Portfolio advice

Creating a portfolio to be proud of!

We’re more likely to remember a beautiful image than a spoken word, why is why it’s so crucial you consider what goes into your portfolio. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just graduated or are an experienced creative looking for the next step, taking the time to create a beautiful portfolio, will help rather than hinder.

The majority of decision-makers will want to look at your portfolio before they meet you, so it’s important that it’s as good as it possibly can be. Your portfolio should make people sit up and take notice of you.   The aim of a portfolio is to engage someone & make them sit up and take notice which can be a subtle tweak on a font or logo, or something more emotive such as full re-brand. It needs to showcase your skills, strengths, creativity and ability to solve commercial problems.

Here are some pointers to help you create a ‘winning’ portfolio:

Size and style

We cannot stress enough how important it is to put some thought into how your work is presented. Your portfolio is an extension of you. It reflects how you think, how you work and your entire attitude towards design and creativity.   You don’t have to possess the most ground-breaking designs in the world, you just need to present it well & demonstrate that you’ve taken the time & effort to showcase your passion.  You’ve probably heard this countless times, but first impressions do count, and this is no different for your portfolio.

Presentation

Consider different ways of presenting your work. Over the years, we’ve seen portfolios presented in many ways, although it’s more common these days for them to be presented on a laptop or iPad. Some creatives have now taken to producing their own website, rather than having a hyperlink to a hosting platform. This approach looks clean and sophisticated and is a great way to display your work, not to mention, provide an insight into your personality.

Quality (not quantity)

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the more work you shoehorn into your portfolio the better it’ll look. Sometimes, less is more. Your portfolio should contain between 10 and 20 pieces of work that illustrate your talent and range.

Balance

Make sure you showcase a variety of online and print-based work, such as websites, adverts, corporate identities and packaging, etc. Employers are looking for creatives who handle a range of work. (Top tip: You may want to consider tailoring your portfolio for the role you’re applying for).

If you’re just starting out, it’s best to show your most recent work first, as it’ll demonstrate your current abilities. For senior creatives, try not to include work that’s over 5+ years old, unless it’s won loads of awards. The work you display needs to be on-trend and industry-specific.

Commentary

There’s not much point in showcasing fabulous pieces of work, if you can’t talk people through it! You should be able to explain each piece of work, the brief and the outcome and answer questions about it too.   Making a dry subject matter look innovative and stylish will spark conversation and leave a favourable impression. The vast majority of creatives will respect a Designer who can produce an imaginative piece of work from an uninspiring brief.

Always listen

You can find more information on this subject under Interview Tips, but one thing that does need mentioning is to make sure that you listen – it’s amazing how many people don’t.  A Creative Director or Head of Design is likely to be very busy, with deadlines and commitments to adhere to. Ordinarily, their time is precious so always aim to get them on side by listening to any advice they provide and may be don’t be too familiar, and may be most of all, don’t interview the interviewer.

Order

How do you decide what to put first and last? Our advice is simple – start with something you’re proud of and has relevance to the type of business you’re visiting. And finish with a piece that leaves a lasting impression and your potential employer wanting to know more about what you’re all about.

Feedback

We appreciate negative feedback is a bitter pill to swallow, but you shouldn’t ignore it, particularly from senior creatives. Be prepared to accept some criticism and discuss alternative approaches. Remember, you’re there to have your work critiqued, and a willingness to learn from constructive criticism will significantly aid your job search.

We must stress that there is no simple formula for making a successful application for a creative role. However, by investing time and thought into how your portfolio looks, you will hopefully enhance your chances of finding the right role.

Generally speaking, design is extremely subjective and your portfolio will not win everybody’s hearts and minds. Any feedback, positive or negative, is useful in the long run. This is especially true for less experienced Designers who are moving up the career ladder or breaking into the industry. If you’ve been invited for a second interview, give it your best shot & aim to overcome any doubts that have been raised at the first.

We hope this advice has helped shed some light on what your portfolio needs to include and look like. If you’d like more practical advice, chat to us today about our one-to-one portfolio sessions.

Get in touch>