Color Samples


Whether the job posting asks for it or not, whenever possible, you should send a color samples page to them in your application packet. I would suggest you design your own unique color samples page with 5–7 of your best portfolio pieces. Print your color samples on good quality white paper and mail it with your cover letter and resume.

Sending a color samples page, either by mail, or attaching it as a PDF, is an excellent way to stand out in the crowd and to show a potential employer your skills and talents. It will also help by keeping your work in front of a potential employer when they are deciding who to hire.

This is often called a leave-behind when illustrators, photographers and designers use it to market themselves for freelance work. This can also be reduced to a postcard with 1–3 images on it. May artists and designers print postcards of new art they create and mail it to art directors and buyers frequently. This shows that you are keeping busy and up-to-date.

Suggested Guidelines

  1. 8.5” x 11”, single sided, color print on good quality, white paper.
  2. Use only your best samples
  3. Use a variety of samples to showcase your diversity as a designer.
    (Design and layout, software skills, illustration, photo direction, print, web, color and typography).
  4. Show 5–7 samples of your best work. Too many and they get too small, too few and your range of knowledge and skills is not fully represented.
  5. Include your name, address, phone, e-mail, and portfolio web address.
  6. Do not add extra design elements that distract from your samples or your name. Give the samples “breathing room” and let them speak for themselves.
  7. All of your sample files should be vector images, or high-resolution, 300ppi raster images.
  8. Be sure your raster sample images are the same physical size they will be on the leave-behind.
  9. Create your color samples leave-behind in InDesign or Illustrator. (NOT Photoshop)

Always mail your color samples page with your cover letter and resume—whether they ask for it or not. It will put you ahead of the competition by showing your work the first time they read your resume and cover letter.


Here is an example of a color samples page. It is 8.5" x 11", printed on bright white paper.


color samples page