Need advice on your portfolio?
Starting your creative business is a multi-level dance of technical skill sets, as you balance exposure, professionalism and ingenuity in this tech-driven world.
And for so many of us, business is just not familiar territory. But 2019 is showing a strong change as many turn to tech and design industries for new and empowering opportunities.
Today, I’ve gathered four wonderful designers, illustrators and artists who are sharing their methods for taking your online portfolios to new heights.
Check out their valuable advice and lessons from their life and work.
Costa Rica-based graphic designer Tati Astua uses bold colors to stand out. She makes incredible, photo-realistic 3D scenes of clever typographical pieces and shares some of her favorite portfolio advice below.
“For me, the most compelling thing in a portfolio is consistency. I find it more valuable to create a small book with high level pieces, than one with lots of work that’s not that good.”
Is your portfolio looking a little cluttered? It’s pretty understandable. And many designers have trouble letting go of past work. Tati recommends making room for the future.
“Sometimes we get attached to old work and it creates an emotional bond. And that’s okay, but we should let go a little more and include fresh pieces in our portfolio.”
And learning from past mistakes is invaluable for the growth of your business. As an avid fan of online platforms like Instagram and Behance, Tati reflects on her start online as a junior designer.
“In the beginning, we try to put all of our work in our portfolio because clearly there’s not that much, but we should try to reflect on what we have and complement it with our personal work. In most cases, this tends to show our style better.”
Gabriel Alexandre Meza
Our next bit of portfolio advice comes from graphic designer and illustrator, Gabriel Alexandre Meza. With a focus on sports illustrations for TV and digital media, his work features colorful sports portraits with exceptionally crisp details. Here are his best tips.
“Always stay busy. Post your work often because you never know who might stumble across it.”
Creative platforms like Behance are becoming the go-to portfolio choice for many designers. Since launching his Behance portfolio, Gabriel has also seen success.
“Behance has been the best platform for me to post my work. It has given me career opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have had. Through my portfolio on Behance I have been approached by huge companies like the NBA and Aardman Nathan Love, to name a few.”
Becoming familiar with multiple design trends and software is also essential to building a professional reputation and portfolio. Gabriel, himself, mentions a love for several great design tools.
“I primarily use Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects, along with my Wacom tablet. But I have recently joined the iPad Pro world and am loving my Apple Pencil and working in Procreate!”
Graphic designer Lyndi Priest is a multifaceted creative who has lived and worked in San Francisco for the past ten years. With a background in multiple areas, she shares the key to balancing a versatile portfolio.
“My favorite aspect of being a designer is the versatility of work. Embracing different backgrounds while harmoniously applying my own style to everything is what drives my designs forward.”
Does diversifying your projects affect the overall impact of your portfolio? She says:
“Quality over quantity. It’s common to hyper-focus on the sheer amount of content in one’s own portfolio. But as long as there is enough variety, the talent and skill will shine through effectively.”
Using social media to gain more exposure and business opportunities is also a must. Lyndi recommends online portfolios or professional websites for opening new doors:
“I’m very fond of the Behance network, and Squarespace makes it easy to deliver a portfolio quickly. But I’ve always been fond of pushing myself and going custom. My website—a custom designed WordPress site—sets itself apart and truly reflects myself as a designer.”
Creative director and designer Ali Taylor is the CEO of BelMarketing Design Studio. When he isn’t pursuing his love of design, he actively participates in local business-building activities in New Jersey. Here’s some insight into his advice on creative portfolios:
“Every good portfolio should allow the person viewing it to get an idea of who you are, your style, what you’re really good at, and a sense of your approach to problem-solving. “
Which platforms have worked the best for him? He says:
“For sales, prospecting and showcasing my work, my own website is my greatest platform and asset by far. But for discovery and broadcasting to as wide an audience as possible—Instagram is definitely the champion.”
Building a strong network of creative colleagues can also help you when making important decisions about your portfolio. Ali’s final recommendation is to be open to sincere constructive criticism.
“Get feedback from your trusted colleagues—the ones who aren’t afraid to give you honest feedback with love.”
So let’s go over a quick recap of four essential portfolio tips from these talented designers.
- Diversify your talents.
- Use Instagram and Behance for promotion.
- Let go of past work.
- Embrace honest feedback.
Now is the time to make the most out of your resources. Though it’s natural to feel stressed over your portfolio, I hope these designers have inspired you to tackle the challenge.
Thank you to all the artists who have lent their advice to this article. Feel free to explore their portfolios by visiting the links below.