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5 Graphic Design Portfolio Tips

Make your graphic design portfolio stand out using these five tips.
A graphic designer works on his portfolio by drawing a comic

How Important Is a Portfolio?

It's clichéd, but true: A picture really is worth a thousand words.

Being able to communicate visually is key to your graphic designer career. So it's not surprising that your graphic design portfolio may be the single most important thing you'll present to prospective employers or clients.

Everything else—including your training and work experience, will fade into insignificance if your portfolio is weak or sloppy. In short, your portfolio represents you.

Below are some tips to help your portfolio not only be accessible to a wide variety of clients, but showcase your talents as well.

5 Graphic Design Portfolio Tips

When you're putting together your graphic design portfolio, live by the following rules:

  • Go online and on paper: If you provide a disc or flash drive of your work, chances are it'll get tossed. Why? Lazy presentation for one. Another reason is people are afraid of viruses and malware. Providing a link to an online website of your work is the way to go and providing a clever paper portfolio that people will remember is an easily accessible, hands-on representation of you.
  • Become your brand: Who are you? How do you represent yourself in your work? Branding yourself shows potential employers you are able to create a brand identity, which will make them feel more confident you can do the same for them.
  • Surprise them: First impressions are everything in graphic design. You want to grab your audience immediately. Create a paper portfolio that tells a story about your work. Add layers, such as some type of interactive component to keep them engaged. And don't be afraid to add digital media to your portfolio!
  • Tell your story: They don't know you or your work. Don't assume it tells your story just because you're so familiar with it. You want your employer to be invested in who you are and what you can do.
  • Make a "keepable" portfolio: Prospective employers can easily throw away or stow away a paper portfolio. Why not think up a good way that they won't do that? Turn your portfolio into some kind of functional office product or usable wall hanging. You'll be sure to stay in their mind's eye when it's decision time if you're right in front of their faces.

Making a portfolio and online website that engages, allows for interaction, and surprises takes thought, ingenuity and full use of your creative talent. But then, that's why you entered the field of graphic arts in the first place. Be bold and be daring and you can make sure you won't be forgotten when it's time to hire a designer.

Graphic Design Degree & Career Guide