How To Create The Perfect Creative Portfolio
For most students studying art-related subjects, a portfolio of your work is the perfect way to showcase your creative talents. Art portfolios are a collection of your work that displays the skills you’ve learnt, as well as your artistic style. To create a perfect one, however, requires you to have excellent communication and presentation skills that can often leave students feeling flustered about how to get started.
If you find yourself in that situation, read our mini guide on top tips and tricks on how to portray and organise your portfolio to the best of your ability.
Who needs a portfolio of work?
A physical or digital portfolio is for anyone looking for a productive way to demonstrate their talents and past work to others. Whether that's for study purposes or career opportunities. However, it is mostly essential for university or A-level students studying art-related subjects (such as architecture, fine art, graphic design, photography etc.) Schools and jobs assess your portfolio to see if your style matches up with their aesthetic. Therefore, at times, how your portfolio is presented can be viewed by them as more important than your final grades.
If you are studying a creative subject and want to create a portfolio of your work, check out our tips below.
Keep it simple
A portfolio is a great way to show off your creative side, however, often students make the mistake of overcomplicating this. Don’t be afraid of blank space or make your pages look too busy as this can leave the person receiving it feeling confused. If you stick to a particular theme and format, it will help you keep things straightforward which will allow your work to speak for itself.
When sending off your portfolio online, don’t include the whole thing, instead create a sample portfolio with 2-4 of your pieces that demonstrate your versatile skill set, along with a CV. This will be easier for the recipient to read - and download the email!
Tell a story
Everyone’s portfolio should be able to describe their creative journey. So, once you have a format in place, create a strong narrative that explains what you learnt over the years and shows how this has helped you learn and progress.
Don’t let quantity replace quantity either. Sometimes students can fall into the trap of letting their portfolio turn into a stockpile of work, instead of focusing on areas they are interested in. Both employers and schools want your portfolio to focus on your own design process - i.e., how things began (sketches, prototypes) and then the final product.
Make it adaptable
Another important thing to bear in mind for your portfolio is that chances are you will be presenting to many different people and companies, all with completely different styles. While it's good to stick to your personal preferences and design style throughout your portfolio, don’t let yourself get too rigid about it. Make sure that you can accommodate the reader's point of view if necessary.
Try to keep your portfolio as current as possible too. As time goes on, you’ll have many more experiences and skills to flaunt, so make sure you have room to frequently adapt and improve. This will help you feel more at ease when applying for a new job or school without feeling like you need to make a big update.
Not having the perfect portfolio the first time around is easily done. That’s why we think it's a good idea to get feedback from an external party about it. There are lots of experts that will have the right eye and experience to give professional advice. This is a great way to see how someone in the same field would respond to your work so you can make the best next steps to reaching your goals.
Your friends and family are also a good audience to test how readable and easy-to-understand your portfolio is for someone without the background experience to know what you are talking about. It’s good to practise with them how you would present it in an interview so you can be confident and prepared for the real thing. Remember to take feedback on the chin - this is a no-judgement zone where feedback is only there to help you improve!
Include personal work
Lastly, you’ll want to include a bit about yourself, your skills and your personal experiences. You can mainly explain this within your CV but also through your body of work to stand out from the crowd. If you have any personal projects that might suit your portfolio don’t be shy to include them, schools and jobs want to see what sets you apart from the rest, and how you take your work to the next level. The same goes for group projects, include them, but be honest and explain what parts you contributed to them.
You might think this goes without saying, but too often people forget, don’t let this be you remember to include your contact information and run through our portfolio to spell check everything. If there is no clear way of contacting you, you won’t be hearing back!
Now you have all the fundamental tools to help prepare your portfolio. Stick to a familiar platform to create on and follow our tips. Once you begin, you'll find it easier than you think, however, don’t be afraid to start over if things aren't going your way. Best of luck!