How To Make A Graphic Design Portfolio Step-By-Step

How To Make A Graphic Design Portfolio Step-By-Step
Article by Jelena RelićJelena Relić
Last Updated: April 26, 2023

Looking to attract potential clients or employers? Your portfolio plays a key role in this!

If you haven’t created one yet, don’t worry. In this article, you will learn how to make a graphic design portfolio that appeals to and impresses potential clients.

We’ll discuss different types of portfolios, why they matter and share the step-by-step process of how to create a graphic design portfolio.

Let’s start!

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Why You Need A Graphic Design Portfolio?

Today, having a portfolio is critical for graphic designers for many reasons. Graphic design is one of the fastest growing industries and since the job can be done remotely from any location in the world, fierce competition is everywhere.

You need a portfolio because it:

Showcases Your Work

Potential employers or clients decide whether they will hire your service or not based on your portfolio. Having a portfolio helps you showcase your best work so potential clients can easily review your past designs and decide whether you’re a good fit for the job.

Builds Trust

Having a portfolio isn’t just about showing what you did in the past. It’s about showcasing your talents and capabilities, which builds trust in your work.

This is where recommendations and testimonials are also crucial, in addition to your impressive designs. When potential new clients see your recommendations and testimonials from previous clients, it reassures them of the quality of your work.

Helps You Create a Brand

Last but not least, creating a portfolio helps you build a brand image for yourself. From specific designs you choose to include in your portfolio to the skills and capabilities you choose to highlight, a strong portfolio helps you position yourself in the market.

For example, if you’re a graphic designer interested primarily in UX design, you can showcase related works in that field and list the specific skills you have that are required for this job, to attract potential clients looking for a great UX designer.

3 Types of Graphic Design Portfolios

There are several types of graphic design portfolios you can choose from and each has some unique advantages.

1. Website

Website portfolios are the most popular type of portfolio, and they’re virtually a must-have for graphic designers today, so we’ll primarily focus on them in this article.

A graphic designer portfolio website (or an online portfolio) is exactly what it sounds like – a website built specifically to showcase your talents.

Creating a portfolio website is time-consuming and can be costly if you hire someone to develop it for you, and pay for the hosting if you don’t go for a free plan. But it also gives you the opportunity to be creative when showcasing your work and skills.

However, when you have a website portfolio, you can simply shoot the link to your website whenever you want to apply for a job. Plus, you can organize your portfolio and include as many pages as you want such as “About Me” or “Contact Me.”

2. PDF

A PDF portfolio is like a brochure with examples of your work and descriptions of each. Some of the best graphic design tools when creating a PDF portfolio include Adobe Acrobat and Behance.

Having a PDF portfolio means you don’t have to pay for hosting, unlike with a portfolio website, and you can also send it to potential employers just as easily via email. It’s also faster to create but it is less effective when showcasing web designs, compared to a website.

3. Classic Portfolio

A classic portfolio is an actual book with printed examples of your work. Even though they’re not as popular in the digital age, classic portfolios are still used by graphic designers today.

This is a good option for when you’re attending interviews and meetings in person, as you can bring your book with you and don’t have to rely on a computer to show off your designs.

The biggest drawback of this type of portfolio is that you can only deliver it in person or by mail, so it’s much slower compared to the other two types.

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How To Make A Portfolio For Graphic Design?

  1. Select Your Best Work
  2. Choose a Platform for Your Portfolio
  3. Include Case Studies and Testimonials
  4. Share Your Graphic Design Process
  5. Include High-Quality Images
  6. Add a Personal Touch

It’s clear that having a portfolio is a must these days, so we’re going to walk you through the process of how to create a graphic design portfolio that successfully shows off your skills and talents.

1. Select Your Best Work

The first step is to sort through your previous projects and select the work you feel showcases your skills in the best way. If you don’t have a lot of samples done for clients, you can include any work you’re proud of, whether it was a project for a friend or just for fun.

Show different types of projects if you have them, to showcase breadth of skill. For example, you might include illustrations, animations and email designs.

2. Choose a Platform for Your Portfolio

Now you need to choose a platform for your portfolio website. Some of the most popular platforms for this purpose are Squarespace and WordPress but there are a ton of other options too such as Wix and Strikingly. Review top website builders and choose the one that suits your needs.

3. Include Case Studies and Testimonials

Now that you have chosen a platform for your portfolio website, it’s time to start thinking about the case studies you will include.

A case study should complement your visuals featured in your portfolio and explain the process behind the project. Include several well-written case studies to show potential clients how you think and what your approach to graphic design is.

For example, if you’re showcasing a logo you created, explain the process of brainstorming ideas for the logo, what specific problem you were trying to solve, wireframing details, research, etc.

If you have recommendations or client testimonials, include these too, as they are your social proof and can help potential clients make their decision.

4. Share Your Graphic Design Process

Your graphic design process is unique to you, even though it may share some steps with standard best practices. Your creative process shows potential clients or employers how you think, approach work and handle challenges.

Describe your design process step by step to show potential clients how you handle each project and what you’re capable of. This can be the deciding factor in whether a client will choose to hire you or not.

5. Include High-Quality Images

When including images in your graphic design portfolio, focus on large, high-quality images that are easy to view. Avoid cluttering your portfolio with countless images as this can overwhelm the viewer.

Keep a simple layout with carefully selected, impactful images to keep the focus on the quality.

6. Add a Personal Touch

The next step is to personalize your portfolio. You can do this by adding your name on the first page of your website, incorporating a personal logo and showcasing your unique style.

Think about your approach to graphic design and your personal style. Do you favor brighter shades over dark tones? Do you have a specific style? Do you excel certain graphic design trends such as 90s nostalgia or gradients?

This can help showcase your unique personal style and be used to further personal branding.

You can also include an “About Me” page where you can share a few more details about yourself, along with a professional headshot.

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5 Examples Of Graphic Design Portfolios

Wondering what the best graphic design portfolios look like? We’ve selected five of our favorite examples to show you!

1. Aries Moross

The portfolio website of Aries Moross showcases the English designer’s unique style. It highlights both recent works as well as a full archive of previous designs, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or cluttered.

2. Dawn Button

The portfolio of Australian graphic designer Dawn Button showcases his best work, neatly organized in groups, and manages to highlight the designer’s personal style as well. The website features a simple, clean-looking layout with lots of white space to offer breathing room in between the artistic designs.

3. Christine Chung

This portfolio of Christine Chung, a graphic designer from Toronto, is one of the simplest we’ve ever seen. It reflects her personal style and also makes navigating the portfolio very easy, as there are only three pages to browse.

4. Mindy Nguyen

A perfect example of a creative portfolio is the website of Mindy Nguyen, a designer from Los Angeles. She used a large font to present some personal information, enriched with animated GIFs followed by a selection of her design projects.

5. Sarah Scott

Sarah Scott, a designer from Atlanta, Georgia, showcases her talents and previous works in a simple and interactive way. All types of designs are featured on the homepage, so viewers can simply hover over the design they’d like to explore more and a button appears to take them to see more.

Wrapping Up On Graphic Design Portfolio

A graphic design portfolio, whether it’s a website, a PDF file or a classic portfolio, helps showcase your work, build trust and help you establish a personal brand.

To create a graphic design portfolio step-by-step:

  • Select your best work
  • Choose a suitable platform
  • Include case studies and testimonials
  • Share your graphic design process
  • Include high-quality images
  • Add a personal touch

With a bit of creativity, planning and effort, your portfolio could become as appealing as Moross’s, Button’s, Chung’s, Nguyen’s or Scott’s.

Professional graphic design companies can help you in that regard by providing their expert opinion on the matter and guiding your business as fits your market.

Best of luck!

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