By Tobias van Schneider Published December 16, 2019
Building portfolios has been a big part of my life and career for 15+ years now, from the dozens of times I’ve re-designed my own portfolio, to the countless times I reviewed portfolios as a creative director or at events, to the company I run today.
To me, a portfolio is the centerpiece of my work as a creative. It’s where all my projects come together to tell a story. It’s a place for me to reflect on what I’ve done and decide where I want to go in the future. My portfolio is my little home online, one I can fully own and design the way I want, compared to a sea of social networks that force me into their structure.
I ultimately declared my love for design portfolios almost six years ago when co-founding Semplice.com, an advanced portfolio builder and community for like-minded designers.
Since then, helping creatives build their best portfolio has been on my mind every day. We made it our responsibility to not only build the tools, but to also dig a little deeper. We sought to understand why creatives are building a portfolio, what they aim to achieve with it and how we can help them reach their personal goals with it.
We started asking simple questions such as:
Why does someone need a portfolio?
What makes a great copywriter portfolio in comparison to a great illustrator portfolio?
How does a portfolio change over time?
Who are the people reviewing portfolios, and how can we make it easier for them to find what they are looking for?
Does seniority within a field change the way a portfolio is designed?
We quickly learned the vast differences between how creatives approach their portfolio, from art directors to UX designers to creative directors, copywriters, makeup artists, illustrators and architects. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so we made it our mission to understand everything we could about each industry and build tools that help them reach their goals.
As a result of our learnings, we started sharing portfolio advice on thedeskmagazine.com and poured all of our knowledge into Semplice.com, making it one of the most advanced and loved portfolio systems on the current market. The Semplice community has become known for building beautiful, unique and often highly customized portfolios. Over the years, we learned that the typical Semplice member has a solid foundation for how web design works and enjoys the challenge of building from scratch.
While we kept adding more advanced features and streamlined the platform for our specific power users, we discovered there was demand from another group of creatives. In contrast to the regular Semplice member who loves to own and customize everything possible, these creatives dreamed of having a beautiful portfolio, but without the hassle of technicalities and self-hosting.
For those people, it seemed the only other option was a template. To me, they deserved more than that. So along with my team, we aimed to give them something better.
You’re now either completely surprised or not surprised at all. But let me explain everything in detail so it makes sense.
I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined Carbonmade as partner and co-CEO, which essentially means I’m fully committed to the vision and product. Together with my partner, Jason (who co-founded Carbonmade and has worked on it since 2005), we spent the past 1.5 years quietly rebuilding the entire portfolio product from scratch. We re-branded the platform and soft-launched it just a few months ago.
It’s been a humbling (and rather sleepless) experience combining our knowledge to build this new platform, and I have to admit I’m quite proud of what we’ve done so far. And as always, this is just the beginning.
Carbonmade.com is the answer to where I left off above. It’s a fully hosted portfolio and media platform to build a personalized website, literally within minutes. It’s for those who want to get a site up as fast as possible without worrying much about technicalities, or settling for a one-size-fits-all template.
We built the new Carbonmade 4 specifically for photographers, motion designers, graphic designers, illustrators, makeup artists, architects, copywriters, concept artists – any and all creatives. There is no lengthy set-up. You just sign up within a couple seconds, drag & drop some work and when you’re ready to go live, you go live.
But before this turns into me writing how amazing Carbonmade is, you might just try it yourself. You can expect me writing about it much more in the future, consider this the intro.
So how does this new venture affect Semplice?
I’d be lying to you if I’d say it doesn’t affect Semplice, because it does. The good news is, it affects it in the best way possible as it helps us sharpen the mission for both companies even more.
Both Semplice and Carbonmade share a common vision yet differentiate themselves through mission and execution. They’re both products that live on a spectrum rather than opposing sides.
We will focus on making Semplice the most powerful and advanced portfolio platform, ensuring it’s the select tool for those who push it to the limits with customizations and unique layouts.
At the same time, we’ll make Carbonmade the most accessible and easy-to-use portfolio platform, enabling many more creatives to build a beautiful portfolio and get hired without the need to code or be technically literate.
I will personally continue to work on both products equally as I’ve done over the past 1.5 years, and I’m more than excited about what’s to come.
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the founder of DESK, nice to meet you!