Today’s world is a highly competitive one for designers. To secure work you need to “wow” potential clients within seconds of getting their attention.
Rejection and frustration are no strangers to graphic and logo designers, which just goes to emphasize the necessity of having a solid portfolio to present to customers.
The Field Of Graphic And Logo Design
When people apply for jobs they usually send in a resume and cover letter which includes references. Graphic and logo designers have several options. They can work for a company as an in-house designer, for a graphic design agency, or independently as a freelancer.
Each of these demands a different approach when it comes to presenting your skills—applying to a company could involve a once-off introduction, while working independently means you’ll need to sell yourself to every potential client you meet.
No matter who you work for, though, your finished creative product is the most important part of what you’re selling. Presenting a comprehensive portfolio is the only way of selling it.
What Is A Portfolio?
A portfolio is basically a collection of your work (or a selection thereof) that demonstrates your proficiencies and capabilities. It’s an essential marketing tool that tells potential employers or clients whether or not you’re able to deliver what they need.
A comprehensive portfolio also gives an overview of your work experience.
…and why is it so important?
There are numerous careers in which having a portfolio is a necessity, including writing, photography, and all branches of design.
Graphic and logo design is a very competitive field. Those wanting to hire a designer aren’t interested in wading through a long resume when their primary focus is your skill as a specialist creative. A portfolio is a visual representation of your design skills. It immediately backs up your resume and showcases exactly what you’re capable of. It’s the true meaning of the saying “a picture speaks a thousand words”.
What Does Your Portfolio Show?
As a designer, your portfolio will consist of examples of your completed works. When you state your competencies, back them up with samples that prove your skills in those areas. It’s also advisable to include past client testimonials that correspond to the projects you are showcasing.
The Nitty-Gritty Of A Graphic/Logo Design Portfolio
- It must be job-specific
You might be competent in many sub-specialties in the general field of design, but when you’re chasing a specific project it’s important to tailor your portfolio accordingly. For a freelancer this can mean putting in some extra work, but it’s much more likely to get you hired than a generic portfolio would.
- Demonstrate creative abilities
When a client needs a designer, they’re often looking for someone whose creative style aligns with their company’s image.
You might see yourself as highly creative, but when applying for a job you need to include work that proves your ability to think outside the box. Sometimes designers include examples of their processes in portfolios to show clients their system of producing a finished design or logo. If this forms part of your portfolio be sure to provide clear context.
- Demonstrate research capabilities
Designing logos doesn’t only rely on creativity; it demands research on the part of the designer. Learning about the brand you’re working for is an essential part of the design process. How else are you going to nail down the right style?
Getting to know the company’s target market, its priorities and its competition informs your approach to the project.
- Show versatility
A good portfolio is organized and comprehensive. It demonstrates your versatility while not overwhelming a client with a chaotic mess of unrelated styles. This ties in with the necessity of tailoring your portfolio for different jobs and demonstrating creativity.
Showcasing a range of styles should be done smoothly, and should emphasize your ability to adapt rather than portraying you as a “jack of all trades, master of none”.
- Demonstrate good communication skills
While your artistic talent is a hugely important factor in design, all graphic designers need excellent communication skills to produce work that aligns with a brand’s overall image.
Many logo designers make use of a branding questionnaire, but communication must continue throughout the design process if you are to deliver what is desired. This doesn’t mean you should be a doormat and give in to unreasonable requests, but you should demonstrate your ability to meet a company half way and be open to their preferences.
How To Display Your Portfolio
We live in a digital age, which means that having an online presence is compulsory for graphic and logo designers. An online portfolio website is easy to set up and it provides a professional showcase for your work.
Keeping a printed, hard copy of your portfolio is also strongly advised so that you can sell yourself in face-to-face meetings with potential clients. If you have your own website it is essential to display your work in an organized way. Employers and clients will not spend ages wading through ten different pages trying to find examples of different styles.
An Attractive Appearance
It probably goes without saying, but your entire portfolio should make it clear that you are a good designer. The presentation of your work needs to be visually attractive—an extremely busy employer might even bypass a portfolio if its first impression doesn’t catch their eye.
This doesn’t mean your portfolio needs to be flashy or overly elaborate. It should be in line with your overall style but also have a clear and organized appearance.
Adapt Rather Than Reinvent
One requirement of a portfolio, as explained above, is to showcase competencies that are relevant to the needs of a particular client or employer.
If you’re a freelancer this could mean tweaking your portfolio regularly—not a pleasant task when you’re already busy with work. Having a more flexible or adaptable style of portfolio can make life a lot easier.
Showing your work to potential clients or employers can be daunting. However, if you’ve created a comprehensive portfolio of your work, navigating a career in design could be easier than you expect.