This Looks Familiar

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Ahhh PDX… the little, big city.  Big enough to provide some big city shopping for this Christmas season (can I get a hell yeah for H&M?), yet small enough you almost always know someone meandering down the other side of the street.  More than once, this little-big city effect has poked it’s head into 52′s conference room.  While walking through a portfolio from one person, I recognized some work from the other side of the street…. er… from someone else’s portfolio.  Though the two portfolio owners had roles on the project that were obviously different,  they both used the same photo to represent the work.   In this case, the two folks were fortunately very clear to point out their roles in the project and that the photo of the work was the only one the company they were contracted with had provided to them. That explained the duplication of the photo in multiple books.  However, if they had not both been so clear, an interviewer could have mistook them for telling tall tales.  Below is one recruiter’s account of an interviewee who fibbed about whose work was whose… and how to avoid giving the wrong idea if you happen to find yourself in such a situation.

I am very trusting, especially when it comes to portfolios. If you are showing me your book and there’s a load of work inside, I assume it is yours. I trust it is yours. Why would I doubt otherwise?

Am I too trusting? Are there recruiters out there who keep an ounce of doubt wondering whether every piece inside is actually truly that persons? I never, ever would have thought so.

Until today.

There is a crazy story circling the internet today about a not-at-all-junior creative who has be outed for putting creative work he did not do on his portfolio site. Un-capital B-believeable.

Lots of thoughts are swirling through my mind:
why in the heck would someone do this?
have I been looking at bogus work from other people?
how will I ever know what is truly legit or not?
how many other people do this?
why in the heck would someone do this?

Guys, this is never, never, never ok.

First, let’s just say you get hired off a bogus portfolio. Day one on the job you’ll have to prove your creative chops and when you come up short, you’ll be found out anyway.

Second, let’s say someone finds out (a la not-so-junior-creative referenced above). And not just someone, a large portion of the advertising community finds out. Well, you can kiss your reputation and hire-ability goodbye. And I will tell you, that is never going to be worth it.

Some advice: Be very clear on attributing who else worked on the pieces in your book. Be very clear about your role on the work. Be clear about what is your original idea and what is not. Be clear about whether you worked fulltime versus freelanced. Be clear on your title and role. Be clear about your salary (that’s a whole other blog post by the way).

Be clear. Be clear. Be clear. And, god forbid, do not steal another person’s creative work.

Written by Cecilia Gormon and originally posted at: