A good portfolio is an indispensable tool for any designer. It is a letter of introduction with a double objective: to show what one is capable of, and to look for new clients or professional projects. The portfolio presents the most outstanding works that each creative has produced throughout his or her professional career. Works in which they show their creativity, style and skills, among others. It is a living element that is updated throughout their professional life.
When to Start Preparing Your Professional Portfolio?
Any time is a good time to start thinking about how you want to approach your portfolio! You don’t need to have finished your studies or have already completed real projects or projects for major brands. Whether during your training as a designer, your internship or your first paid job, you can create amazing and remarkable projects. And you have to be prepared to show your talent and what you specialise in, i.e. what makes you different from the rest.
Nowadays there are many platforms that allow you to create a portfolio, among them Behance, Domestika, Carbonmade, Adobe Portfolio or Dribbble. We recommend that you focus on making your work stand out and we suggest the following tips to help you achieve this.
Have you heard the saying “less is more”? Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. If you really understand a concept, you must be able to present it with ease. Simplicity is not synonymous with superficiality: you can present deep concepts in a simple and brilliant way.
First of all, simplicity requires that you don’t present all your work. No creative director wants to read dozens of design pieces. Your portfolio should showcase your best work, not all your work. Include a selection of stellar pieces, just enough to showcase your talent and identity.
Secondly, the design of your portfolio should be simple. This way it will be aesthetically pleasing and easy to reference. The key is to remove all the clutter and keep only the essential elements so that the reader gets to the message faster.
Yes, visual elements dominate a creative portfolio, but it also needs a presentation of the designer. On the one hand, your portfolio shows what you can do as a professional designer. On the other hand, your biography tells who you are as a person. And that is what establishes a personal connection with your potential clients. No one wants to work with a distant and impersonal person, no matter how polished their designs look.
WHAT DO I NEED TO SHOW IN MY BIO?
- Tell them when and how you started in the design world.
- Share who or what inspires your designs.
- Explain what makes you unique.
- Tell them about your studies.
- Tell them how long you have been in the industry.
- Talk about notable clients you have worked with.
- If you have won awards, show them.
Interactive design takes standard design one step further.
Instead of just building design elements, create engaging experiences for users. Done right, experiential design increases conversions because users are not passive, but actively engaged. In essence, interactive design is about creating a conversation between a product or system and its users. It is close to a natural human conversation. That is why it is so powerful.
Using a portfolio that is not personalised reduces your chances of being chosen. To make your cover letter stand out from the rest, tailor it to specific contexts.
A SPECIFIC NICHE
Your portfolio must match the sector you are targeting. There is no point in presenting a portfolio that covers several sectors without specialising in one. The client will not know what to choose and will not know if you are a specialist in what they need. To improve their chances, narrow down what you show.
LOOK FOR WORK THAT YOU CAN DO PERFECTLY.
Each job advertisement has specific requirements. The more you seek to specialise, the more they will look to you in the future to do what only you can do. The world is huge and there are opportunities for everyone. You have to be persistent in this aspect and follow your passion.
In addition, a customised portfolio will be more attractive to clients, as it will show them that you are capable of doing sector-specific projects.
In graphic design, white space can be your worst enemy or your best friend. How you use it in your work is a litmus test of your level of experience.
Inexperienced designers cram every inch of the page with content, colours and graphics. In other words, they are afraid of empty space. More experienced designers at the top of their profession, however, make the most of space. They allow their designs to breathe and be more eye-catching through clever use of it.
You can use space to:
- Bring elements closer together using narrow spaces to show the connection between them.
- Separate two or more elements from each other so that each communicates a different message through wider spaces.
- Eliminate spaces altogether, so that different elements overlap to show the strong link between them.
DO IT ONLINE
The world has gone digital and it is necessary that, even if it is not your area of expertise, you demonstrate your knowledge in the field. In addition, an online portfolio allows you to reach a wider and, in many cases, international audience. A studio looking for talent may randomly come across your portfolio.
Nowadays there are many platforms that can help you – even for free – to get your online portfolio to a professional level. The only advice we give you is to have the projects to be included in your portfolio presented and organised online.
Make sure that all links work, that the text is well thought out and that there are no spelling mistakes. A portfolio with mistakes can leave the wrong impression on your potential clients. Before finalising it, check that everything is correct: browse through it as if you wanted to hire yourself.
Your portfolio should be quick, easy to access and simple. Show your creativity in the work you display and make it eye-catching and simple.
MAKE IT EASY TO CONTACT YOU
Apart from your best work, your portfolio should make it easy for potential clients to find you. To do this, we recommend including a contact form, your email address or your profiles on professional social networks. Explaining what kind of information potential clients should provide in order to get a faster response is another point to motivate them to write to you.
KEEP IT UP TO DATE
The portfolio is a living document, which you will update periodically -at least every 6 months-. We recommend that you delete projects that are more than 3 years old or those that don’t quite represent your style. And make sure that your most recent projects are always included: you never know when that juicy job opportunity will appear.
If your work doesn’t involve designing new and exciting concepts, consider entering design competitions. This can add something fresh and different to your portfolio, especially if you win the competitions or even win awards for them.
PROMOTE YOUR WORK
Although not technically a step in creating your online portfolio, promoting your work is key to getting the most out of your material. A portfolio is useless if no one is looking at it.
One way to promote your work is to join an online design community and share your achievements with other designers. These communities allow you to publish your work and receive feedback from other creatives. It’s a great way to network. Plus, feedback from others can help you improve your work. We recommend creating an Instagram or Behance account and keeping it up to date. Keep an eye on it and create a community around your work.
Do you want to study Design?
We are your best option: at L’Idem we have 25 years of experience training the best design professionals. As a school we are committed to preparing professionals to successfully take on any challenge. If you would like more information about our programmes in the Design area, please contact our Admissions Department. We will also answer any questions you may have about the admissions process at our school.