Your Work In The Real World: Create A Passion Project


I believe that every work you create is an embodiment of who you are and what you are trying to represent, and to me the details matter.


Right before the start of Spring Break, all the Sophomores gathered for an Information Session about our year-end Sophomore Reviews. To put it in context, it's like a Portfolio Review where we show the works we've created throughout the entire year in front of a panel. In other words, it's the painful process of gathering sketches, photos, and other documentation from early projects and creating a process book out of it. We had to be selective about what we would present and the works needed to align with the rubric that was given to us. We were also given the time to think about our personal vision statements, which I found interesting. 

Personally, I find that making a portfolio is rewarding despite the exhaustive work. I've always had an appreciation for it because there's a kind of satisfaction once I'm finished and see the output of my works in a collective and presentable format.

That had me thinking about the experience I've had with building my own creative portfolio over the years, even back when I was still doing Freelance Illustration work. With that as an inspiration, I decided to create a mini-series out of it. In this series, Your Work In The Real World, I'll be dividing the topics into three parts.


01 Create A Passion Project

The Process of Preparing & Doing The Work

   02 Create A Collective

The Process of  Choosing & Gathering   

03 Create A Narrative

The Process of Presenting & Pitching Your Work


Do The Work As If It's A Portfolio Piece

Whenever we have been prompted a new project in class, I always work with a mindset that it's going to my portfolio (even though it most probably will not). Creating on a high fidelity and giving my 100% in everything I do is something that I live by when it comes to my work ethic. Everything has to be polished to the absolute best.

Some people find it difficult to grasp why I would put the extra effort to do the little things, like scanning my drawings for a quick class exercise. To me, it's the little things that matter and build up over time. The effort we take in the small things matter in the long run.

Ultimately, the things you decide to put effort into speaks a lot about your character and that's what will make you stand out. If you believe in producing quality content, then make that extra effort.

You'll never know, later on, that project might be the one you decide to put into your portfolio even if at the moment you think it's the last thing you would do. I've heard it enough from a couple of my peers who voiced out their wish of putting more effort into a certain project. "If only I knew, I could have put more effort and this would have been in my portfolio."


Don't wait for Portfolio Worthy Projects that you deem good enough to put effort into because it's never going to come. It's what you make it out to be that will have it worthy enough to be in your portfolio. 


Preparation & Organization Is Key

When you think about that painful process of gathering all your process documentation (from photos to sketches to physical prototypes) it's a lot to take in. The workaround on this is to capture and organize your process as you go.

In every project you create, even ones that you think won't be going into your portfolio, always take photos of the process and the final output of your work and organize your files into sections that will be easy for you to sift through and refer back later on. Even though it's a lot of work at the moment to do all the documentation, you would be saving yourself a lot of trouble in the future when your projects pile up and you suddenly realize you needed to have those photos or sketches with you. 

I usually organize my folders like this: 



This year, I had the chance of experience attending the Career Expo in our campus. Basically, it's a gathering of different influential companies from the Bay Area that comes to recruit students for internships and job opportunities. Well-known companies such as Yahoo!, Yelp, Intuit, Dropbox, and Facebook attend these types of events. Last year, I missed out on it so I had no idea what to expect this year. In fact, it wasn't even completely on my mind.

Later on, I realized that working on my resume and portfolio over Winter Break contributed a great deal to prepare me for that day. I was ready without even meaning to be and that gave me the chance to present my work and submit my resumé to a few companies. It also became a ground for me to practice pitching my story to them. 


Opportunities come and go at a whim and it's important to be prepared and open for it so it can open doors to other possibilities and experiences for growth. 


Find A Space That Embodies Your Work

Have a platform where you can share your work, a place where you can talk about and share your process and your learning insights.


To me, the motivation to create work comes easy if I have a platform or a space to share it on.


Back when I was starting on my Illustration journey, I was motivated to practice because I was inspired to share my work with others. Over time, that built my connections and my audience which later on became the network for my career. 

Take advantage of the various media and platform sharing out there and try on different ones too. The only way you'll find what would work best is for you to test it out. Below are some websites that I've tried in the past and have worked well for me. Just remember not to limit yourself to these options because there's definitely a lot more out there that are just as good, if not even better for you:  



I hope in some way this will help you get going with creating your own creative portfolio. I'm always open to ideas and suggestions so if there's anything specific you would love to see or hear my opinion about in the next part, let me know in the comments below!