I just wanted to keep working and build a cushion. If I wasn’t working, I felt guilty, like a backwards slide was imminent. In this case, the irrational fear wasn’t all bad because it kept motivation strong. But once again, I was exhausted. So many small business owners burn out because they’re afraid to give themselves a break.

The first year went well but in hindsight, I worked way too hard for too little because I was still figuring out what made my business unique and how to actually convey that. Easier said than done, right? Still, I felt relieved making it through and supporting myself. Because man, that first year is scary.

Advice: Don’t overthink things. Do good work for good people, stay true to your ethics and word of mouth will spread. Reliability, honesty and friendliness are everything.


Year 2 — Attract and Repel

Make what you want more of crystal clear.

The first year in business was all about doing the work (and doing a good job) while the second was all about getting clear on who I actually wanted to do work for.

I’d grown Branch just enough to finally feel a sense of stability which led to me signing a lease on an office space. I was on the fence…but my mom convinced me to do it and moms know best. Getting an office changed everything for the better because I felt like I had a home life again.

Even better, having a space to show up to every morning and set up however I wanted created an ideal working atmosphere and the good vibes drew in more clients.

As the business grew, I quickly learned the value of attracting and repelling. There weren’t enough hours in a day to be everything to everyone and I found that path mentally and physically exhausting. Instead of trying, I re-wrote sales copy. Reworked packages. Focused in on creative small businesses. Brought in a design assistant to help out.

The clearer I got on what I wanted the studio to work on and the more effort I put into our portfolio, the better the fit new clients were. It was really as simple as that.

Advice: Figure out who you are, reflect that in the work you produce and share it consistently.


Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Year 3 — Diversify, baby

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Year three for me has been all about diversifying.

By now, you’re going to be more established and have a core client base that appreciates what you do and keeps coming back for more.

While I am super happy with the mix of clients I’m working with, the biggest issue with running a service-based business is that your income is directly limited to what you can produce in a set amount of hours.

A reality check came earlier this year when I ran a report and realized my #1 client was my own product. Project Prescription held the top ranking, even though I spent 90% of my time on client work. Moving forward, my goal is to maintain current client work while slowly diversifying offerings through digital products.

Diversifying in your business is smart because if one area drops off, you’ll still be okay. I’ve learned from some personal experiences that panicking about how you’re going to pay the bills destroys creative mojo in a second flat.

Advice: Find ways to diversify so you can work smarter, not harder.


It’s your turn:

Do you run your own business?
Is it something that you’re interested in doing? Any questions for me?
Let me know in the comments!

The Benefit of Longer Term Self-Initiated Projects

Nubby Twiglet | The Benefit of Longer Term Self-Initiated Projects

When most of us think of self-initiated projects, branding for imaginary companies come to mind — maybe you’ve built out a visual system for your dream client to round out the mix in your portfolio. This was always my focus when I worked on self-initiated projects but there’s another option.

Creating a series around a specific theme that is produced on a longer term basis can can be even more beneficial because it has the ability to grow your audience and get tons of fresh eyes on your work.

Self-initiated projects are great because as they evolve, they give your audience a reason to check in regularly. Even better, they give people a reason to share your work because there’s nothing cooler than seeing a themed body of work grow week after week.

Another benefit of longer term self-initiated projects is that they clearly demonstrate a sense of consistency. You’re showing up, putting in the work and over time, your audience will take notice which in turn, will hopefully grow your freelance clientele.

5 Self-Initiated Project Examples

If you need a starting place, here are five awesome examples to get your creative juices flowing:

1. The Moody Project by June Letters

I’m a super fan of digital mood boards and first learned about Jess’ work by clicking on one of her beautifully composed collages on Pinterest. This series shows off her eye for design and flair for color.

2. Branding 10,000 Lakes by Nicole

I followed this project a few years ago and it was so interesting to see how the name or location of a lake could provoke a unique, branded outcome. This project was great because it showed Nicole’s breadth of branding ideas through simple concepts.

3. Poster A Day by Alex Proba

I’m obsessed with the crisp compositions of these designs paired with hits of bright pastels. Alex’s eye for clean, modern design could easily translate into a line of actual print pieces.

4. Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

This self-initiated project helped launch Jessica’s career. She posted a new letter each day or so, created in an ornate style that showed off her love of hand lettering. She’s since illustrated everything from postage stamps to best-selling book covers.

5. A Poster Everyday by Furqan Jawed

Another daily poster project, this was created by a design student in India as a way to explore his love of typography. I love the simple, editorial-inspired style of this series.

Go Forth And Create!

When you think about it, the ideas for these types of projects are endless. You could create a series of book covers, artwork for your favorite albums, t-shirt designs, perfume labels, logos for makeup brands or even a collection of stamps.

It’s always great to tie these projects into a personal passion so you have that extra creative spark as the series continues on.

P.S. If you decide to create a long term self-initiated project (or already have!), let us know in the comments!


Top image: Poster A Day by Alex Proba.
Read even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

Creative Chronicles: Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Q: I’m reaching out because I feel stuck in my career. When I graduated with a design degree, I was hired by a company that I’ve now been with for  7 years and I’m ready to move on. I have applied for Art Director positions at many companies with no luck so far. It seems like I’m getting a lot of no’s instead of a yes but I don’t believe in giving up so I’m wondering what else I can do. Maybe my portfolio needs a big improvement? I’m willing to do whatever it takes.


A. To this very day, the most common questions that land in my inbox relate to portfolios and landing a job. And trust me — I get it. As a designer, your portfolio is the link to your next big opportunity. Have you ever heard of that saying, “Show, don’t tell?” Well, a portfolio does exactly that. There’s only so much you can say about your accomplishments and the notable clients you’ve worked with. Showing your interviewer actual outcomes is the proof.

Though I’ve written a handful of portfolio-related articles in the past, today’s is a little different since the writer isn’t a freshly graduating student but someone with years of professional experience looking to transition out of her current role and into a new company.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Without ado, here are 10 pieces of advice to succeed when you’re prepping for an interview for a design position:

1. Show relevant work

This is a big one. Think about the company and the industry it is in. What types of projects do you have in your arsenal that would be a good fit? Once you’ve been working professionally for a few years, chances are that you’ve weeded out most of your school projects and have a mix of both corporate and smaller freelance projects to share. Remember that your interviewers have a limited amount of time and usually, there’s no need to share more than 6 to 10 projects. So, how can you make the most impact?

When I was looking for a full-time job a few years back before starting Branch, my previous position had been mostly production work but I was interviewing for a spot on a brand team. Because of this, I left most of the work from my previous employer out and showed mostly branding projects I’d personally completed with freelance clients since these were more relevant. If you do have a project you’re proud of and want to include but it’s not super relevant to the position, just make sure you have a really good story to go with it!

2. Self-initiated projects are fair game

I know how hard it can be getting the right types of projects you want during the first few years of your career. If you don’t feel that you have the ideal mix to share with a potential employer, that’s totally fair. I felt that way for a long time, too but the easiest way around that is to create a project or two for your ideal fantasy client.

This isn’t misleading as long as you’re clear that it’s self-initiated and if anything, it’s a strength to be able to show that you took the initiative to complete a large-scale project on your own time…and finished it! My brother interviewed at Nike years ago and though he didn’t have a lot of work that tied into the job he wanted at the time, he designed his own dream shoe and included it at the end of his portfolio. He got the job!

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

4. Keep descriptions short and sweet

For the most part, designers have a harder time writing than they do putting together visuals and oh boy, do I get stuck when describing my own projects and the outcome! The thing to remember is that you really don’t need more than 3 sentences max to get your point across. If you’re struggling big time with getting to the point and keeping your descriptions short and snappy, I’d recommend hiring a copywriter. It’s worth its weight in gold to have a second set of eyes that can tighten up your writing.

5. Do your homework

When I think back to the best interviews I ever had, yes, my portfolio mattered, but equally important was having a personal connection to the company through a story I could share. When I interviewed for my first-ever design job, I was familiar with the studio’s work and style because I’d attended many of their art openings and parties so it was easy to make them feel like I already fit in.

Be friendly, sign up to newsletters and follow your dream company on social media. The more integrated into their world you are before the interview, the easier it will be to make a great impression. My current employee, Samantha had been following this blog and knew about key Branch projects I’d shared on social media so when she interviewed with me last year, I felt like she was already familiar with our culture and shared common interests. I hired her by the end of our interview because she felt like the perfect fit — I could sense that her integration would be seamless.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

6. Conduct market research

This is one of my favorite pastimes! Some people would call this stalking (ha!) but hey, I look at it a little differently —everything you need to know about a company is already out there. Take some time to read through your potential employer’s website, scan their social media accounts and get familiar with some of their notable projects and accolades. What are they most proud of? If they list employees on their website, get a feel for the kinds of work they personally produce. Look at as many portfolios as possible to find ways you can improve — because I have news for you — your portfolio is never really done! Preparation is key for any interview and the more you know, the better chance you have for sealing the deal.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

7. Mock it up

One thing I’ve learned from redoing my own portfolio dozens of times is that the work you show can always be presented better. There’s always room for improvement and a lot of that has to do with mockups. I am a big fan of mockups because I don’t always have hard copies of printed materials from projects (90% of Branch clients are remote) and also, I don’t have pro-level photo equipment to consistently capture the work I do have on-hand. Mocking up your work allows you to present your ideal scenario of the outcome of a project and create a level of consistency with backgrounds and lighting.

If you need some fantastic, free mockups to get started, I highly recommend Graphic Burger. And, if you have a bit more of a budget and need very specific items, give Pixeden a try.

8. Simple is best

I know it’s hard to avoid because as designers, we’re naturally overachievers, obsessing over the tiniest details to built the best portfolio ever but perfectionism can also paralyze you. When in doubt, keep things simple. White space speaks volumes about your confidence as a designer. Allowing your work to breathe instead of overwhelm is key. Let your crisp, concise visuals and short and sweet descriptions placed on white backgrounds do the talking.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

9. Always send a thank you

If you truly want the job, always follow up the same day with a short but specific thank you message. While actual thank you cards are nice, it’s important to be immediate with this step so I’d recommend an email. Reiterate that you appreciate the interviewer taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with you, include one specific fact about the company that stood out in the interview (it shows that you care AND that you were paying attention!) and finally, let them know you think you’re the ideal fit and are ready for the next steps. You can definitely be forward and confident without coming across as pushy.

10. In the meantime, gain experience

If your dream job doesn’t pan out right away, that’s okay. I know it’s easy to say that but I speak from experience. In 2009, I interviewed at a studio I’d always wanted to work at. While the interview went well, they didn’t feel that I had enough experience. I’d only been out of school for a year and while I showed potential, they needed a more senior-level designer. Instead of getting upset, I threw myself into freelancing at every studio I possibly could.

In 2012, an unexpected email landed in my inbox from that same company. What I thought was a quick informational interview morphed into a meeting with the owner and by that night, I had an offer letter in-hand. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. I was able to jump in with both feet and all that additional experience I’d gained was priceless.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Use Your Portfolio to Land Your Ideal Job

Playing the waiting game is hard and building out a portfolio is a monumental task but all that preparation eventually pays off. You’ve got this — sometimes it just takes awhile to get what you want.

If hunting for a design job is something that interests you but you need a boost, I’m working with career strategist Ellen Fondiler and digital product mastermind Paul Jarvis to create Future So Bright, a new course dedicated to helping designers find their dream jobs. The best part is, this course will have a digital portfolio and resume template included. We’re launching later this Summer and I can’t wait to share more!

In the meantime, let me know if you have any portfolio questions in the comments. Always happy to help!


Featured work: We Are Branch.