Tammy Hart, I.D.D.P, is a graduate and tutor of QC Design School. She is the Principal Designer for the Designer Chick Co. and sits as a Director on the National Board for DDA (formerly CDECA). She is a sought-after speaker, speaking at venues like IIDEXCanada, Metroland Home Shows, and Heart of Networking. She’s been featured as a guest spot on Daytime Durham, Rogers TV and works to empower young women to become successful future leaders and supports ocean restoration efforts.
You’ve passed your QC Design course and are now an International Design and Decorating Professional. It’s time to start the job hunt. But every employer is looking for a portfolio and you don’t have one. It’s the age-old problem: you don’t have a design portfolio because you don’t have clients and you don’t have clients because you don’t have a portfolio.
Don’t fret…we all have to start at this spot, so here are 5 tips on what you can you do to build your design portfolio.
QC Design School does an excellent job of training you and helping you build your portfolio without even realizing it. Yes, you can absolutely use your school assignments in your portfolio. When applying for jobs, your employer wants to see your skill set. You’ve been working hard throughout school and can definitely show your employer what you are capable of. You’ve created space plans, color palettes, perspective drawings, coordinating patterns, budgets and so much more. Add these into your portfolio.
Personal Home Projects
As passionate and creative people, we have all done some form of design or decorating in our homes. Why shouldn’t this work go into our portfolio? It absolutely should!
This is your talent, your creativity, your expertise. Just because it was done in your home doesn’t mean that it’s not portfolio-worthy. Did you style your bedroom? Did you pick a color palette for your home? Did you choose furniture? Did you select finishings? Treat yourself like you would a client and add it to your design portfolio. This is where you are showing what you are capable of.
Friends and Family
While I was studying at QC Design School, for all my assignments, I’d reach out to my Facebook audience and say, “Help! I have an assignment for school and I’m looking for one lucky individual. I need to borrow your living room windows to design window treatments. In return, you’ll get three fabulous ideas for your window.”
The response would be overwhelming and so I wouldn’t stop at one, I’d do everyone’s that responded. I could justify, as a student, giving my time and “expertise” away for free because I considered it on-the-job training. I normally don’t recommend giving your time and expertise away for free after school, but if you’re in need of building your portfolio, you may want to consider it.
Create a photo shoot in your home or rent a space. Bring in furniture from a staging company, take your own photos (if you think you’re a good photographer) or hire a photographer to come and shoot for the day. Create a few different “scenes” (ie. dining room, living room, bedroom, etc…) and style them. This will help show what your personal style is like as well as your creative range.
Blog and Speaking Engagements
Have you specialized in a niche market in our industry? Do you feel confident about what you know? Blog about it. If you like writing, blog about your passion – especially if you are going to own your own business. Speak about your niche. There are trade shows that look for speakers, sometimes paid, sometimes not, that will give you the exposure you need right now. Both of these opportunities will open you up to potential clients, partners and help build your portfolio.
In short, don’t underestimate yourself and what you’ve already accomplished in a short period of time. Regardless of where your design portfolio comes from, the main purpose of it is to showcase your talent and skill set. So, show them what you’ve done and what you can do!