Design Therapy: Making Your Online Portfolio.

Working on your own stuff can be complicated.

First, you never have enough time to plan and execute personal projects because of actual work (i.e. real clients who pay you). Also, exposing ourselves is tricky, embarrassing, and scary. It’s much easier and fun criticise other people’s work! So one tends to procrastinate forever.

That would be my case but recently I found myself having some free time, mainly because of lack of freelance work. Rather depressing – yeah – but maybe my old crappy personal portfolio played a role in my bad luck as a freelance.

Everybody says design is meant to solve problems but, well, I find this idea quite arrogant, a lot of people repeat this problem-solving mantra but they don’t know anything about design and they often complicate simple things. Still I thought, if design is really meant to solve problems – and I happen to have this problem that no one gives a crap about my work and does not hire me – maybe it’s time to trash my portfolio and get a shiny new one!

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 09.14.31

Soon after this revelation, I tried to focus on what’s the best way to tell people I am good at my job and I realised two important points.

  • I don’t know if I am good at my job.
  • Even if I was, If I start telling people “Hey look at me! I am good at my job” I think I’d sound like an asshole. And I promised to do my best not to be an asshole. Moreover, I would never hire an asshole, and probably only assholes hire assholes and the last thing I want is to work for assholes.

So I decided to keep the layout simple, white, without any element like rules, headers and stuff. Why?

  • One reason is I am lazy when it comes to coding, perhaps because I don’t usually code. I can spend weeks on a map or silhouetting images, but god I hate overcoded websites.
  • Second reason I want people to access my stuff quickly and let them know I value their time.
  • Third reason is: I suspect you’re visiting my website because you heard of me and want to see what I do, and not because you googled “best designer ever”, so I want you to find just what you’re looking for.

Layout: I removed everything had not a practical and clear purpose. A friend told me «it’s too white». True, but pages are white since Guthenberg’s Bible (1450), and I don’t want to be the one who screw this well tested device. Pages are white, text is black. Images are images.

Captions: I don’t have much to say about my work. I try to do my best, of course, I try to be clear and I love Akzidenz Grotesque, Helvetica, Franklin, National and Futura but that’s it. I just want you to enjoy the real things and make your own opinion about them, they’re supposed to be self-explanatory (because well, they were actual works before ending in my portfolio, and usually you don’t put a caption under your poster when it’s up on the wall). So, I got rid of unnecessary explanations.

Header: in the previous website I had this header “Carlo Apostoli Graphic Designer”, I can’t think something more boring and pretentious. This time I put my face instead of my name: it makes the whole thing lighter and a little bit funny and it’s good  against shyness. Moreover, if you’re browsing my website but don’t know my name and – at the same time – don’t manage to click “about” to solve the mystery, well I don’t want to work for you.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 09.13.59

Finally, the works: I got rid of old stuff that don’t represent me no more (i.e. works that sucked). I did my best to make every entry consistent in terms of lights, shadows etc. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. I made images bigger because big is better than small.

Last but not least: there is a thin line between ordered and simple, and totally boring and depressing. When everything else was set, I made the thumbnails move 2 pixels down when you go over them. It’s fun and stupid enough, I did it almost unintentionally and I think it’s a great rollover. Why no one use it?

Then “about” and “contacts”.

This is it.
It wasn’t that complicated.
Will it bring me more freelance work? Who knows.

But that was a great therapy session, I feel much better now!


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