How to put together a graphic design portfolio

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When you’re looking for a graphic design or presentation graphics role, your portfolio is often more important than your CV.

Creating your Portfolio

Here are our tips for putting together a portfolio that will grab the attention of employers.

Consider formats

Your portfolio can exist as a printed object, a PDF, a website, or all three. When applying for work you’ll be expected to submit your portfolio in the first instance, so an online or PDF portfolio is essential.

If you’re specifically a print designer, then you should take your printed portfolio to meetings. However, if you’re interviewing for a digital design position, then why not turn up to the interview with an iPad, and show them your online portfolio? It’s more interactive, and easier to talk the interviewer through your most relevant pieces of work.

Show a breadth of styles

Don’t limit your job opportunities by only showcasing one side of your work. The samples in your portfolio should cover a range of tones, from formal to fun and everything in between.

Showcase your full skillset

Graphic design is a broad field, and you should show off as much as you can. Don’t limit your portfolio to the same old stuff over and over again. Dedicate a couple of pages to your branding work, a couple to any corporate presentations you’ve done, and further areas of the portfolio to things like illustration, typeface, web design and anything else you’ve done.

It’ll also help if you index your portfolio, to make it easier for people to find what they want.

Have your ideal job in mind

Think about your ideal job, and tailor your portfolio to it. Now, your ideal job may well change over time, which is where an online portfolio or PDF portfolio comes in handy, as they are easier to tailor to specific job applications.

Non-client work is fine

If your work experience doesn’t reflect the skills required of your dream role, or if you’re just getting started, then design something specifically for your portfolio. This allows you to showcase the skills you have, even if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to employ those skills within paid work.

Let your portfolio be image-led…

Where possible subscribe to that old motto: Show, don’t tell.

… But that doesn’t mean you can’t include text

Testimonials and short case studies are great, so long as the points are illustrated by samples of the work they are referring to. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate how you would lay out a page of text.

It can also help to include the brief, and give the reader an idea of how you worked to meet the brief.

If you have an online portfolio, it would be a good idea to add a blog to it, and keep it updated with your musings on the work you are doing, as well as graphic design stories in the news.

Keep it refreshed

The worst thing you can do is show someone a portfolio where the most recent piece of work is three years old. Even when you’re not actively seeking work, you should still curate your portfolio and keep it updated, especially if you have an online portfolio.

Our Graphic Design and Presentation Graphics consultants are on hand to give our candidates any advice they may need on their portfolios. Register with us and send us your portfolio here.

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