Every year around this time, Designer Vaca opens up for registration and since this is usually the only design-related event I attend all year, I want my portfolio to be updated and looking as polished as possible. I registered last week and it’s always a good kick in the ass to get things in shape!
Portfolios are a popular search term and I can see why — as creative business owners, we need them to get more work! I made some updates to the Branch portfolio over the weekend and hope these quick and easy tips get you inspired as you’re working on yours.
1. Larger Images
Three years ago when I launched my portfolio, the sizing of images was a lot smaller. My early projects were sized at 1000 pixels wide but with retina displays becoming more common, I noticed my images weren’t as crisp as they could be. I just resized every project in my portfolio up to 1800 pixels wide in the hopes that even though they may take a touch longer to upload, I won’t have to redo any projects for the foreseeable future. Save yourself time by going bigger now!
2. Introduction Graphics
One thing my portfolio was lacking was a sense of cohesion from project to project since the work spanned over such a long period of time. I just made an additional graphic for the beginning of each project with an intro that briefly sums up the brand. Whether you’re doing a digital or print portfolio, an introduction is a simple way to add whitespace and let the design work breathe.
3. New Color Swatches
In the past, I used various charts to show a brand’s colors within a project but once again, these were all over the place style-wise. After doing some research, I really liked the way Brand Minute showed colors with Pantone-inspired swatches so I’ve switched over to this style. Whichever way works for you, make it a consistent, signature element from project to project.
4. Better Mockups
Over the last year, mockups have gotten much better. The detail these days is incredibly realistic, whether you’re showing a new line of t-shirts, beauty products or stationery. I use mockups to showcase finished projects because they help me stay consistent, repeating certain visual elements, colors and lighting styles throughout the graphics. I am a fan of Pixeden but also buy a lot of pieces off Creative Market, like this set I used to create visuals for Kate’s new essential oils.
5. More Flat Lays
Showing a logo only gives the viewer so much information about a project — seeing the pieces in use and how the varying elements work together really helps them understand the breadth of your work. These can be time consuming but well worth it to break up the simpler images and increase visual interest. I like pulling elements in from various mockup sets and arranging them in new configurations so nothing feels too canned. The key is to make these scenes your own.
As creatives, it’s our jobs to show and explain to potential clients what we can do — and our portfolios are a look into not just what we’ve done but what we want more of in the future.
Sometimes, I feel that putting together a portfolio is the hardest project I’ve ever done. Do you, as well? Doing work for yourself always somehow feels more monumental and stressful, doesn’t it?
Making the time is hard — it means stepping away from something you enjoy and investing it towards your business, with no guarantee of a return. But, as more of the right clients begin to roll in, it is always worth it when you’re able to take on more of the work you enjoy.
Your turn: Do you have any portfolio questions? Let me know in the comments!
Featured project: Kate Eckman by We Are Branch.