Portfolio What do you want!!

Hi Guys,
in the final stages of my last year at university and i need to get some spec on what type of portfolio to go for.
at the moment i have an A3 landscape style portfolio, one guy at uni that comes in and comments on are work is saying it needs to look really slick. I dont have that much money and i need to know, when going for a job is it not more important to have good work rather than a good portfolio. I know that the London Graphic center sell Panodia slipin sheets, is this standard for most portfolio’s
I really like the Muji style portfolios, but he says that everybody has that style portfolio.
Is it going to be a case of the person is going to judge you by you portflio case or not.
Any help and ideas would be greatly appreicated, if you have seen my other posts you will know what my work is like.

I put together a really slick portfolio once and no one seemed to care when I took it in for interviews. They were more concerned with seeing what I had produced that was relevant to them, sketching, models, and renderings. They weren’t in the book making business.

Now I just use one of those standard black plastic jobs with the clear plastic pages. I can update it fast, people don’t ruin it with their greasy hand and spilled coffee, and no one at interviews has ever commented that it wasn’t creative enough.

I say dress to impress, bring a selection of quality work, and let it speak for itself.

I use a Muji A3 and also an A4 for smaller stuff and it never hurt me. I don’t think anyone really cares what your portfolio looks like as long as it doesn’t scream ‘student!’ Al I would say is never carry a portfolio that is bigger than A3, only students do that.

Infact if you are too overly creative with your portfolio case it can put people off. When I worked for Shellys, we had a reputation for wacky, out there design and we would receive many overly creative C.V.'s - knitted, some made with candy glued on, you get the idea. It actually put us off - they were difficult to read and we couldn’t file them as they wouldn’t fit in the filing cabinet. They invariably ended up in the round file (bin). I think what sometimes happens is that college tutors can be out of touch with business, especially if they’ve been teaching as opposed to working in industry. Sometimes the advice you get can be a little bit off, know what I mean?

walk in with no folio and tell them that you’ll courier it in if you think the position suits.

I’ve done both (very creative packaging and designed portolio, and more plain presentation), both worked.

I think the thing to remember when putting your portfolio together is that it is a tool to sell yourself. You should of course have good content (all sizzle no steak doent help at all), and a good presentation also shows your creative and communication side and can help get you noticed.

For sure, if you are going to do something non-standard, you must keep in mind usability. I’ve recieved many portfolio of all kinds at work, and some are so overly complicated (like impossible to navigate flash presentations, crazy unfloding things, etc.), so they do get overlooked. A slick, different presentation can help an potential employer remember you though.

In general, be sure that your presentation doesnt overshadow your work or look like its overcompensating. The best presentation or packing will do you harm if your work inside isnt the same caliber.

One note, I must mention, is to keep in mind the person you are targeting it to. Both the company and position of the person you will be sending your portfolio to (and the job position) should dictate what kind of presentation/content you should present. If it is for an HR type person, in a large company that recieves tons of portfolios, you have to consider that they have very little time for something that doesnt get right to the point. It may also be more important to make a noticebale impression. A small, creative company, can maybe handle something more different and might be more impressed by a complete package job.

Hope this helps! Best of luck.


I would also add that quantity is not as important as quality.

I have a friend who’s a design manager, and he believes a few excellent projects displaying all aspects of the process are enough to get you in the door.

What you do in the interview and afterwards may determine if you get a parking space.

i agree.

and enough already with the “market profile” stock photos of “cool people” who are supposed to be the target for your product. More sketches and design process illustrations instead, please!

The greatest mistake I have seen in countless portfolio is self-serving overindulgent “intro” pages. I dont have the time to go through 6 pages of photos, text and overview before coming to the first real design sketch/product page.

…another gripe while im in a ranting mood. NEVER write about how great you are, especially in third person. Nothing turns me off more than a bio written by a young student designer in the style of a profile of a famous designer talking about how “XXX is a fantastic, creative mind, skilled in all aspects of blah, blah blah”… sounds like pure ego drivel, and I have never seen a job posting for a designer looking for ego in their skill set, or a superiority complex required. Same goes for product descriptions how your design is superfantastic and revolutionary…

Keep your descriptions (of yourself and product) factual, discrete, brief and interesting. Its always a good idea to clearly identify the problem you set out to solve, and how your solution is unique. As well, a good idea to talk about any practical issues (price, market, materials) etc., unless just a bllue-sky concept.

Remember, design is always a money making activity and one that should be guided by good teamwork and understanding of real needs and solutions. For most, it is not about you (the designer), or changing the world (dont get me started on Karim, btw…)!



hmm- I want to agree with alot that has been posted, but then my portfolio teaser kind of goes against that. I had a 80page book, with page intro to projects and then footnotes on project progress…etc. But I guess look at your work an your style and tailor it to that. I wouldn’t tailor your work to just be what your company of interest style is like. like what has been said before, let the work speak for itself.

I think usability is key don’t make it too complicated. I think design your portfolio and share it with teachers and friends and watch them as they read it and flip through it. do they read it all or do them skim, do them tend to flip through fast or what parts/ pages do they linger on etc…all these things you could use to help you understand how your portfolio is communicating.

but what are you developing?

leave behind/ teaser mailer
presentation portfolio

I think having all three of these are standards of today. If you dont have a website, then having a link to your work online, like a styleportfolio or coroflot. also having a pdf version of your portfolio/ or teaser is good to have to email out. You might not always have an address to mail something out but many times you can get ahold of an email so having your work as a pdf is good.

I would try an do less printing out personally/ this is what I would do:

have teaser/ portfolio pdf and email it out.
have work online to also send links
when asked for an interview have work on pdf to present as a projection. if you cant project you could do it off your computer.

  • to be safe also have some of the works printed out/ technology has been known to fail us in times of need

also a side note- something I look at is the back. reason, look to see if you design the whole or just parts. Because most times people forget the back of books/ portfolios…etc and thing is you spend time on a cover and the content why not put that much into the back too? just saying cover all the corners, think through from cover to back…to me just looks more professional and thought out.

post up what you have when you ready-

be easy


i would say don’t fake it!
let the portfolio represent the person / designer you are.
if you feel 4 pages are enough go with it,
if you want to embelish it, it’s ok.
but do not rush it. take your time to properly represent yourself