The Daily Heller: It is Late Spring and Portfolio Season

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The middle of May and the end of June brings Portfolio Season—a hurricane-like deluge of graduating and graduated design students looking for paid work or free critique of their academic output. My inbox gets dozens. Although I long ago stopped art directing illustration, I get a fair share of it too. To stand out among the flood, a portfolio has to have flair, personality—a certain je ne sais quoi? Recently, I received one that just struck me as delightful, and it inspired me to recall a former PRINT magazine feature from the '80s and '90s called “Mini Portfolios.” After seeing what the artist sent me I asked her to send additional work. Indeed, that’s how it works—sometimes the portfolio is just a trigger. So here is her cover letter (which for maximum impact should be personally addressed rather than a form letter, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt) and the subsequent work, accompanied by her Instagram and website URLs.


My name is Ghazil Qadri. I graduated as a student of MA Illustration from the Maryland Institute College of Art, in May, this year.

While I very well understand all that is going on in the world right now, I am trying my best to take this time to learn as much as I can about the possible career paths and work opportunities in the field of Illustration in the United States. I am actively looking for work opportunities to showcase my skills and get more real-life experience in this field.

I worked as a full-time Illustrator for 2 years at a UI/UX design studio in Bangalore, India, where I designed illustrations for the company's digital products. My freelancing work, spread over more than 5 years, has exposed me to the dynamically expanding illustration work going on across the world.

I recently had an opportunity to illustrate the children’s picture book Okus Bokus. Aimed at promoting the local culture and language, the book is the first of its kind in Kashmir. Bright ideas always shoot into the mind of Onaiza Drabu, the author of the book. I was very lucky, she cherry-picked me to illustrate her brainchild.

I have been an active participant in the collaborative illustration work for the calendar that celebrated the successful, yet forgotten, women of Kashmir. The calendar was a great success and received widespread acclaim.

I also designed WhatsApp emoji stickers to promote the Kashmiri language, facing attrition. The emojis received over 100,000 users. The mobile application has currently more than 50,000 users across the world.

I always enjoy making relatable comics in the form of stories and engagements online. It is heartening to receive an overwhelming response from the admirers/critics out there.

With such immense expertise that you have in the field of Illustration, I seek your help in my search for some suitable freelance projects in this country.

Ghazai sent along samples of three projects. The first I can personally relate to. The second is absurdly hilarious, especially for a germaphobe, and the third is simply charming. If I were in the illo-buying market, she'd be a contender.

Project One: Papa loves Mama Books

A biography of my father’s love affair with his books. … This is his journey where I witness his accidents and face-offs with my mother while he tries to love his books more than my mom.

Project Two: Mr. Dirt Falls In Love

This is a sequel of the story of Mr. Dirt that I created before this comic. Mr. Dirt the protagonist now falls in love with a human, Juliet, while imagining himself to be the Romeo in his dream sequence. To his shock, after recovering he realizes that the dream was shattered when he gets thrown like a spec of dirt.

Project Three: It's Anne's Mindcastle

This comic series is fan art of the Netflix series "Anne with an E." The comic was created using all my favorite dialogues from the series and knitting them to create a story out of the same characters and fun.