10 years out...What does your portfolio look like?

Hey all,
For those of you with 10 or more years of ID experience, I’m curious to see what your portfolios look like. Have you forgone process and gone for more of a beautiful photo book type of portfolio or are you still knee deep in process shots and telling the whole story? I know this will vary from person to person but I’m curious to see some examples.

I’m currently 10 years out, a Sr. Industrial Designer for a very large, well known consumer goods company, and in the past, I’ve only included 1 or 2 projects where I told a story and about 10-12 other projects where they were just product shots. Its worked thus far as I’ve continued to move up with each transition but I’m curious to see how others are handling their “book”

Thanks in advance and enjoy the 4th for those US based core77’ers


This is a great question and I have been asking this myself. I have around 10 years also and in the midst of redoing my portfolio which has not been touched in a few years which means its way out of date. At this point, my approach was to do maybe 6-8 full process projects and then a bunch of beauty shots. I would sub projects out as needed to best fit what the company is looking for in the way of skills. Beauty shots would be used to show other projects that strengthen the process projects and show other skills. But I have gotten through 1 whole project so far so not too far along in this process. it will be great to see other peoples response. Thanks for posting this question.

I’m closer to 20 years now, but last 10 since I’ve been running my own consultancy I’ve take a similar approach- both Breadth and Depth. I try to communicate my experience by showing -

  1. A lot of projects. I’ve brought over 100 products to market and worked with so many different brands, I have a lot of variety and different projects in the mix.
  2. Process and knowledge that come with experience. All parts of the design process from deep strategy, to hands on design, art direction, technical development, marketing, graphics, branding, packaging, etc.
  3. Full stories. I’ve been fortunate to work on several long term projects that go all the way from brand development to final product and marketing. Showing the full story shows how deep I get involved.

Beauty shots are nice, but I’m always skeptical of portfolios that just have lots of nice beauty pics and nothing else.

Portfolio at http://www.directivecollective.com


Hitting the 20 year mark very soon as well. My advice, just show your work. I’m always skeptical of too much production (the perfect presentation for every project just screams of post work, some of which is fine, but too much canned process feels stiff) and as Richard said, skeptical of just beauty shots. I try to show my contribution to each project, and keep it top level in the actual materials (IE little to no words) and do the story telling myself. It has worked very well for me, but more importantly it feels right to me because it suites my personality and social style. In the end you will have to experiment and find what feels right to you.

Whatever you decide it will speak volumes about you as a designer and a person, and that is a good thing. I want to weed people out who won’t like working with me. They will find out who I am soon enough anyway, might as well get that over as soon as possible and focus on the percent of people who want to engage and make great things together.

Thanks for the insights Yo and R! Much appreciated from new age legends such as yourselves. I think I’m going to go with the combo portfolio. Working on it now, and its got 4 in-depth projects and then a bunch of other projects that are just renderings or product photos. I think its a good mix. Ill post up here once im done for some virtual crit action.


Looking forward to it!


I also appreciate all of your feedback. Not to highjack the thread too much but I had one question. What media do you guys use to present your portfolios? I have been using an Ipad. Mostly because it allows me a lot of flexibility in what I want to present.

I usually project if I can. If you can’t make it better, make it bigger! (And if you can’t make it bigger make it red… ) :laughing:

Of all the interviews I had done over the past decade, all of them afforded a place to project. These days the web is almost universally easiest, you can always lock down certain content with a password that you want to present in person, and you can project it on any machine, iPad, laptop, etc.

If you have the dongles and can project off the iPad that’s OK, but I’ve had people show up to interviews with an iPad presentation and then expected 7 designers to gather around the table and look at their content because they had nothing to project - that was a big no-no.

Thanks gain for the input I will gear around a projected presentation. I had that very embarrassing situation happen to me. I got a schedule for the interview, who I would meet with and when. So I came prepared to present to 1 or 2 people at a time. When I showed up they had changed the plan and I was to present to a group of 10 people at once. To say the least the Ipad did not cut it and I felt very embarrassed. But now I bring both a projectable version on a USB and my Ipad as back up.

Bring all the formats. I feel like I just wrote this in another thread recently.

With technology these days there’s no excuse. Make a PDF. Have it on your iPad, your laptop, a USB key, your iPhone, your Dropbox, your iCloud, your gmail inbox + printed.

Also, BTW, be prepared to present without any of the above. Know how to talk about your work/experience. Bring stuff.


I think one of my favourite stories from you was about your frog interview (I think it was that). Where you turned up with a suitcase of various parts of projects and asked the interviewer to pick something and you would tell the story behind it, kind of like a show and tell.

Obviously you will tell it better but I took this story to heart myself and for certain interviews have asked if they wanted me to talk through a specific project rather than go through my folio page by page. I found it starts a much better conversation and puts my mind at ease rather than feeling I’m just talking at them. I also have my own favourite projects so it is good to have them pick something they like which is often not something I expect them to. It can afford you to tell very intricate parts of projects that you may just not show in a folio like how you dealt with a manufacturer etc etc…I imagine when I hit the 10 year mark I’d be utilizing this approach more.

That is true. you don’t want to have a presentation, you want to have a conversation, so engaging right away, learning what they want to talk about, and then showing how you can steer that conversation to hit all of your key points… that is what interviewing for a director or vp position is like. They obviously know you can do work, they have reviewed the portfolio. The interview is showing that you can think on your feet, then you can handle feedback, pivot to an explanation that influences their perception, then crack a joke all in 5 seconds.

This is a useful methodology, I imagine it would apply to every interview at every job level as well, and not just the VP/Director positions. Nothing is more uncomfortable than a stiff you ask question and I answer question style of interview.

Totally agree! I hit 15 years this year and just started a new gig. I’m a pretty visual guys, I have gotten up and sketched out frameworks and research plans on a whiteboard during an interview.

As you move up in your career you take on more management and move into more decision making roles. The key is to show how you can be a strategic partner to the business. How do you lead design to elevate the brands, enhance consumer lives, all while driving ROI. That being said you are still a designer and creative thinker, we want to see those skills.

My portfolio has roughly 3 groups of work. First work were I have led business teams in developing long-term innovation pipelines, second nuts and bolts product design work for developing new products for our brands, and last tools, process, and practices that I have created to create efficiencies, and shepard creative thinking.



This is 15 years, wrapped up into 50 pages.
Probably not showing enough process here.
Some sketches and illustrator work in the Product section.
Lots of final work/photos.

I’m trying to cover a lot.
Product, Graphic, and Experiential Design.

I appreciate any questions, comments, or critiques.

This is my portfolio with about 6 years of experience in product design.
My advice is to first be able to tell a good story and attune it to the party that you are in conversation with.
Then you need good supporting visual / tangible material. Show process but only when it supports the story of the project, what is more important that it becomes clear through your work what your vision and goals are as a designer.

I am still looking to improve my portfolio for next year, I will use a more distinctive layout with more pages and less and larger photographs.

Ya, you sound super happy.


If only our country allowed you to start your own company based on your own rules and principles, free from the judgement of others … :unamused:

How’s that working out for you?

Glad to hear it.