10 Skills to Boost Your Visual Portfolio

These tips will help your work stand out so you can focus on creating it

We all know that thinking up and making a good piece of visual work is just one part of the process. Once the work starts to fill up our portfolio, we have to work out how to make our pieces shine. There’s no simple way to make sure that happens but we’ve come across a few methods that could give your portfolio that something extra.

1. Make a good portfolio

It sounds obvious but it’s the truth. If you want your work to triumph, you’ve got to pick the best projects and present them attractively. This is your calling card for future clients and you should always have it updated with the best work you’ve done to date.

This Domestika course by Sandra López and Ángel Domingo, from the agency Pencil (@pencil) is full of tips and tricks for illustrators to create their portfolio professional: Keys for Creating a Professional Illustration Portfolio.

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2. Take care with composition

A good piece can be ruined or improved by bad composition. Pepe Gimeno (@pepegimeno) has spent decades studying the laws of visual perception and applying these principles to design and art projects. He explains what he’s learned and how any visual professional can apply it in detail in the Domestika course The Laws of Visual Perception: Unit, Weight, Balance and Movement.

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3. Get your Instagram and Facebook accounts going

A good part of our time in front of a screen is spent scrolling through social media. You will have already seen what a good profile can do for an artist’s visibility.

Pamela Barrón (@pamelabarroncobo) is a Mexican photographer with a huge social media following, something that has opened a great number of doors professionally. In the course Introduction to Social Media for Creative Entrepreneurs she explains to beginners how to start out on Facebook, Instagram and even WhatsApp, using them as selling points to get seen.

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4. Show your work visually on social media

Directly related to the previous point, but more specifically image-related, this refers to the subject of photography. The quality on display on platforms like Instagram is consistently improving. Knowing how to take and compose good photos and posts can make all the difference and Marina Barrio (@melonblanc) can show you how in the course Professional Photography for Instagram.

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5. Photograph your designs

Sometimes a mobile phone is enough to take and edit photos for social media, but the effect is always better if we take photos with a higher quality camera and know how to. This tip isn’t relevant to all profiles but most designs, illustrations and products are far more likely to catch someone’s eye if they're well-photographed.

Jesús G. Pastor (@jesus_g_pastor) is a professional photographer who teaches beginners how to get to grips with an SLR-camera in the course Introduction to Digital Photography.

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6. Animate your creations

This will help people who can present their work digitally. Even if your work isn’t related to animation, people are drawn to even small elements of animation in your work or on social media. Yimbo Escárrega (@yimbo8) worked for Pictoline for years and, in the course Express Animation for Social Media with After Effects, he shows us how to design this sort of mini-animation.

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7. Learn to draw and sketch

Fear of the blank page can be a creative’s worst enemy. Almost any visual discipline requires preliminary sketches before the final design to refine ideas and eliminate options that initially sound great but don’t work on paper. Puño (@puno) has decades of experience of showing all sorts of people how to overcome their fears of pencil and paper and push ahead with their ideas as they did when they were kids. His Domestika course, Drawing for Beginners Level -1, is the perfect solution for any creative afraid of drawing.

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8. Add artisanal elements

Most portfolios are digital but this doesn’t mean you can’t show off all kinds of manual and artisanal processes and give character to yours. One way among many is to include manual stamps. Pablo Salvaje (@pablosalvaje) can teach you how to make your own in the course Engraving stamps and printing techniques.

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9. Sell your ideas

The visual part is crucial but a large percentage of the interest you create will also come from how you present your portfolio and your ideas. Make sure you conceptualise and explain your ideas well so everyone can understand how and why you’ve made your projects. Daniel Granatta’s course (@granatta) Advertising Creativity for all Audiences can teach you exactly how to achieve this.

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10. Open your online shop

It’s not always about finding work with other people, you can always commercialise your own creations directly, opening and managing an online shop. Wordpress is a great, easy and quick option to do so and Joan Boluda (@joanboluda) can show you to do so step-by-step in their course Creation of an Online WordPress Store.

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What tips would you add to this list?

You may also be interested in:

- Introduction to Instagram Business, a course by Juanmi Díez
- Inbound Marketing Basic Concepts, a course by Lucas García
- Audiovisual Storytelling for Social Media, a course by Josune Imízcoz
- Introduction to E-mail Marketing with Mailchimp, course by Néstor Tejero Bermejo
- Creative Copywriting for Entrepreneurs, a course by Christian Caldwell

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