Portfolio Advice for Artists – Draftsmen S1E09

October 4, 2019

Stan: Do you want me to post on Instagram
a survey? The one we talked about like, should Marshall put his shoes back on? [laughter] Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: Should I post that? Marshall: I don’t mind that. Yeah. I think
it would be interesting to get everybody giving their opinion.
Stan: Okay. Marshall: I’m interested. Okay. I’m so proud.
You know, you were going to do it. You used my hand as a model and those drawings look
great. You’re going to use my feet as a model. And I remember showing you my feet and you
said, “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, maybe we’ll do that.” But you never did.
Stan: Dude, your hands are like a ten? Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: It’s hard for every part of your body to be at that level.
Marshall: Yeah, yeah, well. So, my feet are what? Like, what are they? Six? Seven?
Five? Stan: Two.
Marshall: Oh, two? Stan: I am just kidding. I
don’t know. They’re an average. Marshall: Okay.
Stan: I just use my own feet. Marshall: Yeah, okay.
Stan: But your hands were like, wow! I need to get that. And I used it for the
– Marshall: And nobody has complained about
bare hands. Nobody said glove up those hands that’s disgusting.
Charlie: Yeah, if you put shoes on you’re going to have to put on gloves too.
Stan: Why are they discriminating against feet? Marshall: I’ve never understood it. Charlie: Let those feet be free.
Marshall: Yeah. I love being in the presence of the barefoot. It just feels right. [intro music] Stan: All right, guys. Welcome back to
the Draftsmen Podcast. I’m Stan Prokopenko, created Proko.
Marshall: I’m Marshall Vandruff. I’m an art instructor. Hi, Stan?
Stan: Hey, Marshall? Marshall: Haven’t seen you in a while.
Stan: Yeah. This time for real. Marshall: What is happening?
Stan: Um, allergy season. Marshall: So, you suffer from allergies?
Stan: Hear that? Charlie: Oh, the listeners are going to
love that. Stan: Oh, yeah. It’s like eating. Yeah.
Marshall: Tell me more. It’s allergy season in July?
Stan: Yeah. For me it’s summertime and then sometimes I get a shorter one during
the winter. I’m allergic to canyon pollen. Marshall: And you live near the canyon?
Stan: Yes. Marshall: So, you’ve got an abundance of
opportunities to be allergic. Stan: Yeah, that’s great. Allergies are
the most debilitating thing for me. I’m really tired. I can’t focus. I have very little motivation.
I just want to sit down and like sleep. Marshall: What will come of this?
Stan: Not right now, I’m fine. My allergies are not bad right now. I’m not talking about
right now. I’m talking when I get bad allergies. That’s what happens. I just don’t want to
do anything. Marshall: So, should we have people put
in the comments whether they have allergies or not and?
Stan: I don’t know if that would- Charlie: That’s the pinnacle.
Marshall: Well, we’ve exhausted one topic at the beginning of our conversation. Here
we are. Stan: Here we are Marshall. This episode
is going to be about portfolios. And if you guys love Marshall’s voice, which so many
of you have been commenting about, you’re in for a treat.
Marshall: Are we? Stan: Yeah. Because this is your episode.
Marshall: How? Stan: I have like very little to say
about this. Marshall: Oh. Oh. Okay.
Charlie: I thought that was your way of introducing the anatomical skull song.
Marshall: Yeah. I thought that we were going to like play a song or something.
Stan: What? You thought there was a promo? Charlie: No. The song that – the extended
version. Stan: Oh, well.
Marshall: Okay. Stan: That is another thing.
Marshall: We’ll deal with that later, yeah. Stan: We’ll need to save that for next
episode. Marshall wrote the anatomical skull song. Marshall: I wrote the anatomical skull song. Stan: Yeah. Let’s save that for later.
Marshall: Let’s do. Stan: We are going to have enough of
your voice in this one. The only portfolio I’ve ever put together was for CalArts which
is one of the top animation schools. And my portfolio consisted almost entirely of Bridgman
studies. Marshall: Yeah. I remember you telling me
that. Yeah. Stan: Yeah. Which makes completely no
sense when you’re applying for an animation program. So, that’s why I think they can’t
– they shouldn’t trust me for portfolio advice. Marshall: I have opinions about that but
we already went over those. Stan: Yeah.
Marshall: Okay. The extent of your portfolio experience showing your portfolio to get a
job was showing Bridgman work to get into an animation school.
Stan: Yeah. I was young. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: I’m still young stupid. Marshall: Okay.
Stan: However, I do have experience hiring people and I’ve looked at hundreds of portfolios.
So, I can talk a little bit about what I look for, but.
Marshall: That is the thing I’m going to zero in on.
Stan: Okay. Marshall: That’s why I want to talk. Is
that people think that the portfolio is about me and the portfolio is about the clients
needs. Stan: Okay.
Marshall: Okay. And my first portfolio came out of being in the junior college and I had
three separate styles. I had a kind of cartoon style. I had a rendering style. I had another
style that was surreal and had a whole bunch of developed pencil work. And I had some other
styles in there too. And I figured that if I were to show my portfolio to potential employers
to tell them, look I can do all sorts of things, they would be impressed. And sure enough,
when I showed my portfolio people said, “Good. This is good. Yeah, you’re versatile.” I got
compliments galore. But I did not get jobs. Stan: Interesting.
Marshall: Or I got very few jobs. And then, someone explained to me that the portfolio
is so that the client who has a need to solve a problem, that is, they’ve got a job that
needs to be done and they don’t want to look at you and admire at how versatile you are,
unless they’re hiring you for a versatile position that’s another thing. Typically,
what I found out is that, most of the clients in the ad agencies in Orange County at the
time, late ’70s, early ’80s, needed airbrush renderings of products. And so, I made a separate
portfolio that was specifically airbrush renderings of products. And those were the things that
started to make money and then more of the same kind of job started happening as a result
of that. And I had a separate one for the pencil stuff. Had a separate one for the cartooning
stuff which didn’t turn into work anyway. So, that was the first thing I learned is
to specialize if I’m going in where they’ve got a specific job and they need a specific
type for that. Art directors are busy. Creative directors are busy. If they have to look at
fifty, sixty, a hundred portfolios, even if they have to look at at ten portfolios, the
last thing they want to do is think about your personal life and about how versatile
you are and whether your childhood was happy or not. The thing they care about is that,
is this person fit for the job that I am hiring them for? And then another thing that’s very
important is, can they do it on time and to spec? But their job is to look good for their
client. Their job is to meet a deadline. And so, when they bring you in, you can either
make that easier for them or make that harder for them. And to get into the mindset of the
client is the first thing. Stan: Yeah. That’s when you know exactly
what they want though, right? Marshall: There is another issue, is that
before showing a portfolio it is wise to research. You should find out who hires the kind of
work you do and then instead of wasting all that energy showing everybody, aim where you’re
going to show your work to people who really do need that. That is the responsibility of
the artist, the illustrator, the graphic designer, whoever it is trying to get the work, is to
find out who you are showing this to. Also, if you know other people who’ve worked
for that client, it’s great to know who to show your work to. I did tons of jobs for
Ingram Micro. And Ingram Micro, I got in there because one of my former students Peter Sanchez
hired me to do some monsters for them. And then, that led to another job with another
art director and another art director and then every time they bring in a new art director,
you didn’t even have to show your portfolio anymore because one art director would say,
“We use Marshall for that.” And you would also start to find out that certain art directors
would be on campaigns that needed more of a particular kind of style and so you would
end up saying, I would like to show over to this department, I’d like to show this. So
again, all of the subtext of what I’m saying is that students often think the portfolio
is about me. It is about you in that it shows your skills. But remember, the only reason
it exists is because it’s about them and they need to solve a problem and get a picture
done on time and you are showing them, I can do this.
Stan: So, instead of having one portfolio that you show to everyone, you need to tailor
your portfolio for each client. Marshall: And it was so hard to do that.
It was so hard to do that because I was hungry for compliments. It’s like I don’t just do
that, I want you to see that I also do this and I want you to see. And so, there’s this
restraining – and another friend said, “You know, they’ll find that out if you really
want compliments. As they get to know you they will find that out.” And there’s some
other stories about that of introducing other styles later. That’s point one I don’t know
whether I’m done with it. Stan: I feel like as you say that though
almost everybody does that, right? Where like pretty much everyone just has one
portfolio because when I review portfolios our demo reels a lot of people send me a link
to their YouTube channel where they have their demo reel.
Marshall: Okay, yes. Stan: I’ve reviewed a lot of animation
and like modeling and rigging jobs because those are the artists I hire for my videos.
And I could just go to their YouTube channel to see what other videos they have on there.
And usually, they just have one demo reel. So, they don’t have a demo reel tailored to
different types of jobs. Marshall: And that’s good, right? That makes
it so that you can look at it and see what they do in a matter of-
Stan: I don’t know. Based on what you’re saying, that’s bad because they just have
one reel that they’re sending everyone, right? Well, not tailoring it to me.
Marshall: But they aren’t sending it to everyone though.
Stan: They’re not? Marshall: Right? I mean, they’re sending
it to people. If they’re actually sending it to you and saying, “Look at my reel.”,
they’re doing that because they’re assuming you are and you’re hiring for an animator
or a rigger or somebody specific. Stan: Yes.
Marshall: Well, tell me how you feel about it. When you look at these reels, how long
are they typically? Stan: About a minute.
Marshall: Yeah. And in a minute you can make your decision real quickly whether you
like them or not. Stan: Yeah. Yeah. Because it’s like their
highlights. It’s their best stuff. I mean, just put like little clips of all these different
projects. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: I have gotten some where people sent me like a demo reel and then like a finished
project that they worked on and it’s a few minutes of like a full-on story. And that
helps. The more I could see the better because sometimes when it’s just a demo reel and it’s
like a minute of just their best stuff, I’ll know if it’s bad right away like if it doesn’t
fit. But sometimes I’m like, that could work but I would like to see more. I want a better
idea of this person. That’s when I start researching and I go to like the social media accounts
and that’s pretty easy to find now days. Marshall: Oh, well, we are opening up something
here. Stan: Yeah.
Marshall: Yeah. Stan: So, be careful with that.
Marshall: I’m not sure we should segue into that or save that for later?
Stan: We can segue that. You’re leading this one.
Marshall: We’ll segue into it for a minute or two.
Stan: Okay. Marshall: Do you know how much your social
media account and your internet presence is a part of the permanent historic record?
Stan: Yes. Marshall: And that every potential opportunity
in your life, if you are dealing with responsible people, that they will be aware of it?
Stan: Sometimes you get lucky. Marshall: How?
Stan: Like, MySpace accidentally deleted the first like ten years of everything that
they ever had on MySpace. And so, that does’t exist anymore. Yeah. So, sometime you get
lucky. Marshall: Yeah. I have seen students lives
almost ruined. Stan: Really?
Marshall: Yeah. Because of stuff they posted on Facebook and then everybody knows that
they posted that on Facebook. And because they posted it on that Facebook they get branded
as the person who’s an out to get somebody else or whatever else, that there’s a vindictive
spirit. Those kinds of things can follow you for years. Yeah, in fact, we saw some of these
even happen in the last year with a feud between people. So, yeah, that’s another thing is
that if there’s a lot at stake. Maybe that is if somebody is hiring you for a single
job and it’s going to be a one-week thing and they’re going to pay a certain amount
of money and they’re never going to hire ever again, they may not care. But if they’re hiring
you for a longer term relationship that’s where those kinds of things become important.
Now, here’s something that I think is going on different between what you’re observing.
Where you’re saying that they’ll send you a one-minute reel and it may be that you want
to see more and that they are sending something that is appropriate to what you hire for.
Stan: Yeah. Marshall: Is that, you are around, you are
looking at the work of people who are professionals or soon-to-be professionals. And I’m spending
much more of my time with students. Some of whom are just out of high school.
Stan: Okay. Marshall: Who are preparing for a career
and so they don’t yet know how this works. And so that process of beginning getting your
training and then somewhere two, three, four or five years into that really saying, “I’m
got enough of my training. I’ve got to get my work done now. How do I present myself
to clients?”, and it’s woefully lacking in most educational institutions. It seems to
happen better with people who just say, “I’m going to do this on my own.” And they figure,
“I’ve got to make money for it.” And so, they’re thinking about, how am I going to get anybody
to hire me for this right away? Whereas when you’re in the safe environment of a place
where you are paying them to teach you, your energy is typically not, how can I get them
to pay me? And that’s the energy that you shift toward for a portfo – that’s why a portfolio
exists. I have a slideshow that explains a career does not happen until you’ve had jobs.
And jobs do not happen until you have two things, a portfolio and connections. People
to show it to. And portfolios do not happen until you have skills. And skills do not happen
until you have training. And training is why we are in this class. So that there
is a logical progression to get the career. Stan: You know the crazy thing though
that I’ve observed is that your ability to get a job starts at that step one. In that
class. Marshall: It sure does. Well, how are you
thinking? Stan: I think it’s something like half
of the freelancers that I have working for me right now have been recommended by you.
Marshall: Yeah. And they’ve been good people, right? Stan: Yeah. And you recommended them to me because of how well they did in your
class. Marshall: Yeah.
Charlie: The Marshall bump. Stan: The Marshall bump. I mean, I trust
you and your word has never been wrong yet. Marshall: And I don’t want it to be. That’s
very important to me. Stan: And so, when you recommend someone
to me I take it very seriously and so I’m sure that students don’t realize how important
their behavior in class is and how well they do on their projects is how much it’s going
to affect their career. Marshall: Networking begins in the classroom.
Again, I remember years ago that, there was an animation studio that needed an animator.
They needed an animator in this week and this was in the late ’90s. And I had a few students
who were such good animators. I said, “They should be the ones.”, they said, “Well, they’re
already employed.” Which is often what happens. Is that good students get employed pretty
quickly. And then, I was hesitating and I was thinking, should I recommend this one
guy? And I mentioned him because he was one of the best animators of the bunch. But he
had a bad reputation. He’s conceited guy kind of gave everybody grief. But I mentioned him
and they said, “Yeah. We’ve already interviewed him and we didn’t like him.” So, what I think
a number of students do not recognize is that the, excuse me, the arena of networking begins
when you’re a freshman. It begins as soon as – it begins even when you’re in high school.
Stan: Yeah. Marshall: Because when you’re in high school,
in junior high, you’re making relationships that you don’t know that some of these relationships
aren’t going to be your most important employers. And it especially happens with this wonderful
irony, that the people who were below you in their social status will be above you in
their social status and that they will be the ones who give you your career and hire
you. So, that’s just kind of a logic behind the maxim of, I try to look at every student
as a future employer of me. It’s got all sorts of problems.
Stan: That’s funny. Marshall: But yeah, that is where the networking
begins is in a classroom. Stan: Yeah. And if you do have a bad
reputation you can start over kind of. Right? If you could change your ways and you can
turn things around. Marshall: Yeah. Sometimes you have to go
to another environment to do it. Stan: Yeah.
Marshall: If it was local enough to where the breach, again, I have stories but they’re
dangerous to tell. The breach is really local, you can say, “Look, if I just get into another
environment and I will change my energy.” But I have seen some people change their energy
in these environments and everybody acknowledges it. It is why community – it’s one important
reason why community exists, is to keep us away from our worst impulses. And so, yeah,
but I have, again, lots of stories of that kind of thing. But let’s get back to the main
point. The main point is that it’s not just a portfolio. Portfolios are representatives
of skills. We knew of a guy who got jobs with someone else’s portfolio. This was back when
we were students. But what happens when he can’t do the work?
Stan: Yeah. Marshall: And this was a guy who had that
vibe of, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I got the job.
Stan: How much worse? Charlie1: It’s true, you fake it till you
make it. Marshall: Yes.
Stan: Okay. But how far were his skills from the portfolio he was showing?
Marshall: I don’t even remember. Stan: Was it like close?
Marshall: I didn’t know him closely but we know he was in our environment but I didn’t
know him closely. But he was one of those people. That’s the kind of person who should
become a salesperson except that I wouldn’t trust them to be ethical.
Stan: No. Marshall: Yeah. But their energy.
Stan: The best sales people aren’t liars. Marshall: But the thing is, his energy goes
toward he feels accomplished and having made the sale more than he feels accomplished and
having done the work, so. Stan: I don’t know if that makes them
a good salesperson still. Marshall: Yeah, well, yes. Not a sales support
person I want as a rep. Stan: Right.
Marshall: Yeah. So, well, let’s take a moment with the specialization and diversity thing.
If you’re going into a big company, chances are you’re going to have to specialize because
you will play one role typically. Especially, on entry-level. But if you’re going into a
small company where it’s just one or two or three people – that was the way it was with
you, right? When you were starting out you wanted someone who could do cameras and sound
and editing and deal with people and everything else. Stan: I was looking for well-rounded people that just had a general good understanding
of technology, so they can handle cameras, and also just be able to learn quickly. Those
are the main things I was looking for. I didn’t really care that they didn’t know. Like Sean,
I hired Sean he was my second editor. He didn’t know how to use Premiere. He never used Premiere
before and I hired him as my editor. And Premiere was what I was using. But I hired him because
I knew he could learn it quickly. And it took him a few weeks and he got it down, he was
better than me at it after that. So, it’s about the person not necessarily about their
exact skills when you’re going into a start-up. Marshall: Absolutely. I think that too.
I had a student barely knew Premiere and he’s gave me a hundred hours of editing for the
gnomon DVD and I credit him on the gnomon DVD. And he barely knew it but he was so enjoyable
to work with. Those hundred hours where it’s just looking forward to hanging out and working
in Premiere and whenever he didn’t know how to solve a problem, all you got to do is give
him 24 hours and he’s going to be able to come back and solve that problem on the next
round. Stan: Yeah.
Marshall: Somebody said that, “Nope. You never get hired by a company, you get hired
by people in the company. And that’s why relationships are as least as big a part as the portfolio.
But there’s another thing about portfolios, almost nobody hires us to do something that
we haven’t done before. They want to know that under the pressure of a deadline. Under
the pressure especially early jobs. When you get these first jobs and your whole family
is kind of freaking out with you. That, you’ve got a deadline, you’ve got to get this done
and it’s got to be up to that level. There’s a surge of energy, emergency energy, that
if you do not make this deadline you damage your reputation. And clients like to know
that you didn’t just do it once, they also like to know that you didn’t just do it in
school presumably in a nurturing environment, they want to know that you’ve done it a number
of times and that you’ve done it fast. And that way, they feel more secure that they’re
hiring you for their security. That I don’t have to worry about them they’ll get the job
done. So, it helps to have that. Helps to have a portfolio that proves you can do it
and you can do it again and you can do it again and it was not lucky. But the maxim
in my time, when I say my time the late ’70s and early ’80s, for portfolios, because we
did not have the internet, printing things was really expensive. I mean, you could spend
up to $100 a print to get a color print of something so they were investments. We were
also told make them matted with 2 inches grey mat, 2 inches grey mat, 3 inches at the bottom
all consistent with the same color mat so that it looks professional. And there was
something to that. I remember asking Mr. McFadden, “Why is that important if the artwork is really
good?”, he says, “Why is it important for you to wear underwear?” So, there
was the thing about make it so that the presentation. Stan: This was your art teacher?
Marshall: Yes. Stan: This was when you were in college?
Marshall: Yeah. When I was eighteen, nineteen years old. But I used to carry around a physical
portfolio that might have originals or prints in there and the maxim was, have twelve pieces.
Because twelve pieces is enough for a creative director to flip through it quickly and say,
“Yeah. Go to show this to Sam, the art director.” And then you’ve proven your point. Twenty-four
pieces takes too long. But I got some of my most lucrative jobs with three pieces. In
fact, let me tell the story. The presentation is nice, to have a good presentation, but
it is not the most important thing. Bruce Mayo used to tell me they got some of their
biggest campaigns with stuff they did with a rollerball on a restaurant napkin. And they
would show that to the client he’s like, “Oh, that’s just great.” And so, they would sell
the idea. And I went into an agency in the 1980s that I was doing airbrush rendering
for, and Dennis and Travis, the two art directors said, “We need someone who does cartoons caricatures
like we’re going to do Joe Isuzu.” I said, “Who’s Joe Isuzu?” They said, “Oh, he’s a
guy on TV.” And he was like a sleazy car salesman type. I didn’t have TV so I didn’t know anything
about it. And they showed me a commercial of this guy. And they said, “You know anybody
who does this kind of thing?” And I happen to have in my back pocket three 35mm slides
in a plastic frame and I gave them to Dennis. And Dennis holds them up to the fluorescent
light and says, “Yeah, yeah, you’re our guy. You can do this.” And they hired
me to do Joe Isuzu. And they hired me over and over for two or three years to do Joe
Isuzu. And I only did one picture of his face but we use stat cameras back then and copy
machines to splice it in and airbrush over the top of it. I did him skiing, I did him
waving his hat, all of these things for automobile dealerships. And it was really lucrative and
got it on three 35mm slides. They already knew that I could meet the deadlines. Now
what they cared about is can you do this style? And it means it saves them time having to
look through a whole bunch of portfolios. So, referrals are another thing. You refer
your friends. You want to do good networking. Refer your friends to lucrative jobs and they
will love you forever. Stan: They’ll remember.
Marshall: Yeah. How are we doing on this? Stan: It’s great. You’re doing amazing
Marshall. Marshall: Oh, well, thank you.
Stan: I want to go put together a portfolio. [Laughter]
Marshall: Okay, well. Charlie: You better have Marshall judge
your portfolios. Stan: Have Marshall judge my – yeah Marshall,
maybe I could dig up my CarlArts portfolio and have you judge it. I don’t know if I – I
think I might – I had to send like the original sketchbook or something. Marshall: Do you know who Jon Schindehette is? Stan: Yeah, of course. Marshall: For those of you who don’t know
who Jon Schindehette is, he was the creative director for Wizards of The Coast for a number
of years. And he hired out 10,000 works of art a year. 10,000 illustrations a year.
Stan: How can he go for that man? Marshall: He had about 300 to 400 illustrators
that were that were supplying for him constantly. Stan: Okay.
Marshall: And Jon was very generous with students explaining to them how you show portfolios.
I had him as a guest in my class a couple times and we asked the question to ask a guy
like that, “As somebody who hires as much art as you do, what would you like students
to know?” And the first thing he said was, “You would not believe how many people send
me their work and it’s good work and I would hire them and they don’t include any way to
get hold of them.” Stan: What? No. That can’t be true anymore.
Marshall: Now hang on, I’m not done with this. Stan: Okay. Sorry Marshall: My response was, “Jon, I would
believe how many because the only thing as a teacher that I think I’m really a hard-ass
about is that you must put your name on the project, on the file name, so that it shows
up when you’re searching it on the hard drive and in the pixel so that when it shows up
with those gobbledygook titles when you download them from Facebook you still have your name
embedded into the pixels.” But that’s one of the first lessons to learn, is make it
– again, I think the reason why students don’t do it is that they forget what the purpose
of this is. You’re trying to get them to hire you. But if they want to hire you and they
don’t know how to get hold of you, you haven’t thought that through. And that’s where the
energy has got to go, it’s to serve the client. Stan: So, you’re talking about like sometimes
your individual drawings or paintings from your portfolio could get separated and some
art director might see that one drawing and not the resume that came with it? Because
the resume usually has contact information on it, right?
Marshall: And also many an art director and creative director says, “I never even
look at the resume. I just flip it to work.” Stan: But they will think to look at
it for contact information. Marshall: But what about when you do a piece
that goes viral? What about when you do a piece that gets out there and there’s a million
people who’ve seen it and they say this is wonderful and there’s no name on it? And so
it just becomes a part of the culture. And then you’re scrambling behind saying, “Hey,
I remember I was the one that did that.” It should always have your name and your contact
number. At least your name if you’ve got a unique name and your contact number on the
image. Stan: Okay. I feel like this problem
is not a problem anymore. Marshall: The reason you feel that this
problem is not a problem anymore is because you are in a professional world where everybody
has already been vetted by the time they get to you. And again, I am in a student world
where students don’t seem to think about this and they have to be held accountable. You
got to have your name on it. Well, this was a long explanation.
Stan: Wait, hold on. Hold on. Hold on. I don’t want to stop this is interesting.
Marshall: Okay. Okay. Keep it going. Stan: When let’s say a student puts his
work out there on social media and it goes viral you can find out who did that original
piece very easily. Marshall: How? How?
Stan: A reverse image search on Google or there’s other websites where you could
search for them. Marshall: Okay. You are correct.
Stan: I mean, people today know how to find people. How to research on the internet.
Marshall: You are correct. So, let me tell you why this is still an issue. Because knowing
art directors as I have – Stan: Okay. So, they’re all old?
Marshall: No. No. They are busy. Stan: Now, okay, of course.
Marshall: And I remember John Deere Snide told me once, I watched art directors look
at portfolios. I watched, in a game company, I watched scores of portfolios go through
that game company. And if there’s anything like that you put in the CD back then and
it’s not going to load quickly, it’s just forget about it. That they label it wrong.
One of the ways of vetting is to say, I don’t have time to look up this person because I’ve
got another hundred people who want to showcase their work for me.
Stan: But if you saw their work online because it went viral they’re not necessarily
applying for the job. If you saw them and you said, “Oh my god, that’s perfect. That’s
the guy I want to hire.”, that means you don’t want to look at the other hundred because
you’ve already found the one. Marshall: You are correct.
Stan: And then you could spend a few minutes searching who this is instead of looking
through the other hundred. Marshall: If you say, “That’s perfect. That’s
the one I want to hire.” Stan: Yeah.
Marshall: If you say, “That’s pretty good I could use that.”, then you don’t get –
Stan: Okay. So, you’re saying every piece you post on social media you have to put your
contact information on the drawing and painting? No one is going to do that.
Marshall: If it’s something that is to represent your skills why not?
Stan: But everything represents your skills, right? Every drawing or painting you
put out there. Marshall: Yeah. Okay, let’s take the other
side. Stan: I don’t know Marshall. I don’t
think people are going to actually do this. And I wouldn’t recommend they they they post
on Instagram with all their contact information. If I saw someone doing that, every one of
their social posts has all the contact [unintelligible] Marshall: Okay. Now we’re talking about
– Stan: I would look at them like what
the hell? Marshall: -the other problem. The other
problem is to have a huge watermark that says, “This is my property. Copyright me.”
Stan: That rubs me in the wrong way. Marshall: “Do not republish it.” That’s
the other mistake. Stan: Okay. I don’t want to even talk
to this guy. Marshall: Yeah. Yeah. But you are right.
Stan: He’s got other issues. Marshall: That’s another issue.
Stan: I don’t even want to deal with him.
Marshall: You’re right. Stan: He might be too protective of his
work. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: Yeah. Marshall: Yeah. But in the lower corner
to put a little thing with your name. Little thing with your your logo.
Stan: Your name? Maybe, yeah, your signature. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: That’s fine. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: But contact information? Oh, my god.
Marshall: Okay, I feel like- Stan: I would just laugh.
Marshall: I feel like I overstated this which I –
Stan: No. I think it was probably true in your day. Pre-Instagram, pre-Facebook,
pre-Google or even really? Right? Yeah. Marshall: Yes. But even today though, because
when you download Facebook stuff it doesn’t have the, you know, the the titles become
garbage. They become cryptic stuff, 00056986. Stan: The titles? Oh, the title of the
image file. Marshall: Yeah. That’s right. So, there’s
that, which is why you should have your name in the pixels.
Stan: Yeah. Sign your work right on the work. Yeah. My signature is legible. You can
read my name. Marshall: It’s says Proko.
Stan: No. It says Prokopenko. My name is not Proko.
Marshall: Oh, it says Prokope – oh, okay, I was thinking of your teaching.
Stan: I would hope you would know that. Marshall: Yeah, I didn’t know that. Sorry.
Stan: Yeah. No. Marshall: Okay.
Stan: That’s why because kind of for that reason once if somebody sees my work
without it being connected to any of my accounts or anything they could still read it and then
type it into Google. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: And then they’d find me. Marshall: And Prokopenko is an unusual name
too. Stan: Right.
Marshall: I mean, there’s not a lot of artists running around with that name.
Stan: Yeah. If my last name was Smith, I would put my first name in my signature
as well. Marshall: Okay. Well, there’s the big difference
between my time and now which is that we’ve got the internet. Your portfolio. You don’t
need a portfolio anymore. Your your web presence is your portfolio.
Stan: It should be. You should think about it as part of it, yeah.
Marshall: Yeah and having branding is a part of it. When you chose Proko it’s simplified
your name, it’s immediately recognized. Stan: I didn’t mean for it to simplify
my name. Marshall: Yeah?
Stan: It was just my company name. Marshall: Your parents were okay that you
were actually taking off the ‘penko’ part? Stan: I didn’t rename myself, I named
my company. Marshall: Oh, so I’m still on that one?
Stan: You are still on. Marshall: Okay.
Stan: It wasn’t intended to be like a nickname for myself.
Marshall: Okay. Stan: I was just like, what should I
name my company? Proko. Charlie: You might as well legally change
it now. Stan: No. Not legally. I like Prokopenko.
Marshall: I do too. It gets confused with Prokofiev though when you type it down.
Stan: That’s true. But so does Proko. Marshall: That’s right, yeah.
Stan: Proko just gets autocorrected to Prokofiev.
Marshall: Let’s deal with Prokofiev later. Stan: I’ll never be able to compete with
him. Marshall: Ah, yeah good. You don’t know
Prokofiev music do you? Stan: I do. You introduced me to it like
five? When did we meet? Like, yeah. Marshall: Six years ago. Yeah.
Stan: It’s like one of the first things you told me about. You know Prokofiev?
Marshall: Should I quiz you on which pieces you know?
Stan: No. I cannot name a piece. Even some of like my favorite musicians I can’t
name their songs. I just play the playlist and there it goes. I don’t look at the names.
Marshall: This is the Portfolio Episode, we have been talking about portfolio sort
of. Stan: No. What are you about? I think
this has been very good. I’ve learned a lot. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: You probably haven’t because you’ve given all the good advice.
Marshall: What was – okay, we we’ve talked about Jon Schindehette. The first thing he
said was, “You should make it so that I can get hold of you. And you wouldn’t believe
how many people don’t do that. And my response is, yes, I would believe it. And I think with
that group that he was speaking to had the highest ratio of student to professional with
the fastest trajectory that I have ever seen in my career. I think that they were the kind
of students who said, “We’ve got Jon Schindehette here. And he’s telling us how to do it. And
he is the real world. Vrrr! Vrrr! And make sure that that’s an action item and that is
something that’s going to be part of my habit now.” That it will always let people know
how to get hold of him. That’s just one little thing.
Stan: So, he was saying to put contact info on each piece in your portfolio.
Marshall: No. Stan: No?
Marshall: He was just saying, let me know how to get hold of you.
Stan: Okay. Marshall: And that you wouldn’t believe
how many people don’t do that. Stan: What’s the best part?
Marshall: To put your contact name in a little, tiny margin in the lower corner yeah.
[Laughter] Stan: I just asked you that. Okay. All
right. Marshall: Boy, ten minutes of podcast and
we have made this point, Marshall, you never need to talk about it the rest of your life.
Stan: Yeah. Marshall: I think that the fundamental diagnosis
of the problem with portfolios is forgetting that it’s for the person who is going to pay
the money. There’s no trouble getting people to take your money. You had trouble with CalArts
taking your money. They would not take your money because you’ve got –
Stan: They had plenty of other people who wanted their money to be taken.
Marshall: That’s right. Yeah. The hard thing is to get people to give you money. And so,
that’s what this is to say, look at what – in fact, you know the term masterpiece, I’m told,
was a way of showing that you were a master. That you would be an apprentice and then you
get your level up to where you would master it and then you do some pieces that show you’re
a master. And that way you’re ready. We can trust you to give you money on this. And I
think that if when a student is putting together their portfolio, that having that as a mindset
can help them make their own decisions as to whether it should go in. And then when
you don’t know what decision to make, that’s where you research the client. That’s where
you see what have they hired before and what are they likely to hire or if you’re really
creative. When the Pixar folks did an afternoon in about 2007 in LA, at the, I think it was
in the directors guild, they had a whole Saturday afternoon with Pixar. And the main question
people ask is, “How do you work at Pixar?” They talked about how much time they spend
on YouTube and that they like looking at a people’s works to see what they like and they
say, “When people show us portfolios, they’re always showing us the stuff that we’ve already
done. We’re looking for stuff that’s different from what we’ve done.” Which they may be and
they may be looking for it but not really willing to use it. That happens quite a bit.
People say, “Show us something different.” And you show it they say, “Yeah. That’s different.”
and don’t use it. Stan: Yeah. That’s different
for sure. Marshall: But if you’re creative and there’s
a client that you want to work for, research the client and see if you can speculate their
trajectory. And there may be the chance that you will be the person who can show them something
they say, “We’re looking for something that’s this. Sales are not as what we would like
them to be because our stuff isn’t as edgy. Our stuff isn’t as whatever it is that your
stuff happens.” That’s when you’re committed to a client that you’ve cared about their
work for years, you’re looking at it. And maybe, it also may be too lofty. It maybe
that one individual thinks they can do it. But there are those kind of things, do happen.
Stan: Yeah. Marshall: That when Disney had Ub iworks
and the Disney look is essentially the Ub iworks look And then Disney Animation as it
went on is essentially all those people that were developing.
Stan: That’s rare. Marshall: It is rare. Yeah.
Stan: Right. Would you would you give that advice to kind of a general audience
of students? Marshall: I wouldn’t give it to someone
who wants to work for Blizzard or Disney. Disney are going to say, “Good. We’re going
to steer this ship according to what you have to offer us.” But I would give it
to – remember all of my students want to work for a few big clients. And Disney and Pixar
and DreamWorks and Blizzard are always at the top of the list. I remember when Blizzard
was a small game company. I remember when they were interviewing people that turned
them down or that they turned down and this was before World of Warcraft. And when you
get into companies that you admire but they are not yet big then you’re getting into an
environment where you may make a bigger difference in the company. In fact, it’s happened with
Proko, right? I mean, you’ve got people around you that have been with you for a few years
and as you were growing they’ve been influential on where you’ve gone, have they not?
Stan: I mean, of course, everybody adds an element of themselves into it. But what
do you mean exactly? Marshall: Again Disneyland, ah, Herb Ryman
you know. Disneyland was designed by Walt and Herb Ryman or at least the initial design
in one night. Everybody knows who Walt Disney was. Stan: Who? Marshall: Do you know who Herb Ryman was?
Stan: No. Marshall: Look up Herb Ryman. Herb Ryman
was a great illustrator and he is the one who designed the layout of Disneyland where
you got the hub and Adventureland and Tomorrowland and all that stuff. It’s a few people when
it’s at its beginning stages that are going to have the biggest – Oh, I can think of a
recent example. This is a great example, Cuphead. Because Cuphead was so – nobody was saying
we’ve got to do more 2D animation that looks like the Fleischer brothers stuff. Not Disney,
Fleischer brothers. Nobody was saying we’ve got to do that so it sells. So, you got two
brothers who love that style and they’ve got a few people around them who happened to be
their people and they developed this incredible property. And then that first week or two
that was going they were making, you know, they were bringing in millions of dollars
a week because everyone was so excited about it. There’s a whole other lesson in there
and that’s to go back to the old stuff and revive it for the new stuff. But the other
thing is – Stan: In a new way.
Marshall: Yes, in a new way. Oh, don’t you love how it looks? Doesn’t Cuphead look great?
Stan: I was absessed with the looks too. I never played it, but I was just watching
YouTube videos of other people playing it because I loved how it looked.
Marshall: Yeah. Yeah. And we weren’t the first ones to do that. The Squirrel Nut Zippers
did that Stephen Foster music video where they used the Fleischer brother styles and
even the 1960s underground artists Rick Griffin and Robert Crumb in that bunch they were really
enamored with the 1920s, 1930s, Fleischer brother stuff. But the point is that you are
less likely to be in a big company and say, “Let’s do a project that’s 2D animation that
looks 1930s.”, and have it go through all the hoops to actually happen unless you’re
already in a position of great power at that company because you’re trying to steer the
Titanic. But if you are in a small boat and you can say, “Look, there’s a few of us we
think we can go in this way and do it quality enough to make it a hit.”, this is the kind
of stuff that gets me excited. I love seeing that. It’s countercultural and yet it’s going
to contribute to the culture. Stan: Yeah. Everybody at Proko contributes.
I mean, we have meetings, we brainstorm, people’s ideas get used. I’m not making all the decisions.
I mean, John was the one that created 12 days of Proko.
Marshall: Was he? Stan: Yeah. And that’s like a big thing
ever that we do every year now. Marshall: It is John Bircher?
Stan: Yeah. Marshall: Is that how you pronounce that
thing? Stan: Yes.
Marshall: Yeah. John is the guy who does the funny ads that we start this podcast with,
right? Stan: The memes?
Marshall: Yeah. The memes. Stan: He does the memes. Well, I mean,
Sean did one of them I think. I think he – did John do all the other ones?
Charlie: Yeah, John did it. John has been memeing.
Stan: Yeah, John is memeing. Marshall: But John did that Heineken one.
Stan: I think so. Yes. Yeah, he did the Heineken. Yeah.
Marshall: That’s my favorite one. Stan: Because it’s you? [laughter]
Marshall: Yeah. Stan: But isn’t it supposed to be Dos Equis?
Charlie: Yeah. It’s Dos Equis. Stan: Oh, okay. So, it’s not Heineken.
Marshall: I didn’t know. It’s not Heineken it’s Dosekis. Sorry, DosEquis. Stan: All right Marshall, so we’re going to do a voicemail. A quick one.
Marshall: Okay. Stan: Because this has been a long episode.
If you guys want to call in to leave a voicemail the number is in the description. A lot of
people have been asking if they’re like international and it costs too much to call how can they
ask a question? You guys can record a wave, an mp3, just record your audio and just email
it to us. That’ll work as well. Just email [email protected]
Marshall: Yeah. Stan: And if you can’t speak English,
I’m sorry. Marshall: Find a family member.
Stan: I’m sorry, for now. Marshall: Find a family member that can
translate it. Stan: Yeah. Maybe we’ll have a segment
sometime later in the podcast where we will take emails and stuff like that but right
now we’re just doing voice calls because we want to play the voice of the student.
Marshall: Or debabelize it and have your computer read it aloud and record it.
Stan: That woul be funny. If someone did that that would be very creative.
Marshall: Sure. Stan: Because we might have.
Charlie: There is one that we might want to play just because of the fact that it’s
someone from India apparently used a website to like send.
Stan: Oh, perfect. All right, let’s do that one. Charlie: Yeah. Stan: Here’s someone being creative.
Marshall: Yeah. Stan: And because of that creativity
we got thrown right in to the front. Marshall: They shifted in.
Charlie: All right, here we go. Voicemail: Um, hey, okay, I don’t know if
this works. I’m using some form of a free call using a website. I’m from India and I’m
assuming this is the Proko Podcast. Anyway, the question I want to ask is that, besides,
um, you know, your drawing habits, I want to know whether you’re – what time you go
to sleep and – and what kind of food that – food you eat? And whether your sleeping
routine and, uh, help, uh, your- Stan: They’re not using a computer to
do that. Speaker 1: No. It’s definitely his voice.
He’s using some kind of website to forward the call I think.
Stan: Oh. Marshall: But he wants to know what time
I go to sleep and what kind of food I eat? Stan: Yeah, okay. Damn it.
Charlie: He wants to know your eating and sleeping habits.
Stan: God, damn it. Marshall, I am really curious what kind of food do you eat? I never
see you eat. Marshall: No. No. No.
Stan: No? Marshall: I got to know why he wants to
know this. I can answer the question. Charlie: He feels sleepy.
Stan: He feels sleepy. Charlie: He feels sleepy when he does like
a long day of art. Marshall: Oh, well in other words like maintenance
that kind of thing? Stan: Yeah.
Marshall: That’s something to ask a nutritionist. Stan: You know what I do?
Marshall: I know. Stan: Caffeine.
Marshall: Hey, well I’ll tell you something that’s interesting about eating habits because
I just found this out in the last couple months. Some new research that has shown that if you
fast for 12 hours and you do it regularly that it has measurable health benefits.
Stan: Intermittent fasting, that’s what it’s called.
Marshall: Yeah, I’m just getting in to the habit now of I am fasting 12 hours at five,
six days a week. Stan: Some people just naturally do that.
Marshall: Yeah. Stan: Brandon does that naturally, right?
Where he doesn’t eat breakfast, sometimes he skips lunch and he just eats dinner. So
that’s like 24-hour fasting. He’ll eat for an hour and then he won’t eat for another
24-hour. Well, you don’t do that extreme anymore but you used to do that. You used to just
eat once a day. See I heard that like when I was a kid, I heard that was really bad.
Marshall: I did too. Stan: To just eat once a day and now
they’re saying it’s good. I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Marshall: Every time there’s new research, it seems looking to get me. Yeah, I remember
we used to be told that grazing was good and so I grazed for years. I just eat whenever
I was hungry. And I would eat 15 times a day. Just eat a little bit.
Stan: Like you would walk around the grass you feel just like –
Marshall: No. No. No. It was like little healthy snacks. Just when I was hungry, I’ll
just keep that hunger pains away all the time. Stan: I heard that eating causes cancer.
Marshall: Oh, well. There’s a new solution. Stan: That’s the new research.
Marshall: The subject of sleeping habits does become relevant when you’re on deadlines
and you’ve got 24 hour and 36 hour shifts that you’ve got to get this thing done. There
was a book called Freelance Forever by Marietta somebody. It came out in the late ’70s, ’80.
I had it I gave it to a student. Only one of my students in the last year so has really
pursued freelancing. And I gave it to her. Even it’s a dated book. It was before the
internet. But she had some really good advice for people who have the freelance lifestyle
which is not regulated. Its emergency mode and then feast and famine. Have to meet the
deadlines and then be without work for a while. And she had a part in there where she addressed
sleep issues. You know I’ve opened up a document on what I know about sleep habits and meeting
deadlines and when you have to go for a long time.
Stan: You want to make that document public?
Marshall: Yeah. Yeah. I could do that. Stan: Really?
Marshall: Yeah. Stan: Wow! I was totally expecting you
to say no and then I was going to say, “Damn it, Marshall.”
Marshall: Yeah. I’m happy to do that. So, I’ll let you work out how to how to do it
but I can take everything. And this is not stuff that is based on on legitimate research.
This is based on me and a few of my peers who all lived in the same area and made living
as freelancers and what we learned to do to survive those kind of that kind of pressure.
Stan: The only thing I can offer is that when I don’t want to feel sleepy I just don’t
eat carbs, I just eat protein. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: Protein and like a little bit of vegetables or something.
Marshall: Yeah. Diet is part of it. Stan: And that doesn’t make me sleepy.
Marshall: Oh, another thing that is even worth mentioning here, do not start with caffeine.
Start with your – Stan: You tell me now?
Marshall: Yes. No. I mean, I don’t mean don’t start with caffeine as a habit. I would
like everybody to be addicted to caffeine. I love what the effect of it is. It’s a wonderful
thing. But I’m saying when you’re on a long-distance trek, when you’re on a deadline that’s intense,
do not start out with a cup of coffee. Wait until the first wave energy goes down and
then let it kick you back in. Otherwise, because you know how it works when you keep using
caffeine it can really give you agitation nervous issues that make everything worse.
So, the idea is, don’t bring a drug into it to start, bring it in when it’s there specifically
to deal with an issue which is that, I’m about to fall down this going to keep awake.
Stan: Marshall’s drug advice. Marshall: Yeah. That’s it.
Charlie: Marshall, you drug peddler. Marshall: I experimented with caffeine tens
of thousands of times to know it so that if I don’t know how much you can extrapolate
from what I know about the effects of caffeine to everything else.
Stan: Most people know. Marshall: I’ll give it a try. I know people
that, oh, I’ve got a 24-hour thing that I’m going to be on so they start with a cup of
coffee. It’s a huge mistake. Start with a nap.
Stan: Start with a nap? Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: So, when you wake up in the morning take a nap.
Charlie: That sounds good. Stan: To get you going. Great advice.
Marshall: Oh, we’ve opened up a whole other subject of sleep deprivation, the use of drugs,
power naps, deadlines, I don’t know. Stan: I love your drug advice. Start
with a nap when you wake up. Marshall: Okay, we’ll put it in a document.
Spare all of this because this has been long. Stan: I love this.
Marshall: Okay. Oh, good. Stan: Okay. Well, I think we’ve gone
too long. My thing this week is ending the episode. What’s yours?
Marshall: Let’s do it. Let’s end it. Stan: All right. We got the same thing
this week. Marshall: Yay!
Stan: All right. What’s the question for the week?
Charlie: Send both of you their portfolios. Everyone send your portfolio to Stan and Marshall.
Stan: Everyone send you – Marshall: Everyone send your po – yeah,
no, no, no, no. Stan: No. Send Marshall. Marshall, what’s
your email address? Marshall: No.
Stan: Portfolio review with Marshall Vandruff. Marshall: Portfolio viewing horror stories. There we go. What’s the worst that has happened
when you’ve shown your portfolio? Charlie: Yeah. The worst reaction.
Stan: All right. Everyone, leave your portfolio view and horror stories down below
in the comments on YouTube. Marshall: And any successes are okay too,
but the horror stories are always more interesting. Stan: Yeah. Anything portfolio related
just comment below. Charlie: It’s easier to learn from failure.
Marshall: Yeah. Stan: Okay.
Marshall: And I didn’t talk about all the times that I showed my portfolio and I was
so drenched in sweat out of nervousness. Stan: Okay, great. All right. And please
leave a 5-star rating on iTunes. Marshall: Yeah.
Stan: All right. Bye guys.

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