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Graphic Design Portfolio Tips
If you've been asked for your portfolio, then allow yourself a moment of celebration. You've made it past the first round of eliminations-but don't relax yet. A graphic design portfolio is one of the most important factors upon which a prospective employer will judge you. After all, you're being hired to produce designs, and in this case, the work you've done will speak volumes about your ability. Here are some things to keep in mind when assembling your portfolio.
Quality vs. Quantity
A single, shining Nobel-prize-worthy copy of your best work? Or a hundred examples of every project that you've ever done since middle school? It's always a struggle to balance quality and quantity, so try to keep a happy medium. Remember that your employer doesn't have the time to sift through an overly large portfolio, and that with every added design that they must look at, the impact of each one diminishes. Erring on the side of more quality and less quantity is a safer bet, yet at the same time, providing too few examples will make an employer question the paucity of your work. Are you an excruciatingly slow worker? Or just a sloppy one who doesn't have enough good pieces to pad out your portfolio? Stay away from situations in which your portfolio might give rise to unfavorable assumptions. If at all possible, before you walk in with your portfolio in hand, ask your interviewer to give you a ballpark figure of how many examples they'd like to see.
Graphic designers work with all kinds of requests, and so you want your portfolio to prove that you can handle any one of them. If you're applying for a position in a company that only produces designs for pet Chihuahuas, then disregard this advice and feel free to stuff your portfolio with all the dog designs you've ever done. But the majority of firms don't limit themselves to such narrow scopes, and as a prospective employee, you won't want to either. Even if your particular strength lies in a certain area, still keep examples of other kinds of work in your portfolio as well. You don't want to come off as a one-trick pony. Give your portfolio a chance to represent the breadth and diversity of your abilities.
A Second Opinion
Artists aren't always the best judges of their own work. After you've assembled a likely portfolio, call in someone whose opinion you respect to give you their take on it. Even better, call in multiple people for a true range of opinions. Perhaps a fellow graphic design student, or a teacher, or even an online community will be able to give you some helpful critique. You don't have to take every single person's advice to heart-it is, after all, still your work-but at least be on the lookout for general trends of opinion. If ten out of ten friends tell you that your grocery market logo is horrendous, then, well, put your pride away for a moment. but maybe it is. Your first impulse might be to reply that they don't appreciate real art, but after all, working in a graphic design company means that your designs must cater to popular taste. And your employer will be looking for signs of that as well.
In the end, no matter how good the advice, the success of your portfolio ultimately lies in your talent as a graphic designer. All you can do in this final step is to put your best face forward and cross your fingers. Best of luck!