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10 design portfolio tips that shouldn’t be ignored

by Jessica Hamilton

Every designer needs a design portfolio. Not only is it a fantastic way to show off your skills and creativity to potential employers, but it also an expectation within the industry. It’s basically ‘you’ on a page and it will help differentiate your unique skills from other designers.

We spoke to Open Colleges’ Program Manager for Fashion & Graphic Design and Designer, Laura Tavella, to find out what exactly goes into creating an awesome design portfolio. Follow her easy design portfolio tips to make the ultimate first impression:

1. Presentation is everything

Above all else, your design portfolio should stand out. You need to be able to showcase your creativity not just in your work, but the portfolio itself. This will give future employers an indication of your style and creative ability as a designer. These days, it is recommended that all designers have a digital portfolio, as it gives you the flexibility to update it when you need to, and easily share it with prospective employers. You can create your digital portfolio using simple tools such as WIX or you can customise a full website, depending on where your skillset lies.

2. Start early

It’s never too early to start working on your design portfolio. Even if you’re still studying, you can include some of the work you have completed in your course. This is a great way to show a potential employer what you learnt and what you’re capable of. In the Diploma of Graphic Design, you will be building your portfolio throughout the course, while also learning how to market yourself and your work to potential employers.

3. Have a digital and printed copy

While it is recommended all designers have a digital portfolio, it is also a good idea to take a printed portfolio to an interview, so you have something to show a potential employer. You should tailor this version to the role you’re going for, rather than just replicating all the items in your digital portfolio.

4. Show your diversity

Your digital portfolio should be diverse and include a wide range of work that showcases your skills. The good thing about working is a designer is that there are so many different areas you can get into, which provides more opportunity for you to demonstrate your flexibility. For example, as a Graphic Digital Designer, you could be working in any number of roles from packaging to advertising, corporate identity, product design, publication design or web/application design. There are also lots of opportunities for career progression from a Junior Designer through to a Mid-Weight and Senior Designer, right up to a Creative Art Director.

design portfolio top tips

5. Quality over quantity

While it’s recommended that you include a variety of pieces in your portfolio to show the depth and breadth of your skills, you don’t need to show everything. Be selective about the pieces you include – aim for quality over quantity. You don’t need to fill it with every piece of work you’ve ever done – just go with the work that you’re most proud of.

6. Showcase your projects

If you have a big project that you worked on from concept through to development, it is sometimes nice to have one or two examples in your portfolio that show the full case study. For example, you could include the initial concept and then the final design. This allows the person reviewing the portfolio to look at your design approach and how you came to your solution.

7. Label, label, label!

Every piece of work in your design portfolio should be clearly labelled. The person reviewing your portfolio won’t be familiar with the ins and outs of your work and so you need to show them exactly what it is you did as part of that design. If it was a business card, for example, was it the logo design the card design, or both?

8. Keep up-to-date

Design trends change all the time and so it’s important to include pieces that are fresh and showcase current design trends. The last thing you want is for your portfolio to appear outdated.

9. Take a photo

If you have your designs in print, take a photo and include that in the portfolio. For example, if you have illustrated a book cover – take a photo of the final book cover and include that next to the artwork.

10. Less is more

Keep your portfolio clean, simple and easy to follow, but still make it you! You want the person reviewing the portfolio to gain an insight into the type of designer you are. Let each of your pieces stand out in their own merit.

Make your mark in the design world

Are you ready to channel your creativity and passion for design into a rewarding career? Open Colleges offers a number of nationally-recognised design courses, including the  Diploma of Graphic Design and the Certificate IV in Design (Digital Design), that will to give you the skills and confidence you need to be successful in the digital design world. Find your course now.

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