Show Me Your Work

August 18, 2010

I love to look at the work of other designers.  I have subscriptions to atleast 10 magazines showcasing either design trends for the general public or ideas and knowledge for industry professionals.  Those fleeting moments when I’m waiting for applications to load on my computer, I’m surfing the internet studying the competition.

While our company is located in the midwest, I look at sites for designers and remodelers all over the world.  The ideas that can accumulate in one’s brain is amazing!  And while a popular design trend in Miami will probably never fly with my Chicago client, a solution to a design challenge can sometimes rise to the top.

Designers and remodelers should always be learning from each other.  But as I have been surfing often lately, I have been coming across a disturbing trend more and more… Photo galleries that are not necessarily reflective of a company’s portfolio of work.

The most natural thing when shopping for a designer or contractor is to investigate their website.  You see a link called “Photos” and wow!  Amazing photographs of amazing rooms.  The first question you need to ask… is this a “portfolio of work?”  Or is it a “photo gallery?”  The later being a collection of photos freely downloaded from the internet that has no relationship to the work performed by this company or individual.

Sad as it may seem, while not blatantly saying ‘this is my work’ when it is not – posting photos on a website gives the impression that this is the product of this particular company, especially when the source of the photo is not acknowledged.  With unemployment so high, many people are trying their hand at flying solo and an impressive website is a good start to finding clients.  The old adage of “fake it until your make it” comes in here.

There is nothing wrong with using a first time designer or remodeler on your project – as long as you know, up front, that you are a guinea pig and your investment reflects the inconveniences that you will inevitably encounter.

If you find a website where the photos are professionally shot and there are no acknowledgements attached to the pictures, ask them in an email or phone call if the photos of are their work.  If the answer is that it is not their work but they can replicate that look, ask to see a portfolio of their actual work.  Don’t be afraid to even ask for references for those photos.  Trust is earned, not given – and in this business, you are dealing with one of your biggest investments, your home.  Never assume anything.

Written for Imperial Kitchens and Baths, Inc. by staff designer Stephanie Bullwinkel, CBD.

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One Response to “Show Me Your Work”

  1. I agree. I look at the Portfolio tab for projects that were done by the company. If you have to use supplier photos, please don’t put them in your portfolio! Great post.

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