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Building Your Graphic Design Portfolio for Future Opportunities

Creating a design portfolio goes beyond gathering projects. A portfolio is a representation of who you are as a graphic designer and what separates you from other designers. It’s about strategically showcasing your skills, your personal design process, and your unique artistic style. A well-crafted portfolio is key to unlocking an internship, getting your first job out of college, and landing freelance opportunities. So, it’s important to take the time to think about what you want to put in your portfolio that puts your best work forward and communicates your identity as a graphic designer.

How Do I Make A Graphic Design Portfolio?

Even the best graphic designers spend a lot of time thinking about what their portfolio should look like and what work they should include. When creating your portfolio, you should treat it with the same level of care and attention you would any other personal or client project. Don’t think of it as something you can quickly put together, even if your work is exceptionally strong.

Step 1: Pick a Platform

Creating a design portfolio starts with choosing an online platform to host. While some designers secure a custom domain, free-to-use website builders or low-cost portfolio platforms work just as well, especially when you’re just getting started. Some options include:

  • Behance
  • Squarespace
  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • Carbonmade

Look through multiple options to see what features are included and check out sample portfolios to see how work can be displayed.

Step 2: Assemble Your Work

A good portfolio should have roughly 10 strong projects. Your design not only needs to highlight your best work but also emphasize your personal style. Look for a range of eye-catching works that pop out and showcase your skills. If you’re applying for a position focused on a specific type of graphic design, such as web design or motion graphics, be sure to include works within those mediums. Remember that, as a whole, your portfolio should be neat and easy to navigate.

Graphic Design Ideas for Your Portfolio

If you don’t have a lot of finished projects to choose from for a portfolio, don’t worry! There are ways you can build up your portfolio without tons of prior experience. If you need some inspiration, consider:

  • Creating a personal brand
  • Working with a local business to update their brand assets
  • Designing a new version of your favorite brand’s graphics
  • Making a mock company to create assets for

If you already have pieces of work in mind, include a mix of internship, class, and freelance work in addition to personal or passion projects. This will give reviewers a sense of your personal style, as well as how you handle overcoming challenges in graphic design like designing for a client, following a brief, and fulfilling a specific need.

Step 3: Include Descriptions

Each project in your portfolio can be accompanied by a short brief. In these sections, elaborate on your design process. Talk about what the design was for, what elements you included, why you made the design choices you did, and how the design solves a problem or meets a need. It can also be helpful to include professional recommendations in these sections, especially if the work you completed was for an internship, class, or client.

Step 4: Review and Edit

Before sharing your portfolio with potential employers, you should have others review it and offer suggestions. Fellow students, teachers, and advisors can be a big help for this. Specifically, ask editors what they think about the layout, navigation, description clarity, and strength of work. If you’re on the fence about putting in one project over another, send both to editors to see what they think. Just remember to stay true to your style throughout the process.

Excel In Graphic Design at Villa

Villa Maria College is home to one of WNY’s top graphic design programs. If you’ve been told you should be a graphic designer or are interested in learning more about it, get in touch with us to learn more. Many of our students have gone on to produce award-winning work and have successful careers after graduation, and we’d love to help you follow your passion too!