Six Things All Designers Must Include in Their Portfolios

Creative job seekers can expect some tough competition. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the graphic design job market is projected to grow 7 percent. In order to stand out, an artist must have a solid variety of technical and creative skills and a strong portfolio that demonstrates that. But with the expansiveness of your work and all of the new technology growing in popularity in the industry, how do you decide what to include? Follow this guide to ensure you’re choosing pieces that best exemplify your work for your design portfolio and catch the attention of potential employers.

Case studies

In general, case studies are an effective way to show how a person or service was able to solve a problem. By including your best one in your portfolio, you’re offering insight, not just into how you design, but also how well you’re able to identify and cater to a client’s needs. Add in your best example of a client case study to gain the trust of your viewer, and make sure you’re able to intelligently explain it. If you get a callback, you’ll likely be asked to talk a little more about the client’s requests and how you met them.

Personal work

While the majority of your material should showcase your professional artwork for the same reason as above, it’s also important to show what kind of work you’re capable of producing when you have no boundaries. Nothing in this category is too crazy – in fact, it’s encouraged. Creative Bloq strongly recommended that especially those who are looking for a job as an illustrator should include original pieces. Make sure you include your personal favorite piece here, and be prepared to talk about this as well. You should be able to explain why you chose it over everything else.


​As one of the biggest trends in marketing and advertising today, infographics are a great way for viewers to digest even the densest, most complex information. Having a piece like this in your portfolio shows that you’re staying up to date with what’s popular in the industry, and it also demonstrates how quickly you’re able to grasp a concept. If you can show newer forms of art in a creative way, it proves that you’re a fast learner.


Like infographics, video is another increasingly popular visual tool that marketers and advertisers are incorporating into their plans to reach their audience. This kind of talent requires skills in certain technology, so only include this if you have strong examples and you’re actually familiar with it. Since this technology is relatively new and niche, you’re sure to stand out to a potential employer if you have a video in your portfolio.


While you might think that showcasing a bunch of your favorite photographs will prove your strength behind a camera, a viewer may just see this as a way of covering up your weaknesses in other creative areas. Make sure your portfolio includes a balance of art forms – unless, of course, the job for which you’re applying is central to one in particular.


With all of this being said, your portfolio should cater to your audience. If you’re applying for a graphic design position, including countless examples of your best print pieces may not be the most logical decision. While it will show off the range of your skill​ set, it could mislead your viewer. As a general rule, these “extras” shouldn’t take up more than 20 percent of your overall profile. Make sure you’re including examples of websites, editorial layouts and illustrations if it makes sense and you have some solid pieces to display.

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