How to Put Together a Design Portfolio

In this article we explain to you why every artist should have a design portfolio, we give valuable tips & tricks and we help you get started with creating (or enhancing) your own professional design portfolio. This is the ultimate guide to creating a design portfolio.

What is an Art Portfolio?

An art portfolio is a collection of a creative’s best works – usually to serve as a sample for potential clients. Whether you’re a graphic designer, painter, illustrator or writer, it’s important to have a portfolio to showcase your skills, previous work and experience; especially if you’re a freelancer! 

Create Collections

You can put together your portfolio in one of 2 ways; in a book/file or online. Using websites for your portfolio should prove more efficient and convenient. With an online portfolio you’ll be able to edit your portfolio at any time as you produce more work.

Make Mock-ups

If you’re a creative trying to get your work on products, make sure to include mock-ups within your portfolio so that potential clients are able to visualise your work on actual products/places. Including mock-ups will also allow visitors to envision how your artwork will work in conjunction with other pieces or collections.

We have found a few great mock-up resources for you where you can find great mock-ups and templates. You can either create them manually or use advanced mockup generators. See our full list of mockup resources here.

Select your Artworks Carefully

Although I’m sure you’re eager to include all your work in your portfolio, it’s important to tailor your portfolio for your target audience. Trends and styles, especially within the design world, tend to change with the seasons. Make sure to carefully select only the work that embodies you as an artist, your uniqueness, talent and potential to clients. Consider including some pieces but not others – they can always be added or removed at a later stage. You can edit your portfolio specifically for each client, so to match their design needs and goals.

Be Ready to Discuss Each Piece

Throughout your creative career you’ll undoubtedly be flooded with questions about your art or your creative process. Although you don’t need to memorize every small detail, it’s important to revise over old pieces, the process you followed while creating them, or even the meaning behind it. This way, you’ll be able to skilfully and accurately tackle any question that is thrown at you, whether it be in an email, interview or a gallery show.

Include an Artist Biography or Statement

To bring a sense of professionalism to your portfolio, make sure to include an artist biography or an artist statement. When writing your artist statement make sure to write it in first person. You’re encouraged to discuss the meaning behind your work, your creative process and the motivation behind what you do as an artist. The general word limit guideline is around 500 words or less. On the other hand, artists biographies are written in third person and are a lot more formal. It should include your experience and background as an artist, any degrees you may have, your involvement in exhibitions and any other important information you’d like to share.

Get Some Objective Advice

Putting together an art portfolio can be an extensive, lengthy task – so make sure to run some tough decisions by a trusted advisor. It can be easy to get lost in the details and lose the ability to see the bigger picture. In asking for advice you’ll gain an increased perspective!

Get Online!

Although having an art portfolio is a crucial step in becoming a professional, well-known creative, it is equally as important to get online and share your work via social media. Whether it be Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest – put your work out there. The possibilities are virtually endless; you can create a bio, create collections, share images, videos and so much more. With increased social media usage comes an increased presence within the creative community.

We’ve put together a few of our favourite websites you can use to create your art portfolio:

1. ArtStation

Centred predominantly around gaming, ArtStation is an art community in which you can find professional illustrations, 3D art and so much more. Previously named CGhub, ArtStation provides creatives with access to job offers, art challenges, are tutorials and most importantly – the chance to create your own art portfolio. ArtStation was designed specifically for the needs of game, film, media & entertainment artists.

Their portfolio feature allows you to create collections, sell your work, build a website and receive analytics. You can also you’re your professional resume including your experience, skills and expertise. In regards to selling your work, ArtStation offers a feature in which you can upload your digital products. Your products will be promoted alongside your website, at a rate of up to 95% revenue.

These features are available in 3 package options: Free, Plus and Pro.

Some examples of portfolios made using ArtStation:

2. Squarespace

Professional website building and hosting platform Squarespace allows creatives to turn their ideas into a reality. Squarespace offers a wide range of website templates, tools and audience specifications, providing a perfect space for creating your art portfolio. It includes an extensive list of layout and functionality customizations and tools that will allow you to efficiently grow as an artist. Squarespace also offers professionally designed templates for art portfolios, options to customize your favourite templates and prompts to expand your network. Choose a template and get started with a free trial!

Some examples of portfolios made using Squarespace:

3. Dribbble

Serving as both an online community and a self-promotion platform, Dribbble is another great website you can use to put together your art portfolio! The platform is aimed towards all kinds of creatives; graphic designers, illustrators, web designers and photographers to name a few. Now considered a major competitor of Behance, Dribbble was publicly made available in 2010. In order to create your art portfolio you’ll need to either be invited by a member or purchase a membership. While offering a great portfolio platform, Dribbble is also a job and recruiting site as users share their work online.

Some examples of portfolios made using Dribbble:

4. Cargo

Cargo is a professional, fully customizable site building service for putting work on the web. Make a portfolio, a shop, an archive, a magazine, or other project of any size or scope. All Cargo features are free to try or build, with an added features of seeing existing sites in use. Standard site upgrades are $99 per year or around $13 per month. An additional $66 per year or $9 a month, with no transaction fees, allows for the added functionality of commerce on your site.

Some examples of portfolios made using Cargo:

4. Behance

Behance is a leading online discovery and showcasing platform for all kinds of creative work. As part of the Adobe family, Behance forms a community of creatives in which you are able to showcase your work in the form of profiles comprised of projects. Projects are collections of images, digital content or videos with a general theme or process. Each member will receive a unique URL that can be shared amongst other social media as your design portfolio link. Profiles also come with the added functionality of tracking who has viewed your profile or given it a good rating. You can browse for other creative projects or profiles, as well as view job postings from all around the world.

Some examples of portfolios made using Behance:

5. Adobe Portfolio

With Adobe Portfolio, creatives can showcase individual page sites as well as full portfolio sites. Adobe Portfolio’s themes are highly customizable and perfect for professionally displaying your work online. The added bonus of Adobe Portfolio is the easy connection that can be made between Behance when importing projects, as well as Lightroom, photo grids and Adobe fonts. With the $9.99 Cloud subscription you’ll receive a free portfolio as well as a number of other services.

Make sure to check our Best Adobe Deals section on the website.

Some examples of portfolios  made using Adobe Portfolio:

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