June 28, 2010 2

How To Create An Effective Design Portfolio

By in Design, Job Finding Tips, Web Design

When you’re looking for a job in design, your design portfolio is your ticket. Well, that or having a connection somewhere. But assuming that you’re on your own in the job hunt, you’re going to have to pack a lot of work, time and talent into your portfolio to show what you can do. In advertising, we’re fairly lucky in the sense that experience doesn’t matter too much. With most jobs you need an impressive resume to get through the door, but in advertising sheer talent is enough to catch the eye of a creative director. However, creating an eye-catching portfolio is more challenging than one might think.

Know your audience

If you’re applying to an agency that strictly does web stuff, than your portfolio better have web design. If their clients are mostly retail type companies, then that is the kind of work your portfolio should have. Don’t just have one blanket portfolio that you show to every CD you meet with; you can have campaigns that you bring in and out, so you can tailor your book to suit the agency.

Branch out from student work

For new designers, it’s tough to get a job. Which means it’s tough to have work in your portfolio that isn’t student or spec work. But you should always be trying to change that. Even if you’re having a hard time finding a job, there are a ton of freelance design projects available. Search job postings for those one-time gigs that can help you build your portfolio. You can even volunteer to do design work for a local company for free, like updating their website design or designing a few ads. This is a great way to get started and add real work to your portfolio. (And free design work is hard to refuse!)

Make sure that it’s clear and organized

Nobody should ever look at your portfolio and be confused about what they’re looking at. With guerilla or non-traditional advertising, it becomes a bit unclear as to what exactly is going on. One great way to keep it simple is to have a written piece accompanying every design piece in your portfolio. This should be a paragraph explaining who the client was, what the aim of the project was, what exactly you did, how you came up with the idea, and why you believe it was the right idea. Make note of any obstacles that got in the way and how you overcame them. You can succinctly say everything that needs to be said by dividing everything under the two headings “The Problem” and “The Solution.”

Make sure it’s online

It’s important to have your portfolio both in print and on the web. That way, creative directors can look at your portfolio with you during an interview, or they can check out your work in their own time. Be sure to have your website address on your business card so that when you’re networking CDs will have access to your work and a way to get in touch with you if they like what they see. There are sites like Carbonmade.com where you can download your portfolio pieces. However you can also get your own website. You can find inexpensive web hosting and it looks incredibly professional to have your own website domain name. here are some examples of impressive web portfolios: mattdempsey.com, digitalmash.com, alexcohaniuc.com.

All in all, try to look at your portfolio objectively. Think about what you would be looking for as a creative director or what would jump out at you. Be particular about what work you show to people. Don’t have 35 okay pieces. Have 12 amazing pieces. You’ll show that you can discern what work is better, and that you focus on quality instead of quantity. Once your portfolio is all that it can be, it’s only a matter of getting that portfolio out there and showing agencies all that you have to offer.

About: Ian:
Hi, I'm Ian T. I'm a York grad and a copywriter for Eden Advertising. I'm the master of procrastinating. I like to use parentheses (sometimes). I love the LCBO because wine makes me happy. I don't blog, I capture moments in time.

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “How To Create An Effective Design Portfolio”

  1. mode20100 says:

    A+ would read again