How do I make a good "physical" portfolio?
June 11, 2013 7:11 PM   Subscribe

I am a designer/art director and I've been reading that physical portfolios aren't dead just yet. How can I make a good impression the next time I'm in a job interview? Are there good resources for how to make one (materials, size, number of pages, ..)? Do I include a printed resume in there as well? Does it have to be a physical replica of my online website?

In addition to the standard way of doing things, I am interested in creative solutions as well. I would love to have my resume and my portfolio as part of the same clever solution.
posted by omar.a to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As far as resources go, I found Flaunt to be a great overview of a wide variety of portfolios. There's a lot of comments and interviews with design professionals, and each portfolio featured includes information on materials and cost. The PDF is only $15, and it helped me see how many different approaches I could take to the process. I would still be interested in a more in-depth look at structuring a portfolio, but Flaunt saved me a ton of legwork in researching the physical piece.

(Speaking of portfolios; I'm knee-deep in finishing up my own this week, but took a short AskMe break and noticed this. There's no escape!)
posted by redsparkler at 7:44 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a physical portfolio and it's just a printed-out version of my digital portfolio, neither of which are replicas of my website. My website is much, much more expansive while also containing a link to my portfolio.

The most common number of images in a portfolio is 20. Sometimes there will be a request to whittle it to 15, or even 10, but 20 is standard. If you need multiple portfolios, then you have multiple but still at 20 images per portfolio. (I have a personal portfolio and a teaching portfolio, for instance, and each is 20 images.)

My printed one is in a black 9x12" pleather folder/case with clear sleeves that have black separating liners purchased at Utrecht expressly for the holding of a portfolio. It starts out with an image list of all 20 images in thumbnail form accompanied by their descriptions. Then it is followed by 20 prints of the images NOT FIT TO SIZE but instead printed as full to 8.5x11" as can be while retaining original proportions. They are printed on high quality matte photo stock.

I did also put my CV and other professional documents into that pleather folder/case as well, but they aren't part of my portfolio in that if someone asked to be walked through my portfolio I wouldn't keep going into my CV.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for your answers :)

@redsparkler: I just bought Flaunt and I will be reading it in depth. I love UnderConsideration's Brand New blog so I think this will be a great resource. Thanks a lot for reminding me of this. All the luck with your portfolio and finding a great job.

@vegartanipla: Hey Shelby. I think it is interesting that you have more than one portfolio. I checked out the Utrecht website and saw their collection. They're all typical artist portfolios, which I think would make sense for a designer/art director to use as well. I was thinking of customizing one myself but I keep encountering people who advise me to avoid the headache and buy one instead. P.S: I like your work.
posted by omar.a at 8:22 PM on June 11, 2013

Best answer: Yeah, actually I have quite a few. The two on my website are the most generically beneficial, but I also tailor them for the position (so if it's primarily sculpture, I have a sculpture one, or if it's for commission/design work, I have a commercial one).

I think one problem you run into when customizing the objectness of your portfolio is - in this case, it's not about the object. It's not like an artist's sketchbook where a cool cover or pop-ups or glittery moments add to the experience. It's a professional document that is about the content within, and too much customization runs the risk of distracting from the work. Though obviously opinions may vary on that.

(And thanks!)
posted by vegartanipla at 8:32 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ok, sorry for the piecemeal responses: I just followed your link and those are portfolio containers for the physical object. Which obviously range enormously in size and are not what you'll be bringing to an interview. These are what I'm talking about.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:50 PM on June 11, 2013

Best answer: I work as a copywriter and I have a few portfolios, too, but none of them physical at the moment. I have my super up to date exciting folio (a PDF I show on my iPad), which contains details about projects that aren't quite live yet, which I use when I'm talking to creative directors and other decision making heavy hitters; my beautifully designed emailing folio, which is actually more detailed than my website, which I use to contact talent people and recruiters; and my website, which contains a kind of 'best of' of my work and is intended to give a flavour of who I am as a writer and thinker.

The super up to date exciting folio is the one I update most often. Work trickles into my other books as needed. I find a PDF on my iPad works quite well when I'm talking through work in interviews, but YMMV. Just sharing my portfolio 'workflow.'
posted by nerdfish at 1:23 AM on June 12, 2013

Best answer: Do I include a printed resume in there as well?

I put my résumé on page one of my portfolio because I felt that it was a well designed document that demonstrated my ability to arrange information and deal with typography in an interesting way. It's a way to show that your attention to detail extends to all things that you do, not just the fancy drawings or whatever else is in the meat of your portfolio. This was my job-hunting portfolio, though, so I'd probably keep it separate if your presenting to clients rather than potential employers. I also had extra copies in a side pocket in case I needed to hand them out. The important thing is that every piece should have a narrative that you can tell about why it's in your portfolio and what it says about you as a artist/designer. If your résumé tells a part of that story, include it, but if it's based on a MS Word template leave it out.

Also, depending on what kind of work you're showcasing getting 8x10 photo prints of your work from Walgreens or similar can be a great way to get cheap high-res glossy prints of your work that are much more vibrant than you can get from a laser printer.
posted by metaphorever at 9:40 AM on June 12, 2013

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