To be hired as a graphic designer you need to have an outstanding portfolio.
Regardless how much experience you have (which of course helps), it’s elementary that you have a portfolio that stands out within the world of graphic design.
Alongside my illustration portfolio, I’ve been working hard on creating a design portfolio which showcases my design services; from logo design, website design to branding. I’ve worked hard to create a portfolio that I’m happy with, which I’m constantly developing and improving.
As a result of this hard work and dedication, I thought it would be useful to share my thoughts and advice for those of you who are thinking about creating a graphic design portfolio, or those of you who want to create an outstanding graphic design portfolio.
What You Will Learn In This Article
Within this blog post you will learn how to create an outstanding graphic design portfolio. You will learn how to create a design portfolio that stands out and helps you capture more clients, more commissions and more work solely from your portfolio. These tips and tricks will help you secure more freelance work (if you’re looking for more clients), but it will also help you if you’re looking for full time employment in the design industry. These tips are also appropriate for those of you who want to improve your online and offline portfolios.
An outstanding graphic design portfolio sells itself, and is one way to almost guarantee work. Couple this with experience in the field and you’re onto a real winner!
So what are the fundamentals of an outstanding graphic design portfolio?
What Are The Fundamentals Of An Outstanding Graphic Design Portfolio?
An outstanding graphic design portfolio should amaze clients. It needs to communicate your impeccable design skills, your experience and your style.
The three fundamentals that every portfolio should contain are:
– Typography skills
– Layout skills (evidence that you know how to use of grids)
– Ideas, and how you arrived at your ideas
– Commissions and client work
– Evidence of your software skills, like the Adobe Creative Suite for instance
To design an effective graphic design portfolio, it needs to be tailored to your strengths or the industry you want to be hired for (like branding, advertising to publishing design). If you can nail of the bullet points above, then you’re going to attract clients to hire you.
An outstanding graphic design portfolio needs to be concentrated on your work. Your design work is the thing that you are going to be hired for, so you need to make sure you celebrate it. Leave a potential client feeling like they just HAVE to hire you.
So what are my top graphic design portfolio tips?
Concentrate On The Design
Creating an outstanding well-designed graphic design portfolio is the difference between success and failure. If you visit a good Graphic Designer’s website, it probably will be focused on their work. A strong portfolio also showcases experience and social proof, but the number one thing people focus on is your work and how it’s designed. When creating your portfolio, you need to ensure that you design it excellently.
This might sound obvious, but people will judge your portfolio on how it’s designed (as this is the expertise you’re saying you’re an expert in).
You need to consider the design of your portfolio and if it gives a good impression of your design skills. Things to think about include:
– Layout (is it going to be portrait or landscape?)
– Branding and styling
– Pieces of design to show first and last
– Clean, easy to view and engaging
If you have poorly designed portfolio, you’re not selling yourself as a good graphic designer. They both have to work in unison. This is your shopfront and your selling tool.
It’s like going to a high-street shop and you notice the products are great, but the shop itself is terribly laid out. This doesn’t encourage you to buy their products, and you’ll become frustrated and most probably leave.
This is the same when you design your portfolio. Make it easy to use, design it with care and remove gimmicks. Your portfolio is your shop front which should encourage others to use your services.
Brand Up Your Portfolio
When designing your graphic design portfolio, you need to think of yourself as a brand. Branding makes people remember you.
What makes up a strong brand?
– Tone of voice
– Consistent layout
If you brand yourself correctly, a client can effortlessly travel from your portfolio to your website, seeing the exact same brand. It’s this consistency that reinforces your brand, but also creates trust in you and your services.
If a client sees the same brand throughout your marketing, this communicates that your graphic design work and style is going to be consistence if you are hired. These two really go hand in hand and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Use the same colours, use one or two fonts, and create a look and feel that’s screams you.
Showcase Your Experience
One of my top tips for achieving that killer graphic design portfolio is to showcase the clients you have worked with.
If you have worked with big brands or recognised companies, this can give your portfolio a massive boost (which you should utilise!). Potential clients can gauge that you are experience in the field and can trust you if they hire you.
Hiring a graphic designer (whether freelance or full time), is all about trust, which you can instill within their thinking with social proof. Showcasing that you have worked with clients in the past (in particular an ‘About page‘) can give credibility to your whole portfolio.
Make sure that you showcase your client work first, as this will encourage other clients to work with you. Personal projects are also important, but I would always recommend putting client projects first. If you haven’t worked with any clients before, the next tip is for you.
Mix Up Your Page Layout
It’s very important to make your graphic design portfolio consistent. Using guides, using the same typography (weight, kerning, leading for example), colours, and arrangements is key to make a coherent graphic design portfolio.
Have a look at these 3 pages from my graphic design portfolio below. Even though it’s all consistent with each other, I mix up my image scales to make a varied and interesting portfolio. Or having the golden ratio in mind can help create a dynamic page layout.
Having the same image scales page after page can get monotonous.
When designing your graphic design portfolio, it’s important to mix up your the scale and arrangements of your imagery. As you’re probably a graphic designer reading this (which this point may seem obvious), it’s worth mentioning as a reminder. You can see above, one page has 3 images, another page has one standout image, and the other has 4 images. Mix things up – it will keep your viewers engaged for longer.
The best graphic design portfolios mix things up whilst being completely consistent. Using guides and the baseline grid can certainly help with this.
Start With A Bang, End With A Lasting Memory
When designing your graphic design portfolio make sure that you’re putting your best work at the start and best work at the end of you portfolio.
First impressions count, and you want to make sure that you “wow” your audience with a great first impression. This tactic also allows you to leave them with a good lasting memory of your work too – they are just as important as each other.
If you haven’t worked for any clients before, this is a great opportunity to showcase your personal projects, by featuring the themes and topics that interest you – for me it’s map illustrations!
Show Processes, Ideas And Development
To create a strong graphic design portfolio you need to focus and concentrate on your ideas.
This is what really sets you apart from the crowd. I believe that anyone can learn skills such as the Adobe Creative Suite, as listed as part of my illustration and design resources, but not everyone can think of those amazing ideas.
Making something look amazing from an appearance and ‘face value’ point of view is important too, but it’s all about balance. Give your readers a good understanding of how you arrived at your finished work.
What ideas did you come up? What ideas did you think of beforehand?
Showcase these difference concepts and promote what makes you special: your inner creativity.
Keep It Clean And Simple
Keep your portfolio clean and simple. Clean design is really ‘in’ at the moment, and for good reason!
Clean design works allows the viewer to focus on your design work, and not become distracted by anything else. I recommend you use Adobe InDesign to create your graphic design portfolio, as it’s simple to use and a piece of software to create a stunning portfolio.
A great PDF which solely focuses on your work and nothing else is what you want to concentrate on. People are interested in your work, and want to access it as easily as possible.
You can include your own logo, brand colours to a typeface that perfectly represents you and your services. I can’t value this program enough (and the whole Creative Suite in general).
Upload Low-Res High Resolution Imagery
There’s nothing worse than a poor user-experience on a website. If a potential client has to wait around for your slow website to load, then you have already lost them.
What you want instead is to use high quality, low resolution images for your online portfolio. You want a quick loading website that takes clients straight to your work. It’s the images in your portfolio that gets you hired, so high quality images are crucial, however it’s also important to create a fast-loading website.
It’s a fine balance which you need to make sure you deliver.
I recommend you save your images as ‘Save for Web’, and optimising your images using TinyPNG. I highly recommend this website if you are uploading any image to your website.
Create A Graphic Design Portfolio Of Your Dreams!
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post guys!
Do let me know what you think about it on the comment section below, as I love to hear from you and see what you think. Designing a magic graphic design portfolio isn’t the easiest of tasks which can take a lot of effort and time. However it can work wonders if you create an outstanding portfolio.
When designing your portfolio, design it well, put your best work first and last, include some social proof, and keep it clean and simple.
If you dabble in illustration, be sure to check out my ultimate guide to help you learn how to create an illustrator portfolio.
If you’re unfamiliar with my blog, I publish regular content on design, illustration and how-to guides to help you succeed. Check out my previous blog posts to learn how to draw, or discover the different colour palettes combinations that artistic masters have used in the past.
Cheers for reading this article to help you create an outstanding graphic design portfolio guys, and I look forward to seeing you on the next blog post!
Many thanks for listening and visiting my news page today. You can follow what I’m up to on my Twitter, Facebook or Instagram pages, I’ll really appreciate it if you do, and don’t be afraid to say hi to me! Many thanks again, and have a great day!