12.06.2017 | Education

Getting the most out of your portfolio

by Scott Kirkman

Recently graduated from graphic design? Read some tips as written by our Creative Director on the subject of portfolios.

What is your best advice for new graduates with their graphic design portfolio?

Number one is to diversify yourself from your classmates. This is especially important if you’re a Newcastle grad going for a Newcastle position. The best portfolios I see are the from the students who have been doing freelance jobs whilst studying, working part time at studios or creating self-initiated projects. Not only does their portfolio stand out from those of their classmates, but also shows a level of drive that is a very attractive quality in a new grad.

Secondly, get your folio online. There are so many great free options online including Behance, The Loop and Cargo Collective. Get your projects looking great and share them with the world. As a side note, there are plenty of blogs out their with tips on how to shoot your work to make it look its best, so do your research.

Third, get your name out there and just, be nice. Use the social media platforms at your disposal to get yourself involved in your local creative community and follow the studios and creatives you love. Attend your local meet-ups and drinks nights – don’t go looking to ‘network’ – but rather just to meet people in the industry. The Design Kids website is a great resource for events, interviews and tips.

Portfolio Masterclass Look Hear 2015

Biggest mistake new grads make with their portfolio?

Having the wrong attitude and tone in your folio can be a huge turn off. Having a recent grad refer to themselves as an Art Director or having ‘90%’ expertise in Adobe Illustrator is off-putting. The reality is, recent grads begin as juniors, and the people hiring them don’t expect them to be THAT great on the tools or be making revolutionary strategic decisions. That level of skill takes years out in the real world to develop, so bring it down a notch.

The biggest selling points for recent graduates will always be a great eye for design, a willingness to learn and take direction, great projects that show your potential, and being able to fit into a studio culture.

Another mistake is not tailoring your portfolio for the position or company you’re applying for. You may love natural history illustration, but when you’re applying to a digital agency, it probably isn’t relevant. Adapt your portfolio accordingly to the job description you’re applying for. Don’t show unrelated work for the sake of filling up pages.

Digital vs physical portfolio?

It really depends how and what you’re presenting it on. Personally I prefer digital folios i.e. laptop or iPad. Pages can be updated easily and it also tends to show off the work better as it’s back lit. For designers with lots of web based design experience, its also handy for showing the live version of your work.

If you are going to go physical, make it special. Don’t use the standard floppy A3 black folder. Print your own folio and bind it yourself, or where budget allows, invest in a Zetta Florence album to really show off your work.

What ever you do, make your portfolio a piece in itself. It should have a considered layout, beautiful photography, great work that shows off your skills, and a clue into who you are as a young creative.

Feature image: Mark from Folioio

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