Managing Your Portfolio

I had to put together a PDF portfolio to email to a couple of leads this afternoon. It’s the first time that I’ve had to do this for a while, and it left me scrambling to get together images of my latest work and put them together in a PDF that I could email.

I don’t like a one-size-fits-all portfolio. Every time I make a presentation (which, admittedly, isn’t too often these days), I like to create a portfolio that is tailored to the audience. For example, if the audience is business in hospitality, I’ll skew the presentation to show a greater percentage of work that I’ve done in that sector. As a result of this approach, I have a self promotion folder on my hard drive that is a mess (which is pretty unusual for me). It’s chocked full of logos, PDFs, bitmap files, PSD mockups — some of which are new, others not so new.

I have to believe there is a better way to do this. So I have two questions.

  1. What form(s) does your portfolio take: physical portfolio that you take to meetings (old school case or swanky box), digital portfolio that you take to meetings (run off of laptop or tablet), branded website (your own domain and hosting), third party website (Behance, etc,), email-able portfolio, other?

  2. How do you manage the work samples that are in your portfolio?

In my case:

  1. My current portfolio is completely digital, and while I have my own branded website, I also keep another two on Behance/Dribbble just in case my database got fried or if something happened and clients can’t access my website (SSL going out of date for example). That being said, I also have a habit of printing out my works once a few years and keep them in a book-like format as well, along with a MicroSD card containing a copy of my data. However, these “books” don’t really serve as portfolios but rather as knowledge books so I could revisit things whenever needed (for example when I need to revisit a project to confirm a client’s needs/references).

  2. Perhaps it was because I graduated from Engineering but I tend to keep all of my data organized. On my PC, I created a folder for all of the project files, inside which I label each project by Year → Type → File Types. For example, Project 2021 → BrandIdentity_ABC → Identity Development → Logo (inside which you can find Finalized_Logo.ai or EarlyDraft_Logo.ai or similar files). By keeping them under one centralized structure like this, I could quickly navigate and find whichever files I need for my portfolio since the data is already labeled. I also name things in one unified scheme so as to abuse the Find function (for example, I always name files _Logo or _ColorScheme or _Presentation, which I can quickly input and call them all up from the find function).

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I have a website that serves as my portfolio. I have a Behance account too, but it’s outdated and likely does more harm than good.

I haven’t had a physical portfolio in years. I’ve sort of relied on my own experience interviewing designers as a guide to what I should do when I’m being interviewed. When I’ve interviewed designers, the last thing I wanted them to do was pull out a physical portfolio and show me what I’d already seen online, so I try not to do that.

Instead, I’ll just toss two or things into a portfolio case that can’t be adequately presented online, such as a complete book or magazine. I think the physical, tactile aspect of a real printed piece of work is important, but it needs to go beyond what was already likely seen online.

As for a PDF portfolio, mine is flexible in a way that allows me to swap different examples in and out quickly. I have a folder with two or three dozen examples of work — all sized and formatted to quickly add to or remove from the PDF portfolio as I see fit.

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@medabots1996 and @Just-B, thanks for the replys.

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