What makes a good (and bad) portfolio?

Discover how to create a portfolio that draws the attention of prospective clients

In all creative fields—especially those that are visually-led—a good portfolio will open doors to new clients and employers. It is therefore essential that you present your work well, and that your portfolio is a good representation of what you can do.

So, what exactly is a portfolio? What should it include? Here, Sandra López—one of the founders of the first-ever illustration agency in Spain, Pencil·Ilustradores (@pencil)—answers all of your questions and explains exactly what a creative portfolio sets out to achieve.

What makes a good (and bad) portfolio? 1

What is a creative portfolio?

To better understand the concept of a portfolio, imagine being at a creative fair and having only 10 minutes to go up to a professional that you admire, a top publishing house, or brand for whom you’d like to work, and sell yourself. You only have a short window of time to present your work and convince them that they should hire you. Were you to bring an enormous folder full of prints, notes, postcards, mini cards, as well as your laptop or iPad, it’s unlikely that you would have successfully communicated a clear and concise idea of what you do by the time the meeting is over.

Features that define a good portfolio:

So that your portfolio shows off your creative talents, bear in mind the following points:

1. A portfolio shouldn’t be a random, chaotic selection of work.

2. A portfolio isn’t a CV. While CVs work for other sectors, it isn’t the right format for the creative sector. Remember, you don’t want to list all of your achievements in education, skills, and irrelevant knowledge. This is about showing off your artwork.

That said, there are some exceptions such as Sophie Garrigues’s video-cv, in which she successfully shows off her skills and creative expertise.

3. A portfolio is a selection of our best work that is chosen by taking into account the following objectives:

–It should show that we are creatives working in the present day.
–It should help the other person to walk away with a clear idea of what we do and how we do it.
–It should provide answers to the needs of a future client.

4. So that our portfolio evolves and starts taking shape, we need to identify and block any thoughts that prevent us from making progress, such as “I’m going to wait until I have more work.”

5. Our portfolio should channel the essence of who we are and our creative identity.

What makes a good (and bad) portfolio? 5
Matteo Campostrini

Learn to stand out and show off your best work with the Domestika course, Keys for Creating a Professional Illustration Portfolio, and share your portfolio with the Domestika community on the Projects page.


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