Being a graphic designer or an enthusiast, portfolios are like your lifelines. Strictly speaking, they can either make your career or break it. Ironic how a few pieces of designs hold your future, right? After all, they contain your best work and narrate your entire journey as an artist. So committing to creating a design portfolio is absolutely necessary for building yourself as a successful graphic designer and bagging those client accolades.
But more than oftentimes, we’re lost and don’t have an idea where to start- either that or the inspiration bell just doesn’t ring.
Fortunately enough, we’ve brought together a few of the most inspiringly artistic graphic design portfolios along with a few tips and tricks of creating your very own and bundled it all here. So read on to find your ‘aha moment’ and continue with your creative journey.
Now let’s dive right into ten of the most impressive graphic design portfolios we’ve seen. There’s no particular order, each of these portfolios does an excellent job at showcasing the designer’s expertise, technical abilities, creativity, and vision.
Ayaka Ito is a designer based in New York and Tokyo who creates brand identities, editorial design, typefaces, and illustrations. Her work exudes beauty and her website showcases a large selection of her work that speaks the same language. You can quickly browse through her website to get a sense of her style and capabilities. When you click on a project, you’re taken to a detailed case study page, which includes an overview, large visuals, and texts that explain the rationale and context behind her design choices.
She is an independent graphic designer since 2014 and has 20+ years of designing experience. Heather Shaw has worked for major companies like Radian and Facebook including top design firms like Happy Cog, Mule Design Studio, and Tangible UX.
She designs brochures, menus, business cards, books, annual reports, Powerpoint and Keynote presentations, responsive websites, applications basically anything her clients need.
Simon Daufresne is an independent graphic designer based in Paris who mainly focuses on digital design, interface design, experiments, and brand activation ideas. His portfolio website offers a unique interactive experience with scroll and hovers effects. Each project that you navigate to, describes Simon’s role, and plenty of large visuals and mockups. His website boasts about the various projects he has undertaken for big names like Armani, Audi, Toyota, and many more along with various awards he has won for his work.
Ramon Gilabert is a product designer with a clean and minimalist graphic design portfolio. His portfolio is simple and precise featuring just four projects. This is the best example that showcases quality over quantity while creating a portfolio.
Each project page showcases an in-depth case study describing the project goals, problems, plan, and results. He is currently working with Red Bull and has also worked for Varner and Intersport.
Adam Ho is a graphic designer with a strong focus on mixed media, brand, art direction, and interaction design. His portfolio website is pretty unique and breaks the rules of layout and typography in an appealing manner that will definitely pique your curiosity. Scrolling down, you’re introduced to several different projects he’s worked on with impressive clients that include Airbnb, Square, Messenger, Vox Media and more. For each project, he has compiled a detailed case study that breaks down his process and design rationale.
Kate Moross is a rising contemporary London-based graphic designer, illustrator, and art director. She is recognized for her typographic illustrations and motion graphics. She is currently the art director of Studio Moross, her own designing studio. She is pretty fond of freeform lettering and most of her designs follow a particular pattern such as three-sided shapes and illegible typography.
She has created various designs for Paul Smith, Adidas, Nike and you can also witness her work in the ads of ESPN, illustrations in Vogue Magazine, and on a billboard campaign for Cadbury. She is a popular name in the designing industry and her portfolio certainly speaks for that.
Mel Gardner is a freelance graphic designer with a focus on branding, website creation, print design, and charity work in Ireland. Pick a subcategory on her site and you’ll see her work along with the breakdown of process flow. Design-wise, she can do just about anything. You’ll see the diverse amount of work she hones proudly on her website.
Leta Sobierajski combines traditional graphic design elements with photography, art, and styling to create truly unique visuals. Her work is bold, colorful, diverse, and truly engaging. Her portfolio consists of brilliantly bizarre compositions that’ll definitely make you look twice. Her clients include some top names such as Google, Gucci, IBM, Adobe, Bloomberg Businessweek and so many more. Her portfolio is definitely an inspiration.
Kaitlin Elisa is a graphic designer, photographer, and illustrator based in South Florida. She has provided some beautiful branding designs for big companies like Starbucks. Her portfolio speaks ‘simplicity is beauty and exudes a tranquil vibe.
John is a Birmingham-based brand and identity graphic designer who has worked on some really cool projects for all print purposes. You’ll find that most of his projects are for the music industry working with bands, record labels, etc. He has also worked for corporate clients of small as well as large industries.
What should a graphic design portfolio contain?
Whenever we hear about portfolios, this is the first question that pops up in our minds.
What exactly should a graphic design portfolio contain?
Now, let me give you a few pointers, within these points hide the contents of a portfolio as well a few tips and tricks.
Your Portfolio Screams – “I’m good at doing this, so hire me for this”
This implies that you cannot put anything that you don’t really want to work on at your job.
Nothing But The Best Of Projects
You should always be prepared with the best and high-quality content at hand whenever an opportunity comes knocking at your door. Your portfolio should be high quality right from designs to quality of the paper itself, there’s absolutely no bargain for that.
Curate It According To The Stage You’re At As A Graphic Designer
Whether you’re a student trying to enroll in a university program, studying graphic designing, or an avid graphic designer seeking new opportunities, always ensure that your portfolio is curated according to that.
For college students trying to enroll in a design program, your portfolio should contain everything that the program requires you to have. Some programs target specific work or projects and some want a little bit of everything. Some popular requests include animation, logo designs, packaging, and product designs. Include fun, family or professional work, anything or everything you’ve done so far.
For entry or mid-level designers, you’ve completed your program and are seeking a job so it’s regardless to say that you’ll have more work on your plate to add into your portfolio than you had when you were a student.
Go according to point number 1. Find your niche and portray that in your portfolio. If logos interest you, your portfolio should highlight that.
Also, have a look at the job description and then review your design portfolio to see if their brand matches your personal style. Highlight pieces that will be your primary area of focus, but don’t fret about showcasing your range of skills. Include pieces from all areas of graphic design. Whether you’re applying to be a creative director or looking at a more entry-level role, your portfolio will need to showcase that you’re the best fit for the position.
Leave A Piece Of YOU In Your Work
Always leave a personal touch to your work by including your name on the home page as well as a section that allows people to get to know you as both a designer and a person. Talk about where your main interests are in terms of design, the career you aspire for, along your contact information like e-mail address and phone number.
Pick The Right Pieces
Pick pieces that showcase your unique brand of design in a way that sets you apart from the rest of the world. And while everyone has their strengths as a graphic designer, remember to show diversity in your work, you’re competing with the best designers around the world so your work should showcase that you’re ready to take on challenges.
Note that you’re more likely to be hired if you can create different types of designs without a hitch.
Have An Online As Well As An Offline Portfolio At Hand
Create an online portfolio like a website that includes all of your work, or simply a soft copy of your work for times where you have to quickly apply for a job online, or need to send your work asap to a client.
Don’t forget to make hard copies of the portfolio as well for walk-in interviews and other times you may need a printed copy. Include your website link or screenshots of your online work in your offline portfolio so that the clients don’t miss out on anything.
What makes a successful graphic design portfolio?
Plenty of designers in the world, but not everyone is a hit. So what exactly makes a graphic design portfolio successful? Let’s find out.
Know Your Audience
All the successful graphic designers today know their clients well enough to create projects of their likings. They know exactly what catches the eye of the viewer. That is a very important skill when you’re working with an audience. Understand the need of your clients, their likes and dislikes, their goal and vision behind creating that project, and think from the point of view of the audience.
Leave No Room For Doubts, Skip Through Questionable Work
You’ve to include your best work, YES but not ALL the work you’ve ever done.
Be picky and leave no room for doubts. If you are unsure about what to include in your work, think for a moment and evaluate. Skip through all the questionable work. Any successful designer portrays their diversity in their work and doesn’t include anything that can be used against them.
Context Is Necessary
When showcasing projects, remember to explain the why behind your design decisions and what led you there. Aim to craft a story around each project to draw attention. This doesn’t need to be a long-winded essay—keep things short, precise, and accessible (more on that later on).
How do I create a graphic design portfolio?
Here comes the most awaited question. Now that we know what a graphic design portfolio contains and how to make it stand out, we can easily navigate to creating one of our own.
Create a Website
Although many platforms like Dribble allow you to share your portfolios to get noticed, it’s better to have your own website. There are many platforms available to do so plus you can also hire a web designer or developer. The most famous platforms include WordPress, SquareSpace, and Webflow. You’ll find that a few of the portfolio websites mentioned in this post are also made using the above platforms.
Talk A Little About You AKA Introduce Yourself
While curating this post, I came across many portfolio websites that have amazing content but lack information about the creator itself. Being a client, it helps to know a little about the designer you’re handing your brand to. Thus introduction is important. You don’t have to write an autobiography, 5-10 lines explaining what you do and why you do it is enough. Remember to give a face to the name and include your nice, high-quality photograph. You can also share links to your social media accounts for promoting your business.
Add Case Studies
If you go through all the portfolios included in this list, you’ll notice that almost all of them include detailed case studies of their respective works. You already know by now the utmost importance of including ONLY THE BEST, and if you are a newbie and don’t have a lot of projects in your pocket then this becomes important. So let me tell you that even though creating case studies can be hard, it’s still worth the hassle.
Add Your Personal Projects
Emphasizing the first point in the portfolio contents answer, remember to include projects you really want to work on. If you’ve worked on a client project of such sort then amazing, even if you haven’t, just include a personal project you’ve done in that area and create a detailed case study for the same.
Add Client Testimonials
Testimonials just work like recommendation letters. They make you look more trustworthy to a potential client. Even if you’re a freelancer and don’t have any work experience to include testimonials, just do some unpaid work for a while in exchange for testimonials.
Over To You
Now that you’re aware of all the tips and tricks, you can take inspiration from all these portfolios and many such alike all over the Internet, and create your very best version yourself.
If you firmly adhere to your vision and diligently put yourself into creating one of your own portfolios, trust me, nothing can stop you from achieving the best.
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