Creating a Portfolio How-To Book

Hey everyone,

Our studio is creating a book on “How to create your first portfolio.” This book is aimed primarily for sophomore students who are in the process of building their first portfolio. However we hope the information will be useful for anyone creating a portfolio. UC’s new semester system is having students intern even sooner than normal. We’re just trying to create a nice PDF to help them out.

The book is going to be fairly comprehensive covering all aspects of portfolio creation. From the technical aspects of cleaning up sketches to the more subjective aspects like storytelling and personality. We’d love it if you could take this quick survey. It should not take any longer than 10 minutes.

If you’d love to contribute a bit more let us know as we are looking for some guest writers as well. Even if its a short blurb, or tips page. After this book is finished we plan on releasing it to general public so all students, not just UC will benefit. So this is a great way to give back to the ID student population.

Thanks Again,

Michael Roller reached out to me directly last week. I did the survey, and of course let me know if you need anything else.


I love portfolios (if you couldn’t tell from my feedback on many portfolios): the idea of showcasing yourself as a designer through a paper or digital medium is really fascinating to me.

That said, I had some issues with your survey:
Question 2, How much does GD mean compared to content: I think graphic design is REALLY important, but a minimalist layout with good use of whitespace is just as much graphic design as fancy colors and typefaces. My answer to this question is “Yes, graphic design is a very important aspect of a portfolio.”, but I also agree with “No, graphic design should not detract from the work.”. I think this question needs some rewording, and maybe not be put on such a scale. Personally, I don’t see how anyone could say graphic design is not important.

Question 5: rank the following skills in terms of importance: when yo usay rank, I assume that each item is going to end up being assigned 1-10, but there are 11 items!

Question 7: How do you view portfolios? I view them on whatever I have at hand. Would be nice to select multiple options here.

I’m not anyone in the design world, but if you want someone who’s got perspective from an ID and IxD point of view, as well as someone who’s studied peoples portfolios (to make mine the best), ping me on the Twitters.

Thanks Yo. Really enjoying this project. Excited to see where it goes.

Tarng, Agree, I’ll talk to the group who made the survey and get em to tweak them.


This sounds like a freakin’ awesome idea. Having another resource like this would have definitely helped (most likely still will).

If you are looking for some more junior designer/fresh-out-of-school contributions, I would love to help.

Great initiative! I think such a guide for portfolio creation would be most definitely be very helpful. Especially for students. I for one would have loved to have had access to information like that when I was creating my first portfolio.

Going through your survey (especially question #5 Rank the following skills in terms of importance) it made me think of Michael Roller’s study and analysis of “The ideal junior designer”, also see Would be interesting to know to what extent the results from the survey and Michael’s analysis would match.

I’m looking forward to the final result and if I can help in any way throughout the process please let me know. I will pass this along to my colleagues.


Done. Feel free to hit me up if you’d like any further feedback.

I think the book is a great idea and often when I mentor and teach students the complexity and importance of a great portfolio is something I try to focus on. I’ve seen great work and good people get lost due to poor portfolios and seen a lot of poor portfolios in my day that cover crap with more crap.


@Tally-ho Michael Roller is actually our professor for this class. So I’m sure we’ll pull a few things from that survey.

Erik and Richard, thanks for the offer. Our initial draft is due fairly soon. So if we need a bit more feedback I’ll get in touch with y’all.

Thanks again everyone for their responses. This helps solidify our original assumptions and also has given us a a few great idea on how to present things a bit differently. Keep em coming.

Somehow when you said studio I thought it was a consultancy making this not a school class. A difficult project in that case basically evaluating yourself from your own perspective. Hope it works out. Best of luck. Still great that you are asking the questions.


Indeed a difficult task, but one we were happy to try and tackle. I think Mike assigned it to our studio because he felt we had a good understanding of how to build portfolios, especially at a sophomore level. We are trying to look at it from the peer to peer perspective. We do a lot of portfolio reviews where the older students look and evaluate the sophomores/3rd year students. We have the added benefit of being able to reach out to a lot of professionals who we’ve co-op’d with over the years at DAAP. Hopefully we capture both perspectives.

Thanks for the input. Any help is appreciated. If there’s anything that anyone feels like they really wish they knew or understood earlier, let us know and we can continue to add to our book. It’s around 80 pages right now in a very rough draft. A lot of work, but a fun project and a great way to give back to UCID and the ID community. Credit to Mike Roller for letting us do this and putting together the project.