One of the most important aspects of getting hired as a Graphic Designer is having a coherent and evocative graphic design portfolio. This portfolio will let prospective employers see what kind of designer you are and what kind of work you can do. Once your resume and cover letter have gotten you past the initial stage of applications, this is the most important part of your job materials for helping you find work.

What Is a Graphic Designer Portfolio?

A graphic design portfolio is a sample of your work highlighting your strengths and versatility as a Graphic Designer. It will contain sample work designed specifically for the portfolio and will eventually contain professional design work you completed during your employment. It should aim to tell a coherent narrative of your skills, specialties, and abilities to allow prospective employers to see who you are as a designer without ever meeting you. It should be a collection of the works you are most proud of and can communicate to your prospective employer that if they want designs like this, they should hire you.

How to Build Graphic Designer Portfolio Projects

Building a graphic design portfolio is relatively straightforward. First, you’ll want to select the pieces that will go into the portfolio, and you’ll want to choose whether you are going to prioritize a physical portfolio or an online portfolio. Ideally, you will have both, and these may differ slightly, but you will still want to select where you are starting with your portfolio. From there, you’ll select and print/upload the pieces you plan on using and start shaping your portfolio to fit the needs of your job applications.

To build your portfolio, you will need to produce portfolio-worthy design work, which requires a lot of time and effort. For employed designers, this will be easy since you’ll be working on professional assignments. Designers looking to enter the industry should consider enrolling in a professional skills development course, such as Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program. This course will teach students how to use graphic design software through practical, hands-on projects that conclude with sample work that they can include in their portfolio. The class also provides students with hands-on portfolio-building seminars during which they will construct a professional portfolio.

Choosing Graphic Designer Portfolio Pieces

Choosing the pieces that go into your graphic design portfolio is probably the most important step of the process since it is so important that your portfolio contains solid material but also that it presents a coherent vision of your style and skills as a designer. It may be tempting to just put everything you’ve ever done into your portfolio and call it a day, but this is a mistake. You don’t want to include mediocre materials and certainly don’t want to include materials you aren’t proud of. In addition, you don’t want to overwhelm your audience since providing them with a portfolio that is too large and impossible to sort through for a coherent narrative can be easy.

You should also make your portfolio decisions based on the method of presentation and the specific job you are applying for. If the job asks for a physical portfolio, you will want to ensure that you choose designs that look good when turned into physical prints. Likewise, if they want to link to a design website, you’ll want to pick designs that look good when viewed on a desktop computer or even a phone screen. Finally, you’ll want to customize your portfolio to each job application to demonstrate the kinds of work that you think they want to see. This might be fairly straightforward and might be as easy as reordering the work in a physical portfolio or it may be as labor-intensive as swapping out projects to highlight a specific subset of your design skills.

Choosing a Graphic Designer Portfolio Website

Whether or not it is your primary design portfolio, it pays to build a digital portfolio that you can use to highlight your design skills. You can direct employers or clients to your portfolio and fairly quickly update and alter the digital space to suit your needs. The first thing you will need to do is decide how you plan to build your portfolio website. The most common way to do this is to use a pre-built platform like WordPress or Squarespace since these sites are easy to manage and give you a lot of flexibility to build a portfolio without a detailed computer science background. However, graphic designers, particularly those who work on web designs, may want to learn how to build their WordPress site or webpage to demonstrate their design skills' scope.

You’ll want to avoid building a design webpage on an art posting aggregation site, even if you already have a profile on that platform. You must ensure that you have a professional-looking, dedicated graphic design portfolio.

Students interested in learning the more advanced aspects of various graphic design portfolio opinions can enroll in focused Noble Desktop courses in WordPress or in web development. These classes will help prospective designers learn the skills they need to improve the look and feel of their design portfolio webpages.

Building a Graphic Designer Portfolio Website

Building a graphic design portfolio should be a careful and deliberate process. You don’t want to just purchase a WordPress address and upload your art without focus or intention. Rather, you want to treat your design portfolio website as an extension of your professional self. This means that you’ll want to treat it as an advertising opportunity without all of the considerations that you would pay to advertising a business.

You’ll want a coherent about me section explaining who you are and your history as a designer. You don’t want this to replicate your other job material, though it should link to other professional information, such as a LinkedIn profile. In addition, you want to organize your designs across the website to help users find the kinds of work they are looking for, particularly if you are looking for freelance work. You should have clear and easy-to-use navigation menus and clearly defined pages. Finally, you will want to include professional, well-written copy for your professional identity. This can include testimonials, important resume information, and professional accolades.

Some students may be interested in enrolling in one of Noble’s SEO courses to help them understand web designers' strategies to maximize traffic to their webpage.

Polishing a Graphic Designer Portfolio Website

When building your graphic design website, you’ll want to ensure that it is as polished as possible and communicates the design skills you want employers to see. This means that you want to be judicious about the work you include since often, four focused pieces are better than six unfocused pieces. Likewise, four good pieces produce a better narrative than 16 mediocre pieces. Finally, you’ll want to get other professional eyes on your design portfolio before sharing it with prospective employers.

One way to get this feedback is to enroll in Noble’s Graphic Design Certificate program. In this course, students will learn graphic design skills from expert instructors and build networking opportunities with teachers and other students. In addition to receiving the hands-on experience necessary to build a portfolio, students will also have access to one-on-one career mentorship sessions during which they can receive feedback on the design and presentation of their design portfolio webpage.

Learn the Skills to Become a Graphic Designer at Noble Desktop

If you want to start a career in graphic design, the graphic design classes offered by Noble Desktop are an excellent place to start. Students can take all their classes remotely or in-person at their Manhattan campus. For students who want to start slow by just learning one popular design program, Noble offers an Adobe Photoshop Bootcamp, an Adobe InDesign Bootcamp, and an Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp. These beginner-friendly courses take just a few days to complete and will provide students with foundational design skills.

For those who feel ready to dive into a more comprehensive program, Noble Desktop’s Graphic Design Certificate might be a better fit. Students will complete hands-on assignments using popular design programs, including Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. This program is ideal for those hoping to start a career as a Graphic Designer. Certificate students at Noble Desktop receive individual career mentorship, where experts in the design industry help craft resumes and portfolios and provide helpful tips for finding lucrative employment. 

If a class isn’t feasible for your current schedule, Noble Desktop has a host of resources on its website to help start your graphic design career. You can browse their collection of articles about Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign if you’re curious about how each program works. You can also review information about other design tools to see if another field might interest you more.