How Much of You Is Worth Showing?

One of the Makin’ Ads readers recently asked “How much of ‘you’ should be in a book? Should an art director include their paintings and photography or keep it straight ads. Likewise, can copywriters include a couple of short stories or essays they've written?”

This is difficult to answer. It’s very subjective. And depends on how interesting you are.

A recruiter once asked me to send him my work. I didn’t have a web page, so I threw what I had on my .mac account and sent it off. Had I known the recruiter was going to send the link around the agency, I would have cleaned up the site. I was called in for an interview because they liked my portfolio, but also because they liked the photographs and odd family movies that were part of the site. That said, I don’t include those things on my current site.

As a writer, I would never include short stories or essays. They’re just not going to be read. If, however, you’ve been published, it becomes a bit more interesting. But you’ve really got to use your judgment on this. Bolshevik’s won awards for some of his short stories, and I don’t think he includes them in his portfolio.

For art directors, I tend to be a bit more lenient. I’m always more impressed by an art director who includes a photography section on their site or in their book. But that’s because photography is a skill I like to see in an art director. I know one AD who includes images of a gallery exhibit he did in his book. But there’s a difference between an exhibit – which shows some tenacity and organizational skills – and just including some pictures you made in class.

I would make certain that if you choose to include any bonus material that it is clearly set apart from the advertising. And that it’s showcasing a marketable talent and not just an interesting hobby.