How to create your best portfolio (a role-by-role guide.)
What does a good creative portfolio look like? It’s a question we’re asked regularly.
Putting together samples of your work might sound straightforward, but many creatives find it anything but. So, we asked our Creative Consultant Sandy Rayner what she thinks makes an awesome ‘folio., and in the article below we go role by creative role, sharing her advice on presenting your work in the best possible light.
As a Creative Recruiter, Sandy has seen many a portfolio. She’s usually willing to let a spelling mistake slide if the overall quality is high, but when it comes to Artworkers she’s adamant that their portfolios must be pixel-perfect.
There should be NO mistakes in an Artworkers CV or portfolio.
Sandy looks for precision above all: “you’re not the creative person, you’re the final step in the process and you should astound with accuracy. Neatness and focus should be on point, and it should be clear that attention to detail is your strong point”.
As a junior, it’s your soft skills that’ll land you the job. You won’t have a tonne of work to fill out your portfolio nor to discuss during interview – and really, that’s ok. Instead, shout about your amazing personality and the qualities you have that’ll get the job done better than anyone else.
Sell yourself, your curiosity, and your thirst for development.
In your portfolio, show your ambition through passion projects or self-learning examples. Even if the role doesn’t need those specific skills, it shows that you’re committed to learning; and that’s universally important.
You can also include work that you only had a small hand in, but to avoid any awkward conversation further down the hiring process, Sandy advises being crystal clear about how you contributed to the project.
A mid-weight Designer can make up to £36k / £250 per day.
At this stage, you’ll now have more work to show from years of hands-on experience, but that doesn’t mean you should let your portfolio get chunky.
Be extremely selective about the projects you choose to represent you.
Still leave space for your passion projects, and self-learning examples as agencies love to see evidence of continued development.
When our Creative Consultant Sandy looks at a Senior Designer’s portfolio, she expects to see examples of how they influenced their team. “A SD should have at least one instance when they’ve run with a project from start to finish, including presenting to clients.”
A Design Director can earn up to £66k / £450 per day and will have at least 10 years’ experience under their belt. If you’ve reached this career stage, your portfolio should hopefully tell a great story of innovation and leadership.
A Design Director (DD) must be concept-driven and have experience turning big ideas into reality – our recruiters look for examples of this in portfolios.
Agencies hire DD’s to dream up big concepts and to keep the team’s creative juices flowing; so it’s important to not only be talented but inspirational too.
Above all, a DD should want the best for the team
As a DD, you’ll have a direct influence on the careers of others, therefore you should count mentorship and empathy among your top skills. It’s important that you can recognise the different strengths within your team and know how to nurture them. Each designer may need a different approach and it’s up to you to discover what that is.
A great packaging design portfolio is one-part creativity, two-part commercial focus.
Keep the cutting-edge stuff out of the portfolio. For a role in packaging, Designers must show their commercial savvy.
Sandy states that shelf presence should always be a packaging designer’s main consideration. When she flicks through a portfolio, it’s not always the most creative work that catches her eye.
Instead, a great packaging portfolio should display your ability to think like a consumer and demonstrate how one can work with guidelines to create something beautiful but functional.
A Brand Designer’s portfolio should be a grand affair that shows sophisticated ideas through to concept creation.
Alongside great design, the following questions should be answered: How did you journey from the original idea? How did/will you translate it across many viewpoints? Is it true to brand?
Sandy finishes by saying “a great brand designer sees brand in a 360 way, and we as the viewer should be able to follow the brand design knowing where they expect the company to go in 5 / 10 / 15 years’ time.”
For more creative career advice, check out the Gabriele Creative Community.