Making a good co-op portfolio

happy new year everyone! well I am a sophomore at University of Cincinnati’s DAAP and we have been forewarned that we will be putting together portfolios to send out to co-op employers when we come back for winter quarter in a few days. I think I have really good work to show, but I havent figured out how to present it in my portfolio yet. I have looked at many past portfolios and i have some questions for all of you professionals out there about what makes a good student portfolio…

  1. The portfolios I have seen have ranged from simple to complex. Do you like to see a portfolio that is simple and to the point, or do you like when portfolios are more complex, with lots of text and tons of pictures?

  2. Most of the sketching that I have seen is only sketches that pertain to a project or ideation for a design. If I have some strong sketches of everyday objects, like headphones and shoes, should I include those even though they don’t apply directly to a 3D assignment?

  3. Other than the work itself, what is the most important aspect of a portfolio?

I am sure I will have more questions, but theres some for a start. I am sure they will tell us more about it at school, but I wanted to get opinions from professionals too.

Thank You!!!

You should create a portfolio that represents you as a person and as a designer. Do you like simple or complex? Show us!

As a sophomore, you have a limited set of projects to show prospective employers. Make sure you’re not only showing skills but also *thinking.

Try to show at least one project from beginning to end to demonstrate that you understand that design uses a process.

Make sure you’re featuring the content on each page, and avoid graphic design elements that are unnecessary and distracting.

Good luck.

im in daap too (junior)… best i can say is if you want a specific type of job (eg shoes, medical, furniture) you have to taylor your portfolio for that- you wont get nike, if you dont have a lot of shoe sketching… get it?

let me know if you need any help, or want some crit!

There are lots of good portfolio tips in some of the other forums. check out the portfolio and design employment forums for some more suggestions!


keep it clean and organized. people want to see your work so let that be the main emphasis. some graphic design elements can be good, but they can easily detract from the portfolio…especially if they aren’t done right. In that case, those elements just become distractions on the page and your work gets overlooked.

Richard’s blog is amazing, simply mindblowing… actually i am also ina process of making my portfolio altogether new… i did my accessory design specialising in jewellery & precious product design, since nov 2004 i have been working with diamond jewellery export house as a jewellery designer here in mumbai, though it pays me well and gets me few foriegh trips an year for work (like Swiss in April) but my instincts are much more i see. Now what scares me is that my company doesnot allow me to showcase any of my office work outside… i am worried what will i put in my portfolio… I need help… please suggest… though io do not intend to keep myself in field of jewellery for long… jewellery doesnot solve any problem other than psychologica;l ones… please suggest…