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Hints and tips about presenting your portfolio

Below are some handy hints and tips about how to put together your portfolio:

  • Try to avoid leaving your portfolio with a client.
  • If you do have to leave your portfolio with an agent or client, protect your copyright, and get a consignment receipt signed.
  • Make sure that you have copies of all images and portfolio content in case they get lost or damaged.

Be selective.

  • Your portfolio represents you – make sure that it is representing you well, inside and out. 
  • It looks unprofessional if you have beautiful, creative work in an old, scruffy and worn-out case. “A packaging designer presented his work to one of our commissioning clients, the guy had a smart case and we knew his designs were great. However, turning the cover revealed fabulous designs, but these were placed in plastic, scratched sleeves. For a freelancer applying for a packaging contract the fact that his own designs were so poorly packaged did not work in his favour. Don’t be lazy, and always make that extra effort to look as professional as possible.” (Manchester Design Initiative)
  • If you are not sure whether to include work, get advice from other designers, mentors and friends. Don’t show work if you really don’t like it. Show work that you feel proud of and are happy to present, as this will increase your self-confidence.
  • Make sure that you have variety in your portfolio that is relevant to the client you are meeting.
  • Try not to update your portfolio the night before a presentation – things could go wrong and it is too last-minute.
  • When re-presenting work, always check through the contents one last time from start to finish ensuring that everything is in the correct order.
  • Place delicate work in plastic sleeves to protect originals.
  • If you have a few meetings to go to in one day and are using public transport, consider the weight of the case and avoid mounting work on too many cards if it is not necessary.
  • Consider mounting designs on standard paper throughout.
  • If paper has to be cut to size, always make sure that it is uniform and square and has clean edges.
  • Make sure that all images are the same way up when opening the portfolio.
  • Do not glue textiles down - they cannot be easily removed or re-mounted.
  • Do not smudge spray mount onto photographs – it looks terrible in daylight and collects dust 
  • Put an identification label (to include your telephone number) on the inside of the case.
  • Always keep your portfolio up-to-date – you don't know when you will need it at short notice.
  • If using scanned images, check that they accurately represent the quality of your work, and take original photos if necessary.
  • If you have any press exposure, take this along with you – again, be selective. Always include a design CV in your portfolio, and have spare copies available to leave behind. 
  • When the contents look even slightly tatty, re-mount the work.

Courtesy of Liverpool and Manchester Design Initiative

Liverpool and Manchester Design Initiative offer one-to-one portfolio sessions to graduate designers taking their first steps into the business world. Sessions include advice on portfolio content, presentation of work, identifying clients, marketing and promotion. www.designinit.org.uk


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