Sunday, July 1, 2012

What to Include In A Good Design Portfolio

You just got the call about an amazing design opportunity.
Whether it is an in house gig, or freelance, you are going to need a portfolio.

Take my word for it.

Problem is, if you've gone to design school, you probably have a whole bunch of work that you want to display.
At least not all of it.

I would say 10-15 pieces is a good number to have.

Here is what I include in my portfolio: (And if any of you readers have advice here on how to make mine better, I am always looking to improve!)

And if you are ever interested, on my Facebook fan page is a small portion of my design portfolio. I need to update it when I get the chance. Check it out here.

Good Logo Design

Okay, I'm sorry, but as a graphic designer, you will most likely not be designing logos 100% of the time.
That's just not how it works.
Even free lancers have to do some other work.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't know how to do some great logo design.

Pick about three GREAT logos from your collection. In my school, we did a lot of logo design, so I picked the best three, and I made sure to pick three from very different industries. It is important to show that you are diverse. And it is also important because an engineering firm won't want the same style as a skateboard shop.

Or maybe they will.

You never know.


Identity Packages

If you don't know what this is, Tuts Plus has a great article here on how to create them.

I would include one or two that you are very proud of. I currently have two in my portfolio, but once I find something better to include, I am going to take them out because they are not my favorite pieces.

And that is the best part about having a portfolio.. include what YOU are proud of.

Publication Design

In my job as an in house designer, most of my work is Publication Design, or Desktop Publishing. (That was my original title when I got hired -- fun fact) I like to think it is one of my strong suits.

I would include a few good layouts. Make sure they are branded well for whoever they are for. For example, for the company I work for, all of the publications I design have the same shade of blue, the same shade of red, and the same logo.


This might be from more of a marketing stand point, but if you design more than one thing for a company, pay attention to the branding.

Identity packages are an easy one. That is mostly copying the logo and using the same colors.

But what if you have to design promotional products?

Pay attention to how you brand any company. It can come down to colors, fonts, or even the language used (in advertising, mostly). Think about it. Apple is a great company to look at for this. If you look at their website, do you see anything out of place?

Nope. Because they keep it consistent.
That is the best advice I can give you: be consistent. Corporate America digs it.

Vector / Raster Artwork

This might be a controversial choice (sound off in the comments if you feel differently) but I like to include examples of my artwork. It might not be applicable to the job at hand, but it still good to show that you have an artistic side. Show off. One of the pieces in my portfolio won an award at an art show -- you better believe that piece is in my portfolio!

In my experience, being well rounded is a good thing.

It is a fine line, however, between being well rounded and not really knowing much of anything. What I mean is, companies look for people who are well rounded with an array of knowedge over subjects in their field.  If you are too focused on one subject, your knowedge is too deep and not wide enough. Focus on too many things, and your knowedge is shallow but too wide. Look for the middle ground.

This piece isn't something I would neccesarily have to do for my current job -- but if they ever do need something like this, they know I can do it, because it is in my portfolio! I believe it also shows your expertise in a certain program if you do something cool like this.

This pertains well to design programs as well. You should know all the big ones. Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator. That's what I know. And I know them well. I have ventured into Dreamweaver, and some others, but my knowedge in those is still very shallow. But that is another post. Maybe I will do a What To Know In Graphic Design Programs post. What do you think?

What do you have included in your portfolio? Include links, if possible! I want to see your work!

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