NDA and Portfolios?!?

In a situation where the employer makes all employees sign a NDA, how do portfolios work?

If a designer cannot release or share work that was created while working at that design studio, how does a designer build a portfolio and move on to another job if no work is documented?

NDA states that work produced in and during the time of employment cannot be disclosed via electronically or in physical form.

Any suggestions, this doesn’t make sense…

Hi sketch22

From what ive heard, you usually take your own time and do projects on the side. This may be tough to balance with a full-time job, but just pretend it’s freshman year in college again.

Good luck and please post your work on here when you do some!

Thank you tarngerine

But how is it even possible to do work on the side, when the profession and career you are currently in demands 50-60+ hours per week in addition to a “way of life” going home and thinking, dreaming, and living the projects going on at work.

I am really curious to know what other people do and have done.

Can you show the work at that previous employer during a face to face interview? This situation ultimately leaves the designer left with no portfolio and nothing to show and speak of. There has to be a way around this…,


i would recommend you talk to your boss or somebody with responsibility about that issue, in my internships (i am now graduating) i have also worked for a company which does highly confidential work, and i had to sign a nda at the beginning.
But there are different projects and not everything stays confidential. while some firms don´t want the world to know who does their work, others just want to keep it a secret until it is produced and distributed.
i just went and asked what i can show of the projects and work i did and when… thats my experience with nda´s :smiley:


Yes it’s harsh - you have to try make time. I can only show about 20% of the work that I do - a real shame because it always seems to be my best work. I’m doing some now - the first few free weeks I’ve had in couple of years. My portfolio is very out of date, because I don’t get the time to update it.

But don’t be tempted to show confidential work - it has a habit of backfiring on you if you do. You’d be surprised how understanding clients are - they see your saying that you can’t show them stuff as professionalism and they will respect you for it.

NDA is only with design studio.

All projects are on market, published and displayed on website, and nothing is proprietary.

You might want to check out this thread about a similar issue not to long ago. Some good info there.

It’s a good point. Completed work that exists in the public domain should be fine for your personal portfolio, just don’t go putting anything that hasn’t actually launched yet in there. If you’re concerned about your employer finding out while you’re looking for a new job, simply keep everything in print form and don’t loan your book out to anyone. It’s pretty unlikely they’d ever find out about it.

I know someone who is struggling with exactly this dilemma right now. Sounds pretty draconian.

  1. I think if you have 8 or 10 years under your belt, the need to prove you can handle the work via an excruciatingly detailed portfolio is dramatically lessened as you have clearly demonstrated an ability to stay employed as a designer for 8 or 10 years. What is your experience level?

  2. 50-60 hours plus “way of life” is insane - your employer doesn’t own you. No wonder you are putting together a portfolio. You need to get out of there.

  3. If you can’t show the work, talk about it in generic but useful terms. You can also “CIA-ify” the documents and black out the sensitive materials…

  4. Only make new stuff as a last resort.