How to Create a Graphic Design Portfolio
For graphic design professionals, a stellar portfolio is perhaps the most important “calling card” there is—a visual feast that can help you get hired.
Your portfolio is a platform that can show rather than tell—in other words, it’s a way to let your stunning work showcase itself.
Knowing how to make a graphic design portfolio that delights the eye and the mind, and grabs the attention of hiring managers, is your key to getting a great job in graphic design.
If you’re setting out to create a great graphic design portfolio, or you’re looking to beef up an existing one, there are a few tips and tools that can maximize effectiveness. Your portfolio, whether physical or virtual, is your personal brand. Knowing which images to choose and using your work to explain your creative process are among the strategies to consider as you weigh the best ways to present your work.
Creating a Graphic Design Portfolio
Curate your graphic design portfolio wisely.
A top priority in curating a winning portfolio is to choose images that are not only powerful, but that demonstrate your skills. Whether it’s a complicated concept presented cleanly and simply, or an image that shows off your technical skills, each image should make a strong case for your job candidacy.
And keep in mind: sometimes, less is more. Rather than bombarding hiring managers with multiple and perhaps conflicting images that could muddle your message, take a streamlined approach. Be as objective as possible in identifying your very best work. And, like your resume and cover letter, customize your portfolio to fit the skills required for the job you’re trying to get.
Explain the backstory.
Deciding what to include in a graphic design portfolio is an opportunity to provide hiring managers with insights and context about your work and your creative process. It’s also a way to use storytelling to lay out your history and show how your skills have progressed either in your training (if you’re a new graduate) or over the course of your career.
A great way to story-tell in a graphic design portfolio is to present “case studies”—a series of images or concepts that lead up to the final visual design. You can use this process to open a dialogue about how you come up with ideas, how you’ve executed assignments from previous employers, or how you’ve worked collaboratively as part of a creative team.
Choose the right platform.
Choosing the right platform for presenting your work as a graphic designer can be a game changer. Here are a few to consider:
Behance is a widely used Adobe social media platform that offers creative tools and services used by more than 10 million members.
Since 2005, Carbonmade has offered portfolio tools that help graphic designers and other creatives showcase their best work.
A global platform used by more than 44 million creatives to promote, sell, and share their work, DeviantArt offers free access to more than 350 million pieces of art.
Established to help creatives “share, grow, and get hired,” Dribbble provides access to the work of graphic designers and other creative professionals across multiple platforms.
Dunked offers tools and templates that graphic designers, photographers, artists, and illustrators can use to craft professional graphic design portfolios.
Offering a slate of tools for graphic designers and other creatives, Portfoliobox can help creatives showcase their work.
At Squarespace, graphic designers and other visual professionals can access templates offering them “a beautiful way to present” their ideas online.
Geared primarily toward photographers, Viewbook offers image makers a design interface that facilitates developing websites and web galleries.
Weebly offers customized website designs and templates to help customers create and build visually appealing websites.
The Wix platform has templates and features that allow users to create, design, and develop customized websites and manage their web presence.
Widely used by customers who run self-hosted websites, WordPress also offers “portfolio” themes for graphic designers and others looking to showcase their visual work.
Size for optimum presentation.
After you upload images of your work, optimizing them for the best viewing is a make-or-break deal. Hiring managers may bail on viewing your portfolio if images take too long to load or are grainy in appearance.
When creating your graphic design portfolio, familiarize yourself with viewing optimization techniques like compression to ensure that your images look good on all devices. Smaller pictures that look fine on a smartphone or other mobile platform may be out of resolution on a computer screen. Research websites that offer more sophisticated options that allow you to manipulate images and control pixels for optimum viewing, regardless of the format.
While your portfolio is a history of your work, it’s also a representation of your creative potential going forward. In other words, what you’ve done in your training or career offers potential employers hints about the great work you’re capable of doing for them.
That said, your portfolio should offer accessibility for potential clients who want to hire you. Make yourself reachable by including contact information and social media links. An “About Me” or “Contact Me” link or form will assure that prospective employers viewing your online portfolio know how to reach you.
Show side projects.
Including non-client or personal graphic design projects can be a great way to show your interests outside of work. Non-work related projects can offer a fruitful way to demonstrate your playful side or give depth to your overall job application by giving potential employers a peek into your hobbies and interests.
Make sure any projects you present that aren’t officially work related are appropriate and above board. Seize the chance to offer a broader image of your range of interests without sabotaging your job prospects.
Mistakes to Avoid in Putting Together a Graphic Design Portfolio
Too much—or too little.
You’ll need to be savvy in finding that “Goldilocks” portfolio size. Including too many less-than-stellar images may dull the impact of work that’s truly outstanding.
Lack of context.
Without captions or brief explanations of who the client was, what the work entailed, and your role in coming up with the final product, the image or design may be meaningless for hiring managers.
Non-responsive portfolio design.
Hiring manager may want to see how you’d executive a responsive, mobile-friendly design. Including only “flat” images that aren’t responsive may hurt your chances to get hired.
Out of date.
Perhaps the last thing you want is the appearance of staleness in your portfolio. Keep your online portfolio refreshed and current by continually updating it with your latest and greatest work. Updating your portfolio will show that you’re continually growing and evolving creatively as a dynamic graphic designer.
Using Your Graphic Design Portfolio to Land Jobs
Your graphic design portfolio can be a valuable asset to help you land jobs—whether freelance or full-time. FlexJobs offers graphic design jobs that are remote, partially remote, flexible, and more. Connect with your next opportunity today!
Photo Credit: pixabay.com and pexels.com
Tags: graphic design career
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