How To Build A Successful Portfolio

11th September 2017 Gemma Curtis Careers and Finance, Study

When the time comes to apply for creative jobs you’ll need a way to show off your pieces in an organised way. This is where your portfolio comes in. Whether you study the arts or design, here are our top tips for making sure your portfolio is a winner so you’re guaranteed to bag that graduate job.

Physical portfolio

This is a collection of work that you can take along with you to job interviews which shows your prospective new employers exactly what you can do. You should aim to include at least 20 pieces so they can get a full look at your work. Don’t worry if a lot of this hasn’t been commissioned by a client; for entry level positions, most employers will just want to see what you’re capable of.

Include the best stuff

By ‘the best’ we mean the most relevant, varied and successful work you have. Your portfolio should never be set in stone so change your pieces around depending on which job you’ve applied for. Try and provide an example for every point they have in their job description to highlight the different skills to offer. For example, with a design job, it might be beneficial to show the various tools you can use. For an arty role, show work using different materials. The bigger the breadth of work you show, the more likely they are to find pieces that speak to them.

Additionally, be sure to add new work and get rid of old or irrelevant work from your portfolio regularly. Keep it current and remember to make a note of the feedback you get on your pieces so you can learn and grow from it.

Design student making a portfolio

Make it easy to understand

Ideally, anyone should be able to pick up your portfolio and understand your work without you having to go into lots of detail. With art and design jobs, one major part of the job is delivering a brief. By explaining your pieces with notes, you get a chance to show how you’ve achieved exactly what the client wanted and your process behind it.

It’s also a good idea to number your portfolio pages. This will make it that bit easier for you to reference certain work or give your interviewer a chance to jot down pages they want to look at later.

Related: 5 Ways To Get Ahead With That Graduate Job

Online portfolio

In addition to your physical copy of your portfolio, you should produce a digital one too. This is a chance to show your work online and allow employers or potential clients to see your work if you are planning on freelancing. This will be available to view 24/7 which is why it’s so important to make sure yours is the best it can be.

All the advice for a physical portfolio applies to a digital one, too. But you will also need to consider the following:

Get it set up

There are lots of online portfolio platforms to showcase your work in diverse ways. Have a look around the sites before choosing yours to see which style you like best. Wordpress and Squarespace are great for building full websites and perfect for displaying your web design and coding skills if you have them. For something simpler, a designated portfolio building site will work just as well. Behance and Portfoliobox are popular and simple to use. If you really want to push the boat out, purchasing your own domain name will certainly make you memorable.

Student designing portfolio online

Read more: How to Create an Employable CV

Curate like a pro

Use your online portfolio to tell a creative story. Don’t feel like you have to add every single piece of your work; instead, ensure the work you’re showing complements each other. Make it simple to navigate and don’t bombard the page with too much stuff or people won’t want to view it.

Why not break up the images with testimonials? These don’t have to be long – just a quote or line – but it’ll make you stand out as a professional. Finally, don’t forget to promote your page. No-one will look at it if they don’t know it’s there! Use social media or digital sharing platforms like Dribbble and DeviantART to get your work out there. You never know who might be looking!

It’s never too early to start building your portfolio so set yourself a task to do it on your next free day!

Gemma Curtis

Gemma Curtis

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