Portfolio Tips for Budding Designers

Portfolio Tips

Whether you’re applying for an internship or a job, an impressive portfolio is your best weapon. It doesn’t matter how loud, confident or even experienced the competition is — if your portfolio stands out and demonstrates a wide range of skills, you’re in with a good chance of securing the work. Here’s how to improve your portfolio and get noticed:

Quality Over Quantity

Only include your best work in your portfolio. If you only have two or three pieces you’re happy with, you’re not ready. Filling your portfolio with mediocre work is worse than leaving it empty, and will make you look impatient, unprofessional or lazy.

Brand Yourself

Turning your name or initials into a logo is one way to do this. You want potential clients and employees to remember you as well as your work. Being known for a good design is great, but being known as a good designer is even better. If your brand isn’t memorable, how can clients trust you to make theirs memorable?

Don’t Neglect Print

You might have an impressive online portfolio, but if you show people, they’re likely to look at it once and then forget about it. We read so much online that it’s hard to keep track of what we’ve seen, and finding things again is near impossible.

A print portfolio can sit on a bookshelf, a waiting-room table, or be filed away in a cabinet — and can be sought out, or stumbled upon, at any time. Tactile things are far more memorable, too. Bonus points for putting something useful in your portfolio (think free drinks coasters, or postcards, or bookmarks featuring your designs).

Tailor Your Portfolio

When applying for a job, the sensible thing to do is tailor your personal statement or CV to suit the position you’re applying for. The same goes for your portfolio — only include things that will interest the person you’re showing it to.

You don’t have to start from scratch every time you show your portfolio to someone new, though. Just tweak it a bit. Regularly switching the contents up should also prevent them from getting old or out-of-date, so you shouldn’t have to worry about replacing them every year. Alternatively, design two separate portfolios and just use the best fit for the job. If you’re often in a hurry, this might be more practical.

Use Recommendations and Case Studies

It’s easier to understand a design if it’s contextualised, so it’s good practice to include at least one case study in your portfolio and explain the process behind the finished design. Introduce the project, explain why you made the creative decisions you did, and if possible, include a recommendation from the client, too.

Showcase Your Talents

It’s not just about what’s in the portfolio  — how the portfolio is designed is incredibly important for any budding graphic designer as well. Use your website to show your typography, layout and logo skills. You want your portfolio to be impressive in its own right, but don’t go overboard — it still needs to look professional.

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