I want to update my graphic design portfolio, but need some advice/ inspiration on how to structure it.

Does anyone have tips or links to digital portfolio examples/ websites that I could use as reference for industry standards/expectations?


  • @Vikki Ross thanks a lot for the tag!

    Hey Samantha,

    When employers or creatives are looking at a portfolio, what they are looking for is your creative voice.

    They want to gather an understanding of who you are, how you think and what your ideas are.

    Some creatives think the best bet is to fill their portfolio with the commerical work their boss has asked them to produce, to pay the bills.

    Although it's good to show this type of work, it's also SO important to show self initated work too. The general phrase in the industry is "produce more of the type of work you want to be doing."

    You can add in some side hustles or passion projects to boulster up your portfolio this way.

    Also, don't be afraid to pick the idea the client didn't choose in your portfolio, if the idea is something you personally LOVED, but for whatever reason, due to the client being restricted by a brands guidelines they decided to go for the idea that played it safe.

    If you're looking for resources though, I currently have 30% off my CV, Portfolio and Cover Letter Guides here which have been used by hundreds of creatives! https://guides.nikkylyle.com/?coupon=NEWYEARNEWJOB

    Good luck! :)
  • @Craig Oldham and/or @Nikky Lyle might be able to help here
  • Depends on your work, a portfolio should be a tease “fur coat and no knickers” approach. Want to make it engaging the first page should be an OOHS, then followed by an AHHS at the end WHOA.

    It shouldn’t be just be a portfolio of “work” but built with personality, example introduce quotes or design sayings from your experience. i.e. a picture of a post it note with “note to self cmd+s”, “I love naming my layers”, “draw a smiley face write when the font is FREE”.

    – Use InDesign for pdf exportation, tend to keep to a 16x9 ratio 1920x1080, this helps for screen presentation.

    – Create a simple grid layout that supports landscape and portrait images. For example if you have photos of your work, may need to crop into the paper textures, print techniques embossing, makes it more tangible.

    – Avoid using the same mockups as everyone else it may sound strange, a lot of talks “mockup BS” putting a logo on a tote bag etc may not have context, or seeing the same billboard. https://www.thedrum.com/news/2022/03/02/why-does-the-same-london-billboard-keep-showing-up-ad-campaigns

    – Create your own mockups, be surprised how many doors will open to you, NEVER give out your PSD mockups keep them for yourself.

    – Avoid business speak, use everyday language

    Browse viction:ary books how they present their books, or artist designers books.

  • Hello @Samantha Morgan,

    As other creatives stated before, there is a lot of information and inspiration online.
    The Industry standards change all the time and we run after them.

    Nevertheless, the structure also depends on your goals with this new portfolio.
    First of all, what is the goal? (hired within an agency, freelance clients...)
    Then look into the projects you have. Do they reflect the kind of opportunities you are looking for? If it is not, don't hesitate to create a side project that matches what you would like to hire for or create.

    Crafting a branding experience can help a lot.
    The structure is the story you would like to tell, how some projects work together because they address UI or UX, Branding or illustration more. Focus on what you want to be known for first and guide the user to what makes your personality as well.

    As for trends, I do share on my letter cool websites and creative projects to inspire creatives. Check out this Scandinavian flow: https://teamway.io/

    There is no recipe for creating a portfolio. The best you can do is to keep in mind the experience and story you want to convey.
    Your portfolio is a living thing! It will always change. Once you get into the training of creating an experience it will be more fluid next time.

    With all the information shared, I think you have the material to make the cuts and adjustments. I hope it helps.

    If you want to book one of my creative support let me know. You can DM or look into my website: https://kevaepalestudio.webflow.io/digital-products/transformative-mindset-for-my-creatives

    Best of luck.

  • Hi Samantha,
    There are many ways to approach it and like others I can only give you my personal opinion as to what I prefer to see in a portfolio. Hope it helps.
    - First view: make sure people understand immediately what you do. I’ve come across too many portfolios (websites and pdfs) where it took me several clicks to understand what kind of creative someone is. In some instances someone might not consider your portfolio at all.
    - Curate your portfolio pieces: only show the work you want to do more of, narrow down a selection. Having lots and lots of work on it can come across as too confusing or unfocused.
    - Order work in the order of importance and impact.
    - Be clear about what the project is about, what your involvement is and – ideally – what impact it had on the audience and the business.
    - Overall: design it in an accessible way and optimised for someone who does not have a lot of time to look through it all.
    Enjoy updating your portfolio.
  • Hi Samantha,

    Unfortunately, there really is no 'right way' to go about building a graphic design portfolio!

    A successful portfolio should reflect your individual strengths, help you work towards your personal career goals, and garner the attention of the clients and/or employers that you're speaking to and/or trying to get the attention of. All of which are subjective — as, depending on who you ask within the industry, you'll find that opinions very greatly.

    I'd recommend putting a shortlist together of brands, agencies, and studios you admire — and see how the creatives who work there go about how they show their work to the public. Better yet, reach out to the ones whose work you admire and ask them for feedback on your own portfolio.
  • I think the structure I can suggest could be as follows:

    - A Minimal Cover
    - Personal and Work History details - Up to 2 pages
    - I always include at least 3 case studies from different categories for the portfolio. - Client brief, Suggested Solution, Design, and results if anything measurable.
    - The rest of the portfolio should be 1 page for each work. The best mock-ups as images and Problem & Solution as Copy.
  • Hi Samantha, I'm a graphic design lecturer and ex-D&AD judge.

    My advice would be:
    — Always start a project with the most impactful image to draw attention.
    — Consider a pace within an project like a story (drama, intimate moments etc)
    — Describe what kind of designer you are and your strengths e.g. “I'm a branding designer passionate about typography and colours.”

    Also you can get a mentor and portfolio reviews on platforms like Ladies, Wine & Design, I Like Networking and the Arena.

    Good luck!
  • Check out this little video from Ran Segal


    He’s big on web design, but a decent amount of transferable advice in there. He also does loads of portfolio reviews (rabbit hole warning). At least is a starting point…

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