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So you're ready to solicit some graphic design business? Don't show up empty handed. Here's a real world perspective on making a design portfolio.

(1) Recognize the art of presentation is key to a sale in many industries. Many people nowadays still like to see a physical sample, and some don't. Extremely busy people usually make very quick assumptions based on a website. If they like what they see, they might stay longer and check out more samples. So yes, a website means you have web ability and it's just plain easy for anyone to see. Plus, you can always mail the link to people. In these growing digital times, a website is a must for any designer. Power point has its purposes, but a website does this anyway and works on any computer. I wouldn't want the embarrassment of handing them a file that won't work or load for some technical mac vs. PC issue or whatnot. Like I said, a website is more professional.

(2) Know that it's always a good idea to have printed samples. The better the print, the more professional it looks. Like you had something printed on a press. Digital prints (like a high-end color laser printer) are now pretty clean and professional looking too. Inkjet samples on poor paper are not good choices. If you are just starting out, spend the money to have a print made at Kinko's.

(3) Find a good portfolio book from a photography supply or art supply store. An 11x17 book is good because it's physically easy to manage and doesn't plop a giant unfolded beast onto someone's desk. There's no need to buy black boards and spray toxic adhesives to mount projects. I think boards are cumbersome anyway. A book with clear sleeves is good enough and allows you to easily slide your pieces into place or remove them.

(4) Pick only about 15 to 20 of your best pieces. That's enough for anyone to assess your graphic abilities. Show range of style, paper choices, clients, and types of design (logos, brochures, packaging). For logos, you can always put all of them nicely spaced on a single 11x17 sheet for a sampling. For packaging, a professional photo of the 3D package will suffice.

(5) Good luck and practice your presentation and observe people's body language and reaction to each piece. Remember, many people are not "right brain" and don't understand the process involved or for that matter even care. They just get a gut feeling that you can handle it or not. Don't explain graphic design. Do inquire about the employers marketing objectives and if you can handle it. Consider designing a custom sample of their business if you really want the job. This says you're motivated and willing to go the extra mile.

(1) Your prints should be clean, with no marks on them.

(2) Prepare for any potential questions and know your answers before they ask.
(3)Use real pieces, not mock-ups if you have enough.
(4) Don't allow loose items to fall out.

(5) Protect your printed portfolio at all costs! Remember, even with websites, the printed portfolio is best to have. So protect it from heat, rain, and abuse. Your life's work is in it! Treat it that way.


IF after you have read the above tips or any of the articles on our site, and you are interested in becoming a Graphic Designer, Join Angel Design and Prints Partner's in Print Scheme Level One. ITS FREE TO JOIN and it could help you to get started. This is a fantastic opportunity for all those Graphic Designers still at college to earn generous commissions whilst learning Graphic Design. YOU DO THE DESIGN, WE DO THE PRINT, YOU GET YOUR COMMISSION.


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