Tag Archives: art

Portfolio Review

Yesterday I, along with UM Penny W. Stamps School of A+D alumns Ariel Frizzell and Jessica Krcmarik, had the pleasure of being part of a panel discussion regarding the importance of a good portfolio.

Ariel is the Digital Marketing Specialist at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. In addition, she’s a graphic designer and photographer. During school, Ariel held a paid internship with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, giving her a great advantage in the work field. I cannot stress the importance of taking initiative to gain real life experience as a student. As a result of her networking, Ariel went to work with the Michigan Theater right out of college.

Jessica is a freelance illustrator and very recent grad. During school she worked as an Admissions Buddy, giving advice to incoming students about the curriculum and available resources. Today she’s still helping students by sharing her personal experience as a freelance artist. Her amazing works can be seen here.

Both had phenomenal information during the discussion. Although we all offered something different, there were no conflicts. Below is what I had to say:

The goal of a portfolio is to be remembered. When showing a potential client your work you only get ONE shot at proving you’re not only capable of achieving their goals, but better than any other candidate they’re speaking with.

One important thing to consider is that no matter how strong the work is inside, a bad presentation can equal doom. Anybody can go to the store and buy a premade book to hold and display their work. YOU’RE ART STUDENTS, BE CREATIVE. As your work develops it will become more and more apparent how it should be viewed. Maybe in a book or maybe in a hand made box wrapped in cow hide. Either way it’s important to recognize that YOU HAVE COMPETITION. When you feel you‘ve hit a wall you absolutely can’t go wrong by asking the opinion of your professors and peers.

Put your strongest work forward! You have to hold attention AND impress!

As far as photography goes, KNOW YOUR PROSPECTIVE CLIENT, or know what you’d like to concentrate in. Don’t show a car company a portfolio with your best portraits. It’s more than okay to be versatile and shoot portraits and products and food, BUT KEEP MULTIPLE PORTFOLIOS.

It’s also very important to be able to talk about your work. This may or may not come up in an interview, but it’s better to be prepared. The work in your portfolio should represent you, not what others think. In the creative field, the ability to explain how you reached the final product shows technical understanding, but if you hesitate when asked about a piece the client may interpret that as uncertainty.

Another important LIFE OR DEATH consideration is curating – KNOW HOW TO EDIT YOUR WORK. In terms of photography, my rule is to not show two photographs from one session. I don’t care that you liked the light on the model in shot 5 and the facial expression of shot 11 – neither will the prospective client. PICK ONE and show your range.

Even if you love all three, you must pick ONLY ONE and leave room for other works. Think of every page in your portfolio as valuable real estate.

When you’re ready to start looking for work after you graduate or while you’re still a student, WHICH I RECOMMEND, make a list of places you’d like to work and order them most desirable to least. Next, get an interview with one or two of those you like the least. This was advice Professor Ed West gave me many years ago. The idea is to get the nerves and mistakes out of the way first with places you don’t care to lose. Once you’re comfortable with the real thing here’s what you’ll need: your portfolio, a resume, business cards and professional or flamboyant (or both) attire. DO NOT CHEW GUM!

Finally, there will be some clients that will want to see work digitally. Whether that’s their preference or they’re half way across the world, LET THEM MAKE THAT DECISION. Otherwise a physical, well-made copy of your work that potential clients can hold and flip through is worth its weight in gold.

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Got art?

It’s here! Our online shop offers original photography and art, which can be viewed here. Every piece is edition marked, hand signed and shipping is included in the price.

I’ve included travel shots from Taiwan, Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the ever-changing Chicago skyline, which I shot for almost two years from the same spot. There’s also a limited edition Enter the Dragon print in time for Chinese New Year. We’re really flexible and enjoy working on projects so if you have a combination or request for something larger, let us know. Thanks for the continued support!


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Ninety-Eight Cents Out of a Dollar

Lately I’ve encountered many students on the verge of graduating college. Most of them are reluctantly looking ahead to more school.

If I’ve learned anything in the last seven years it’s this: don’t do it if it’s not what you want.

The last thing that will relieve the burden of books and instructors and deadlines is more school.

Now, I’m not saying more school is a bad thing, but it’s more worthwhile to take a break and see the real world first.

Get a job in your field of study, or move to a big city and find part time work. Interact with people. Only then will you truly learn.

After seven years of working in the real world, I want to go back to school. I’ll take it more seriously and get more out of it at every level than I would had I gone to school right after graduation.

Life experience has brought me focus and appreciation.


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Good-bye, Hello

It’s been an incredible year. We moved back to our home state, started the business, figured out the ins-and-outs of working from home and created some photographs and art pieces we’re darn proud of. We have lots in store for next year along with more fine art from -N- which can be seen at www.fotoazzaro.com. Many people are surprised that we differentiate the two but it allows for more adventurous exploration on his part to create works that are meant for collector and museum consideration. It’s also a strong reference for his graduate school candidacy, (which I’m too superstitious to talk about).

Here are some of the highlights of the past year. There really is beauty all around us.

Icelandic architecture

Installation by Neighborhood Kid


Natural printmaking

Man-made and natural: complementary colors


We hope that where ever you are tomorrow night, you’re safe, warm and with those you love.

Happy New Year!


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Hit the streets.

This is a very busy time of year for everyone. However, that’s no excuse.

Stay focused. Get out there and get inspired. Show the world how you see it.

Sketch, if that’s what you do, or paint or sculpt. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you do.


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It isn’t something you purchase with the intent to turn around for profit, or in some cases even the value paid. It isn’t something you own if it’s something you don’t understand. It isn’t something you buy just to store in a basement. It certainly isn’t something that’s easy to define.

Art provokes. Art challenges. Art is an outlet. Art is something that can literally be anything, yet everyone knows what art is to them. The OCCUPY WALL SPACE movement isn’t to force people to buy art, but when they do to actually consider the art, artist and community.

It’s far too easy to run to Pier 1 or Bed, Bath and Beyond and purchase an over priced reproduction that’s been mass printed. For the same price, however, you can hand pick an original piece that will make you smile, give you something to talk about and perhaps inspire you to think differently. Please do what you can to help people that offer so much to this world, and are so often overlooked.


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Sweet home Chicago.

All we can say is thank you to one of the greatest cities in the world.

It may be known for its architecture and food, but that isn’t what separates it from the rest.

It’s the people. Chicago is home to the best photographers in the world.

They’re not the best simply because they can do anything with a camera. No. They’re the best because they’re also teachers.

They’re patient and willing to share their decades of experience with those that wish to learn. Good luck finding that in NY or LA!

Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be the photographer or person that I am today.

Thanks, DUDES!

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Keeping up with the Art Trashians.

When there’s too much of anything, it no longer holds it’s value. This applies to things such as food, art and even weddings. Whether religious or not, a marriage is the joining of two people that are truly in love and see themselves with their partner for the rest of their lives. When somebody tells the world they’re getting married and makes a huge deal of it, and then divorces a few weeks later, that tends to hurt the foundation of marriage. Why take it serious anymore?

Art is no different. We live in a world that’s flooded with “art”. I must use quotations because, let’s be honest, not everyone has had the same amount of art experience as others. Cafes, lounges and even restaurants are often crowded with photography, paintings or any other incarnation of “art”, usually supplied by local artists. This is where it becomes vital that these artists realize that even if they make the $150 or $250 they have listed next to their work, they’re doing themselves and every other artist a disservice.

Allowing a business to show your work seems like a win-win situation, but it’s not. Consider that a museum or gallery will show your work at the ideal viewing height, with optimal lighting and bring in crowds of people that are only interested in art. Restaurants and cafes only care about selling their goods and services. And the patrons? Rarely does anyone that enters a T.G.I.Fridays with a hankering for the Caribbean Passion Tossed Salad ever say, “You know, I came to T.G.I.Fridays because they have good prices, but I really want to spend this $250 I have in my wallet on that painting that makes absolutely no sense.” If it does, I owe you a Coke.



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As simple as Battleship.

Not many people know that the game Battleship was originally a pad and pencil game published by Milton Bradley Company in 1931. It wasn’t until years later that it became such a model of sleek simplicity. A solid red box and a solid blue box. Each open to reveal two aqua tinted, transparent grids. There are red pegs for hits and white ones for misses. Each box comes with five ships. Even the pad and pencil version wasted paper. This updated version was and is flawless for it’s design and simple idea.

Martin Klimas fits this mold, as well. I found his work while flipping through a magazine one day. His idea is simple, the execution is not difficult, once established, and the payoff is genius. His work also shows that not all good ideas are complicated.

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