Designers tend to freak out about their portfolios, and with good reason—the quality of your portfolio can mean the difference between steady work and unemployment. But with so much competition out there, how can you stand out from the crowd?
We chatted with Anthony Scerri, Freelance Design Director at We're Magnetic, about what makes for a stellar portfolio. Read his tips below for showcasing your skills and leaving a strong impression on anyone who views your work—and turn that portfolio site into the best representation of you.
I worked in editorial design for over 10 years. My portfolio mostly consisted of magazine spreads that included all aspects of design including grids, typesetting, typography, and even the occasional branding. If you went to my website, everything was broken down by publication, as was every other editorial designer at the time. Working in multiple publications gave me the opportunity to show my vast diversity, but the designers I looked up to only needed to show one or two to get a full sense of what they’re capable of.
In 2014, I found myself transitioning more into the digital realm, which was a departure from my traditional editorial design. Ultimately, I landed in advertising and found myself with a wide array of work and design disciplines. The only questions that remained were, “How do I represent myself without overwhelming a potential client or employer? Am I an editorial designer? Am I an advertiser?”
I am a graphic designer by trade. It doesn’t matter that print publications are on the decline. It doesn’t matter that I’m not a traditional advertiser. Design is design. There is nothing wrong with having a diverse portfolio so long as the work is actually good. I’ve unfortunately known people who have put work in their portfolios just to fill a criterion. It’s senseless, it’s damaging, it’s pointless.
A portfolio is a multitude of things, but in the end, it’s a direct representation of the artist. In time, work you’ve made will pile up, and curation will become critical. When doing this, make sure you keep the following in mind:
An employer’s time is more precious than yours, so be sure that what you show is accessible and simple to navigate across all platforms.
What did you do on that particular project? How long did it take? What were your responsibilities? Choose work that showcases your skills to the fullest.
Don’t overwhelm people with a mountain of work. Condense your portfolio down to its best.
The best work often isn’t the end product but the process itself. Choose projects with lots of detail that show your work ethic and thought process.
Your best work should always, always have this.
A well curated portfolio will always be memorable and land you a job.
Your portfolio doesn’t need to include everything and the kitchen sink. Limit yourself to your personal best. Showcase work that will eventually land you a job.