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How to Make a Professional Car Design Portfolio

Luciano Bove is a car design manager working at Renault Design. Born in Italy, he graduated from Art Center College of Design in California.

Learn how to expertly show off your car design in a portfolio

Learn how to expertly show off your car design in a portfolio

How to Improve a Professional Car Design Portfolio

This summer in Italy, I met a young ex-student from a British car design school who wanted to show me his portfolio for some tips before looking for a job. He came with his portable PC and showed me a sort of PowerPoint presentation with all the selected projects and his CV at the end. I asked him to show the presentation again. At the end of the second round, I started to give him my constructive critique.

A Good Car Design School Should Help With Your Portfolio

Usually, a good design school has some courses about how to put together design portfolios. The Art Center in Pasadena, California, and the IAAD in Italy do. But for this young former student, this was not the case. The British school had only existed for about 5 years which means that it is very young in the design education business and can't guarantee good training. The transportation design teacher was basically telling students to format a portfolio the way he would format it, and his taste did not have anything to do with an automotive design book. According to the story I heard about this school, students were not able to be creative and try alternative methods because this famous teacher would get upset.

Problems With the Portfolio:

Bad design school choice: I was sorry to let him understand this, but it is true. The teachers did not have an automotive design background, but rather a background in Industrial Design, specializing in boat design. Their experience was too far outside the culture of the car design industry.

Main Portfolio Problems:

  • The PowerPoint presentation did not have his projects in the best order.
  • The selection of products was not car-oriented (a lot of boats and accessories).
  • The editorial graphics on every page was 90's style, too old-fashioned and competing in style with the sketches and renderings.
  • The overall result was confusing. In the end, he would need to re-do the book before applying for a job.

The Good Thing About This Student

The good thing is the talent of this Italian guy, his determination and strong will to make it as a designer, ready to discuss how to improve and progress. We talked for about two hours. I explained to him that a professional portfolio is mainly a personal presentation of ourselves, and for this reason, we must personalize it. Our teacher should just help us not to make obvious mistakes that might penalize our effort. With the right book, a student will sell himself.

Key Elements Not to Forget

Content is the key: Good sketches, a history for each project, and nice color work for the final presentation.

Check out the order of your book. It has to provoke emotions, so what is the best order to do so?

We must choose from among our projects in order to give a message. If the message is car design, we want more car projects. If the message is industrial design, we want more ID projects. And so on.

Do not forget that we (professional designers) remember the mistakes we find in portfolios! Sometimes they are the easiest thing to remember! So make sure that your book is perfect!

Sketch by Denis Cherdantsev

Sketch by Denis Cherdantsev

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2009 Luciano Bove