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How to Put Together a Graphic Design Portfolio

Learn how to put together a graphic design portfolio in this Howcast video featuring UX mobile and web design consultant Chanelle Henry.


So, as a designer, you don't exist unless you don't have a portfolio. Now, one of the hardest things to do is to figure out what even goes into your portfolio. Especially if you're a motion designer, how does your portfolio look? Or a graphic designer, how should you show your print? How should you show your website designs, if you're a website designer? Should you put it on a computer screen and show the computer in the portfolio? All of these different formats are very good questions and it really all depends on what it is that your brand is and what it looks like.

Again, it's really good to look at other people's portfolios to see what it is that they're doing, and maybe how you can simplify yours. It's best to not show all of your work, like all 40 pieces that you've done like through school and without. If you can, try not to show anything from school because a lot of clients will ask, or a lot of future employers will ask, "What is this from? Is this a concept project, or is it real?" When you actually admit that it's a school project, they kind of glance over it because it wasn't done in a real environment.

So you want to make sure that you can get as much real work as you can, in your portfolio and show how you did it. Show the concept. If you have less than ten items, it's good to show the process. If you have videos that you want to show, instead of showing ten five-minute videos, try to have a two-minute reel. If you have different disciplines that you're good at, in which case, my portfolio that I had before I started my company, I wanted to show that I was good at website design and mobile application design. So, what I did was, I basically reached inside and reached in my brand. And at the time it was very black, and grey, and a little bit of pop color here and there, so my portfolio showed the same thing. And I did little quotes here and there, and then showed my website design in a very 3-D type of way. So I showed different designs, what I did, branding and website and then I did a brief description as to what the actual website looked like.

Another thing that I did was, if it was live, provided a link for them to see it because they want to see that these projects aren't just concept ideas but actually live and working. In the second area, I showed mobile application design. And it's good to show multiple states of the screen, and not to just show one screen for each page, but just like a whole bunch of screens for all the pages, and letting people see, again, your thought process. I'm also in info-graphic design, so I also would show different things that I did in that respect.

So one of the things you can do too, even in the front, is show what you're good at, show the table of contents, show that "This is what I'm going to show you", explain it and then make sure to always provide a way to be contacted, which sometimes we forget to do. So, in my case, I had Facebook, Twitter, call me, visit my website, check out my blog, email me. All in all, I put my personality in it and is also showed it in a way that was clean, that wasn't too overbearing, that didn't show too much work or too little, but then also provided enough information for them to know what type of style I had and how diverse I was in my skill set.

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