EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ATTENDING PORTFOLIO NIGHT
IS PORTFOLIO NIGHT RIGHT FOR ME?
What types of people should attend Portfolio Night?
Portfolio Night is ideal for people who have a keen desire to work creatively inside an advertising, digital agency or in-house creative department on a daily basis. Traditionally this refers to copywriters and art directors, but over the years this has grown to include interactive art directors, creative technologists and graphic designers with a very strong focus on advertising.
NOTE: Some cities may open their Portfolio Night event to other fields. If a city does this, it will be listed on their city page.
What level of experience should I have before attending Portfolio Night?
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 a long way to go before you're ready to graduate and work a full time job, you might be better of waiting until next year’s Portfolio Night, or perhaps volunteering in your city. Conversely, if you have so much experience that you wouldn’t be considered a “junior” at an agency, Portfolio Night won’t have what you’re looking for.
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.
Portfolio Night is also not for account planners, directors or strategists. While your skill sets are invaluable to an agency, this evening is squarely focused on creative fields.
NOTE: Again, some cities may open their Portfolio Night event to other fields. If a city does this, it will be clearly listed on their city page.
Can I attend Portfolio Night just as a guest, not to have my portfolio reviewed?
Sorry, Portfolio Night tickets are only for creatives who are having their portfolios reviewed.
PORTFOLIO NIGHT TICKETS
When do tickets go on sale?
Portfolio Night tickets go on sale for most cities on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 12:00 PM local time. If there is an exception, it will be listed on that city's page.
How much do tickets cost?
The price of Portfolio Night tickets vary from city to city. Please visit your city’s page for more info.
Please keep in mind that all prices are listed in US dollars, regardless of what country you are in.
How do I purchase a ticket?
Visit your city’s page on the Portfolio Night website. Here you find all of the info about your city’s event, including a link that will take you to your city’s online purchasing system.
What does my ticket get me?
Your ticket grants you access to the event, which includes sit-down meetings with at least three creative directors. There is food and drink, and some cities might also provide entertainment.
My partner and I are a team. Do we need to purchase one ticket or two?
You must both purchase tickets for Portfolio Night, even if you are attending as a team.
IMPORTANT NOTE: the title of Portfolio Night All-Star is awarded to the individual who is deemed to have the best portfolio at your city’s event. If you attend Portfolio Night with a partner and your portfolio is selected, you must decide which one of you will travel to New York to participate in the All-Stars event.
Can I purchase a ticket for someone else? Can someone else purchase a ticket on my behalf?
Certainly, but the purchaser must be able to fill out all the appropriate info for the attendee. For instance, if your dad is buying your ticket, make sure he knows you’re a ‘copywriter’ and not ‘I dunno, some ad making kid.’
Do I get a physical ticket?
No. Once you make your purchase, your name and information is placed on a list that will be used at your city’s event. That said, you should keep your confirmation email for your own records.
I don’t have a credit/debit card. Can I purchase tickets another way?
Unfortunately a card is required for online purchasing. In rare instances a Portfolio Night city may offer other payment methods; if this is the case, this information will be listed on your city’s page.
Can tickets be purchased at the door?
In most cases, tickets are only available in advance. If your city offers tickets at the door, this information will be listed on its page.
Can I bring a friend or family member for moral support?
No, Portfolio Night is only open to those having their portfolios reviewed.
My city is sold out! What do I do?
If tickets are sold out in your city, you may add your name and contact info to a waitlist. If and when a ticket becomes available, you will be contacted with a special link allowing you purchase a single ticket. That link is only valid for six hours before the opportunity to purchase that ticket moves to the next person on the waitlist.
I purchased a ticket but now I cannot attend. What are my options?
You can request a full refund for your ticket by visiting your city’s Eventbrite page and clicking the appropriate link. Please note that Monday, May 20, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST is the deadline for refund requests. Requests made after this time may not be granted.
I am a creative director participating in Portfolio Night. Do I need to purchase a ticket?
No. Creative directors involved in Portfolio Night need not purchase tickets, but they must have been expressly invited to attend by the City Host for their city.
Are there tickets for people who aren’t having their portfolios reviewed or are reviewing portfolios?
No. Portfolio Night tickets are only for people having their portfolios reviewed. If a city makes an exception to this rule it will be listed on their city page.
GETTING READY FOR PORTFOLIO NIGHT
What should I put in my book?
Your book should only include 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 bring the whole portfolio down. It’s better to have a book with only four or five awesome pieces than it is to have a book with five awesome pieces and seven or eight mediocre ones.
Should I include other examples of my creativity in my book, such as photography or illustration?
Some creative directors welcome this, while others are against this. Unfortunately you won’t know which camp the creative directors you meet will fall under until it is too late. Our advice: lead with your advertising work and only show the rest if the creative director expresses interest in seeing it.
Does my book need to be an actual book?
When Portfolio Night began in 2003, it was standard to present your work in a beautifully bound physical portfolio. Fast-forward to 2019 and you are far more likely to see work showcased on a tablet or laptop, especially when showing video or digital projects.
While both are acceptable today, if you choose to go the tablet/laptop route, please keep the following tips in mind:
• First and foremost, DO NOT RELY ON WI-FI! This tip cannot be stressed enough. Your city’s venue may not have wi-fi available for your use, or it might not be strong enough to handle everyone attending Portfolio Night. The last thing you want is to get to Portfolio Night and then have nothing to show because the wi-fi connection wasn’t working or was too slow. Please have your work saved directly on your tablet/laptop.
• Be sure your tablet/laptop is ready to go as soon as you sit down with your creative directors. Waiting until you sit down to load files etc. wastes time.
• Finally, have all of your devices fully charged before arriving. Don’t expect your city’s venue to have power outlets you can use.
What else should I bring to Portfolio Night, other than my portfolio or laptop?
It is always good to have a pen and pad on hand to jot down notes, as well as business cards, résumés and CVs to give to the people you meet. You should also bring valid photo ID, as some agencies will require it to get through building security or to drink alcohol.
Beyond that, be sure to bring questions to ask the creative directors you meet. Portfolio Night need not be a one-sided conversation where you quietly listen to what a creative director has to say. Don’t be afraid to ask for specific advice to help you improve!
THE PORTFOLIO NIGHT EXPERIENCE
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!
Is there a dress code?
No, but keep in mind that your portfolio is but one element in presenting yourself to creative directors. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself, whether you’re a jeans and T-shirt sort of person or the next Don Draper in a tailored suit.
Will there be food and drink at Portfolio Night?
Pretty much all cities will have food and drink available, but what this entails has varied from city to city. Some locations have hors d’oeuvres, some bring in a few dozen pizzas, and others have provided complete meals. Our advice? Be on the safe side and don’t arrive on a completely empty stomach.
Drinks also vary from city to city, from water and soda to beer and wine to a full open bar. Please remember to bring valid photo ID if you wish to drink alcoholic beverages
If you do choose to drink, please do so responsibly. Too much alcohol will not serve you well during your reviews and meetings.
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, you’re not just showing off your incredible talents, but also your personality.
What should I expect 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 from this?
Many past Portfolio Night attendees have landed their first jobs as a result of Portfolio Night. Some creative directors 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!
With that in mind, 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.
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 near future.
ARRIVING AT PORTFOLIO NIGHT
What time should I arrive? What time will my review be at?
The opening registration will be listed on your city’s page. While each city handles registration slightly differently from the others, the most common method is “first come, first served”; those who arrive the earliest will be placed within the first review period, while later arrivals will be placed in later periods.
Can I choose which creative directors I’ll see?
Unfortunately, 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. This is fairest way to handle evening, and prevents scuffles breaking out over who gets to see that one legendary CD in the room (yes, this has happened before).
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 as late as the venue allows. 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. You just might leave that evening aging made a few new friends and future collaborators.
Some cities are also fortunate to have “floaters” on hand; these extra creative directors, senior creatives and recruiters just might be open for an impromptu book review!
Whatever you do, don’t just sit quietly in a corner waiting on your turn. You’ll be missing a lot of opportunities if you do!
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 want to miss that!
You will also miss out on the big Portfolio Night All-Stars announcement at the end of the evening. Even if you don’t think you’ll be named your city’s All-Star, it doesn’t hurt to introduce yourself to the eventual winner.
DURING MY REVIEW PERIOD
How much time do I have with each creative director?
Portfolio Night follows a fast-paced format, and as such, you will have approximately fifteen minutes for each of your scheduled reviews.
Depending on who you are and who you meet, that fifteen minutes can seem like an eternity or the blink of an eye. We suggest practicing to get your portfolio presentation down to 8–10 minutes. If you find that you are unable to present your entire portfolio in 15 minutes, it is possible that you may have included too many projects.
Help! My review ended early! What do I do?
Some creative directors browse through portfolios at lightning speed. If this is the case during one of your reviews, remember: you are also there to ask questions, so don’t be afraid to engage in conversation. Ask him or her which is your best piece and why. Ask what your book is missing, what you are doing wrong and how you can improve.
Help! The time ran out before we could finish! What do I do?
Thank the creative director for his or her time, exchange contact information and move on to your next review. If your review had been going well before the time ran out, you now have a good reason to approach that creative director at the end of the evening to continue the conversation, or follow up with them at a later date.
PORTFOLIO NIGHT ALL STARS
How and when is the Portfolio Night All-Star for each city selected?
Most cities select their All-Star that same evening. Creative Directors are instructed to keep their eyes open for exceptionally great portfolios, and to make note of who is behind them. Afterwards, the CDs get together to debate and discuss their faves before selecting a winner.
Some cities, however, take a little longer in making their pick, reviewing the contenders' websites before making a selection over the coming days.
What exactly does being named Portfolio Night All-Star mean for me?
As a Portfolio Night All-Star, you will be representing your city on a week-long adventure this August in New York City, working alongside the other All-Stars on a real creative brief for a real client. It's an incredible experience and a unique opportunity to make friends from across the globe.
Wow! What's included in this?
Portfolio Night All-Stars will have flights to and from New York covered, as well as food and accomodation during the week, alongside other surprises along the way. All-Stars are responsible for their own passport and travel visa needs,
More information will be made available to the All-Stars once they are selected.
AFTER PORTFOLIO NIGHT
One creative director loved my portfolio, while another one hated it. I’m so confused!
Welcome to the subjective world of creativity! You may be tempted to dismiss the critical creative director’s opinions in favor of the ones from the person who loved your work, but perhaps you need a few more opinions.
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 2019, a handwritten 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.