"professional" footwear portfolio, advice?

Hey everyone,
I have taken way too long to do this, but im really trying to organize some of my better “professional” footwear projects from into portfolio form. What i was wondering/realizing, is what should be given priority, im so stuck in the mold of thinking of a student portfolio, when i had very little knowledge of the actual development process.

heres a couple issues/topics i would appreciate feedback on, and i imagine will help others as well:

  1. In my current job there is virtually no need for flashy sketches, so most of my sketches are just plain side views that effectively communicate a design to china, should i go back and do stylized sketches? just feels kind of arbitrary at this point, but i also assume that at other companies the more stylized sketching might be preferred? I do have pretty good renderings for most all of my groups though, so there is some eye candy.

  2. Spec sheets/development files, such as blueprint modifications, pantone references, etc. Obviously this is the bulk of my actual work, but is it assumed that someone with a few years experience is familiar with all this stuff? Or perhaps should i pick one project to blow out all the detail work like this and dial it back on others?

I have put a piece together for a multi seasonal group i have been working on, and im just realizing that there are many directions i can go with what i have, as far as how to present it. Im assuming that images of the finished production shoes tell alot of the story? If you look at a collection of finished shoes you can see the design, the color palette, the materials, etc, is this true or should i not assume this?

Any help from those who have more experience would be greatly appreciated.

Also, feel free to PM me if you can share your professional portfolio, or would have the time to take a look at what i have.


I think images if the final samples tell a lot. I alwaysbring product with me in person. I’ve never shown tech packs, blueprints, or spec sheets unless they supported a specific portion of a story I was trying to tell. I.E. I wouldn’t show BPs for a typical cupsole style, but I might if I’m explaining a new construction or technology.

First off, have you cleared it with your employer to show process work? Some may be cool with it, others not so much. Bringing samples is a must for sure.

  1. I know exactly the kind of process you are talking about, and have been there. I’d augment your real process work with some nice sketch exploration on made up or other projects that shows your skills there. Even though you maybe only did a single drawing for a style to go straight to development, an employer will want to see lots of variation and exploration. Same with rendering. It’s OK I’d say to do a new rendering for a style that you didn’t do one for, but doing made up process sketches can be a bit odd.

  2. For a junior designer, I’d say it’s good to include these specs, tech packs, etc. Shows what you have done as experience can vary a lot depending where you work, os if you’ve done it, show it. It’s probably enough to show just one full blown project and mentioned you’ve done the same for others. You don’t need specs for every colorway you’ve ever done. That being said, it’s a good idea to make it clear what you actually did on the project. Did you do the concept? Final tech drawings? Colors and Materials spec? Development? Outsole? I’ve had more than a number of juniors I’ve interviewed tell me that they designed a shoe, when really, they just did an initial upper sketch, someone else completed it, it was on existing tooling, someone else did development, colors, etc.

If you can tell the story of the collection, all the better. A remember, process is always good, too often designers get so excited they have a real product to show, all they do is show final pics, which tells nothing.