Personal Reflections | From Nepal to Canada – Entering the Creative Scene


A recently landed Nepali Immigrant and Volunteer of ShowBook Week 12.2, Pawana Shrestha, took the liberty to write us her first-hand observation of our week long portfolio review engagement. Pawana covers some great points of how it is in Nepal vs here in Canada from noted agencies. This is a recommended read for anyone who want to enter the creative market, be it Canadian or with International experience.


If you have these questions, padpholio ShowBook Week event is the right platform to get you your answers! The idea of this event is boundless as it helps designers to have one-to-one portfolio review session with the design industries’ Creative/Art Director for feedback. A true entry point into the industry.

The event is not limited to recent graduates, rather is open to anyone who is willing to have a creative voice and promote better creativity in the design industry. Being a new comer myself to Canada, with back home (Nepal) study and work experience in
architecture and general graphic designs, it was a great experience for me to volunteer in
Padpholio’s ShowBook Week event. I personally observed the ShowBook Week event for two days, where Jeff Mann, Creative Catalyst of Method Creative Studio and Pietro Gagliano, Creative Director/Partner of Secret Location reviewed portfolio of a Toronto based graphic designer, Judith Viale.

Judith is doing her part-time internship at a Magazine; while in search to be an industry full timer. Judith had not only one review, but two. One with Jeff and the other with Pietro. Jeff, advised her with better techniques to apply for jobs. Applying on jobs are commonly practiced via emails now-a-days; however Jeff highly recommends the door-to-door approach for added noticeability. “Come with a physical portfolio and design prints on hand”, Jeff mentions. The evolution of the idea is the main focal he looks in a portfolio. To clarify, ‘Design methods can be taught, but not the ideas’. For a portfolio to be strong, Jeff suggests designers to develop one’s own style and be consistent in the design.

He points out on Judith’s portfolio, to have typeface and signature on letter pad designs to be more realistic. While in a poster design, he suggested having subtle background to focus on main concept. In branding, he prefers to see – design incorporated in the identity’s color. He adds, ‘headline, brand logo, company website and its advertisement slogan makes an advertisement complete’.

While Pietro Gagliano carried out a different approach of recruiting than Jeff Mann. Being engaged in digital interactive industry, Pietro prefers a portfolio in a digital format. It was amazing to hear him say that he only takes 6 seconds to have hiring decision when he looks into someone’s portfolio. That is why the first 2-3 pieces of design in a portfolio are the most determining factors for a hiring process for him. If your portfolio is appealing enough to draw his attention more, congratulations! You are IN into his company. In Pietro’s case, he prefers the attendance of his team that’s why “location location location” matters most with each applicant.

Jeff and Pietro had their own insight towards the hiring process, the key features that they look into a good portfolio were same. Alike Jeff’s suggestions, Pietro too considers a good portfolio that has consistency on design with color, logo, identity that makes the design more specific. He suggests working on main design first and complementing the rest with subtle designs. Pietro is a very detail oriented creative and a perfectionist; moreover he has a very good train of eye. He prefers the designs of letter pad, envelope, and visiting card in its real size in a portfolio.

Your single discrepancy in font size or type, color or idea would not be skipped off Pietro’s eyes; you will be caught right there!

The feed-backs of both the industry leaders, Jeff Mann and Pietro Gagliano, were not only
helpful to Judith, but were very informative to me. I explored Toronto’s graphic scene through the explanatory responses of the leading designers. The graphic design market in Nepal is not that big as here as in Canada. It’s not been long that the concept of graphic design evolved in Nepal; and unfortunately there are no academic courses on it so far. You can only find computer training institute where designing Softwares are taught, but not the principles of design. The common practice on Web/Graphic design in Nepal includes websites, magazines, advertisement and package design for big and multifaceted companies. Since Nepal has fewer numbers of large companies, there is low demand of graphic design too. However, understanding of importance of graphic designing for company growth has been increasing these days by even small and personal businesses in Nepal. So, the Nepali graphic design industry seems to flourish better in near future. In Canada, most businesses are through chain and they are aware of their corporate identity. Having high competition in Canadian business market, the business companies want to unify their image through branding consistency.

The need of graphic and digital interactive media is higher due to the competition of businesses, which has further resulted in the high competition among the different graphic designing companies too.

- Pawana Shrestha


Where is Pawana now?
ShowBook Week has presented Pawana with a lot of insight of the creative scene. Persuaded to make it in this market; and through the guidance and inputs of attending Creative Directors; she has decided to step into the field by learning how it is here in Canada. First step – School! Next – Build up a portfolio.

As the Creative Director of padpholio, I look forward to see the growth and development of Pawana since her last portfolio review. And would be happy to list future blog posts of personal and industry reflections just like this one; from Pawana and others in our fine industry.

Till next time…

creative director/co-founder

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