Portfolio Guide

Showcasing your work

It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to building your portfolio; should I include work that I love if I did it a billion years ago? How many pages should it be?

Whilst it’s imperative that your portfolio is about YOU and what you can do, there are a few general things to keep in mind in order to tick the right boxes.

Creating your portfolio

When selecting what to include in your portfolio, we advise on showcasing a breadth of work. That way, if you’re tailoring it to suit an individual company or brand, you can edit it down accordingly rather than searching the night before for additional examples to include.

Remember that the finished product isn’t the be-all and end-all of a portfolio. People want to see the way that you work, and your thinking behind it, so be sure to include those all-important mood boards, colour swatches, inspirations and sketches – essentially, anything that helped you to reach the final design. And, if your work goes down the catwalk, or has been recently featured in the press, then consider how you might document that success.

When reviewing your work, be critical. The temptation is often to present the client with everything under the sun, but a well-edited and expertly curated portfolio will far better highlight your creative talent than volumes of dated work.

It is also worth stressing the importance of predominantly including recent work. You want the brand to feel as excited about your work as you are, which is best communicated through recent projects. That said, if your work is dated with a past season, but you think it still holds relevance, we recommend simply removing the stamp.

Presenting your work

When creating your portfolio, presentation is key: this is really your chance to sell yourself before meeting a prospective employer in person.

Your portfolio should be professional and sharp, from start to finish. So, think about the order of your work and how it might appear to an outsider. For example, if you are including pencil sketches, think about cleaning them up on Photoshop, and laying them out well.

Portfolios are creative by their very nature and so, while we understand the desire to appear professional with the latest tablet or device, we recommend that candidates take a physical sketchbook and an A3 or A4 folder containing a selection of work to showcase their creative process.

Your interviewer will respond best to colours and textures so, when presenting your portfolio in person, you shouldn't be afraid to demonstrate the visual and tactile inspirations that inform your work.

Finally: consider what you’re going to close with. It is often the final piece that will leave a lasting impression, so ensure it is not something that has been tacked on for the sake of it. This is the grand finale, so choose something you would like your interviewer to remember.

Keeping it fresh

We often see candidates who – though clearly talented – have been pigeonholed into one area or company by a demonstrating a singular skill or a specific brand’s handwriting in their portfolio.  No matter your experience, a personal project is often the best way to demonstrate a range of relevant skills, and your versatility. It doesn’t have to be enormous, but it can make a big difference to your interviewer’s vision of your ability to take direction and fit in with their brand DNA.

PDF it

Your portfolio ideally needs to be in a .pdf format of a decent size (no more than 5MB) so that it won’t clog up in your potential new employer’s inbox. Likewise, if you've got moving image in your portfolio, make sure you use the right platform/software to present this.

Final thoughts

Please remember that a portfolio is a curation of your talent. The best portfolios are those that have had time and thought put into them, rather than a quickly created PDF.

If you are serious about finding a new role, then set aside time to consider what to show to potential employers. Spend time looking through your work, and see if there are old pieces which you can rework into exciting new projects. If you are embarking on this process with Talent Atelier, then pop into the office – we are always happy to advise, or act as a sounding board for the process!