Building your portfolio as a designer is absolutely crucial. It’s something you need to keep revisiting and keep adding to over and over again until the end of your career as a designer. If you don’t take anything else away from this blog post, remember that your portfolio is never finished!
Often design students neglect portfolio building until their senior year, but this is a huge mistakr. Your portfolio should be seen as a magical sword which only you can wield. It’s the most important representation of you as a designer and should be thought about and looked at as often as you create new work for clients. Degrees mean nothing, the real meat is your portfolio. It must showcase your creative thought process and show possible employers what you’re capable of and what you can bring to their company.
Sometimes it’s even a good idea to have multiple portfolios. There is no single, perfect portfolio touched by unicorn magic that gives you instant job offers. When developing your portfolio think about the kind of job or company you would love to work for. Think about the kind of work you would love to showcase to potential clients. Maybe it’s package design. Whatever it is, develop your portfolio based on the type of jobs you’re aiming for. Nobody in the hiring process wants to look at work that has no relation to what the company actually does. Although you can put in a couple of different pieces that may showcase other skills, the bulk of the portfolio should correspond with the job you’re seeking.
Choose your best work. Just because a piece is important to you doesn’t mean it’s the best representation of your work and skill. Go back to older work and evaluate it. Update old projects to fit your current skill level and continue to do so over and over again. Remember, your portfolio is never finished!
Your portfolio will either help you or destroy you. Weak work, bad grammar and poor design choices can distract the interviewer from the other amazing in your portfolio. Make sure NO low quality work makes its way into your portfolio.
Don’t be afraid of anything. Never be afraid to organize and get together with other artists and designers. Remember most work in the industry is work created in a team. Not only will you be able to create a new portfolio piece, but also you’ll be able to gain experience while working in a team or group.
People ask how many pieces should a portfolio have…and it’s really all about quality over quantity. A portfolio can have 5 piece, 12 pieces or more. It’s up to you to decide which collection of work gives you the best chance to succeed. It’s better to have a smaller portfolio of AMAZING work than a massive portfolio that’s mediocre.
The flow of the portfolio is just as important as the kind of pieces and big ideas you may have displayed in your body of work. Spend a good amount of time shaping your layout of the portfolio and deciding which order your work will appear in. This can also save the interviewer time and bring to light your ability to work with detail. Always start strong and end strong.
Make sure you’re in love with all of your pieces in your current portfolio before going to the interview. If you have to apologize for a piece in your portfolio, it doesn’t belong there.
And finally remember, your portfolio is NEVER finished.