No Plastic Sleeves recently has an opportunity to ask Bryn Mooth, the Editor of HOW magazine a few questions. In October, HOW published the winners of its annual Promotion Design Awards.
Bryn Mooth isn’t a graphic designer, and only occasionally pretends to be one. Nonetheless, she’s keen on classical typography, and she’s a sucker for letterpress printing. Bryn’s involvement with HOW magazine spans nearly 20 years, both as a staff editor and contributing writer. During that time, she has written about design and the business of design, organized and judged countless design competitions and spoken at various professional events, including HOW’s Design Conference, In-HOWse and Mind Your Own Business Conference, and AIGA chapter events.
Bryn has written about interior design and fine art for various consumer and trade publications. In addition to her experience with HOW’s parent company, F+W Media, Bryn worked at American Express Incentive Services in St. Louis, where she developed, launched and edited a quarterly lifestyle magazine for 225,000 of the company’s cardholders.
When she’s not running the asylum at HOW, Bryn is an avid gardener, enthusiastic wine buff and mediocre golfer.
As someone who has reviewed so many outstanding portfolios and self-promotional pieces, what distinguishes the very best?
Originality and personality are so important for self-promo pieces and portfolios. As a potential client or employer, I’d want to get a sense not only of the designer’s talents, but also of what it would be like to work with her. And it’s key to be able to show your thinking. For portfolios, that means including sketches that led to a finished project. For self-promo pieces, that means including case studies of how your work met a client’s objective. And of course, the overall design of the piece or portfolio should reflect the designer’s personality, originality and thinking.
How important do you feel a portfolio book and/or online portfolio is in securing a job in the creative industries?
Both are crucial. Prospective employers or clients need to see samples of your work online before they even consider bringing you in for a meeting. And then a portfolio that showcases your work during that meeting is essential.
In the last few years, have you noticed any trends or differences in the types of pieces submitted to HOW’s Promotion Design competition?
We’re seeing more and more work that has a handmade element: perhaps a promo piece that’s hand-bound, or customized for the recipient. Digital printing is, for the most part, so good that designers can print small-run pieces in their own studios. Handmade touches convey personality and uniqueness.
Do you have any advice for a student or young professional currently working on their portfolio and/or promotional materials?
What you say about your portfolio is just as important as what you put in it. Be prepared to walk a client or employer through one or two projects from start to finish, detailing your thinking, your problem-solving, your creative process and your collaborative skills. A portfolio is only a jumping-off point for conversation.