Interview With A Recruiter: Portfolios

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Interview with recruiter Portfolio Case

This is the second article of my interview with Anne Denman of Studio B Productions.

She is the Head of Recruitment/HR at the studio and is giving us her advice on what she likes to see come in the doors when she has to do some hiring. You can find the first article on making a good resume here.

Today she talks about portfolios. It’s not the ‘nitty gritty details’ of putting one together. You can find that in my ‘Building a Storyboard Portfolio‘ article.

She’s giving a glimspe from the other side of the desk, which you don’t always get to see.

So pay attention.

I now give you Anne’s advice on Portfolios:

I love to see talent. I love to be blown away by it.

How to make your portfolio stand out is to have your really clean, fluid stuff up front.

If you’re new, showing off good line quality can help get you noticed. Whatever you’re applying for, show you can do that first and that you can do it well.

Animators need to show animation (in the form of a demo reel) storyboard artists need boards, etc.

For character designs, show a variety. Don’t just show the big breasted vixen on horseback. Most animation companies aren’t interested. It may work for gaming companies, but animation studios get tired of seeing that same stuff over and over.

I’ve had people come in that I thought were going to be fabulous artists but only had tons of that “Thor” stuff in their portfolio—not interested.

Show some variety! If you’re new, choosing a fairy tale and making 3 different designs for the characters is a good exercise.

If the position calls for a demo reel, only put stuff on it that you have done. And do give a credit list at the beginning. You have two minutes (or less) to show them what you’ve got.

Watch what you’re sending! Offensive material can backfire on you.

Do you know that many recruiting people happen to be women? Is your ’edgy film’ really going to go over that well? Think of it as trying to impress your mom’s best friend. We’re not prudes, we just get tired of sexist jokes and ‘poo poo humor‘.

Be witty. Be smart. You can’t go wrong with that.

Many times with demo reels, there may just be a gate keeper…an assistant or someone filling in to review them. They could be reviewed by someone who may not know anything about animation!

Keep this in mind.

Your demo reel should be snappy and appealing to ANYONE.

It’s a commercial for you.

Make it entertaining. Don’t include your whole student film. You have two minutes (maybe shorter) to make an impression, so don’t waste it.

For your portfolio, it’s a good idea to have a digital and hard copy available. Forget about a blog site (Blogger type thing). We don’t want to read about your personal life while sifting though the site looking for a portfolio.

Show us a portfolio and only a portfolio on the site that you list on your resume.

On that site show them your best stuff. It’s not a cop out. Don’t ‘lead up’ to it.

Show it first because that’s what recruiters want to see. Your skills! It’s okay that you’re new and green but as long as you’re ACTING professional, that goes a long way in our eyes.

If you know someone at the studio you’re applying to, ask if you can use their name and then use it! Knowing someone is always a plus (especially if they are respected). Put your name out there…it helps a lot.

As a newbie you should try to go to animation festivals, parties and events. Remember at these events you are always ‘on’. You never know who you will meet and who you are giving your first impression to.

Forget about business cards. They’re pretty much a waste of money and you’ll rarely use them. Unless you are going to a lot of events and they are done well. No one really collects business cards in the industry (unless at events).

When things are slow, work on a project (your own or someone else’s) to keep your skills sharp. Life drawing. Meet people.

Get a mentor in areas you want to improve in. If you want to do better boards get Karen cause she’s the best. (Aw shucks, thanks Anne – KJL.) Ask advice from other pros in the field.

Keep on your game. Do a plan of where you want to go and where you want to be in 5 years.

Spread yourself out and get seen.

Thanks again for the insights Anne!

We’ll continue this series next week with some advice on applying to studios. Good stuff.


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9 thoughts on “Interview With A Recruiter: Portfolios

  1. Aidan Casserly

    Very good advice. Also, having a website is great because it’s that much easier than sending out EIGHT THOUSAND PORTFOLIOS. Many times a reviewer may just give you a two second look, so having it on a website may save you some trouble (and money). I know, because I’ve been sending the things out and applying for every single storyboard job I’ve seen for two years now, with only a handful of results.

    I really hope I’m not sounding like a bitter, “doom and gloom” type…I just know what I’ve seen! Personal projects are definitely a must [check out “Sita Sings the Blues”].

    Listen to Anne, because she’s smart. Listen to Karen, because she’ll do something silly and disturbing if you cross her.

  2. Brian

    I actually didn’t know that I needed smooth line quality in my boards, but I’m glad I’m working on it lol. Helloooo, Preston Blair…

  3. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    @ Brian – Anne is actually being more general in her article, so it doesn’t necessarily apply to storyboards. I think she’s referring more to design/character work.

    You don’t need that kind of *super clean* line for your storyboards. I’d keep it as a ‘clean rough’. Too clean and you lose some of the flow and ‘looseness’ that looks so great in boards.

    So say “ta ta” to Preston for now. 🙂

    @ Aidan – Yes. Yes, I will.

    Great points you bring up. I think it’s even more acceptable/needed to have an online portfolio these days. But still check submission requirements for the studios you’re applying to. A lot of them still want a hard copy one as well.

    Guess I really should get on that ‘online portfolio thing’ myself, huh? 😉


  4. Rufin

    Need variety.. aha! back to the drawing board. Come to think of it I rarely draw buildings and automobiles these past few months. In terms of getting yourself out there, I may try looking for and collaborating with grad film students this summer. Always great to receive such great articles from you Karen.

  5. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Rufin,

    That sounds like a pretty good plan of action!

    Drawing cars is such a pain in the butt, dontcha think?
    Or is that just me…? 😉
    (Hey, those Weebly sites seem pretty good don’t they? Nice job!)

  6. Ivan

    Hi Karen,

    Awesome article. Love you for it.

    “If you’re new, showing off good line quality” -> does that mean clean lines?

    “On that site show them your best stuff. It’s not a cop out. Don’t ‘lead up’ to it.” I don’t understand what this means. Won’t you put all your best stuff in your portfolio? Does she mean the website can have additional stuffs?


  7. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hey Ivan! Glad you loved it.

    I think Anne is being pretty general with the line quality thing. She’s probably referring more to design work than storyboards. So don’t get too caught up in doing super-clean boards. It’s not that necessary. Some roughness is good for boards!

    For the site/portfolio, I think she means put that best stuff front and center right off the bat. Don’t have some mediocre stuff on the front pages and hide the amazing stuff in the middle or at the end (like some grand finale). Get it out and let’s see it first. I believe she is means this for ANY portfolio.

    Hope that clears things up. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Interview With A Recruiter: Applying to Studios | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

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