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gnasm's picture
256 pencils

Personal Website

Hey there happy campers!

I graduated last May with my degree in graphic design, and after a summer of disappointing job hunting decided to go back to school for a technical diploma in web design to appease the industry's desire for the all-in-wonder.

As part of my coursework I had to hand-code (no Dreamweaver!) a website of my choosing, and I chose a new version of my online portfolio.

Here's the old/current site: www.mattgnascreative.com

Here's the new site: http://graph-art.matc.edu/gnasm/vicom128-801i/final/index.html

There are still some things I'd like to do to get it ready for prime time, but I'd like everyone's opinion on new vs. old and the direction I'm taking.

And yes, I know the home page is blank. Eventually there will be a rotating slideshow of my work, I just didn't know how to write that code from scratch and left it out. "Design with nothing to hide" and the first page is blank... that's funny!

Lastly, I'd be interested in hearing what people think of the work I've chosen to represent myself. I tried to go with a mix of my strongest conceptual and technical pieces, and I'd like to know if it comes across as a solid body of work.

Thanks everyone!

Commenting on this Image will be automatically closed on March 29, 2013.

YoungZM's picture
917 pencils

Sounds bad but the fact the third thing in that I read is "creative" and there's no visual interest to lead me to where you want me to go just makes me feel empty inside. Where do you want your visitors to go? Simplicity is a really fine line that's hard to really define but I really think by adding some sort of neat grid or organization or texture just to increase visual interest would really help here. It's just too sterile.

The giant name at the bottom is kind of odd and misplaced too.

gnasm's picture
256 pencils

I was hoping that the focus would be on the work speaking for itself, but yeah, I can see my simple being someone else's sterile. I will say this is a weak spot for me, particularly when designing for myself; I gravitate towards distilled visuals and have a hard time seeing anything but as unnecessary or cluttered. Believe it or not the "watermark" at the bottom was an effort to lessen the starkness of the white page.

I'd love to hear some strategies (or see some links) for breaking out of this mode of thinking I'm set in.

Art D. Rector's picture
3165 pencils

Hey - Matt! Long time no see. The websites are definitely a blast from the past - I remember most of this work.

The good... Did you do the Phoenix logo? That's really nice - and a great idea bringing the ribbon into the bird's body. Well done. I see a lot of potential in your work - stick with it. The job market is tough now, but you'll make it if you keep pushing.

The bad... The M2M piece doesn't hold up to the rest of your work - stands out like a sore thumb for me. Keep it until you get more paying jobs in there - but that should be the first one you kick out when your portfolio is padded out some.

And the tagline - "Design with nothing to hide". Sounds stilted and a little silly. I don't get it and think it's unnecessary. I don't know any freelancers (or even ad agencies) that have taglines. That's something you put on a can of soda... "Coca Cola... with nutrasweet"

wgzn's picture
2124 pencils

+1 on losing the tagline. i mean if you have a particularly good one or you are specifically known for something - MAYBE. but "design with nothing to hide" just doesnt really say anything meaningful - or really make any sense : (

Art D. Rector's picture
3165 pencils

WGZN Design... You better like it - or get the f*ck out of my face.

:)

wgzn's picture
2124 pencils

... not entirely without it's merits ; )

Art D. Rector's picture
3165 pencils

I've used that one on some of my cheaper clients.

gnasm's picture
256 pencils

Thanks for your kind words Art. I did indeed do the Team Phoenix logo; it's a piece I'm very proud of.

Regarding the M2M piece: I agree, it's not ground-breaking design, but the client didn't need it to be, and it paid relatively well for the time I put into it. That said I did earn my pay by talking the client out of the metallic gradient the reallllly wanted.

I'm torn though: despite not being mind-blowing, should I leave it in simply as an example of professional (i.e. not for class and I gots paid) work? Does so-so pro work get weighted more than great student work?

I'd love input on this!

Art D. Rector's picture
3165 pencils

That's a good question and a very tough call. When I got out of school, I tried to replace the school work as fast as possible with real world work. That's not so easy - I know... especially when you're mostly freelancing. You should keep the M2M for now, imho - but kick it out when you get another 2 or 3 paying jobs. One big difference between the (bad) old days and now is my school work was just mixed in with my regular paying jobs the first couple years or so. We didn't have websites - we just carried a book or a huge portfolio around with the actual printed pieces. So the only time I had to identify something as schoolwork was when someone specifically asked about it. You might consider putting everything together when you get another couple jobs too - mixing in the school work with the paying stuff and just identifying it as such in the little descriptions you have by each piece. That might make it easier to kick out one or two of the weaker projects. The billboards and M2M would be my first choices.

Have to say also that I can empathize with your project here because I'm trying to get my portfolio together (and hopefully my website too) right now. There's a big empty stretch of time and missing projects from my days before PDFs, and projects I just never bothered to track down because of being too busy or whatever. You pay for that later - so try to keep up with everything you're doing. Keep your files backed-up and try to get 3-5 copies (or more) of every physical piece you create. I just looked at my portfolio for the first time in about 6-7 years over the weekend. Holy cow - it's an uphill climb. There's so much work that's just not represented and I have to find a way to make it happen so I can get out and beat the bushes again.

gnasm's picture
256 pencils

Thanks for the reply Art! I like the idea of eventually mixing everything together and just denoting student work in the descriptions; then it's just my portfolio, not my "amateur" and "professional" books.

I think it's interesting that you'd kick the Trafficgauge billboards out. My instructor/mentor has consistently told me that conceptually it's one of my strongest pieces, and it's been very well-received in the interviews I've had. Additionally, the chuckles it generates have been a nice ice-breaker and do a good job reducing interview tension. On a personal level I think the sense of humor it demonstrates would be sorely missed in my portfolio if I dumped it without a more worthy replacement.

Art D. Rector's picture
3165 pencils

Conceptually the billboards work great. I've never bought into the reactions of the two principals. If you look this one up in the CB archives - I'm pretty sure that's what I said at the time. The woman - especially - doesn't seem true imo. What woman is going to be smiling after she just ran the lipstick across her face? No woman I know. She should have an "Oh GOD!" reaction - which would also play better on a billboard because you need a BIG message to hit very fast with a billboard.

In that respect - the text should be larger too, imho.

mara06's picture
2752 pencils

Hey Matt. Glad to see you're progressing. You're very strong in developing clever concepts. That Levi's ad is wonderful. I agree with the other guys about the M2M logo. If I were you, I would lead with the Phoenix logo, rather than letting people see it first as a tee shirt, which detracts from its inherent energy.

The tagline is indeed wasted words -- unless you're trying to outdo yourself with the concept of "nothing to hide" on a page with nothing to show. I'd say that's too abstruse for the average person. Also, the typeface treatment (dark bold/light regular) seems a little generic. That isn't necessarily a drawback, but if it's going to hold its own on an otherwise blank page, it needs to be more distinctive. I don't mean that you need a different typeface, no. Just manage it more boldly. How about if your name covered the whole page, with "design" stripped across it at exactly the right spot? But that's me. Be you.

Mara

Art D. Rector's picture
3165 pencils

LOL - yes! Didn't consider that aspect... "nothing to hide" on a blank page. Doesn't speak well for the owner's skill set!

gnasm's picture
256 pencils

"And yes, I know the home page is blank. Eventually there will be a rotating slideshow of my work, I just didn't know how to write that code from scratch and left it out. "Design with nothing to hide" and the first page is blank... that's funny!"

Oh c'mon you guys, I totally had a good excuse... that what I wanted to do was outside of my skill set. Also, who doesn't love irony?!?

Seriously though, I'm aware of the issue with the home page. It will be rectifed in the public version.

qwertyale's picture
2048 pencils

> I don't like some bold text you used.
> I'm not american (obvious) but I don't like the name+slogan thing. I think only name goes better.
> About how you show portfolio: We know you're starting and don't have a lot to show but I like a little bit organized approach, like all images on same size thumbnails and click to open a slideshow, something more "gallery" feeling, not an eBay advertising, can you understand me?

yes I'm brazilian xD

gnasm's picture
256 pencils
  • "I don't like some bold text you used." Some? In which instances?
  • Apparently the slogan is universally reviled. I'll be dropping that.
  • RE: Slideshow, etc. Yeah, I can see adding a thumbnail gallery and some expanding images, but a slideshow feels like it might be too PowerPoint or Flickr-y. I get what you're saying about the eBay reference though - like it's too catalog like at the moment.

Thanks for the input!

mara06's picture
2752 pencils

Well, Matt, I have to apologize for having delayed so long between first viewing your work and commenting on it that I'd totally forgotten you explained away the starkness of the first page. Mea culpa! I beg your forgiveness.

You bring up a terrific point for designers to bat around: When does "simple" become "boring"? We could also ask, "When does cluttered become nauseating? Guess which question is easier to answer!

Mara

pokie's picture
1217 pencils

I like the cleanliness of the website.

I don't like that "nothing to hide" thing. It's too big and takes away from your name and the font isn't even the same as the name.
I don't like that the design I'm currently looking at isn't gray and the others black or something. I kept wanting to click on the one I was currently on. Something simple like making it lighter or something should help with this.

MATC portfolio night, make it smaller so I can see the whole design without scrolling. Make it an option to click on it for a bigger view.

I don't like your magazine ad. Get rid of it.

You need more "pro" work. Do some pro-bono work for non profits or something. Actually, scrap the two sections and divide it some other way. Ads would be one section and the other section?? Not sure what to call it. Don't name off anything as "student" work and then to pad your portfolio, just start designing random crap to put on there (non-profit stuff would be GREAT).

Put your resume up there.

Overall: you need more work!

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