Frequently Asked Questions
*For questions specifically about tickets, please see our ticket page.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
• IS PORTFOLIO NIGHT FOR ME?
• GETTING READY FOR PORTFOLIO NIGHT
• ARRIVING AT PORTFOLIO NIGHT
• DURING PORTFOLIO NIGHT
• AFTER PORTFOLIO NIGHT
• VOLUNTEERING AT PORTFOLIO NIGHT
IS PORTFOLIO NIGHT FOR ME?
WHAT TYPES OF PEOPLE SHOULD ATTEND PORTFOLIO NIGHT?
Portfolio Night is an event that unites the creative advertising industry in various cities around the world in guiding young talent through the earliest stages of their careers. As such, Portfolio Night is ideal for people who have a keen desire to work inside the creative department of an advertising agency. Traditionally this refers to copywriters and art directors, but in recent years this has grown to include interactive art directors, creative technologists and graphic designers with a very strong focus on advertising.
Different people attend Portfolio Night for different reasons. Some are looking for advice on how to improve themselves and their portfolios, and they’ll find this at Portfolio Night by meeting with multiple creative directors in one fun evening. Others hope to impress the CDs with their work and make the right connections that could lead to an internship or a job. While we can’t promise you that an awestruck creative director will hire you on the spot, Portfolio Night has helped many young creatives land their first real-world ad gig.
There’s no hard and fast rule for the level of experience a Portfolio Night attendee should have, but here’s a rough guide: if you’re still in school and have quite a while before you graduate, you might be better of waiting until next year’s Portfolio Night (but it might be fun to volunteer at the event ). If you have so much agency experience that you wouldn’t be considered a “junior” at a shop, Portfolio Night won’t have what you’re looking for.
One important rule, whether you’re a copywriter or an art director, whether you’re fresh out of school or have done an internship or two, you MUST have an advertising portfolio to show the creative directors… hence the name “Portfolio” Night.
WHO IS PORTFOLIO NIGHT NOT GEARED TOWARD?
While the world of creativity is vast, and there is some overlap into the advertising community, if you fall beyond the areas of expertise mentioned above, Portfolio Night won’t be right for you. This includes people such as photographers, industrial or fashion designers, illustrators, architects, fine artists and filmmakers/directors. It’s perfectly fine to have an interest in such things, and to have a skill set or experience in these areas might even be beneficial, but Portfolio Night is for people who aspire to be advertising creatives.
If you still have any questions about whether or not Portfolio Night is right for you, please contact Sarah at email@example.com. Please include which city you are interested in attending.
I ALREADY HAVE A JOB AS A JUNIOR CREATIVE. CAN I STILL PARTICIPATE?
We don’t have any rules against this, but we will issue a caution: your creative director or someone he or she knows might be in attendance. He or she might frown upon you shopping your portfolio around when you’re supposed to be working for them, even if you are just looking for feedback and not necessarily a job. We have heard of at least one junior creative being fired for being seen by his boss at Portfolio Night.
With that in mind, it’s entirely possible that your CD has no problem with you attending Portfolio Night. Our advice: you know your boss better than we do, so use common sense.
CAN I BUY A TICKET JUST TO ATTEND, NOT TO GET MY BOOK REVIEWED?
Sorry, no can do. Spaces are extremely limited and in high demand. To this end, we must reserve all ticket slots for attendees participating in the portfolio review.
I’M A CREATIVE DIRECTOR LOOKING TO REVIEW PORTFOLIOS THAT NIGHT. HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
Creative directors are invited to participate in the various cities by the City Hosts. These hosts have been instructed to ensure their creative director list is made up of a diverse list of agencies. If you have yet to be invited, please reach out to the City Host in your city to see if they have any more room at the event.
GETTING READY FOR PORTFOLIO NIGHT
I AM SCARED TO GO. IS THIS NORMAL?
Every single person going is nervous — even the Portfolio Night global team! No worries. It’s normal.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR BOOK IS GOOD ENOUGH TO ATTEND PORTFOLIO NIGHT?
Send your portfolio (PDF or a link) to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll tell you. Don’t worry, we’re not looking for perfection, we just want to help you in the right direction.Please include which city you are interested in attending.
WHAT IF I DIDN’T GO TO A FANCY PORTFOLIO SCHOOL? SHOULD I EVEN BOTHER ATTENDING?
Absolutely. Lots of successful advertising pros went to portfolio school, but many did not.
SHOULD I BUY ONE OF THOSE REALLY CRAZY EXPENSIVE PORTFOLIO CASES?
Present your work however you like. Presentation counts, but there aren’t any rules. Remember — it’s the ideas that matter most.
I WANT TO SHOW MY WORK ON MY iPAD, IS THAT OK?
Yes, and with the increase in digital and interactive work in people’s portfolios these days, we encourage people to display their work on laptops, iPads or other tablets. There are three things to consider if you decide to show your work this way.
- Be ready to go as soon as you sit down with a creative director. Time is precious at Portfolio Night, and you don’t want to waste it by having to load up things.
- Make sure everything you need is hosted on your computer. Wi-fi may not be available at your city’s venue, and you’d hate to have to rely on that to show off your fabulous work.
- Battery life! There might not be a place at the venue to recharge your laptop or other device in the middle of the event, so be sure you’re charged up enough to get you through the evening. Pack a spare battery if necessary.
WHAT SHOULD I PUT IN MY BOOK?
12 – 15 pieces of your absolute best work, work that best represents your capabilities and thinking. Print ads, out of home, interactive, guerrilla, whatever.But remember: quality trumps quantity, and weaker pieces tend to bring the whole portfolio down. It’s better to have a book with only six mindblowingly awesome pieces than it is to have a book with six awesome pieces and seven or eight mediocre ones.
I’VE DONE SOME ADS THAT HAVE ACTUALLY RUN. SHOULD I PUT THEM IN MY BOOK?
Are they as amazing as everything else in your book? If not, we suggest taking them out. You get no bonus points for “real work” if the real work isn’t tremendous.
WHAT ABOUT STORYBOARDS AND SCRIPTS? CAN I PUT THEM IN MY BOOK?
Again, the choice is yours, but note that in the fast paced environment that is Portfolio Night, creative directors may not have the time nor inclination to pore over storyboards or scripts.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I BRING TO PORTFOLIO NIGHT, OTHER THAN MY PORTFOLIO OR LAPTOP?
It’s always good to bring a pen and paper to write down comments you receive about your portfolio. You never know when a particular creative director will give you a crucial gem, and you’ll want to remember it! Résumés, CVs, business cards and leave behinds are also nice to have on hand. And don’t forget a printed copy of your confirmation email!
Also very important: be sure to bring appropriate photo ID with you. Alcohol is served at many Portfolio Night venues, and you may be required to show ID in order to partake.
IS THERE A DRESS CODE?
You’ve been watching too many Mad Men episodes. Wear whatever makes you feel casual and comfortable.
ARRIVING AT PORTFOLIO NIGHT
SHOULD I GRAB A BITE TO EAT BEFOREHAND?
Portfolio Night cities provide food and drink at the event, but exactly how much food and drink that entails might not be known until that very day. The menu also varies from city to city. one place might have an full buffet and an open bar, while another might offer simple hors d’oeuvres. Our advice: don’t arrive starving. You don’t want to spend your evening hovering around the carrot sticks and dip all night.
WHAT IF I ARRIVE LATE?
Latecomers will be accommodated if possible, but priority will go to the needs of those who arrived on time. There will be no refunds for latecomers or no-shows. Do your best to get there on time.
CAN I CHOOSE WHICH CREATIVE DIRECTORS I’LL SEE?
Sorry, but no. Upon arrival, you’ll be given a schedule telling you which review stations you’ll be slated to meet at. The creative directors are randomly assigned to these stations. But don’t panic if you’re not scheduled to meet with the creative director of your dreams during your period. Almost all Portfolio Night cities have a final Overtime period, where creative directors are invited to stay and meet with any number of participants. That might be your big chance!
I’M NOT SCHEDULED UNTIL PERIOD THREE. WHAT DO I DO IN THE MEANTIME?
Assigned for the later part of the evening? You’re welcome (and encouraged) to eat, drink and socialize with your fellow young creatives. Make new friends, compare portfolios and psych each other up for what’s to come!
DO I HAVE TO STICK AROUND AFTER MY PERIOD IS DONE?
You’re free to leave after your period, but then you’d miss out on the ever popular Overtime period, where participants are free to meet with whichever creative directors they choose, not just the ones assigned to them. You probably don’t wanna miss that!
DURING PORTFOLIO NIGHT
WHAT WILL THE ATMOSPHERE BE LIKE?
Admittedly there will be a lot of nervous people at the event, but don’t worry, we keep the atmosphere fun!
I’VE NEVER MET A CREATIVE DIRECTOR BEFORE, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO ACT?
Be calm, professional and respectful, but most importantly be yourself. Remember, your not just showing off your incredible talents, but also your personality.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO GET FROM THE CREATIVE DIRECTORS I MEET?
Most importantly you should be getting constructive feedback. This is your time with them, so don’t be afraid to ask for it! It is also a great idea to exchange contact information in order to keep in touch in the weeks and months ahead.
WILL I GET A JOB IF THEY LIKE MY BOOK?
Many past Portfolio Night attendees have landed their first jobs as a result of Portfolio Night. Some CDs attend Portfolio Night specifically looking to hire, and a few of them even made hires days or weeks after the evening, or even that very night!
That said, there are no guarantees that will happen to you. Most CDs are in attendance to offer guidance, and if they are actively looking to hire, they tend to keep that information close to their chests until they see something that interests them. (the CD in Toronto who once wore a T-shirt with “I’M LOOKING TO HIRE” emblazoned on it was a rare exception.)
Our advice: go, have a great time, make some new contacts and receive feedback that will make your book even better than it is now. All of those things could help lead you to a job in the future.
AFTER PORTFOLIO NIGHT
DO CREATIVE DIRECTORS MEAN IT WHEN THEY SAY, “KEEP IN TOUCH”?
Yes. Seriously, yes! Especially if they gave you constructive feedback. But don’t forget to take all the constructive criticism you received at Portfolio Night and make your book even better before trying to reconnect with them. Show them that you’re not only passionate about the business, but that you’re also willing to improve.
Oh, and don’t forget to thank them for their time! Even in 2012, a thank you note goes a long way!
SHOULD I FOLLOW UP WITH A CREATIVE DIRECTOR IF I GET NEGATIVE FEEDBACK?
Sure, you might feel dejected if a creative director didn’t like your portfolio, but if they gave constructive suggestions on how to improve, and if they gave you their contact info, don’t be afraid to get in touch with them once you’ve improved.
VOLUNTEERING AT PORTFOLIO NIGHT
DO YOU NEED VOLUNTEERS?
For sure! We couldn’t pull off an event the size of Portfolio Night without the help of dedicated volunteers around the world.
While there’s no specific criteria for being a volunteer, we have found that the people who get the most out of it are advertising school students who still have some time to go before they graduate. Portfolio Night gives them a taste of what to expect next year, when they might be attending Portfolio Night with books of their own.
Portfolio Night is also a beneficial experience for public relations and event planning students.
WHAT ARE THE DUTIES OF A VOLUNTEER?
Portfolio Night volunteers will find themselves deeply involved in the event, whether they are helping to set up beforehand, registering young creatives and creative directors at the door, or helping to control the flow of people in the review areas. You’ll be kept on your toes, but you’ll have a great time!
CAN I BRING MY OWN PORTFOLIO TO PORTFOLIO NIGHT?
Unfortunately you’ll have little to no time to sit down with creative directors for a book review.
HOW DO I BECOME A VOLUNTEER?
If a particular city is looking for volunteers, this information will be posted on the bottom of that city’s page, along with information on how to apply. If no such information is posted at such time, check back frequently; you’ll never know when a City Host may decide they need some extra hands!
WHY ISN’T PORTFOLIO NIGHT TAKING PLACE IN MY CITY THIS YEAR?
Every Portfolio Night Night city requires a City Host to spearhead the event locally. While we make every effort to reach out to agencies, schools and advertising clubs and associations in cities all over the world, unfortunately we don’t always find a company or organization with the time, resources or desire to host Portfolio Night in their city that year. All we can do is dust ourselves off and try harder next year to find City Hosts in the areas that missed out.
IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO HELP BRING PORTFOLIO NIGHT TO MY CITY?
The best thing you can do, especially if your city has never hosted Portfolio Night before, is simply spread the word. Let your local advertising schools and clubs know about Portfolio Night. Speak to friends you may have in local agencies about bringing Portfolio Night to town. You’d be surprised to learn that Portfolio Night began in certain cities by local enthusiasts reaching out to us, as opposed to us searching for new frontiers.