How to Put Together a Portfolio | Graphic Design

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So, as a designer, you don’t exist unless you don’t have a portfolio. Now, one of the hardest things to do is to figure out what even goes into your portfolio. Especially if you’re a motion designer, how does your portfolio look? Or a graphic designer, how should you show your print? How should you show your website designs, if you’re a website designer? Should you put it on a computer screen and show the computer in the portfolio? All of these different formats are very good questions and it really all depends on what it is that your brand is and what it looks like.

Again, it’s really good to look at other people’s portfolios to see what it is that they’re doing, and maybe how you can simplify yours. It’s best to not show all of your work, like all 40 pieces that you’ve done like through school and without. If you can, try not to show anything from school because a lot of clients will ask, or a lot of future employers will ask, “What is this from? Is this a concept project, or is it real?” When you actually admit that it’s a school project, they kind of glance over it because it wasn’t done in a real environment.

So you want to make sure that you can get as much real work as you can, in your portfolio and show how you did it. Show the concept. If you have less than ten items, it’s good to show the process. If you have videos that you want to show, instead of showing ten five-minute videos, try to have a two-minute reel. If you have different disciplines that you’re good at, in which case, my portfolio that I had before I started my company, I wanted to show that I was good at website design and mobile application design. So, what I did was, I basically reached inside and reached in my brand. And at the time it was very black, and grey, and a little bit of pop color here and there, so my portfolio showed the same thing. And I did little quotes here and there, and then showed my website design in a very 3-D type of way. So I showed different designs, what I did, branding and website and then I did a brief description as to what the actual website looked like.

Another thing that I did was, if it was live, provided a link for them to see it because they want to see that these projects aren’t just concept ideas but actually live and working. In the second area, I showed mobile application design. And it’s good to show multiple states of the screen, and not to just show one screen for each page, but just like a whole bunch of screens for all the pages, and letting people see, again, your thought process. I’m also in info-graphic design, so I also would show different things that I did in that respect.

So one of the things you can do too, even in the front, is show what you’re good at, show the table of contents, show that “This is what I’m going to show you”, explain it and then make sure to always provide a way to be contacted, which sometimes we forget to do. So, in my case, I had Facebook, Twitter, call me, visit my website, check out my blog, email me. All in all, I put my personality in it and is also showed it in a way that was clean, that wasn’t too overbearing, that didn’t show too much work or too little, but then also provided enough information for them to know what type of style I had and how diverse I was in my skill set.

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17 thoughts on “How to Put Together a Portfolio | Graphic Design

  1. pallemaniac

    Useful tips! But, I do not agree that you should skip the school/concept material and must have "live" cases in your portfolio.
    I think it's better to show only one really good concept than ten bad live works.
    If it's a good employer, they will notice your qualities and capabilities. Otherwise you would probably have had a hard time there anyway. 😉
    Most importantly, have fun while you create and love what you do. It will shine through. 🙂

  2. Gizelle Rose Miranda

    Thanks, this is really helpful for me as starting my career.  And since I'm just new, a fresh graduate, how could make a portfolio when I only have designs that I did for school tho?

  3. Ryan Macher

    Hello, I am currently an engineering student in scotland and I am thinking of becoming a design engineer as a career. How do I start a portfolio to begin with and What kind of things should I insert into my portfolio?

  4. cynthia story

    Very well done and very good practical help. I'm a late plummer. I've been going to a community college for graphic design. Taking two classes at a time. I've done small projects (like making business cards for my brother and putting together a newsletter) in the past. Lately I've been taking more graphic design courses and developing my drawing skill better. Thank you for these How To in Graphic Design videos.

  5. Roberto Blake

    Today you really have to put together a PDF portfolio to email to perspective clients and employers. You need a website portfolio. You need a version of your portfolio that is on your mobile phone so you can pitch in any situation where you don't have your book, and you need your printed portfolio.


    Hello everybody!
    from my childhood i like colors drawing and so on but my dad forced me to do mechanics .. now i want to start design .. what should i do first how can i be a good designer
    thx for the video it's nice ^^

  7. Roberto Blake

    A very good and straight to the point video overall!
    A good way to get real work for your portfolio is to do self initiated work on subjects you are passionate about and submit them on social media. A good example would be infographics. For example you could compare two DSLR Cameras in an infographic and distribute in social media and track the results and present that in your portfolio.

    You can find out if local causes and charities have promotional material like brochures and offer to develop that for them. 

    You can build live websites and communities around topics you are interested in and present them (and the number of visitors per month and other stats) in your web design portfolio.

    I don't entirely agree on not showcasing all of your (best) work in your portfolio, except with a print portfolio in an interview. If you are sending a PDF Portfolio, you should have a table of contents but also provide a link in the PDF that allows them to go to a website where they can view all the samples of that type of work.

    Something this video didn't cover that I talk about on my youtube channel is the different types of portfolios you need to have today as a Graphic Designer. Most don't realize you should even have a portfolio on your phone now so that you can literally do an elevator pitch.


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