Tips for Creating a Graphic Design Portfolio

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Last updated on March 13th, 2023 at 04:24 pm

Having your own graphic design portfolio is a good start, but if you want your work to stand out in today’s digital age, you have to take your portfolio to the next level. While it is important to have a standout graphic design portfolio, it could be what sets you apart from all of the other designers, although you should not rely solely on this to get you the job.

Now, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “what should a graphic design portfolio look like?” or need inspiration for what to put in a graphic design portfolio, you’re not alone. It can be confusing and challenging at first but with the right resources, building an impressive portfolio is easy.

Here are our tips on what to put in a graphic design portfolio that will leave a lasting impression. 

Be picky about the graphic design pieces you showcase

Let’s get the first problem out of the way: exactly what to include in a graphic design portfolio.

It can be hard to choose between visual projects that you have worked endlessly on, but if you truly want your graphic design portfolio to stand out, you must be picky about what you add to the collection. You don’t want to showcase every single piece you have done, because odds are, they are not all of the same caliber. You have to be your own critic and include only your best graphic design portfolio pieces. 

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The next question then is: how many pieces should be in a portfolio?

The good thing here is that there is no hard rule regarding how many pieces to include. What you want to keep in mind is that you only have a short amount of time to capture someone’s attention. All the more reason to only include the best pieces in your design portfolio folder. Quality over quantity is key, consider including 10-20 of your most impressive designs. Odds are that whoever is looking through your portfolio won’t have time to go through every single piece, but if your first few projects are your strongest ones, they shouldn’t need to look through much more. That being said, you want to show your audience your versatility. If you have experience with different types of design, it’s good to include examples of both projects in your portfolio.

Only include the type of work you want moving forward

Another important consideration when it comes to what to include in graphic design portfolios is to only showcase the type of work you want to do in the future. As stated in the first tip, you only want to include the best of your work. You may have a project that was one of your best ones, but you may want to leave it out if you do not want to continue doing that type of work. If someone is looking at your graphic design portfolio and they like what they see, odds are they will want similar work from you. For example, if you have done a lot of print design, but you want to move more toward digital design, you should keep that in mind when creating a graphic design portfolio and consider only including your digital design projects.

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Let your personality shine

Your personality should be your guiding light when deciding what to put in a graphic design portfolio. A lot of employees or potential clients want to see your personality in your portfolio before they decide if they want to work with you. This may seem like a hard thing to incorporate, but you can do it in several ways. Whether it is through the work you curate, the way you present it, what you write in, your personal branding, or however else you might convey it.

One great way to incorporate your personality is through your about section. If you are creating a graphic design portfolio online, you can dedicate an entire page to your about section. This will help your clients or potential employer see the artist behind the art. Some things you can include to help showcase your personality is of course your name, a picture of yourself and additional information such as a story about your personal or professional life in relation to your work.

Presentation is key

So, how do graphic designers showcase their work? 

Having excellent work is great, but presentation is just as important as what should be in a graphic design portfolio. Treat your portfolio as if it is one of the projects you want to incorporate. Take the same care you would in one of your projects when you create your graphic design portfolio.

If you are opting for the website route, which is a convenient and effective way to reach your audience, invest in a quality website as well as a custom domain. Having your own website allows you to organize your portfolio in the way that best suits you. You may want to have a few pages such as a projects page, an about me page and a contact page. This will allow your visitors to look at your work, learn more about you, and contact you all without leaving the website. If you don’t include a special contact page, make sure to leave those details somewhere your potential clients can easily find. You want them to be able to contact you if they are interested in working with you.

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Include client recommendations or a case study

Wondering what to put in a graphic design portfolio that’ll instantly give it credibility? Social proof, of course! Nothing will make someone feel like they can trust you more than first-hand accounts of happy customers.

Including recommendations from prior clients or employers not only demonstrates a level of professionalism, but will also help impress future clients. You can list your skills and say how great you are all day long, but having testimonials from others will have a greater impact. In addition, a written case study with your project will help potential clients get a sense of the project’s background, what problem you were aiming to solve with design, and your process from start to finish. Everyone has a different process and a case study will help your visitors understand what your unique process is.

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Get social

Your graphic design portfolio is only one aspect of your online presence. Make sure to include any relevant social media handles as these platforms can be a great way to help build your brand and incorporate your personality. Use social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter as mini portfolios to curate your work. While your website portfolio may be a strict cultivation of only the best of your work, your social media can include even more and does not need to solely include your design work. With that being said, if you are using social media as an extension of your portfolio, be sure to keep it professional and in line with your branding.

Keep it updated

Lastly, remember that like you and your work, your portfolio is ever evolving. Make sure to update your portfolio as often as your skills improve and the focus of your work changes. You want your graphic design portfolio to accurately reflect your current work and style to avoid misleading any potential clients. Whatever your favorite type of project is, make that the cornerstone of your portfolio, and when that changes, make sure to update it. 

Your portfolio is an opportunity to impress your potential clients. When it comes down to it, anything and everything goes when it’s your own portfolio. Keeping all of these tips in mind when creating a graphic design portfolio will help you craft one that conveys a strong sense of who you are as both a person and a professional.


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