Please critique my graphic design portfolio!

Hi everyone,

I’m new to GDF and I was hoping I might be able to find some honest feedback on a sample graphic design PDFolio that I’ve been using to try and find work. It’s hosted on google drive:

I’m 2 years into my career and I want to get a sense of how the portfolio looks, how it might measure up against the rest of the design world, and of course what chances It will give me of finding gainful employment!

I’ve been getting feedback from acquaintances and friends of course, but I’m hoping to get some professional feedback from people who don’t feel like they need to be too polite

Thank youuu!

I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. Are you asking for a critique of the portfolio or the work in the portfolio?

First, I think the work in the portfolio is very good. For that matter, it excellent.

Second, the portfolio itself is just a PDF, which could be fine if you’re emailing it to someone or directing them to Google Drive. A collection of one’s work wrapped up in a PDF can be a useful thing to have on hand as an extra way of showing off one’s work.

However, it’s typically not an ideal first-choice way to display a portfolio or allow others to discover it through a web search. Do you have an actual website or a portfolio on Behance or something similar?

You’ve come to the right place!

Very nice work indeed!

Textwise, I think you could lose the word “hence” and edit your descriptions to be more straightforward and readable. More bullet points, less paragraphs, so they’re easier to read quickly.

I’d also like to see more about the resources you used, how you arrived at your design decisions, why you chose the images you did, etc.

And I agree with Just-B about having a website portfolio. You need that, just to look professional.

Thanks for taking the time to reply! I appreciate the kind words about the work, that’s encouraging :smile:

Strange, I seem to have come across a number of job ads which specifically ask for a PDF sample folio so I guess I’d just assumed that this is the best and easiest way to introduce yourself for any job application. Maybe it’s a UK thing?

I do have a website that I created on Wix: I always thought of that as a back up to include extra stuff which wouldn’t work in a PDF or would just make it bulky. I’d be interested to know what you think of it.

Thanks DocPixel! I’m guessing ‘hence’ makes the writing sound a bit formal and mechanical. I’ll think of alternative phrasings.

In terms of showing resources and design decisions, would this be images of process and preliminary sketches, or are you suggesting to tell more about this in the written description? I’ve had some people say that showing process can get in the way of showing off the work, and doesn’t look that nice. Just a contrasting opinion I’ve come across

I generally like the form of your short write-ups, and I see too many portfolios that are missing this glimpse-of-mindset element. Then again, to make it work well, your writing has to be impeccable. That said, I do agree with Doc that repeated use of “hence” is an opportunity to tune up the writing a bit. Using it properly* (not at the beginning of a sentence, and not following the word ‘and’), one time would be perfectly fine.

The best portfolio project-brief blurbs are short and cover 3 key items; 1) the client ('s needs), 2) your response (strategy, decision basis, etc.), and 3) inspiration, if applicable. When those are each distilled to 1-2 concise, well-written sentences, it adds valuable context to the visuals and demonstrates the designer’s non-visual communication acumen. One of the best things about writing for the pages of your own portfolio site is that there’s no deadline, and it never becomes permanent—you can just keep improving it.

*Side note about “hence”: Here in the US, the school-age generation has adopted and begun overusing the word, followed redundantly by the word “why”. Not unlike simple overuse of a word like “hence,” “hence why” is a perfect example of modern pseudo-eloquence.


Oh, you do need a PDF sample, for sure. In fact, probably print and web versions of the pdf. But you need a website as well.

HotButton said it much better than I could.

Thanks! That threefold-structure you mentioned is great advice. I made some changes to the text on my website ( which isn’t a million miles away from where it was before, but takes that structure into account (and no 'hence’s either). I’d love to know what you think.

Still love your work, and won’t miss those hences. Now I’m going to be all constructively critical about the look and feel. :wink:

If you are going for employment… the tone is, in my opinion, too casual, “student-y”, flippant and non-professional. It doesn’t match the professional level of your work.

Your website should should present you and your portfolio as professionally as possible, and the current one doesn’t. Including “Site Created with Wix.” And “Musings.”

When a prospective employer or client lands on your site, they should immediately see the portfolio of a competent graphic designer ready to hit the ground running solving their marketing/design problems.

They’re comparing you to your competition, so I suggest that you look at your competition’s websites, and be inspired by them.


Thanks for the coaching DocPixel! I’ve taken it all into account :slight_smile:

You are oh so welcome. :slight_smile:

Great work! Everyone so far has brought up great points. I think it’s helpful to present your work in a case study format: background (about the client), problem (what the client comes to you needing, which is not a tangible or digital product but what they’re trying to achieve with that), solution (how you approached it to achieve their needs) and then results (if you can find out later what your work helped them accomplish, i.e., x% increase in sales or donations). This also demonstrates (or reinforces) to prospects that design is a means of visual communication, not decoration.

For print work, I also like to list the components and specs. So if it’s a direct mail package, I mention the various pieces and the specs.

It’s also helpful to have different types of work on their own web pages for the visitor to find certain types of work but also for search engine optimization purposes.

Graphic design is a means of visual communication which may include decoration.

That’s correct. I should have said “not just decoration.” What I meant is that a lot of people think that design is only about making things look good.

The reason I rephrased it was because I’ve seen people interpret “not” to mean mutually exclusivity far too often. In graphic design, some will go as far as to equate blandness with more effective communication.

Thanks for the tips!

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