Hey Now, You're An All-Star
By Alixandra Rutnik on Mar 02, 2023
Portfolio Night returns for 2023, and with it, All-Stars– so let's catch up with last year's winners
After a tentative dip of the toe into the real world last year, Portfolio Night is back for 2023, worldwide and in-person! And just in time, too: this year is the 20th anniversary of the globe-spanning portfolio review, where thousands of aspiring young creatives have met with industry leaders in cities in every part of the world, making connections, getting advice, and maybe — just maybe — landing their dream job.
One of the highlights of Portfolio Night has been the addition of Portfolio Night All-Stars, where the very best individual from each Portfolio Night city gets to team up with their global counterparts, bringing their considerable talents to take on a creative brief. It’s an experience they don’t ever forget and can often propel them onto bigger things. Xander Hart, the Paris 2015 All-Star, art directed the most recent John Lewis Christmas ad, while New York 2015 All-Star Max Friedman was among the class of Young Guns 20 winners last November.
Although travel restrictions prevented us from having an in-person experience last year, our All-Stars still had an incredible opportunity to join forces and tackle fun and challenging creative briefs. One All-Stars trio blew away the creatives of brief sponsor FCB Toronto. We had a chance to interview that team — made up of Dallas All-Star, graphic and UX/UI designer Shelby Baker; Lisbon All-Star, graphic designer, and art director Liliana Rodrigues; and Miami All-Star and copywriter James Pérez Silva — to learn all about their experience.
How did you all learn about Portfolio Night?
Shelby: I originally heard about Portfolio Night from my teachers. I recently graduated, wanted feedback on my work outside of school, and started pushing myself to network. Dallas was pretty relaxed with everyone but very timely with the 15-minute switchout to another room. I met many art directors and creative directors from Dieste and VMLY&R, along with several other recent graduates.
Liliana: I learned about Portfolio Night Lisbon from my teachers and my school’s social media. The vibe was pretty chill, and everyone was nice. I talked to several art directors and met some juniors and recent graduates– they were super helpful. Amazing creatives reviewed my portfolio from Uzina, MSFT Partners, and Publicis Group.
James: Portfolio Night is one of the most important global creative reviews. How could you not know about it? The event was held in 24 cities worldwide, but not mine, so I decided to go and look for my opportunity. My review was with Alma DDB in Miami, and it was an incredible night when I finally met one of the agencies I’ve always wanted to work at. By the way, thanks to Virgilio Flores and Santiago Cuesta for their vote of confidence. I will not stop until I achieve the dream I told them about.
How did it feel when you were named the Portfolio-Night All-Star of your city?!
Shelby: It was shocking. I had initially walked in, not knowing there was judging for Portfolio Night All-Stars. They had a long deliberation when it came to decision time, which was a bit nerve-wracking, but I’m thankful for the feedback on my work and enthusiasm.
Liliana: The award ceremony took place after a long deliberation. It was surprising to find out I had won, and I remember standing in shock, looking at my friend when they announced I had won. I was speechless.
James: It was a surprise because I did not know there would be a winner per city for another competition. However, the surprise was even more significant when after several weeks, I received the news that I was chosen not only because of my work but also because they saw my desire to go far.
Would you recommend attending Portfolio Night to a friend?
Shelby: I would recommend it. It forces you out of your shell to meet people and look at other work. It also really helped grow my presentation skills. The best part of the night was being able to talk with professionals, learn more about them, and get their feedback.
Liliana: I would definitely recommend it. It’s an excellent environment that forces you out of your comfort zone. It’s also great to meet other creatives and art directors and get much-needed feedback. The best part for me was getting feedback and advice from some of the top creatives in Portugal, and the food was also delicious.
James: Of course, I would recommend it because it can be the opportunity to change your career and life. The best part of Portfolio Night in Miami was definitely talking face-to-face with people you admire and only know through LinkedIn– Daniel Correa is one of them. Abraço, bro.
Which piece of work in your portfolio are you most proud of?
Shelby: I think the DoorDash DashPass, for the amount of time and teamwork put in our last semester. It shows my UX/UI and art direction skills when making a campaign. I hope to add more UX/UI work and maybe some ads for fun.
Liliana: I’m most proud of an editorial project I made called Dystopia. I invested a lot of time making, researching, and creating that book. I hope to add to my very academic portfolio with real-life and personal projects.
James: I am very proud of all my work, especially Burning Kings® and PROfiles, which I worked on with great friends and people, who like me, have never stopped dreaming and looking for ways to fulfill those dreams. And regarding new projects, it would be amazing if FCB Toronto could make our winning idea in All-Stars a reality so we can all meet that great team from Canada that supported us so much. Best regards to Sally, Sara, and Allison.
What was your favorite part about attending the week-long virtual All-Stars competition?
Shelby: My favorite part was meeting my teammates and learning about them. While working, we would write out and bounce ideas off each other and then vote on them. We often would try to figure out what was needed and balance the workload. Sometimes if we were working late at night on a call with each other, we would talk about our hobbies or culture, especially food. Lilliana had fun testing me on my Spanish.
Liliana: My favourite part was probably meeting my teammates. A typical session was chill. We would bounce ideas off and brainstorm together, then we'd vote on each of our ideas. We usually ended up talking about other things on late-night calls and learning about each other's cultures and interests, and I also had fun testing Shelby's Spanish skills.
James: Shelby is from the United States, Liliana is from Portugal, and the mentors are in Canada, so the best part of the week was learning about different parts of the world. Sessions were intriguing because we had very different points of view and reaching an agreement was a great challenge, but gave us great results.
When you first looked at the Maker Pizza brief, what immediate ideas came to mind for each of you?
Shelby: I think one of the first ideas was to show art and then have it be outshined and compared to the pizza, which eventually turned into Masterpizza. It was a lot of debate and also talking with FCB on what we thought were our strongest ideas. One of the ideas that got cut but was a lot of fun was having the Ninja Turtles move to Toronto because the pizza was better.
Liliana: One of the many first ideas was to connect Maker Pizza perfection making to some show or pop culture icon, which eventually led to Remakers. We ended on the final ideas after a lot of brainstorming and feedback from our meetings with FCB Toronto. An idea I loved that didn’t make it was the TMNT move to Toronto because Maker’s Pizza is that good.
James: The first thing that came to our minds was to order pizza because the pictures of Maker Pizza looked perfect and made us really hungry. One day I’m going to go to Toronto to taste it. The brief told us Maker is a pizzeria that looks for perfection in its creations and based on that reasoning, we thought of many campaign ideas. We came up with two we liked a lot, and luckily, the jury did too. The first idea aimed to give Maker Pizza a place on Toronto’s museum circuit to highlight its great artistic details. The other, which won the competition and we hope will become a reality, is that Maker Pizza will create the remakes of the last episodes of series like GOT, Dexter, or Lost that so many people felt were imperfect endings. And if it’s not perfect, Maker Pizza will remake it for you.
"The first idea aimed to give Maker Pizza a place on Toronto’s museum circuit to highlight its great artistic details. The other, which won the competition and we hope will become a reality, is that Maker Pizza will create the remakes of the last episodes of series like GOT, Dexter, or Lost that so many people felt were imperfect endings."
Throughout the week, what are a few key lessons you learned from your FCB Toronto Mentors?
Shelby: FCB Toronto was very nice to meet and talk to. They were good at advising us in the cutting room and when we showed them our press boards for the final presentation.
"They were good at advising us in the cutting room and when we showed them our press boards for the final presentation."
Liliana: FCB Toronto was always very nice and helpful. My biggest takeaway is learning how to perfect our ideas, presentation skills, and press boards, so they are as clear and straightforward as possible.
James: FCB Toronto is an organized team, and their feedback was clear and on time in our e-mail. All the advice our mentors gave us helped, from the headlines to the order of the presentation. Thanks again, FCB Toronto.
Among the three of you, you are representing Dallas, TX; Miami, FL; and Lisbon, Portugal– what is it about each of these cities that inspires you to be creative?
Shelby: Probably the museums or conventions that come through Dallas. Getting to look at different time periods or cultures. Dallas has a lot of graffiti, murals, nightlights, and ad work around the highways and buildings that are great inspirations for styles and tones.
Liliana: Lisbon is a very inspiring city where you often find a beautiful mix between old and new. The city has a lot of contemporary art museums and street art in a scenario of beautiful centuries-old landmarks, buildings, and churches. Overall, art is all around you here, and you can find inspiration everywhere, even in beautiful and broken old tiles.
"Lisbon is a very inspiring city where you often find a beautiful mix between old and new... art is all around you here, and you can find inspiration everywhere, even in beautiful and broken old tiles."
James: I don’t live in Miami, but I thank the city for welcoming me and allowing me to fulfill one more of my dreams. Of course, one day I will work there, I promise.
What is the next step for each of you?
Shelby: I’m still networking and trying to find a full-time position out of school. I’m also looking to build on my skills and portfolio. I would love to meet my teammates in person and work together again. It was a lot of fun, and I would love to try the food they recommended if I was ever around.
Liliana: I’ll be starting my first job in the industry pretty soon, and I’m very excited about it! Personally, I’m always trying to improve my portfolio and network. I’d love to meet my teammates in real life and hang out, and who knows, maybe in the future, the opportunity will arise, and we’ll get the chance to work together and team up again!
James: I am looking for an opportunity to work outside my country. I hope something very good materializes soon. I don’t know if we will meet again, but most likely, we will because this world is small, and people with desire and determination always end up finding each other.
Portfolio Night is coming up on June 3. Learn more about Portfolio Night 2023!