Netiquette: 6 Steps to the Perfect Autobiography

Graphic designers speak best through images. As visual thinkers, the sketchbook, iPad and the screen are the best ways to get your thoughts across through shapes, type and color. But what about words, and words about yourself? Designers need to have a detailed ‘About’ section on their website to flesh out their career and help get them more work. Believe it or not, a brief autobiography can help set you apart from other designers for clients, or potential clients, who aren’t as visually savvy. In six simple steps, here is how to write about your own graphic design accomplishments in a way that doesn’t sound like a CV, while mentioning your collaborations and makes you sound busy.

Write about yourself in the third person

The perfect designer bio is roughly three paragraphs, or 400 words. Don’t fret. It’s possible to tell your story in a clear, concise manner and in narrative form. Writing about yourself in third person may feel weird, but it’s a better way than speaking first person—it sounds not only professional, but is from an objective viewpoint, which is perfect for someone who is just getting familiar with your work.

Break it down

Don’t use fancy or jargon-filled design lingo, write your autobiography in a simple format. Break it down into three paragraphs. Paragraph one should include your name, profession, years of practice and where you are based, while the second paragraph two should include your vocational background, previous professions, awards, distinctive, trend-setting ideas and strength of vision and professional associations.

The third paragraph should include information showing your worth as a designer, including your education, your community and civic associations, including any related jobs (you may also throw in your sense of humor wherever you feel it is necessary), and facts which indicate the substance, weight and importance of yourself. Or, you can just list everything chronologically through bullet points and edit it all together into lively sentences which have a sense of rhythm.

Point out what it is that sets you apart

Think about what you would tell someone about your work if you just met them—like a job interview. What would you say about yourself as your strong points? It’s got to be more than just being a team player, what kind of work do you make that makes you outstanding? Did you figure out how to do a nationwide billboard project under a budget of $100,000? Did you design an album cover for the most famous musician in your city? Or did you manage a way to make recyclable posters for Greenpeace?

Include the sort of things that include design but go beyond it. It shows your extraordinary capabilities, what you’ve done to go above and beyond. Are you an expert at type? Are your designs known for their influence from retro advertisements from the 1950s? Were you mentored by Chip Kidd? All these things should be considered, too.  

Check out Chip Kidd’s TED talk on making a first impression with design. 

Mention your career and autobiography highlights

Easy. What was the five biggest career accomplishments you’ve ever had? Granted, not everyone has won an award, but try and emphasize all the positive things you’ve had in your career so far. Break down the accomplishments in your autobiography from ‘early in his/her/their career’ as well as ‘most recently.’

It helps show that you’re not just an overnight success, but have been developing your work over the years. What has made you most proud? Is it the pins you designed for a local politician? Or is it that one page in your portfolio you’re always boasting about?

autobiography mealings

Focus on the future

This is something most designers don’t think of – their autobiography (or their website) doesn’t have a section devoted to what you have upcoming. It could be an upcoming exhibition, a book release, a talk that you’re giving at a design conference. It could be a TED talk. It could be an exhibition.

Mention something you have upcoming towards the end of your biography, like you’re ‘working towards releasing a book on the history of Soviet architecture, to be released with [publishing house] name in fall 2019.’ Or that you’re working on an ongoing photo series of poster design in New York. Anything you have that’s ongoing or upcoming could be mentioned to show you do more than just sit at a desk all day.

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Sprinkle it with a bit of stardust

What’s the most important thing you need in your bio? A bit of sass. It can’t read just like a CV, you have to tell us about your signature story and style — the unique details about your autobiography — that make you stand out.

Are you obsessed with typography? If so, what kind, what era? What designers influence you the most? What era inspires you? What is your favorite Pantone color?

Teach people about not only your design, but your personal brand, what movements are you influenced by and what trademark colors and themes are you known for? Add that to the mix and you’ve got an excellent bio!

For more information on what goes into a killer bio and how to put one together, plus press kit and career strategy, snag my eBook,”Getting Your Shit Together.”

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