Graphic Design Portfolio

Your Graphic Designer's Portfolio



You will create a graphic designer's portfolio with at least 12 samples.

Your portfolio is the most important marketing tool you will have to demonstrate your skills and abilities to a potential employer during an interview.

The samples you choose need to show that you have a range of talents and broad experience in many areas of graphic design, illustration, and web design.

Hand In

  • Your completed portfolio case with at least twelve samples mounted in it

Page Setup

Layers of your Portfolio Samples

  • Good Design
  • Effective idea and solution
  • Variety of marketing materials
  • Trendy, current subject matter

Anatomy of a Portfolio Page

Organizing your Page Flow

  1. The first sample should always be your best sample. Make sure it is a comprehensive design sample. WOW! Them with your first piece.
  2. The last sample should be your second best. Open and close with a WOW!
  3. Middle samples should still be your best work.
  4. You may alternate your samples to add variety and interest. This will continuously demonstrate your versatility and wide range of skills and talents. Example: design, illustration, Web page, printed sample, drawing
  5. Or, if you prefer, you may group your designs together. Example: all design samples, then all Web samples, Photo samples, etc. Personally, I prefer the alternating samples approach.
  6. Center each sample on the black paper that comes with your portfolio.
  7. Simply roll two pieces of clear tape and place them on the back of your sample—on two opposing corners (Scotch Magic tape works well)

I suggest you show thumbnails and concept ideas in your portfolio, especially if you are applying for a more creative job which will require conceptualization, visual problem solving, and designing. Art directors and creative directors like to see how you arrived at your final ideas, and which ideas you chose not to use. If your thumbs and roughs are scribbled on a piece of notebook paper or scrap of paper, clean them up a little and just scan them in—as-is. The creative process can be messy, and I feel it is okay to show this process. A two-page spread works well for this type of sample. Put your finished piece on the left side (so they see the best piece first), and place your thumbs and ideas sketches on the right..

Your portfolio must be flawless, impactful, and show that you can do the job you are applying for.

Perfection is the goal.

Mock ups - Free

Here are some free templates and photos to help you mock up your websites, tablets, phones, business cards, posters, print work, etc.

Design Your Pages to Sell Your Talent

Here is a great example of how a portfolio could look. You want your art/design sample to take center stage and get noticed. So make it the largest. Follow these examples and you will have an inspiring, professional-looking portfolio--that will help you land a job.

For all booklets, cards, brochures and multi-page projects I recommend making an additional mockup of the sample and have it stored between the pages, or in the back pocket. When you get to that sample during an interview, you can hand your mockup sample to the employer to look at. This does two things: 1. They can see how well you constructed the sample and how well you design for folds, trim, margins, etc. 2. The mockup makes your work seem more realistic and professional.

Label each piece, and keep your explanations to 1–4 sentences for each category. Don't get too wordy.












portfolio samples

portfolio samples


Take a look at how these designers present their portfolios to clients

Choose 15 pieces of Your Best Work - Suggested Samples

As you begin to gather samples for your portfolio, use the list of projects below to guide you. We can meet during class time to discuss the direction of your portfolio and your samples—just ask.

As you see below, I suggest using comprehensive design samples for many of your portfolio samples. A comprehensive design sample is a real, industry-quality project (or class project that resembles a industry-quality project) that uses multiple software programs and combines art, photos, type, color, layout, etc.

  1. Comprehensive Design Sample - Freelance project from outside of class
  2. Comprehensive Design Sample - Marketing Presentation booklet
  3. Comprehensive Design Sample - Corporate or brand identity
  4. Comprehensive Design Sample - Brochure - InDesign
  5. Comprehensive Design Sample - Poster
  6. Comprehensive Design Sample - Booklet/brochure - InDesign
  7. Comprehensive Design Sample - Foldable Direct Mail Piece
  8. Comprehensive Design Sample - Packaging
  9. Comprehensive Design Sample - Digital Presentation
  10. Adobe Photoshop - Comprehensive project/final
  11. Adobe Illustrator - Comprehensive project/final
  12. Color or B/W Illustration/Drawing - Pencil, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylic…
  13. Web site/Animation - 3–4 Web pages, or 6–8 storyboard scenes
  14. Your Choice - Design projects from outside of class
  15. Your Choice - Design projects from outside of class

Keep in mind…

You should weight your portfolio based on the job you are applying for. For example: if you are applying for a web designer job, put several web sites and animation designs in your portfolio and take out some print design samples.

If you don’t want to include samples because you feel they are not portfolio-quality, fix them! Make them portfolio quality. That is what this class is for.

If you do not want to include areas that you may not want to work in, like prepress, Web design, or illustration, that is okay. But I encourage you to have at least one sample of each to demonstrate your depth of knowledge and experience. You don’t have to accept a job in a field that you don’t want to work, but not having a variety of samples may limit the number of job offers you get. Employers want to see a variety of skills in applicants.

Which Portfolio should I buy?

I have chosen a professional graphic designer's portfolio and placed it for sale in the Western Campus Bookstore for approx. $75. Ask for the portfolio for Graphic Design. It is a $150 leather-bound portfolio case that will last you a life-time with proper care. We buy in large quantities, so you save $75.

If you choose to buy your own, be sure that it looks professional and is 11" x 14". Also, be sure that the clear plastic pages inside are crystal clear and don't have wrinkles. $70 may seem like a lot now, but the quality of the portfolio I have chosen is worth it. I would suggest you don't buy a lesser-quality portfolio just to save $20–$30. It is too important to the job search process to skimp.

  1. The Campus Bookstore sells this one for $75.

  2. It comes with 10 clear pages and 10 black inserts

  3. Be sure to put your name and phone/e-mail in the luggage tag provided.