Illustrators, photographers and designers will always have a print and web based portfolio, but this can be useful for people across creative industry. Sending out samples can be expensive, and sometimes it is far easier to send someone a link to your portfolio site, or perhaps a PDF. However, when you mail anything to a potential stockist, customer or agent it needs to reflect and compliment the work you make. The tips below can be applied to paper based, web and downloadable PDF portfolios.
Images and copy
The first consideration for any portfolio is the quality of the images. You want to show your best work and not have this compromised by blurry photographs or bad crops of images. Don’t feel that you have to show everything as the portfolio is a taster, but it is a good idea to have one image of the product or item in its entirety and then some of specific details or shots of it in use.
You may also consider showing the work in context to give it a sense of scale and proportion. Other items may need to be photographed in use so that the audience can fully understand what they do.
Good clear copy is essential as you will not be there to talk through the pages when you portfolio is viewed. Don’t write too much, but tell the viewer what the item is, how it is made and describe the use. You don’t need a massive backstory or history, but a testimonial can sometimes help.
If your portfolio is online, then some good searchable terms will really help you get found. Consider the terms people may Google to find your page, normally these will include genre, material, location, colour and other terms such as ‘handmade’ or ‘crafted’ – but be careful as you don’t want the description to read like an SEO report.
You want you portfolio to relate to your web site, CV, packaging and other materials. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated and Paul Rand style logo isn’t always needed. If you draw then see if you can come up with an image that represents your business. However, choosing a distinct font and a colour can often be enough.
KISS (keep it simple stupid)
Don’t do anything too complicated. When you present a portfolio people want to see your work, not the fancy way you have designed the pages. Some large, clear images in an A3 portfolio, document box or PDF will often be more effective than an overly complicated and over-designed layout.
If a company are looking to hire, or take on new products they will see a lot of portfolios and you and yours to be memorable. Try and carry your brand through the pages and write description of each piece in a clear and consistent way. Have a nice layout that you can carry through each page to ensure clarity and ease of viewing, but make subtle changes so that the viewing experience isn’t too repetitive.
Adding a bit of flare is great and you want to stand out from the crowd, but you only want to look about 10% or 20% different because if you go over the top the pages will just look weird.
Don’t tell all
When you get to the meeting and the client has already seen your portfolio you want a few great pieces and physical objects held back to wow them.