Portfolio Sizes and Examples

This is an offshoot of some of the recent threads that talk about portfolios and unemployment.

I am curious about people’s thoughts about portfolios in general.

  • What is the best size for a printed portfolio? ie 8.5x11, 11x14, 11x17, etc…
  • Should you have separate web vs printed portfolios?
  • How should a portfolio be organized?
  • Separate types of designs (ID, Architecture, Graphic, etc…) vs chronological order
  • Should you keep them clean and simple or pack them full of stuff?

I know you should tell a story with your portfolio but I’m curious about the specifics that can make life easier when keeping track of your portfolio.

I’m also curious about who you feel has a good coroflot/web portfolio.

Here are two people that I feel have good coroflot portfolios.

Justin Coble

Spencer Nugent

Never in chronological order! Thats a JV move right there! :wink:

I’ve actually just been bringing 8.5 x 11 print outs, binder clipped together by project. I just make it a conversation and pull out projects to illustrate my points as I go. Sometimes I’ll also have a powerpoint with some highlights if it is a bigger audience, I tend to put a meaty project up front to illustrate depth, then go through several one pagers to pick up the tempo and show specific things I want to get across and then finish with another project. These are always. always, always custom tailored for the audience, so I like to keep my work as flexible as possible in terms of format.

I also bring a huge bag of physical stuff, shoes, watches, some CE stuff I’ve done… I try to bring early prototypes and production examples if I can fit it all…

My coroflot is more of a collection of stuff that shows a wide range, just to hammer home that I’ve done a lot. But what I bring is highly edited into a story, with a lot of stuff that is not on my coroflot…

I’ve started to go the 8.5x11 route as well. I like the fact that almost anywhere you send a digital copy they can just print it out if they want. The 8.5x11 also views well on the web also.

My main portfolio is an 11x14 pina zangaro screwpost cover. It’s just too expensive to continually update and change out images. the ink and paper costs are pretty ridiculous if I need to update everything. Maybe it’s time to finally retire it.

I do a few different things. I have one saddle stitched booklet (11x17 spreads, 8.5x11 closed) professionally printed (cost about $24/book) that not only includes nice sketches, photos of samples, etc., but a lot of copy that outlines my experience, areas of expertise, etc. It would be similar to a catalog from some branded company that explained the companies history, experience, process, and shows the products.

I update this every 6 months or so and print out only a few copies depending if/how many I may have upcoming. I give one to each person I interview and the quality and depth of content hopefully tells them everything they need. I can also send a PDF of this (about 8mb).

You can see this on my website (flash slideshow) http://www.rkuchinsky.com/

it is expensive, but the impression I think is worth it. Also updating it regularly I normally only add/subtract a few things and the hard part (layout/copy) doesn’t normally change much.

In addition, I have a “process portfolio” which I keep constantly updated. It is a huge InDesign file, that I add to every time I am done a new project. It’s on 8.5x11 sheets, into a 200pg Muji sleeve binder. When I have something new, I just compile those pages into InDesign (about 2-3 pages per project, just sketches, renderings, etc., no copy/layout), and then when I need to, can print out the pages that aren’t already printed and re-shuffle for each interview (a bit of a pain). Having almost everything in one binder, I find I can really show the depth and breadth of my work, and can flip through in an interview, stopping where I get interest. This I don’t leave behind. It’s overly full now, so I’m also in the process of creating another 50 page binder with education (teaching) specific things in it.

I also bring a huge bag of samples, prototypes, etc.

I don’t update my coroflot or website as often as I should :astonished:


Ross I wanted to come and respond to you personally as there was no intention in the previous thread to inflame you.

You have beautiful work. Your clarity piece is really well refined, and I really like your sketches in wood really poetic explorations of form.

To your threads question - Portfolio design is an art in itself. It is the most individual thing you will produce. My only advice would be to think really hard about the direction you are wanting to go. Who is this for, are you applying to consultancy’s or studios, or in house electronics places. These will dictate the direction you will take. If your unsure of exactly where you want to go (who is?) then a good practice to look into is creating a master portfolio in Indesign with all your projects layed out as pages and then simply edit out the pages you don’t want for a specific application.

Clean layouts, fonts and clear & concise copy go a really long way for creating a slick portfolio.

Good luck !

I do appreciate you coming and talking. Like I said in the other thread… at least there is some good from these misunderstandings.

Thank you for the compliments! Clarity is my pride and joy, I’m still hopeful that I can get a company to pick up the design and put it into production. The sketches in wood series was a lot of fun. I built the whole steam box setup in order to produce them and to give me some more experience in different woodworking techniques. I have some furniture designs that I’m working on that require steam bending in order to produce, so they were good practice in testing the properties of the wood. In a interview I had the other week the principal of the firm was blown away with sketches in wood. Out of everything I showed, I think they had the most impact for him.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the KISS method and apply that to my portfolio design. Keep it clean and simple but well refined.

I have a big master portfolio in InDesign that I am continually refining. I typically try to customize it to the company I interview with. A lot of times it’s just a simple reconfiguration or completely cutting out sections depending on the situation.


I really like your portfolio! You have a great layout and flow. Nicely done! I think you may have totally convinced me to switch to the 8.5x11/11x17 format. I have yet to see a better complete portfolio package.

Sounds like your an onto it guy. Keep killing it, someone will bite. Trust me.

Thanks. And not just kissing up in return, but I really love your work. I remember when you first posted it in a “projects” thread a while ago, and I actually checked out your link because I figured you must be some superstar pro designer with +10 years experience. I was amazed you were a student (at the time i think, or at least a recent grad).! I’d buy half the pieces you have in your portfolio and they would certainly hold their own among any Rashid, Newson or Milano Salone stuff.

I also want to second driller’s advice. Your portfolio should capture who you are and where you want to be. I think this is key. You no doubt have the skills, you just need to “frame” it. Are you a conceptual guy? form guy? builder? functional furniture specialist? commercial furniture specialist?

As an example, I’ve tried to present myself as a broad-skiled, strategic design guy with an understanding of both design, but also management, business and marketing. As such, my portfolio layout is something you might find in a design/business mag (was greatly inspired by Monocle magazine), with a lot of well thought out copy, process and a mix of who? why? thrown into the “what”.

From what I see of your work, I think you have the understanding of all that is needed. Just put something out there and work to continually revise. I started my first personal branding/portfolio exercise in first year and have completely redone it at least 8 times since with each style having at least 5-10 iterations. It doesn’t all happen overnight.

Best of luck, would love to see what you got.


PS. This makes me think that another great thread that could be started could be “Portfolios over time”. ie. people post older versions of their portfolios (even just one page) to see how they’ve evolved. I know I have mine on Zip disk someplace…

That would be interesting, I’ll have to see if I have some old versions backed up somewhere… they were pretty bad! My first portfolio, all printed from slides and color copied… how far we have come.

Wow thanks for the props. Never thought I would ever be mentioned along side Spencer.

Anyway…Like mentioned before you really want to show how you think. I am a very process and consumer insight driven designer. This is always communicated in my portfolio. Not as much in my Corefolio but definitely in my physical one. I also agree with Yo. You need to have those heavy process and story telling spreads as much as you need those light fun and energetic spreads. These light ones keep things moving and keep the energy high.

Edit: As far as sizes. I have an 11x14, an 8.5x11, and an electronic. It all depends on the audience as to which one I use.