Recap: THE MIX 2017

The Status of Portfolio Reviews in Portland

It is fair to say that Portland is full of portfolio reviews. With incredible art schools and more agencies than you can shake a stick at, we are lucky to be in a place where professionals are quick to lend an expert eye and give some guidance to a graduate. So when the Portfolio Review Committee (including Martha Lewis, AIGA Education Director; Anita Magaña, AIGA Portland volunteer; Sonja Synak, AIGA Portland volunteer; Meagan Ghorashian, AIGA Portland volunteer; Carrie Taylor, AIGA Portland volunteer) began talking about bringing a portfolio review back to AIGA Portland, they reconsidered what our design community can offer.

Typical portfolio reviews are designed as a speed dating experience: presenters sit with their portfolio open and reviewers rotate at set intervals. While presenters may meet many people, there’s something missing in this format. There is no time to dig into process, to learn about other ways to present a solution, or to see how another person in a similar place talks about their work. It’s insular.

That is where THE MIX comes in. Designed to be a roundtable experience, THE MIX is an opportunity for 3 presenters to sit with 2 professionals and dig into the work. Process discussion is encouraged and presenters have a chance to ask reviewers questions without the pressure of a job interview. Presenters are also privy to a unique opportunity: watching someone else go through the review process. THE MIX was designed to provide each portfolio with at least 30 minutes of discussion time.


The Presenters & Reviewers

To participate in THE MIX, recent graduates (2016–2017) submitted their applications and described themselves as designers, discussing their goals for post-graduation and how THE MIX can help get them there. An overwhelming collection of portfolios were received, which then had to be narrowed down by a group of jurors.

The reviewers selected were industry professionals, with the intent of helping to guide presenters in their portfolio discussions towards what it would be like during an interview. They hailed from local design shops such as Swift, Instrument, 52 Limited, Dark Horse Comics, Sorel, Citizen, and Nemo. It was an amazing team that came together, giving presenters the chance to speak with people whose work they have seen for years.

R/GA’s brand new agency space in Portland, OR.

Presenters and reviewers got to know each other during breakfast.

Attendees and reviewers enjoying breakfast before THE MIX at R/GA Portland.

AIGA volunteers discuss THE MIX’s schedule with presenters.

The Portfolio Review

R/GA invited AIGA Portland to host the event in their beautiful new space, giving the 60 individuals access to their building. With plenty of meeting spaces, each group was able to position themselves in an environment that encouraged them to get to know each other and feel safe discussing one of an individual’s most personal things: their creative work.

You can view the presenters’ work here.

Presenters and reviewers work together to examine work.

Presenters and reviewers work together to examine work.

Presenters and reviewers work together to examine work.

A Chance to Eat & Come Together

After the presenters each had their time with the reviewers, everyone came together for a delightful meal of ¿Por que no? With the most stressful part of the day behind them, everyone was able to enjoy the new connections and friendships forming, and discuss design, work, and life in Portland.

Each presenter opened their portfolio to the crowd, giving everyone the chance to thumb through their creative process and look at how they put together their work. I have never before seen so many business cards being snagged – the only knock against any presenter was that they simply did not bring enough business cards to meet the demands of the judges and their fellow presenters. Alas, that is why the internet exists.

Reviewers and presenters peruse portfolios at AIGA’s THE MIX.

Next Up

During lunch I could hear reviewers fighting over being able to hire the presenters. It seems inevitable that some presenters will hear from the professionals – and be all the more prepared to walk them through their portfolios.

THE MIX will be back in 2018. If you graduated in 2017 or will be graduating in 2018, this will be your chance to experience a portfolio review unlike any other.


Thank You to Our Sponsors

THE MIX would not have been possible without the very generous support of local sponsors, including:


¿Por qué no?

Hopworks Urban Brewery

Peet's Coffee & Tea



By Duncan Lawrence
Published July 17, 2017
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