Your Portfolio, Your Way In

Your Portfolio, Your Way In

Some weeks ago, I helped a former colleague search for a skilled graphic designer that would take the position of an art director at his agency.


In as much as I disagree with the President on his “Nigerian youths are lazy” remarks, I was surprised at how many of the applicants couldn’t put together a proper portfolio. Most of the designers sent links of their Google drives that had loads of their works in it. Some just sent jpeg files of their works and It was a strenuous exercise downloading each one before looking through.


In 2013; when I had the opportunity to design my first portfolio as I was seeking for a new job, it was work and it took me time to put together as I wanted a flow of thought. It was a reflection of some of my preferences such as typography arts, minimalism and colour blue as at that time.


As a graphic designer or art director, your portfolio is the gateway to the interview you so desire. It should be a book where “only” your best works are showcased. A Creative Director would only grant you a chat (an interview) when he sees your works and a consistent form and style through it. There are exceptional cases though where just one work you put out there gets you you desired interview.


You can check out the article below to understand more
The importance of a portfolio for graphic designers.

These days, technology has made things easier as there are several free platforms designers could use to build their portfolios.


Behance: This was the first and only platform I used to build my career. It is free, it is an inspiring platform by the quality of works there, tutorials are broadcasted once in a while and it also gives the opportunity to connect with other designers around the world. It has a display app you could download on your mobile device to access your portfolio offline anywhere and anytime. one thing I like about Behance is that you could eventually convert your portfolio to your personal website.


Dribbble: This is a free platform too but you have to be invited by a user to get in. I am new on it though and still finding my way around it. Some designers prefer it to Behance.


Instagram: This is one of the most powerful social media tools for a designer to showcase his/her works. You have access to a larger global audience (prospective employers, clients, followers etc) if you know your way around it.


Website: If you have some extra money to spare, you could build yourself a custom website. It could serve multiple purposes but my advice would be that if it would not add to your bottom line; either by making you more money or adding to your personal brand equity, just stick to the freebies.


Perhaps; technology seems like further mathematics, try and build yourself a compelling portfolio and below are some tips, using the first portfolio I designed as an example. The designs shared below are not benchmarks but serve as guidelines of a portfolio from my POV.


Have a cool cover page:

The first portfolio I designed had my initials on it. I love simplicity, typography, minimalism and colour blue as I indicated earlier and I ensured it was reflected in my design. Avoid using other people’s template. Be inspired by the templates and create yours instead.

Your introduction should be interesting enough:

If you want to put an introductory page in your portfolio, ensure your words are catchy either by crafting it into some form of art or by ensuring that a copywriter helps you with a catchy phrase to describe you and your objectives. It is not compulsory you put an introductory phrase.


Updated resume

Include your resume:

Whoever is viewing your portfolio has no idea who you are, so don’t assume they know you. Your resume is an opportunity to impress your viewer. Be as truthful as possible and don’t promise what you cannot deliver just because you want to impress your viewer or negotiate for a higher pay.

Your works:

Your portfolio should “only” contain your best works and not just any work or all your works. It should show your progression and how you have improved over time. Perhaps, you have not worked in an agency or being to an Ad school before, work on personal or proactive projects and put them in your portfolio. Work on as many proactive projects as you can and put the “good” ones in your portfolio.

“Green & Golden”. One of the first set of personal works I showed to get my first advertising job

“Flame On”. One of the first set of personal works I showed to get my first advertising job

Give credits:

No man is an island. You would impress your interviewer more when you give credits. It shows that you sometimes don’t work alone and in isolation. You are going to be working in or with a team anyway so the moment you make them feel you are a team player, the better your chances.

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