Whether it's an online, PDF or a physical portfolio — creating a portfolio is an integral part of your personal branding and your profile as a creative. Portfolio formats will depend on your area of fashion and your specialism, but the fundamentals apply to everyone. If you are not sure what portfolio is best for you and your discipline, just let me know! This is quite a meaty post, but I think it's important you understand the different types of portfolios, what they consist of and how best to build them.
So, here are three types of portfolios:
1. Digital PDF Portfolio (to send or upload as an attachment)
2. Physical Portfolio (commonly seen for Fashion Design Students but also students showing at GFW and end of year shows etc.)
2. Website Portfolio (universally used. Not sure why/if you need one? Check out this post here)
In this post, I will talk about how to produce each of the above to the best of your ability. Alongside your CV, a portfolio is one of the main assets that employers will request to see for creative roles. Your portfolio will continue to evolve with you, so let’s get your 'template' nailed, the main fundamentals understood and the projects defined. As you create new projects and gain new roles in the industry — get into the habit of adding work to your portfolio as you evolve.
Always BRAND YOU
Your portfolio is not only to show the projects you have worked on, but it's also to SHOWCASE who you are as a creative; your style, your skills, your vision, how you work, your creative process, how your creative brain works — YOU. Never forget your portfolio is about your PERSONALITY and your PERSONAL BRAND.
Show the EVOLUTION of the Project
One of the main things EMPLOYERS love to see in your portfolio is the way YOU THINK. It’s not all about perfected pages and the final product. Play. Explore. Have fun. Scan samples in. Rip things up. Show the evolution of the project and how you got to the final conclusion. Showing the journey is so important for the employer to understand how you think as a creative. Your work might not align with their brand, but they could love your concept and the way you have worked something out. For each project show research pages, concept development and then the final piece.
- Portfolios don't have to be CRAMMED
Portfolios don't have to be FULL of projects - a strong portfolio can consist of around 3-5 projects. As the old saying goes: quality over quantity. Just ensure that the projects really showcase your skillset and area of specialism.
- ESTABLISH your Projects
Let's establish your projects so you know what to add to your portfolio. To do this, grab a pen and paper and jot down what you feel your strongest projects are. As I mentioned above, the aim is to show the evolution of the project, so try and think about what happened from start to finish. So:
1. How did it start? This is your research phase so think mood boards, initial designs, testing things etc.
2. What happened in the middle? This is how the project developed and how you moved closer to the final outcome. So developed designs etc.
3. What was the final outcome/design? This is your final design/piece.
Based on this, you will be able to see what content you need for your projects. Maybe it's a mood board, developed designs and a final design.
STEPS FOR CREATING A WEBSITE PORTFOLIO
- Choose your Website Builder
There are quite a few on the market, but I will list a few of my faves:
Portfoliobox- skill level: super-easy
WIX - skill level: easy
Cargo - skill level: easy
Squarespace - skill level: medium
Semplice - skill level: medium/advanced
Please, please, please, please add your own domain to your site! When I see a website with the free domain such as yourname.wixsite177.com — it REALLY bothers me! You've done all the hard work, give yourself and work a solid identity. Domains are cheap, you have them for life so go nab your name before anyone else does!
Also, if I see the below banner on your WIX site (the banner disappears when you pay for WIX) I will find you! It's basically like buying a beautiful jacket which you have saved up for and just left the tag hanging out... NO HONEY, NO.
TOP TIP: Check out the below templates that I am into! Have a browse on the above sites and see what templates make you feel excited.
- Organise your Work
Once you have established which projects you want to showcase — time to get organised! On your computer have a folder for each one of your projects and add your work into the designated folder, so when it comes to the upload it's organised and easy to navigate.
- Project Pages
With websites, there are a couple of ways to showcase your projects. Add in imagery and final designs etc. If you can use Adobe, think about laying out project pages in an exciting way then export them as a .jpg and upload to your site. For example, I created the spread below for my PDF and physical portfolio at Uni. Then I exported it as an image and used it on my website. Double whammy.
- Elevate Your Designs
You really want the best quality for your projects, so always use the best camera you can get your hands on. For designs, use mockups to really elevate. Mockups help to make your designs look realistic and most importantly, HIGH quality. It’s QUICK and EASY. MINIMAL effort. MAXIMUM effect. Mockups aren't just for design portfolios, take a look at the below for ideas for different specialisms:
Fashion Journalism: mockup your article into a magazine spread or newspaper article
Fashion Marketing: mockup your social media campaigns into an iPhone or Insta feed
TOP TIP: Use Pixeden to download Mockups (you will need Photoshop or Illustrator to edit them)!
- Brand It Baby!
As you probs well know, personal branding is key on your website! The beauty of websites is that personal branding is SO easy to add and change. You have FULL flexibility! Try things out, have a play — it takes seconds. Personal branding elements to add to your website:
• Prints and patterns
• Your domain
- Other Pages to Include
Aside to your project/work pages, you have the flexibility to add as many pages as you want! Here are some extra pages you could add:
• 'About Me' video
• Shop (if you want to sell your designs/work)
Think about generic websites and think about how you can adapt it to brand YOU. For example, websites commonly use testimonials, so how about adding your own testimonials from tutors, employers and friends?! That could be fun.
TOP TIP: Semplice is a more advanced website builder which I love, but you will need basic Wordpress skills. Regardless, Semplice has a great "Showcase" section on their site which is INSANE website inspo. Check it out here.
ONLINE PORTFOLIO CHECKLIST:
- Is your domain professional? Such as yourname.com
- Is your imagery hi-res? If not, then make sure your images are small in size or use unsplash.com
- Are your contact details clear, correct and professional? No email@example.com!
- Does your email address match your domain?
STEPS FOR CREATING A PDF/PHYSICAL PORTFOLIO
- Organise your Work
Once you have established which projects you want to showcase – time to get organised! On your computer have a folder for each one of your projects and add the work into the respective folder, so when it comes to the layout it's organised and easy to navigate.
- Document Setup
The best programme to use for laying out your portfolio is InDesign.
The good thing about a portfolio is that it can be very formulaic. Once you have a layout for one project, just step and repeat for the rest of your projects.
- Page Furniture for the Win
WTF is page furniture I hear you say?! Page furniture is an element that ‘sits’ on each page of your portfolio, in EXACTLY the same place. Why? It's important to have some consistency running through your portfolio and it also adds a design element to your portfolio pages.
Page furniture elements you can add to your page:
• Project title
• Contact details (email address, website, social)
PAGE FURNITURE EXAMPLE (FAR RIGHT):
- Front Page
It's great to add a front page to your portfolio. You want to tell the reader who you are and how to contact you. Keep it simple: add your name, logo, headline and contact details.
- Title Pages for Clarity
It's good to introduce each of your projects. You can keep it simple by just having the name of your project or a logo, and consider explaining the project. You could have headings such as; 'The Brief', 'The Process' or 'Final Outcome'. Employers love to understand the project - how you got there and your approach to it.
TOP TIP: Talking about the project on a title page is handy as you might not have room on the actual project pages as they can easily become a little busy. The last thing you want is clutter!
- Elevate Your Designs
You really want the best quality for your projects, so always use the best camera you can get your hands on. For designs, use mockups to really elevate. Mockups help to make your designs look realistic and most importantly, to a HIGH quality. It’s QUICK and EASY. MINIMAL effort. MAXIMUM effect.
TOP TIP: Use Pixeden to download Mockups, but you will need Photoshop or Illustrator to edit them!
PDF/PHYSICAL PORTFOLIO CHECKLIST
- Does your portfolio match your personal branding and other assets such as your CV?
- Are your name and contact details super clear on the front and back page?
- Do you have some page furniture?
- Have you visually separated the different projects?
- Have you checked the spelling? InDesign has a spell-check function
- Is your imagery crisp, hi-res and all linked correctly on InDesign?
- If your portfolio is too big to attach via email use WeTransfer. But be mindful that the link only stays active for 7 days!
- Is your portfolio too large in size? For anything over 7MB, use smallPDF.com to shrink but always check the quality
Did this help Honey?
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