5 Tips for a More Memorable Portfolio
by Taylor Slattery | July 10, 2019
Creative industries are more competitive than ever. Which means that making a strong first impression is more important than ever. As creatives, our future job prospects depend on the proficiency demonstrated through our past work. This is great news because it means that great work will land you a great job. But if we aren’t presenting our work in the best possible light, we could be selling ourselves short.
Due to online application processes and gig-based employment, we don’t know how many times potential employers might have seen our portfolios only to click away, leaving us none the wiser. In lieu of having a professional look over your portfolio and give you some feedback, here are five things to keep in mind when putting together your portfolio for maximum impact:
Start Strong and End on a High Note
If you place all of your best work at the start, there will be a noticeable loss of momentum. If you place your strongest pieces at the end, the viewer might get bored and not make it far enough to see them. By placing your best pieces at the start and finish of your portfolio, you accomplish two things. You make a strong first impression which will make them want to see more, and you leave them with something to remember you by.
Don’t include your student work. Including everything you’ve ever made gives the impression that it’s all you’ve ever made. Do not include the sketches from the two times you went to life drawing. You want to instill the viewer with confidence in your ability. Only include your best work. If something isn’t of the same caliber as the rest, it will stand out. Leave it out. If you need, take the time to develop a portfolio of pieces that reflect your current skill level.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Time is precious. Your goal is to spark interest but leave them wanting more. Include a link to your website where they can view your full body of work, but only if they want to. Limit the number of your pieces in your portfolio so that there’s enough to give a good sense of your work, but not so much that it overwhelms.
Don’t Generalize, Specialize
It’s tempting to try to show range but instead, aim for proficiency. Employers want to look at your work and know exactly what they’ll get by hiring you. Leave them no room to guess. This also means that you should only include the kind of work you want to get. Naturally, as creatives, we like to experiment. Stepping out of our comfort zones can lead to pleasant surprises. Which leads to my next tip…
You may have a range of styles under your belt, each equally viable. As long they’re representative of work you’re comfortable doing, build a portfolio for each, but stick to one style per portfolio. Research your potential client or employer and cater your portfolio to their aesthetic.
Portfolios are our gateway to work. Taking the time and consideration to carefully put yours together communicates that you’ll do the same on the job.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.