Just like a well-organized resume is crucial for any business major, a properly put together portfolio is the key to success in the design industry. Unlike a journalist, your work isn’t online and easily accessible to others, so the presentation of your portfolio may be the deciding factor for a client or hiring manager. To help guide you on your path to becoming a successful designer, we’ve put together a list of must haves for your portfolio.
Physical and Digital
You’ve put in years of schooling to get to this point, so showing off your work should be something you’re proud of. Never put together a portfolio by hand, as it will be an instant turnoff for any employer or client. Design your portfolio digitally and then seek out the closest copy shop to have it printed. Make sure the quality of the printing is acceptable before paying for the copies as well; you never want to bring a portfolio full of smeared photos to a hiring manager. Get multiple copies made also, as you’ll want to bring on at least two extra copies per interview. Lastly make sure you have the portfolio saved to a USB drive, you never know when you’ll need to show off your work to others when networking.
Although you may specialize in one area of design, it is important to show how diverse your work can be. Even if you’ve never had a hospitality design come to life, include previous designs and sketches from a project you may have been assigned. This shows you’re not afraid to step outside your comfort zone, and design whatever is needed. When it comes to retail, include a variety of high end and traditional views. You want clients and hiring managers to know your skills are up to par, no matter their needs. Lastly, remember to describe in your portfolio why you chose what you did. Was it because of a client’s request, or the availability of natural lighting in the facility? Let them know you are taking as much detail into consideration as possible before they even have to ask.
Are your sketches as good, or better, than some of the computer animated designs? Include them in your portfolio! You may need to find a quality scanner to do so, as some may add unwanted shadows or shading to your images. Also remember to be sure the printing quality is the same as the digital versions. Work with your local copy shop to ensure that printed items can be the highest quality possible.
Your designs are what will get you hired, but never forget to include an updated resume. Your resume should include any accomplishments, certificates, and education. Also include any past or present relevant experience, but never exaggerated as it will be your biggest downfall. Lastly include any organizations you might be apart of, like ASID. This will show you are actively seeking more knowledge in the industry.
Want to see a completed portfolio example? Check out this example on the American Society of Interior Design’s website. And if you’re currently looking for a position, keep up to date with our career section for the latest postings!