Emily Tan Byravee Iyer
May 28, 2015

Eager, young, ambitious: Portfolio Night HK, Singapore and China

ASIA-PACIFIC - Last Wednesday night five Asian cities took part in the 13th Portfolio Night, a global event aimed at creative mentorship. Campaign Asia-Pacific was the media partner for the events in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai (hosted by Ogilvy & Mather) and Singapore (hosted by Bates CHI & Partners).

The event, founded by Ihaveandidea and presented by ADC (Art Director’s Club), presents a chance for budding and aspiring creatives to present their portfolios to a selection of each city’s most senior creative directors.

The host cities also attracted ambitious young talent from cities where the event was not being held. For example, Yang Chen, a copywriter for agency Tze Mo in Shenzhen, made the trip down to Hong Kong. A graphic designer from Vietnam planned her holiday in Singapore around the event, and Kevin (no last name given), a Korean from Seoul, traveled to Singapore just for the event.

Apart from immediate feedback from at least three senior creatives, each participant was evaluated, and at the end of the night the most impressive was chosen as the Porfolio Night All-Star. Each city’s winner will travel to New York City to collaborate on a week-long creative challenge for a real client brief. This year, the host agency for the All-Stars is JWT New York.

This year’s Asia-Pacific All-Stars are:

  • Beijing - Liu Tianyi
  • Hong Kong – Dick Wan
  • Shanghai – Ye Chen
  • Singapore - Cindy Roselina
  • Tokyo - Sakurako Furuyama

A spectrum of talent

Across the four markets covered by Campaign, an observation the senior creatives had in common is that Asia is home both to creative talent that agencies would fight to hire on the spot, and slightly more clueless but, nevertheless keen, individuals.

“It was a bit of a mixed bag,” said Jatinder Sandhu, creative director of Dentsu Singapore. “I saw great design stuff but not a whole lot of ideas, and as a creative director that’s what I am looking for. But there’s definitely a ton of passion and hunger, and that’s just as critical.”

 

Enya Pangilinan from Lasalle Singapore, for example, came to the event to simply “try it out”. She felt “advertising could be something” and would like constructive feedback on her work. “I’m hoping this event will help me improve and probably land me a job,” she said.

The Singapore event impressed Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, ECD of Bates CHI & Partners. “I’ve done this twice before (in India) and you’re bound to compare," he said. "I found the work here more prepared, in-depth, and everyone I reviewed seemed to have done their homework. I met a graphic designer who I’d love to hire.”

In Hong Kong, where the ad industry has long put down roots, but Portfolio Night hasn’t been held in five years, students attending the night ranged from well-prepared to trying-their-luck, despite a torrential downpour.

Frankie Yuen, for example, works in the art department of a magazine and attended the night in hopes of breaking into the industry, but without researching a single creative director. “The general feedback I received was that my work was visually beautiful but not conceptually strong,” said Yuen, adding that he would be better prepared for next year’s event.

In contrast, graphic designer Anastasia Simone and copywriter Jonathan Jay Lee, who participated in the night as a team, attended the event bubbling with enthusiasm to meet Ogilvy HK’s group ECD, Reed Collins. “We’ve been following him on Behance,” confessed Simone. “He didn’t seem super crazy about our work, but said he liked our ideas.”

"There are talented people here,” commented Collins. “There is a strong design culture in Hong Kong and overall, the attendees are tenacious, eager, excited. There are definitely internship positions at Ogilvy for some.”

The events in China were the largest hosted by Portfolio Night in Asia, commented Sarah West, global manager of Portfolio Nights for ADC. The two cities drew more than 130 budding creatives and 40 creative directors from more than 20 different agencies.

“Things have really progressed in China,” said West. “The first portfolio night there people were really unprepared. They had no idea what it was about. There was even one girl who turned up with painted ceramic plates. But today, the standard of work has really gone up.”

 

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