Portfolio Growing Pains | Skillshare Projects

Alexa Therese

Designer + Illustrator



Portfolio Growing Pains

My name is Alexa and I am a graphic designer & illustrator in Milwaukee, WI. As an in-house creative for VISIT Milwaukee, I work mainly on print and digital collateral for the brand, but I am itching to get into more freelance work and passion projects.



My background is interdisciplinary; I studied art & design, cultural anthropology, and international studies in college. If I get a chance to further my studies I would love to do graphic anthropology, a relatively new field at the intersection of art and ethnographic research. I've found that the analytical methods I've learned from anthro are great assets to have in design, and my ideal career would be to design for non-profit brands, organizations, and institutions with a cultural and social focus.

My favorite piece of work is the dye plant book I created for the non-profit organization Threads of Peru. I worked with them to head a cultural research project, cataloging native plants that Andean weaving communities use to dye, and organizing two workshops within the communities. At the end of the project, I designed a dye plant book with the findings of my research; the book contains hand-illustrated profiles of each dye plant, the method of dyeing, and the many colors that can be achieved. The project needs a serious revamp in my portfolio, but you can kind of get the idea. 


I am still working out a style for my personal brand, there are definitely areas I am going to tighten up. I was curious for opinions on the layout of my portfolio, I have been going back and forth between larger thumbnails (current layout), smaller thumbnails, and full width images. I'm not sure large thumbnails are the best way to show my work, but I could be overthinking it.

In terms of defining my work, I really struggle with having to use narrow definitions. I don't want to pigeonhole myself or downplay my capabilities with traditional labels (ie. illustrator or graphic designer or art director, etc.) but I do want to highlight my strengths and the work that I want to be doing. Ideally my passions lie with illustration/hand-lettering, editorial design, and branding, and I do have more work to add to my portfolio (right now it's kind of a mixed bag). So I guess what I'm asking is, is that too much/too diverse/too broad? Should I have separate categories, or should I just leave it as "art + design" and let everything fall under that category?

I do have a separate section for photography (including some video), which is more of a fun hobby for me, but I would consider it a strength and a skillset that I don't want to hide either - I wouldn't be opposed to using that in my work. After listening to this class, I've been debating whether I should leave it in or just include a link to a Flickr account instead. I've also been considering creating travel guides using the photos, which would be a way to showcase my photography within the constraints of design.


I will post updates as I rework my site. Any feedback, constructive criticism, and bad puns are welcome! Thanks a million. 


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