What is a portfolio?

I’m pretty sure you’ve have read something like this many times:

We’re looking for a designer! Insert skill set here, generic motivational phrase and questionable salary. Please send CV + portfolio.

In the creative world, in professions or positions linked to design, art, architecture and so on, the CV/Curriculum Vitae is accompanied by this famous portfolio. Always.

What is a portfolio?

The portfolio is your cover letter to various situations, for example: a job application, a new project, a new client or even within a competition. It applies to various areas of expertise or specialization such as: design, illustration, architecture, plastic arts, photography, writing, etc.

A portfolio, as a simple concept is summarized in one of compilation or visualization of works/projects that you have developed during a period of time or professional/academic career.

Why is it important?

Having an updated, organized and coherent portfolio is necessary to get clients and work. It is the easiest and most concrete way to present yourself as a creative and showcase your skills. This not only applies to agency or studio work, it is also very important and necessary if you are a freelance professional.

If someone is interested in working with you, they will most likely ask you for some examples or work you have done and that is where the role of the portfolio comes in.

Types of Portfolio

However, I believe that there are different types of portfolios depending on their presentation and function. Personally, I don’t think you should have a single overall portfolio for everything, but rather build different presentations according to your skill set. Trust me, it will be much more effective for what you use.

Below are the 3 most common types of portfolios:

Professional website

If you offer services, this may be the most ideal type of portfolio for you, as a sort of repository where you can publish and compile your work. You can refine it according to categories, year of development or even type of client. There are many simple ways to build this type of portfolio with platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, etc.

Portfolio by projects in platforms

Similar to the previous one, but in this case instead of building your own website, paying for a hosting, etc, you can resort to very popular platforms like Behance, Dribble, ArtStation, etc. Besides allowing you to create a profile and upload your work in an orderly manner, they also serve as a powerful tool to connect with other creatives, job offers and keep you up to date with trends.

Individual or Specific Portfolio

For me, the most effective, but the most complicated to do. It is usually presented as a digital document (in PDF format) with an editorial line and projects selected according to the purpose of it. That is, if you are applying to an illustration work: make sure that the projects included are illustration, the same if it is graphic design, or web design and so on.

And a bonus…

Can I use my social media as a portfolio?

Social media profiles, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, while they help us build our digital presence, connect with people and share what we do, I consider them more as a window into the creative process, more than anything else. They can work as a complement, yes, as a kind of WIP Portfolio, but these platforms don’t give you the option to organize, filter or select projects like the ones I mentioned before.

What kind do you like best? Do you really spend time polishing and updating your portfolios? The reality is that we, designers, are usually our worst customers and spend very little time on our work as a brand or professional profile. When that happens, making a portfolio is often intimidating and even a chore if we don’t have anything organized.

So, when was the last time when you organized your portfolio?

Fabiana Parra

Fabiana Parra

I’m a designer and illustrator with a quirk to draw everything.
Here you’ll find my experience as a freelance designer working from home in Buenos Aires.