What’s the big idea?

This week I was on the judging panel for Design Bridge’s graduate awards scheme.


Source: Mike Linksvayer

It’s a great opportunity to not just see some interesting work but also to find out what a consultancy is looking for when looks at student portfolios.

Of course we were all wowed by the great craft, illustration and photography, by the 360º executions.

But then, as we started to shortlist the winners, one of the other judges pointed out what made one of the winning entrants so successful.

‘There are plenty of entrants who rely on great illustration, or photography, or craft,’ he said. ‘What I like about this person is that they’re relying on great ideas.’

It reminded me of something Jim Sutherland said recently in a talk about when he was first taken on at The Partners after graduation.

His inteviewer told him that he had one of the worst typographic portfolios he’d seen – but he had ideas. That was what important and that was what got him the job.

It’s a valuable lesson for those graduating at the moment. Craft skills can always be learned and honed (or if it comes to it, you can just hire a great illustrator).

But ideas are the key – they’re what will get your foot through the door, what will get you your first job and, ultimately, what clients are paying for.

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