Five-week free retreat to help emerging designers improve their portfolios

If you're trying to break into the design world, then you'll know that crafting a killer portfolio is absolutely vital to get you noticed by the right people and into the best jobs. But with so many other new designers fighting for attention, how can you make your portfolio stand out from the crowd? One that leads with your voice and builds on your personal brand?

Wix Playground. Image credit: Tal Uliel

Wix Playground. Image credit: Tal Uliel

Well, here's a fantastic opportunity courtesy of Wix, the leading cloud-based development platform. The Wix Playground Academy is a five-week online programme that supports and encourages emerging designers by helping them build a personal portfolio.

In the past, student portfolios were reviewed by industry-leading designers, big names as Jessica Walsh, Debbie Millman, Alexandra Zsigmond, Adam Kurtz, Nicole Ginelli and Hagit Kaufman. And best of all, the course is absolutely free!

Want to take part? Then read on, and we'll give you all the details you need, as well as share some of the best work by those who've taken the course to inspire you.

How to apply

The Wix Playground Academy is looking for creative and passionate individuals with high-level graphic design skills. Suppose you're a student or a junior designer looking to expand your professional identity and cultivate your personal brand. In that case, you need to send them your portfolio for review and fill out this application form.

The deadline for submissions is 1 December 2021. You can apply if you're 18+, a design school student, a junior freelance designer, a self-taught junior designer or if you work in design-related fields. Relevant applicants will be called for a short interview.

The programme runs in three different locations: United States, Europe, and Tel Aviv. Its European cohort for 2022 will take place between 10 January and 11 February 2022. Some of the lecturers already lined up include Alexandra Zsigmond, Nicole Ginelli, Anna Ginsburg, Hey Studio and Creative Boom's editor, Katy Cowan.

What does the course involve?

Wix Playground is dedicated to celebrating design culture and freedom, giving creatives the tools they need to grow, connect, and experiment. At the Wix Playground Academy, emerging designers learn through experimentation how to identify their creative voice and shape their online presence.

Image credit: Hermes Mazali

Image credit: Hermes Mazali

For the last three years, Wix Playground has been running an intensive programme taught by industry-leading experts in New York City. But if you don't live in the US, then great news: since moving online in 2020, Wix Playground is now able to bring the academy to more locations.

Taking place over Zoom, the Online Edition is a four- to five-week exclusive and extensive programme where young creatives get to enrich their professional skill set, interact with industry leaders and network with other like-minded designers. Alongside playful and experimental workshops, you'll focus on discovering your creative voice and have your online portfolio ready to showcase.

Here are some of the topics covered:

  • UX/UI: develop a user-centred approach to interaction design while creating and implementing a style guide for site components.
  • Basic code: learn how to implement database collections, add custom forms and change site behaviour.
  • Content management: learn how to create content-rich websites.
  • Mockups and Animation: learn different tools and skills to have an optimal project presentation.
  • Project management: Learn how to create timelines for projects, scopes and deadlines.
  • Content writing: get advice from professional content writers on how to write good representative text.
  • Visual research: Learn how to do inspiration research and identify visual trends.

Three amazing portfolios to inspire you

The best thing about taking part in the Wix Playground Academy is that you'll be joining a network of enthusiastic creatives, just like you. Just to inspire you further, check out these three amazing portfolios by students from 2021's Wix Playground Academy.

1. Ben Eli

A graduate of Teesside University in the UK, Ben Eli is now working at Lazy Oaf. Revamped as part of his course, his portfolio website showcases his trademark inventiveness with typography in spectacular fashion while remaining easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye. (To learn more about Ben's journey, read our interview.)

Ben says of this year's Wix Playground Academy: "It was fast-paced and challenging in the best way possible, and pushed us as designers to ideate, experiment and design across multiple methods that I'll now take with me throughout my career."

He adds: "The work we did on finding our personal brand, researching, and finding references taught me to feel unapologetic about who I am, what I do, what I like. Initially, I was nervous that many of my references and ideas didn't look like the others or what might be expected. But the mentors and Wix team really just championed me in that. I became much more confident in talking about myself, myself as a creative, and what I want to do, and I think that has really shown."

Ben Eli

2. Valentina Brasili

Valentina Brasili is an Italian graphic designer who's currently based in Barcelona. She studied at the Università Degli Studi di Perugia and has been working as a freelance designer since 2017.

This year she took part in Wix Playground Academy, and her portfolio website got a serious makeover as a result. It's been transformed into a masterpiece of monochrome minimalism, which showcases her original vision and makes her stand out from the crowd while giving the visitor all the information they need, smartly and efficiently.

She describes her time at the Wix Playground Academy as "an amazing experience: being able to meet, work, and connect with so many nice and talented people during this time of isolation has been so fulfilling and inspiring. You feel like part of a community, which I value a lot, and it's not easy to find. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if I could!"

Valentina Brasili

3. Joasia Fidler

Polish designer Joasia Fidler studied at Akademia Sztuk Pięknych in Warsaw and today works as a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and art director based in Berlin.

While taking part in Wix Playground Academy, she reimagined her portfolio website with a breathtaking sense of flair imagination. It now stands proud and confident, based on a type-only design that looks quite unlike anything we've seen before. What a way to grab potential clients' attention!

The main lesson Joasia learned from her experiences with the Wix Playground Academy was that "working with other creative people is a lot of fun," she says. "In general, I enjoy participating in workshops because I can always be surprised, over and over again, that my way of thinking is not the only one."

Joasia Fidler

Apply for the Wix Playground Academy today!

A place on the Wix Playground Academy is one of the biggest opportunities any emerging designer can get right now. If you're successful, you'll get the chance to receive top-level training, guidance and mentorship from some of the design industry's biggest names, and all for free.

It costs nothing to apply, and you've got everything to gain. So don't waste time: the last date for submissions is coming up soon, on 1 December 2021. Head to The Wix Playground Academy and submit your application today. And the best of luck from all of us at Creative Boom!

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