In our previous guide, we showed you how to find remote graphic design jobs.
Before you jump headfirst into your job hunt, you should build a graphic design portfolio to showcase your work.
Resumes help explain your work experience, but graphic design portfolios show your work in action.
Whether you’re an art director, creative director, freelancer, or run your own design studio, a portfolio site is absolutely crucial to securing new work or landing a job.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about making a visually stunning graphic design portfolio that potential clients or employers will love.
We’ll tell you what to include, platforms you can use to build your portfolio, and some helpful examples to give you some inspiration.
Why Are Graphic Design Portfolios Important?
Graphic design portfolios are the most important element of your job search.
They’re absolutely vital if you want to land new clients or get a graphic design job.
A polished graphic design portfolio shows hiring managers that you’re a legitimate graphic designer that can be trusted to work for them.
It’s your first opportunity to prove you have the necessary skills to create stunning designs for clients.
Graphic design portfolios not only show your work in action, but they provide context for your previous projects.
Through design case studies, you tell hiring managers that you’re a versatile designer who can make design adjustments based on client guidance and feedback.
Graphic Design Portfolio Tips
Effective portfolio design is simple, easy to navigate, and has a unique design.
The layout of your portfolio should be intuitive and easy to navigate.
Potential clients or employers should be able to browse through your work without much effort.
You should also choose a design that sets your portfolio apart from other graphic designers.
Get creative and give your portfolio some personality.
Lastly, it’s to your advantage to include a diverse collection of projects.
Choose projects that showcase different design styles and skills.
It’s also a good idea to show work for different clients across a range of industries.
What To Include in Your Graphic Design Portfolio
Your portfolio should only include your very best work.
You want to highlight high-quality examples of your design experience so potential clients know you’re the perfect candidate they’re looking for.
Beyond just visually showing your work, there are some other pieces of information that will strengthen your online portfolio.
Here are some core components you should consider adding to your portfolio.
Your personal biography or About Me section should summarize who you are and your entire professional career.
Think of it as your first chance to tell your story and win clients over.
This section gives potential clients and employers a sneak peek into your personality and your professional experience.
You can mention things like how long you’ve been in the industry, specific clients you’ve worked with, and your design thought process.
Your design portfolio needs to explain which graphic design skills you can offer potential employers.
Hiring managers will likely want to pick a graphic designer who is versatile and can handle multiple aspects of the design process.
For example, a graphic designer who has experience with brand identity, illustration, and logo design will be preferred over a designer who only has experience in one of these areas.
Make it clear which areas you specialize in and call out which capabilities you used on each project.
Some examples could include user interface design, web design, print design, illustration, or typography.
Design Case Studies
Design case studies are the most important aspect of your portfolio.
This is where hiring managers can select specific design projects and get an in-depth look at your previous work.
You obviously want to show off your design chops with visuals of your work.
But providing context into each project is incredibly important for hiring managers to understand your thought process and see how your work had a positive impact on previous clients.
Each case study should cover the following:
Provide some background information with each case study.
Explain who the client was, what industry they’re in, and who their target audience is.
You should also mention what services the client requested before getting into the problem they needed to solve.
Problem or Challenges
Each project starts with a problem at hand.
That’s why clients seek a graphic designer in the first place.
Explain the problems or challenges clients faced and why they turned to you for your design expertise.
For example, let’s say you did an entire rebrand for a client.
The client could have been wanting to differentiate from competitors and stand out from the pack.
They could have also been looking to refresh their image and look more professional to their target audience.
This is where you can explain your design process and the solution you chose for your clients.
Talk about the different design iterations you went through and why you decided on your final solution.
You can also mention feedback you received from clients to show that you’re capable of listening to client requests and can adjust your designs accordingly.
Potential clients will want to know the impact your work had on your previous clients.
If you’re able to quantify the success of your work, then include any metrics that may fit.
For example, if you have a rebranding case study, you can mention that your client received higher brand recognition and brand recall through subsequent market research.
You can also list out any awards you received or the fact that the client requested additional work because they were so pleased with your work.
Your design portfolio should funnel potential clients to reach out and request your services.
A luring call to action will encourage hiring managers to follow up if they think you’re the right fit for the job.
There are a few ways you can present your call to action.
Here’s how some designers urge potential clients to contact them:
- “Let’s make great things together. Send me an email.”
- “Need help from a professional graphic designer? Contact me and let’s get started!”
- “Click below to schedule your free 45-minute design strategy session.”
You can include your email, phone number, or a contact form for visitors to fill out.
This is also a great place to provide a link to your resume so hiring managers can dig deeper into your professional experience.
You can even provide links to social media accounts like your Instagram account if you think they’re applicable.
Now that you know what to include in your portfolio, you’ll need to choose how you want to build it.
Graphic Design Portfolio Platforms
There are two routes you can take when creating your design portfolio.
You can build a graphic design portfolio website from scratch with a website builder or you can use a design portfolio platform.
Website builders will give you more freedom to create a unique portfolio that differentiates from other designers.
However, it will take longer to create since you’re essentially building your own website.
Here are some drag-and-drop website builders you can use to get your portfolio off the ground:
The other option is a portfolio platform.
You can easily add your work to your portfolio and have something complete in much less time.
The drawback is that your portfolio will follow the same format as everyone else on the platform and may not have much personality.
Here are some of the most popular portfolio platforms you have at your disposal:
Once you’ve decided which platform or website builder you’d like to use, it’s time to begin the design process.
5 Graphic Design Portfolio Examples
Before beginning the design process, you should take a look at some other designers’ portfolios for some inspiration.
Here are some of the best graphic design portfolios we’ve come across.
This portfolio does an excellent job of walking through each project and providing helpful information like project backgrounds, problems, and solutions.
It’s more product designer-focused but the designer still includes graphic design examples like branding and brochure design.
We love this portfolio because it clearly shows client names and the design capabilities used for each project.
Once you start to dig deeper, the designer goes into great detail about projects and their relationship with their client.
It also has a clear call to action encouraging potential clients to reach out.
This portfolio has a highly visual design and does a fantastic job of showcasing a wide range of work.
It doesn’t go into great detail on each project, but it does do a good job providing plenty of work examples.
One unique component is that it includes a dedicated section to client testimonials.
This is the perfect way to build trust with potential clients
Sometimes less is more in the design world.
This portfolio takes a simplified approach and primarily provides design examples without much text or additional information.
It simply lets the designer’s work do all of the talking.
Our last example doesn’t use a website builder but instead uses the Dribbble platform.
Dribbble allows you to showcase your work without having to build your portfolio from scratch with a website builder.
Take a look at this portfolio and see if a platform like Dribbble is the right fit for you.
A Must-Have for Graphic Designers
A polished online portfolio showcases your best design work for potential clients to see your amazing design skills.
It’s a must-have if you want to impress clients and keep earning work or landing a new job.
Follow our tips and you’ll have hiring managers landing on your homepage and scrolling through your work for days.
If you’d rather not wait around for clients to come to you, then read through our guide to freelance websites you can use to find work.