Portfolio Tips


What happens when you do get an interview? How will you ensure your portfolio impresses your interviewer or client? Here are some tips that are essential in creating a great portfolio:

1. Keep it to an A3 size minimum

Contrary to what your tutors have said to you, an A3 size is the minimum you should go for, rather than an A2 or A1 size. Both potential employers and clients will appreciate it.

First of all, it's easier to pass around during the interview panel. Secondly, who wants to bring something bulky and heavy? Your interviewers have only a few minutes with each interviewee, so they want to see things fast. Placing a big, heavy portfolio on their desks is so not economical, and makes you look unprofessional. The same applies when presenting your work to a client.

With an A3 size, you can piece to together works like letterheads, posters, photography etc. that you did for a brand on the page. This can show your potential employer or client, your skills and understanding in your presentation of the whole brand image. The smaller A4 size gives you the convenience to print your pieces at home, to replace the sleeves with ease and gives greater emphasis to each masterpiece.

2. Invest in a Good Portfolio

The way you present your artworks shows a lot about yourself at first impression, and how much you value your artworks.
Invest in a good portfolio. It doesn't have to be expensive. Make sure the portfolio allows you to add and remove sleeves with ease. Go for portfolios that have a leathery exterior than one that is hard and that scratches easily. One of the best ones I find is that which allows you to flip the cover from inside out and stand like this:
It's great for both client presentations and job interviews where you can flip through the sleeves.
Invest in good quality sleeves too, and avoid those flimsy ones that easily bend and scratches.

3. Professional Presentation

It really does matter if you are presenting your artworks on landscape or portrait formats:
portfolio formats
Avoid having a mix of both portrait and landscape as it makes it look unprofessional and confusing, and you wouldn't want to keep on turning your portfolio the right way up for every landscape and portrait format presentation of each sleeve!
If you are presenting in a landscape format, keep it consistent with a landscape format throughout. The same goes for portrait format presentations.
Do not put 2 entirely different project pieces on the same page or on two facing pages, as this does not allow each artwork to stand out of its own.
Make sure your pieces are printed in good quality ink and do not have streak marks and colour errors.
If adding a description for each piece, make sure you include who the client is, the medium used and a short description of how you came up with the solution.

4. Present Relevant Pieces

If you are applying for a magazine designer position, show magazine layout pieces. If it is a music design job you want, present pieces of album cover designs. If it is the web, present web design pieces.
If the company you are applying for specialises in web and deals a lot with corporate clients, make sure your web design pieces are of corporate nature.
Nothing is worse than wasting your potential employer's time with irrelevant pieces of artworks, no matter how impressive they are.

5. Keep the file size small for emails!

NEVER ever send separate jpegs of your artworks or a full jpeg. Not only is the size bigger, it's very inconvenient for your potential employers to open every jpeg attachment, and print them out for their references. Again, keep it to an A4 pdf, and make sure the pages are not facing each other (uncheck the box ‘Facing Pages' in InDesign) so that scrolling is a lot easier.
Present 3 or 4 work samples in order to keep the file size small. If the potential employers like them, they'll ask for more. Make sure every piece is a killer piece.
If you have InDesign, you should export your portfolio as one attachment to the smallest file size for web viewing: InDesign > File > Adobe PDF Presets > Smallest FIle Size
Don't be too concern about the fact that the details are not as clear compared to a print quality pdf (which is a lot bigger in file size). Your potential employers scan, not click on the magnifying glass to observe every little graphic detail!
You file size should be up to 1MB, at most 2MB.
Never use CAPITALS to name your attachment as some computers may have trouble opening files of such, nor use generic terms alone. Instead of naming it ‘portfolio.pdf', put your name in it: “cecilgansfield_portfolio.pdf”. This will make referencing easier and searching a lot quicker when potential employers do download your portfolio.

6. Have a portfolio website

If you don't have one, you are definitely living in the stone age. Not only is your website a shop that is opened 24/7 and it makes you look more professional, it gives both clients and interviewers the convenience to browse your works without downloading attachments. Some job ads only request for websites as proof of your web skills, so make sure you invest in one.

This article was written by Maria Fung - you can check out her other work here


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