How to create a portfolio
|"As someone who has employed many artists and coders over the last few years the most valuable advice is get drawing or get coding. Nothing impresses a potential employer more that a portfolio of work. Team up with each other, one coding, the other on the artwork. Also look beyond the traditional players, look at similar industries, like gaming (video slot machines) and web design."|
You need a portfolio to showcase your work and to help to demonstrate your skills to prospective employers . Nothing impresses more than a beautifully presented portfolio at an interview. But don't send it unless requested. Always bring it with you if you have an interview.
- Go for quality, not quantity: employers will probably spend only a few minutes looking at your portfolio, especially at interview. Less can be more so select only your strongest work.
- Put your portfolio on a web site if possible as it is so easy to access. You then simply need to provide the web link on your CV.
- Make sure that the portfolio is carefully laid out and in the correct order.
- All items need to be clear and easy to understand
- A physical portfolio can include anything that is portable! Anything flat can be folded into a portfolio, but you are not restricted to things that can fit inside the portfolio! If an item is too large to take to the interview take high quality photos of it to show with close ups to elicit details.
What should my portfolio include?
A good portfolio would probably have most of the following
- An index of the contents
- Your CV including your interests and any evidence of project management skills.
Your CV should give the impression that you think like a designer.
- Perhaps a profile or personal statement
- Your key achievements and skills
- Examples of your work of course with good documentation.
Place the best and most relevant work first and start and finish with strong pieces of work.
- Include a variety of examples of work you have done.
- Your main example needs to reflect your strengths and your creative approach and flair.
- Items that show your thought process and development of ideas are valuable: sequence of photos for example.
- Production portfolios can also include budget sheets, idea pitches and marketing materials.
Portfolios for Print Journalism
- These are likely to includes articles from the student newspaper or other publications. Normally 6 to 8 articles is sufficient. Make sure they are readable.
- Include the the date and page on which your article appeared, plus the magazine logo if possible. It's fine to include articles that appeared online.
- Play to your strengths, but try to provide a variety of examples: news, current affairs, features, editorials.
- Broadcast journalists may be asked to provide a demo disk rather than a portfolio. Increasingly journalists need to demonstrate multimedia skills:writing a blog etc.
- Type "journalism portfolio" into Google to see some examples.
Portfolios for Multimedia
- It can include images, animations, web pages, sound files, concept papers or anything else that demonstrates your design skills.
- Put your work into different categories such as graphics, photos, video, animation editing and 3D modeling.
- If you need more material for your portfolio, consider undertaking projects for friends or charities or working on mock projects such as creating animations for an imaginary computer game, or producing a makeover for an existing web site.
- Go for quality, not quantity: one minute of highly polished animation will work far better than your rambling five hour version of Lord of the Rings! It shouldn't include more than 20 pieces, and 6 to 8 are sufficient. It's OK if examples are collaborative (e.g. an animation done with friends ) as long as you highlight what you did.
- Play to your strengths, but try to provide a variety of short examples.
- Try to provide a context for each example: brief description, where got the idea for the piece, what your influences were, how you went about creating the work, challenges you had to overcome. You may be asked to talk about these at interview.
- You can also include articles about your work and reviews of it.
- Get people to view it and give you feedback on content, impact, style and navigation.
- For a design CV give careful consideration to typography: font styles, sizes and colours. Don't use more than two or three fonts. Keep font colours moderately dark so they will print and photocopy easily.
- Have a brand identity, so the same style pervades your DVD, web site and CV.
- Include a downloadable CV with your portfolio. A PDF file is usually the best way to provide this. On-line CVs should not contain your date of birth, place of birth, marital status, address and phone number as they can allow fraudsters to carry out identity theft. An email address is the best way to allow employers to contact you initially.
- INCLUDING EXAMPLES OF WORK WITH YOUR CV is an easy way to show your skills if you haven't time to produce a DVD or web site. Don't include more than two or three examples, and if sent by post, make sure your work is printed on a good quality printer and send in a good quality A4 envelope. Include a little information about each piece you include.
Web PortfoliosA Web portfolio has many advantages:
- It is permanently available at all times and all over the world for employers to view: they might just find it by accident!
- You can update it regularly to show your latest work and achievements.
- You can include a link to it in your CV and covering letter.
- Viewers can select what they wish to see via a menu: provide a menu/navigation bar so viewers can move around easily.
- This will show your computing design skills.
- Your site must be of high quality: well organised and relevant with a consistent style and navigation on all pages.
Make sure everything portrays you in a professional light (no photographs of pub crawls!).
If you can't produce a good web site, it's better to include samples of your work with your CV.
- Preview your site on the main browsers (e.g. Firefox, Chrome and Safari) as they may display your work differently. Internet Explorer is especially idiosyncratic as it doesn't conform to web standards.
- If items will take time to load, provide a loading screen with "Loading, please wait" and ideally how long to go until loaded.
- Web site hosting. You will need to pay a few pounds a month for this and a domain name: choose this carefully as www.PlatypusMcDandruff.com may not impress! Google Sites offers free, reliable hosting with good support and requires little web knowledge, but it's not as powerful or flexible as paid for hosting sites.
"We throw DVD portfolios straight in the bin as they are too much hassle to view. We only look at web-based portfolios. If a student can't produce a web-based portfolio, they probably haven't got the skills we need."
Manager at a TV Post Production Company
- A DVD may be needed for long animations or projects that take a long time to download over the web. At interview you may be able to demonstrate your work on the employers computer or a laptop, but it's a good idea to have some printed screen shots as well just in case the technology doesn't work! Place the most relevant work first and start and finish with strong pieces of work.
- One advantage of sending a DVD is that you can tailor it to the individual employer.
- Packaging should be smart and eye catching to increase the chances of it being viewed. Make sure it is clearly labeled with your name and contact details.
- Include your CV in PDF format.
- DVDs take time to load and don't always work (the recruiter may have an Apple Mac) and may need to be virus checked first, so some employers won't view them.
Survey of 7 design employers by the University of Lincoln
At the initial application stage how do you expect candidates to showcase their design work?By a mini portfolio attached to the CV 100%
On the CV 71%
Web link 29%
Just a CV: no design work included 0%
At the interview stage how should work be presented?
Paper Based 71%
A blog can sometimes be a compliment to your portfolio allowing you to keep potential employers right up to date with what you are doing. You can ask for comments from viewers on your latest work. Keep it professional!
A SHOWREEL gives a taster of your skills and can be placed on-line and/or on a DVD. Tell the viewer how long it will last in case they have limited time (or patience!). Portfolio and showreel advice can be found at
At the interview be prepared to talk about the specific pieces that you are presenting on and the work of designers/writers you admire. Make sure that you can confident explain and discuss the items in your portfolio. You may be asked to talk about the context for your portfolio examples at interview: where you got the idea for the piece; what your influences were and how you went about producing it. You may be asked if you specialise in a particular area, or work on lots of different aspects.
If you would like to add your own portfolio here as an example to current students, do please email me.
- Quality portfolio produced by a Kent Multimedia graduate see www.pixelhighway.co.uk
- Very professional portfolio produced by a Kent Multimedia graduate www.saydamzornali.co.uk
- Portfolio of Kent MSc Animation student with nice show reel www.paulhadcock.com
- Very smart portfolio of Kent Multimedia graduate www.christos-savvides.co.uk with an extremely creative CV
- Great example of what a Kent graduate of Multimedia can do www.ollyshenton.com
- Excellent computer science portfolio with really good screenshots and code snippets www.jamierougvie.co.uk
- www.andrewpougher.co.uk not so much a portfolio as an excellent example of how to use CSS design skills to enhance and demonstrate your skills in an on-line CV
- Superb web-based architecture portfolio by a Kent graduate
- Example of Architecture student's portfolio created using Pebble Pad.
- Architecture and design Graduates: how to secure your first position
- Example architecture portfolios www.dexigner.com/directory/cat/Architecture/Portfolios.html
Also see the Architecture Careers page
- studentgems.com www.studentgems.com site where businesses and individuals can find talented students for one off assignments, jobs and project work for mutual benefit.
- Dexigner www.dexigner.com online portal for designers, architects, illustrators, engineers, artists, and creatives.
- Pinterest http://about.pinterest.com tool for collecting and organising things - useful for putting portfolios together
- Tumblr https://www.tumblr.com post anything from anywhere, customize everything.
- Instagram http://instagram.com/about/faq share your life with friends through a series of pictures.
- Behance www.behance.net the latest work from top online portfolios by creative professionals
- Coroflot www.coroflot.com design jobs and portfolios
- Creative Pool http://creativepool.com network for agencies, brands and individuals
- Advice on portfolios for art, theatre, music and journalismwww.wellesley.edu/MAS/Portfolio%20Design_CMU.pdf
- Creative CVs
- Creative Jobhunting
- Multimedia Careers
- Journalism Careers
- Media Careers
- Computer Games Careers
- Advertising Careers
One Kent graduate looking for work as a multimedia designer designed his portfolio dressed up as an old analogue phone: dialing 1 presented his CV, dialing 2 gave Graphics, 3 Video projects etc. Personal details were typed on screen as you watched on an old-fashioned typewriter.