work that does not make it into your portfolio


For years it has been an ongoing discussion with people from the creative industries, work colleagues and design friends: some work you produce as a creative is simply not "cool enough" to put it into your portfolio, onto your site or to show around.
Coming from a very commercial side of design and having worked in advertising for quite a bit I often wonder what people mean by "not cool enough". Is the product or client not cool enough - as in "from a boring industry" and not "artsy" enough? Or are designers simply not satisfied with the way designs and the whole work process turned out?

For me, the pieces I put out on my website are always the ones that represent my services and what I love to do and want to bring to the table best. I focus on the deliverables, the process and whether the collaboration was interesting. Of course, the outcome has to live up to my own design standards, which is hard.

The way I see design, which basically means visualizing strategy and bringing a brands character and story to a visual world, has to go beyond visual aesthetics and has to achieve certain goals to help the client grow. Even if I personally can't identify with a product 100% I have to help the brand through my design.

To elaborate this with a real case: a couple of years ago my ex-film professor hooked me up with an Austrian energy drink. They just had said goodbye to their agency from London because they weren't satisfied with the outcome. So for two years I helped them to redesign the packaging for their new flavors, did huge campaigns in Africa for them (where they sponsor the Football Cup CAF) and basically became their design agency. Sometimes with the help of salon alpin.


So why do I not have this case in my portfolio yet? this brand has it's biggest revenues in Africa and Saudi Arabia. They are even bigger than red bull in a lot of countries. For my work, this is not irrelevant but it is also a rather different design aesthetic that speaks to people and I truly had to grow into it. All my designs are a huge success, do sell well and had a great impact for the brand. But it is not for my portfolio because people tend to judge a book by its cover and this cover was not made for Europe and the European eye. And that is where I work mainly.

Sandra Reichl