The assignment for recent grad Danielle Lee Kroll’s portfolio class at Philadelphia’s Tyler School of Art was quintessential: Create a self-promotional piece to highlight the unique characteristics of her work.
The result: a stapled, stamped and singular swatch booklet of notable projects that blew this year’s Promotion Awards judges away. “I knew it from the moment I held it in my hands. I got that special feeling,” says judge Megan Patrick, HOW’s senior editor.
Kroll—who grazed on the pastures of printmaking before entering Tyler’s design program—loves integrating patterns in her work and modeled her portfolio piece after a fabric swatch booklet to emphasize that aspect of her design. Perfectly sheared slips of printed fabric lie behind dividers that include a photo and information about the given project that features the patterns. “By referencing a swatch booklet, the viewer understands the importance of fabric and pattern in my design work,” Kroll says.
All projects featured in the Swatch Promo are from one semester’s schoolwork and range from book design for a Pocket Poets Series to packaging for Bitchin Bubbles and Zodiac Assorted Polish Tea. As different as the projects are, Kroll’s unmistakable style shines through as you feather through the beautiful patterns. The outer appearance of the swatch book carries on Kroll’s vintage aesthetic, as the mismatched patterns are viewed side-by-side as one complete piece.
“Genius. It’s really low-budget but it doesn’t feel that way,” remarks judge Bryn Mooth, HOW’s editor, running her fingers along the staples binding the piece together. Even the staples aren’t the run-of-the-mill, office variety, but instead are the sturdy staples used for upholstering.
Kroll gathered the fabric she used to print patterns on from a craft store. Other handmade elements include a section on the dividers for the order number of the patterns used. Kroll also hand-stamped order numbers on the back of each piece of fabric to add another level of realism. A hand-done check mark and stamp reading “Inspected for Perfection by DLK” also appear on each divider, continuing the fantasy that you’re not just viewing great work in a portfolio, but that you’ve been drawn into the process of seeing the product created from scratch—or swatch.
The HOW judges have no idea what grade Kroll received for this portfolio project. But that’s a moot point for this self-promo stand-out. One thing is for sure: The outside appearance of Kroll’s project is a beautiful reflection of the work within.