Professionals whose occupation involves creative designs such as artists, photographers, graphic designers, fashion designers and interior designers, should have their personal portfolio. A good portfolio presents quality not quantity. As time passes, designers should also update their portfolios, and some pieces should be re-vamped as needed. A portfolio can determine your employment or lack of, because some companies do not even schedule an interview without first looking at portfolio submissions. Your portfolio is then, the first impression. Therefore, as creative professionals, we must learn what makes a good portfolio.
Not only does a designer’s portfolio should speak for itself, but it should also represent the designer’s style in the design of the actual portfolio. This is also true for the designer’s resume, letterhead, business card, and even the envelope. If you are unable to create a successful visual identity for yourself, then how could you do so for a client? This is also true for your entire appearance during an interview, the way you present yourself, and most importantly, the way you present your portfolio. A prospect client or employer will begin to evaluate you from the moment you first make contact, whether it is in person, by e-mail, by phone, or with a cover letter.
Design Conventions of A Portfolio Presentation
What to consider:
Labels. Each piece should provide sufficient information about itself. A title, a description, and the software you used to accomplish the piece. Reference, if necessary, of elements used in the piece that you did not create yourself. You do not want to take credit or something you did not do. However, as a rule, is best to have pieces that you created entirely by yourself, than pieces you created by collaborating with other designers, or pieces that use stock images or illustrations.
Tailoring and Interchangeability. As a designer, you will probably go to several interviews before you find your first job. Having a portfolio that lets you easily change one piece for another is key to tailor each portfolio presentation to the job you are applying for. For example, if you apply for a company looking for an in-house graphic designer to create all their advertising graphics, you could switch a logo design for an ad. Or if you are applying for a company that specializes in designing logos for companies, you can add a couple more logo designs and take out some photography editing examples. If you were applying for a photography job at a studio, more family, children and baby shots as well as headshots would be good. If you were applying for a job as a stock photographer, photos of objects, landscapes, animals and business subjects would be best.
Various Formats. You never know what kind of time does your prospect employer devote to looking through countless applications and portfolios. Why not make it easier for them by providing a link to your website with your portfolio on it, or a CD/DVD presentation. You could always bring your classic portfolio with you if you happen to get an interview, or leave behind a CD/DVD copy or a business card with a link for them to be able to view your portfolio again at their convenience.
Prepare to Present/Explain. If you have a great portfolio, but you don’t know how to talk about each piece and explain it, then you might as well have no portfolio at all. Be prepared and practice to talk about each piece and answer any questions that may come up.
Follow up. Don’t just drop of your resume and portfolio and expect it to do all the work for you. Make sure you keep in touch and even if you don’t get the job, show appreciation for the opportunity and make sure you are kept on their records for future reference.
Update. Technology is always changing and innovations keep coming up. Maybe 10 years ago you couldn’t add a drop-shadow to your text, but now you can. Update your portfolio with new pieces and re-vamp the ones you created a long time ago. Keeping your portfolio fresh can show that you are up-to-date with the newest trends and technology.
The actual design of your portfolio. Some designers get carried away by “designing” their portfolios. They add background, animations, bells and whistles, things you really don’t need. Remember to keep it simple and don’t let the actual design of your portfolio overshadow each piece inside your portfolio.
Work Selection and Sequence:
Quality vs. Quantity. It is not about how many pieces you have; it is about the quality of each piece. A portfolio should have between 20 to 40 pieces at the most. An employer could get lost in all the pieces, and they probably do not even have the time to view them all. You have to select pieces that are strong. Don’t select pieces that you are not confident about.
Strong Start/Finish. Several websites and individuals recommend that your strongest pieces are located at the beginning and at the end of your portfolio. This way, when a possible employer opens up your portfolio, they are immediately impressed, and when they get to the end, they will remember you.
Location, location, location. The order in which you “locate” your pieces is crucial. Each piece should follow the other with some kind of connection, whether it is chronological, by theme or any other connection. This will make it easier to transition from one piece to another and make it easier for you to be able to talk about them in person and explain the relation.
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