Does anyone still print their portfolios?

I was about to print mine at FedexKinkos and buy a professional binder with acetate pages to display it well. I am just trying to prep myself beforehand, in case I get a call from a potential employer but was shocked by the Kinko’s quote of $125.00 for my 60 plus page portfolio.

I would like to show as much process during an interview and tried condensing it a lot more but it ended up looking too cluttered. I know Yo (Michael) is a proponent of lots of process/larger portfolios for student work, but my question is:

Do any recent grads these days forgo print, in favor of digital only? Or should I print mine anyway, in case of emergencies; Macbook breaks/blows up during interview or to show others in case its a room full of designers, etc?

Thanks in advance everyone.

I’d suggest getting quotes from a few different places. I printed 60 or so A3 pages, came to about £40 (unbound).

I’ve also presented my work both on paper and on screen in interview’s, and must say I much prefer paper.


Of the last three student interviews I conducted, one was iPad, one was loose portfolio sheets, and one was a bound booklet.

The iPad presentation was not good. Aside from being able to switch over to video from the PDF (not as seamless as it should be), the fingers in front of the screen are distracting.

Loose sheets were OK because they can be passed around but it was still haphazard when it came to controlling the presentation.

The booklet was the best (disclaimer: as was the work inside) because it was linear, showed attention to graphic design principles, and engaging for groups of 3-4 people. If you would be showing it to more people, something on screen would be better, projected from a laptop. I’m also a big fan of bound sketchbooks and process work, by students and by working pros.

For in-person presentations nothing beats prints. My favorite method for printing is old-fashion photo prints (digital though), they cost me $1.49 (US) each for 8X10 or 8X12. You can either put them in sleeves in a book or simply pass them around during meetings. Just load your files (or scans) on a flash drive and take them to your local photo place and you’ll have them in an hour.

The nice thing about photo prints is colors are bright, gradations are smooth and you don’t have to worry about inks running. I assume the FedEx prints are color copier prints, which don’t reproduce color very accurately don’t offer full-bleed. For a while I drove the people at the photo department crazy with my frequent color-correction demands. :wink:

Presenting something on a screen on a conference table can be cumbersome; looking for files, trying to read the tiny print on folders, turning the screen to the viewer, and it can be difficult to compare more than one file/image at once.

I find that interviews with laptops are kind of awkward. In some of the interviews I recently conducted, the computer would go in sleep mode, would have no more batteries and also if there is a lot of people at the interview it’s difficult to see the work from all sides of the table. Print is simple and straight to the point, the interviewer can focus on what’s important: your work.

For my personal portfolio, I used to print full bleed with a nice binding but it was labor intensive and like you mentioned, costs a lot of money. Nowadays I just print on the plainest color paper and I put it in an art portfolio like this one :

On a separate note, I’m sure this has been debated before but isn’t a 60 pages portfolio a little bit much?

I think having a big printed portfolio is still worthwhile. Ipads still bother me - the screen size is smaller than a single sheet of A4 paper (since you can’t do a full 2 page spread) and if you came to me with your entire portfolio in A4 I wouldn’t expect more than 1 person to look at it at a time. Most interviews are conducted with more than 1 person in the room, and a large format portfolio makes that much easier.

I would always keep a digital copy on the laptop (or iPad for emergencies) this way you could hook it up to a TV or projector, which again most companies will have for an interviewer.

One of the first questions you should always ask for an interview is the circumstances for your interview - how many people are you seeing? At the same time? Will there be a projector?

And always make sure if you have a Mac or a laptop that doesn’t have a typical VGA interface you bring your adapters. Nothing worse than getting to an interview and finding your super slick macbook can’t actually connect to anything in the room.

Yes, I always check to see if they have a slide projector whenever I go interview for a job. :laughing:

Seriously, doing a presentation on a laptop (whether for a job interview or work presentation) can be awkward. It’s hard to tell which way is up when using your wireless mouse and the screen is facing someone else.

I always bring-
-muji 200pg portfolio with clear sleeves and printed sheets of all work/process
-saddle stitched booklets with nice layout and select projects as a keeper (1per person)
-both versions on iPad
-addition product final shots in albums on iPad
-PDFs of each on a USB
-mail link to myself of all PDFs for easy forward
-mail link to myself of Dropbox location for each PDF
-cd of all PDFs

You should find out who you are meeting with, an agenda for the day, and what facilities are in place. And plan for Murphy’s law. You can never be too prepared. I used to also bring envelopes with a cd of PDFs and a print cv for each person individually addressed with teaser print portfolio included but not anymore as so many people don’t have a cd drive.

Copies of cv still good as likely some people come to the meeting last minute and haven’t checked it out and don’t have anything on front of them.


I see a potential product for keeping all this organized :wink:

Hey everybody,

Glad others chimed in. Thank you. I see there seems to be a consensus on printed portfolios. I will look at printing it, no matter the cost. Fedex seems to be my only choice though in NYC.

VanDeBar, you had asked about my portfolio size. I have to admit, there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on this issue. Some prefer long drawn out process and problem solving skills (as Michael DiTullo does… if I am not mistaken), some prefer short; problem statement, a bit of research, money shots.

Since I am a student, I thought it was acceptable to have a long portfolio, for entry level or internship?? I thought employers want to see how one thinks? As a seasoned professional, I would think one need not show as much “process”, as one is more established at that point and one has to show successful products one has created and are on the market.

Anyone want to debate this again? It’s very confusing to say the least. :open_mouth:

The long portfolios I saw so far seemed to be repetitive. Some projects looked the same or showcased the same skill. I guess a long portfolios can be relevant as long as each projects showcase something different, unique and interesting. I try to stick mine to around 20 to 25 pages. Again, I dont think it’s a matter of pages more than what you put in it. Also, the bigger the portfolio, the more work you have to do when you update your layout.


Just to be clear, are you speaking of student portfolios or established designers seeking employment (who I assume have shorter portfolios)?

Because even my classmates all had long portfolios. Most of the people in my class had about 8 to 10 boards for each project; showing lots of research and process. So if they have 4 to 5 student projects, each different; than they are already at 40 to 50 pages.

So you are saying that is a bad thing?

So maybe I should take 2 projects out of my 4 (each one is way different from the other) and eliminate some process? Maybe cut to the chase, show problem statement, sketches, final solution? For the more complicated projects, maybe I can do an all out process?

It would certainly cut down on my page numbers. Thanks.

In the past, if there are more than 3 people in the room, I usually request a projector and show about 40-60 slides. I average about 30 seconds a slide. alway bring a printed back up. I would print in 11 x 17. Large images, little to no text. Keep it visual and simple. Bring as many physical things as possible. I used to even bring little sketch models and mock ups. Anything you can pass around the room to keep it interactive and engage the audience.

Don’t worry about page numbers. For my Nike interview 10 years ago I brought 5-6 project books with 4o pages or so each. I knew them well enough that I could skip ahead or flip quickly and tell stories that bridged them all together. I also brought a few huge posters printed on a plotter and put them on the wall so as people came in they could browse the work.

Don’t feel obligated to tell the complete story on every project. Focus on the big picture of why the project us impoteant, what the big idea is, what you learned and hint to more so they ask questions.

Yes to samples! Good point yo. I always bring a big bag of samples and lay them out before.

Key is also judging the flow. If the aren’t interested, skip ahead, If they are dug deep. That’s where the big book of process comes in handy.

I’ve never heard of the big poster thing but I like it. Might have to steal that idea.


Super! Thanks for chiming in Michael!

Get there early and ask for 15-20 minutes to set the room up. Transform the room, own it!

I’ve never seen anyone else do the poster thing. It was a big hit I can tell you… If you have good work you can shape it into all kinds of formats for impact.

Having interviewed many designers the only thing I want to see is a neatly presented book or binder of your work, and I informed people prior. I have zero interest in time wasting on any electronic format, and must have ability to flip back and forth during discussion.

There are many online photobook publishers, Blurb is a good one. I used two different services on two different 100 page books, printed both sides, two copies each (4 total books). Costs were about $120 total X2 for each including shipping. They all have hidden instant discount sales once you sign up, their posted prices are discounted up to 50% depending. Blurb was fastest: shipped out to me in one day from upload of book, PhotobookCanada was slower, about 1 week to ship but the quality was superior.

Wow, what a helpful bunch you all are!

Thanks, Pier for joining the conversation. I plan on buying a nice, reasonably affordable binder to put my work in soon. I am going to check at the local art supply stores downtown (NYC) and see what they have. I did check out Blurb, but I think I am better off having loose sheets that I can then pull out or change; if future edited takes place. But Blurb sure does make really nice bound books. Pier, I will make sure my portfolio is neat and presentable. Thanks!

When I interview I prefer to see a printed portfolio, but bound together in some way that it can all be taken apart so that I can get an overall view of projects. Can’t do that with an electronic presentations one after another. This gives me a feel for the designers methodology, style and content, not just the flash of the presentation. Flash is important and does engage, but there must be real design content.

Print it, organize it and for the most part let it sell itself.