At the end of our student careers we knew two big things were headed our way: 1) creating a portfolio and final year exhibition, and 2) being jobless. If all goes well our final varsity project should get us jobs. To make ourselves as attractive as possible to prospective employers we decided on selling ourselves as cheaply as possible.
We were inspired by the cheap aesthetic of our local South African Spaza Shops. These are small independent grocers and convenience stores that sell everything from shampoo to street food. Wether you know these as Off-License stores or Bodega's, you should be familiar with the neon signs and stickers, the zealous use of exclamation marks and hand written signage.
Hand outs and collateral
As part of our exhibition design we created a series of business cards, CV's and mini-portfolio's inspired by everything that is sold at these convenience stores. From over the counter goods like lighters and cigarettes to gum and lottery tickets. This all helped set the scene for our recreation of a convenience store on our exhibition night.
We really enjoy publication design, and tried to push our portfolio book to become a portfolio piece in itself.
We coptic stitched our portfolio in a 12 page signature to ensure that the book can open flat, and then stay open flat for display at our exhibition stand. We gilded the book's edges in silver and created a silver hardcover. The signatures were attached to the bottom of the book leaving the spine exposed, where we created a custom spine reading "HIRE US" by slicing up the spine design and spreading it across our 21 completed signatures.
To get industry to come to our exhibition we created a series of invites - from hand written personal invites to posters and FAQ hand outs. The invites were a great success. At some point we had a queue at our stand people to come chat to us.
After a year of doing short internships while we were students we learned how expendable we are, especially as juniors and interns, in the industry. The experience stained our rosy perception of the industry as a creative hub. Instead we realised that agency life is a function of business as well. However, it didn't stop us from trying to poke some fun at the situation. This project scored us the internships we were after, both locally and globally.