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Portfolio Preparation

Whether you are a designer, illustrator, photographer, or artist it is important for you to have an effective way to show your work and talent to potential employers or clients. The portfolio is a crucial part of the hiring process. It may not only get you an interview, but it also may clinch a job offer.


Developing Your Portfolio

As any marketing professional will tell you, packaging counts. And that's especially true when it comes to your portfolio. Although creating a strong portfolio may seem like a daunting process, it doesn't have to be. Check out How To Create a Great Design Portfolio infographic.

Selecting Samples

The first step is deciding which pieces to include - the goal is to select items that best represent your core strengths and industry experience while showcasing your creativity, technical ability and range.

  • Use feedback from faculty or creative industry professionals to select your best work
  • The pieces should be of high quality
  • Show your range, but do not include everything you have ever done
  • Select pieces that are relevant to the employer or gallery you are approaching based on research
  • Include a piece in different stages to show progression of ideas and problem solving
  • Be sure you have permission to share any work that belongs to clients or employers

Organizing Items

If properly organized, your portfolio will demonstrate to clients how your skills will meet their needs and how they can profit from hiring you.

  • Use consistent graphic theme – color, type, size
  • Create a title page with your personal contact information
  • Develop a sequence for your work starting with your strongest work but don't forget the final image leaes a lasting impression
  • Include a caption with each piece (include project title, your role, technology/process)

Customizing Content

Ultimately, your portfolio should resemble a well-written resume - it should be relevant and easily customized. Always match your qualifications with the unique needs of the potential employer. Researching the company's website, learning about its history and the various products and services it provides, and any material it produces (e.g., brochures, annual reports, design samples), will help you identify which of your talents will best serve the company.

Portfolio Format

Printed Portfolios

Traditionally the contents of a portfolio have been presented using color copies, photos or print outs of scanned work. This method of showcasing your work is being replaced or at least supplemented by digital formats, but in some cases it may make sense to have a physical portfolio.

There is always the option of creating a unique portfolio book or case that matches your career goals. Keep in mind, that some of this out-of-box thinking could annoy because it is either cumbersome, not as inventive as you think, or is a real mismatch for the job or agency.

Online Portolios

All artists and designers should be using technology to showcase their work. Your online portfolio holds the advantage of showcasing your talent 24/7, enabling potential clients to find you with a search. Make sure it clearly conveys who you are and the services you offer, and provides complete contact information.

Your visitors will want to know about the person behind the work. A brief professional biography gives clients a snapshot of your qualifications, experience and expertise. Do not include personal stuff!

The first thing they should see (without scrolling) is:

  • What you do (Example: Motion Graphic Designer, Photographer, Illustrator, Interior Designer)
  • Big Image of your work – start off with something strong - it may be the only image they see, so pick a good one!

Your online portfolio should have:

  • Simple design/format – it should not distract from your work
  • Your name, contact info and a link to printer-friendly resume
  • A short description of each piece (title, client name with their permission, your role in the project, the date, and any software or special skills used
  • BIG images (start at 800 X 600)
  • Scrolling through the work is preferred. You risk irritating visitors by showing too many samples or requiring clicking
  • Attention to detail – spell check and grammar check all text!
  • No errors/dysfunction. Ask someone to take it for a test drive. Make sure your online portfolio can be accessed using a variety of platforms and browsers before directing anyone to your site. See if it is intuitive.

Find the Right Online Solution

You can create a unique portfolio and you don’t have to be a web designer. Find technology that you feel comfortable with (for example, blogs are a grea (free option, just use the ability to upload photos and write captions).

We recommend RIT students and alumni use Behance for your online portfolio (free to create). Behance is one of the leading online platforms to showcase your work and allows potential employers to discover creative talent.

  • When signing up, be sure to use your RIT email to become part of the RIT university gallery showcase page.


Showing Your Work

Be prepared to show your work in different formats – laptop (with fully charged battery), printed pieces, and/or online. Never bring a flash drive or disc and assume the interiewer will be comfortable inserting them into their computer.

Your initial contact may be with a resume and some samples, but after a potential employer or buyer sees them they may want to see more of your work. Some firms have a drop off policy or set up appointments to see your work. Because things can get lost, it may be prudent to include only duplicates that can be replaced if you are not present for the review and show originals when you can be there. Label your portfolio with your name, address and phone number. Tuck a couple of your resumes in the front.

When presenting your portfolio, allow your work to speak for itself. There’s no need to explain each work as the interviewer goes through it, unless prompted. Be prepared to answer questions about your work. Be ready to talk about budget, time frame and any problems you faced and solved. If you are a fine artist, you might talk about the evolution of a concept or how one piece relates to others. It doesn’t hurt to rehearse!

Do not depart without leaving a resume, business card (optional), and a sample for them to remember you by. "Leave-behinds" should complement the work in your portfolio and be interesting enough so that the client will keep them. Be creative, your imagination is your most important asset as a creative professional.