Advice on Portfolios

“Always throw in something extra; something unexpected”

Miranda Bolter, Design Director

Be proud. If you don’t believe in the work you’re presenting, don’t include it. You should be confident showing your work, not apologetic. If you’re not happy with how a piece of work has turned out, leave it out.

Show the big idea. Show what you’re capable of technically and aesthetically, but make sure the idea is clear. What was the brief and how did you unlock it? 

Be clear and concise. Keep explanatory text short and pithy. If you can’t describe a project in a sentence or two, maybe the solution isn’t strong enough. 

Let the work speak for itself. Don’t be seduced by the idea of designing a portfolio that’s so over-designed or excessively interactive that it distracts from the work.

Get personal. Include a self-initiated project or two. This gives you an opportunity to show the kind of work you enjoy doing most and it demonstrates a bit of drive and passion.

Don’t dilute it. Avoid adding in weaker projects because you want to pad out your portfolio. 

Show how you think. It’s good to give people an insight into your process, so include a bit of development work where appropriate. No-one wants to look through hundreds of subtle variants of a logo, but initial sketches and experiments can be interesting to see.

Share work in progress. Include something you’re still working on. It’s good for conversation and shows you’re never content to sit on your laurels; work can always be improved.

Push it. Don’t just stick the same logo on a million applications – show how you can stretch an idea.

Get physical. Everyone shows work on a laptop, but designers often like something more tactile to engage with. It’s nice to hold work in your hands and it helps your work to be more memorable. 

My last bit of advice is to always throw in something extra; something unexpected. Make sure they remember you. ‘You know, that guy who made the musical ping pong table…’ Be unforgettable and unmissable. 

Miranda Bolter is a design director at brand and design agency, The Partners.

Posted 06 June 2017 Written by Miranda Bolter
Collection: Portfolios
Disciplines: Graphic Design
Mentions: The Partners


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