As summer approaches, we recruit college students for our production internship. Out of all the interviews we have had, the amount of graphic design students without a portfolio of some kind is surprising. And so I have a few questions and words of advice to kick this post off.
Are you a graphic design student looking for an internship? Are you graduating soon and looking for a job in your field?
Before you even send an application for anything in the graphic design field, you must have a portfolio of some kind to showcase your work. A portfolio represents everything about yourself as an artist, reflects your creativity, shows what you are capable of and the abilities you have to offer. It’s an invaluable tool that will speak volumes about not only your work, but also your personality. The great thing about this day and age is that we have more tools than any other generation to build a portfolio, not only quickly, but with great quality, flexibility, and portability. However, like most things on the Internet, the sheer amount of tools available can be overwhelming. That’s where this post comes in. So let’s break down the process step by step.
Step One: Digital Prep
The first thing you should do before even getting online is to prep your images for a digital setting. You should do this with all of your work, whether you think you are going to use it immediately or use it later. You never know when you’ll need to change your portfolio based on a specific job opportunity. Part of what makes a portfolio stay great is that it’s work changes based on your needs and those of your viewer.
Start by making a separate folder on your computer that holds all your portfolio images. Some good guidelines to follow for saving online:
- Never overwrite the original.
- Save images at 72 dpi.
- Save in RGB Color Mode.
- Save as jpeg or png.
Step Two: Selecting A Website Builder
The great thing about a lot of the websites out there is that you don’t have to have any web design experience or knowledge to make a great looking portfolio and they can be used for free.
- Wix: Wix is a great tool for building a portfolio because it allows you to choose templates and completely customize them through a very user-friendly interface and step-by-step builder. Wix also has a section in their builder that lets you customize how your portfolio will look on other platforms such as a mobile phone. This feature sets it apart from other websites.
- Behance: Behance is like social media for artists of all kinds. It allows you to showcase your work and connect with millions of other artists that inspire you and give you connections. You can manage your portfolio relatively quickly with Behance by a number of built in tools that are also very user friendly.
- Carbonmade: Another great website for showcasing work that is user-friendly and has a flexible interface. Carbonmade offers both free and paid subscriptions. For free, you can showcase five projects and upload a maximum of 35 images. If you have picked pieces correctly, this should be more than enough for a starting portfolio.
Step Three: Selecting the Right Work
Having saved out all your art, ask yourself what you want to showcase in your portfolio and then begin the selection process. Here are some general guidelines to follow as you choose your pieces:
- Only Include Your Best Work
- Choose pieces that showcase specific technical skills
- Place your strongest pieces first and last. Hierarchy is extremely important.
- Even if you are showcasing completely different projects, make sure they all feel cohesive and transition smoothly as you flip through them and decide the order
- Take the time to tell the story of each piece.
Step Four: Putting it all Together
Some final things to remember as you put everything together:
- Keep It Simple and Clear
- Brand Yourself And Make Sure Your Portfolio is consistent with that brand.
- Make sure to have an About Me section. Make it personable and use it to build credibility.
- Remember to make sure your portfolio looks good across multiple platforms (ie. iPad, Mobile Phone, Laptop)
In closing, one thing I want to emphasize here is that it’s really easy to make an online portfolio but the effort you put into it and the steps you take to make it the best it can be is the hard part. It is a time consuming process but it is absolutely worth it and absolutely necessary. There are over 286,000 graphic designers in the United States. You have to find a way to stand out and building a strong online portfolio is one of the first steps.