Your portfolio is a creative expression of you, your skills, your ability to communicate and a general self-promoting tool! It provides a brief snap shot of your talent and gives you the chance to create a great first impression. Therefore, you need to spend the time to get it right!In this post I will share with you some of my ideas, thoughts and tips.
Take from it what you will, make your portfolio work for you and show everyone how good your are.
Before we get started, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself as you plan out your portfolio:
– How do you want to guide the prospective employer through your work?
– How will you communicate your skills (and the skills they are looking for)?
– How much time (and money) do you have to make your portfolio?
Make a plan
Make a plan. Have a look at your work and figure out what you want to show, how you want to present it, and get ideas of how it will go together. You want the portfolio to flow, so consider this first instead of randomly placing images and text to create an architectural muddle!
Think about how you want your portfolio to look, come up with a clear concept.
Keep it simple and clear
As always, don’t try to overcomplicate things. The bottom line is that people want to see your work, so make sure that you portfolio does just that – shows your work. If in doubt a few really good impact images are far better than a mish mash of ‘ok’ images. Think quality not quantity.
“Make sure your portfolio isn’t more impressive than the work itself! The design of the portfolio should not detract from the content .”
Only include the strongest examples of your work. Try and offer variety. Show the different skills you have by demonstrating them in a variety of projects you have worked on. For example, if you are a bit of a ninja when it comes to model making, get that stuff in your portfolio! Make sure you take really good photos that show the model off at its best. Or, if you spend hours sketching ideas and design processes, scan it and get it in there. Don’t forget, you are unique, demonstrate.
No matter how much we use photoshop and all the other digital aids that we do – sketching is always important, and there will always be a place for hand sketches. Include some of your handwork sketches if you can, even if it is to show a process.
Make it digital. I would highly recommend that your portfolio is digital and not an old school cut and paste job. It is so much easier to adapt a digital portfolio for specific interviews/reasons, and have different versions for different uses. You can also add new work easily, and take out old irrelevant work.
Get it printed and present it nicely for the interview.
On a digital note – make sure the images you use are high quality. Don’t use pixelated or out of focus images, it looks terrible and makes you out to be unprofessional.
Quality not quantity (every time)
Quality and quantity – that old chestnut. It is so important. Don’t forget you are trying to show your best stuff not as much as possible. If you did a project that wasn’t great or you weren’t particularly proud of, leave it out. Or just pick out the good bits. Say you did some great drawings of the site, but your design was a bit rubbish, just show the drawings! Likewise, if you aren’t sure about a particular image, leave it out.
Go with white, its alright
I have seen a few portfolios that have got a bit carried away with fancy backgrounds. I say, go white… or grey… or some light pale colour. The big old crazy backgrounds often detract from the images you have worked so hard to create. So, I’d say, white is alright.
Make sure you keep your formatting consistent throughout the portfolio. You should keep a common visual style from one page to the next in order to create a flow between your projects.
Think about scale
Show a range of image sizes through the portfolio. Think about how the portfolio reads, if each page is the same it could get a bit boring. Having said that, don’t go too random, try to keep to a grid, keep to a rhythm. You want it to be pleasant to read/look through.
If you have text on your pages make sure it is clear, a good readable size, and consistent. Maybe use bullet points or captions if you want to demonstrate particular elements of a project, or give a brief description.
“Whatever you do, don’t use too much text as it takes away focus from your images.”
I would say it is better to discuss the portfolio than chuck a load of text into it. Not many people will sit and read the portfolio.
Don’t forget about branding. Make sure your cover letter, CV and portfolio all tie up into one consistent brand. Use the same font, colours etc. This will increase your appeal as an architect.
Know your portfolio
A couple of other things
Consider some of these points:
- Flow of presentation
- Range of images
- Portrait or landscape
Your portfolio needs to be tidy, and flow well.
Be sure to check out our pinterest board to get some tips and ideas.