Portfolio Perfection feat. Kate Gorringe

Kate Gorringe is Creative Director of Mr B & Friends, she’s been generous enough to take the time to chat with us about what she looks for when hiring a designer and gives her advice on building a portfolio to help you land that dream job.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your own journey as a designer so far?

I’m Kate Gorringe, and I’m Creative Director of Mr B & Friends, leading a team of 15 designers, art directors, animators, writers and artworkers. Before moving to Bristol, I spent 20 years working in London creative agencies. I began life as a graphic designer, morphing into an art director and copywriter, as the people who drive the ideas have the most fun.

What does your design team do?

Our work covers three core disciplines – brand identity strategy and design, brand experience, and employee experience. Our output can be anything from animation design to marketing campaigns, video production and digital design, but at our core we are brand people. We work for all kinds of businesses, from start-up tech companies who need a brand creating from thin air, right up to global brands like Lego and IHG Hotels & Resorts. We love the variety and it keeps our thinking fresh. Our mission is to ‘Challenge the Ordinary’ – it’s an ethos that guides everything we do.

As a hiring manager, what are some of the top (3-5) qualities that you look out for in a designer?

1. Ideas. I’m always keen to understand how people think and how they shape ideas. The people who think first and execute second will always standout. I love a designer who isn’t scared to think in words as well as visuals – you don’t have to have the skills of a copywriter, but being able to articulate your idea in words definitely helps your thinking.

2. Creative curiosity. I love meeting people who push their work in different directions, constantly trying new things and who don’t get trapped into following trends or limiting their work to, for example, one discipline such as digital.

3. Energy and enthusiasm – I want to work with people who want to get stuck in and get excited by every brief. People who revel in agency life and bring a positive buzz to the studio.

When it comes to the portfolio, what are the most important (3-5) things you’re looking for and why?

1. Presentation. I want to know how you think, how you approached a brief, the process you followed. Too many people focus just on the end result – the final execution – which doesn’t tell me anything about how they work.

2. Consistency of quality. If you’ve got three fairly average projects and one stand out, I’m going to suspect that one great project was driven by the colleague you worked with rather than yourself.

3. Visual wow. I want to be knocked out by finesse and disruptiveness. Exclude any project that doesn’t achieve this, as that’s the one I’ll remember. Don’t include a project just because it has a big brand name attached – that won’t impress me. Your approach will.

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