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Ben SaysNot at ALL if you’re a student. Even as a young professional I think self-initiated design projects are a great way to try out new ideas or techniques.

That said, one of the most important qualities of a good professional designer is the ability to sell his or her ideas to a client. If your entire portfolio consists of self-initiated projects it doesn’t show your ability to do this so I personally always try to find a balance.

          

Frank SaysI think it’s completely reasonable to expect young designers and illustrators to have fictional projects in their portfolio. It allows younger, less experienced students and designers tackle the issues inherent in large, multi-dimensional projects that would be difficult for someone with little experience to do professionally. Consider it the batting cages.

With that being said though, I think there’s an obligation for the designer or illustrator to clearly mark these projects as pilot projects or fictional projects inside of their portfolio.