Whether you’re a designer, illustrator, or photographer, your portfolio is one of the first impressions you make on an art director. Because of this it’s extremely important for your portfolio to be impactful in all the right ways. We put together the following to help you make an awesome portfolio that will showcase your work the right way and bring you closer to landing your dream job.
Keep it Simple
Make sure the design of your portfolio doesn’t detract attention from your work. When you’re designing your portfolio remember that it needs to showcase your work the right way, so make it easy for creative directors to focus on your work.
- Display one piece per page and make sure it’s large enough to see without straining the eyes.
- Don’t use busy patterns, neon colors, bold shapes, or ridiculous embellishments to seem “designy”.
- Choose a flat neutral color for your background; you can never go wrong with light grey or white.
- Set all of your images to the same dimensions and align them correctly within the page to demonstrate justification with the text.
- Don’t worry about writing drawn-out explanations of each project. Let the work speak for itself.
- Note the client and scope of the project (ex. web design, a brand identity or a newsletter) for each piece. If necessary, include a one to three sentence explanation of the project.
- Be creative with the typeface you use but make sure it’s legible and whatever you do, do not use Comic Sans.
Do Your Research
Be observant and tailor your portfolio to include only work that is relevant to the company you’re applying to. Being uninformed can significantly affect your chances of getting hired. For example, if this place mainly designs websites and you show them your illustrations, you probably won’t get hired there. Some companies like to see versatility, but it’s safest to keep unrelated works to a minimum. Show them your best web designs and include one or two examples of your illustrations if you must, but make sure they’re damn good.
- Look at the kind of work the company has done and take note of the kinds of clients they work with.
- Tailor your portfolio to reflect their current projects and overall goals. Perhaps they lean toward a certain aesthetic or specialize in a specific type of design.
- Do not send in works that are completely unrelated to the work they do. If you couldn’t take a minute to look at their work they won’t take a minute to look at yours.
Show Only Your Best Work
Don’t be fooled into thinking quantity beats quality in a portfolio. Art directors are looking for designers with strong skills and an eye for detail. Showing twenty-four mediocre examples of your work won’t help you get the job, but showing four excellent projects might.
- Don’t show client work for the sake of it. If it’s not good, don’t show it. If your personal or pro bono work is better, show that.
- Don’t show work you hate doing. Show off the kind of work you love and want to do. If you get hired, you will likely end up doing exactly the kind of work you showed.
- Include work that gives art directors a sense of what you’re about as a designer. Maybe you’re into UX or want to specialize in package design. Don’t be afraid to showcase the projects you enjoy the most.