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What Makes a Design Print Portfolio Great

Artists call them string books. Journalists – clip books. (Grandma – a brag
book.) For companies or freelancers alike, often the term “Portfolio
covers it all. Depending upon your craft, both physical and digital
forms of portfolios may be relevant. (After all, even Grams has taken
her crusty plastic wallet insert with pics of the kiddos out of her
pocketbook and onto Facebook these days…) That’s right, in today’s
high tech age, it’s pretty clear that without an online portfolio, you
may be missing out.

As a individual graphic designer seeking work, you may miss out on
potential freelance or full time career opportunities. As a company,
you may miss out on potential clients browsing online design portfolios
to narrow their choices. We find that our portfolio is the most popular
page on our entire website. In either case – freelance or design firm –
it’s important.

Back40 Design Group is well known throughout the state for full
service design capabilities, from award-winning websites, to innovative
logo design, and all corresponding marketing materials – but even we,
need a “Brag Book” to keep things interesting. We help 50+ clients a
year with multiple print services, so creating a print portfolio that
encompasses the large variety of clients can be a challenge.

But beyond the range of companies, is the multitude of products,
which creates even further variety. From the typical orders of
custom-designed business cards, direct mail postcards, and tri-fold
brochures, to the more elaborate trade booth displays, custom die-cut
presentation folders, and even janitorial product catalogs.

How do you decide what to show in a print portfolio?
than the obvious answer of… your best examples, course. We offer,
these thoughts to ponder when creating your design portfolio.

  1. Express your mission:
    If you most desire to design websites, don’t have half your portfolio
    dedicated to print pieces. Make sure the images
    you select highlight your sales goals.
  2. Know your audience: If you work with a variety of
    industries, you may wish to display work in a categorized manner so
    it’s easier for manufacturing clients to see other industrial work
    you’ve done. If you’re a start up with only one two industries under
    your belt, use that to your advantage. In political terms, it’s called
    spin. lol “You specialize in that industry” 🙂
  3. Accessibility is key: If your brag book is printed,
    bound, and beautifully choreographed.. on the corner of your bookshelf,
    it’s not doing you much good. We highly recommend taking those pieces
    online. Although paper quality, texture, and other hands-on features can be lost
    with the digital image of a website, you can easily add
    a small paragraph describing the piece to bring it to life.
  4. Ask for help: Your personal style may not always meet
    with a client’s brand. It’s important to show a variety of work in your
    portfolio to reach a wider audience. If you’re unsure on whether to
    include a certain portfolio item, ask someone. Ask a fellow designer.
    Or not. Sometimes the “Average Joe” perspective can open your eyes to
    what a client may see or feel.
  5. Don’t get cold feet: All in all, get it done.
    Procrastination for that perfect portfolio will kill your dreams faster
    than a possible misstep or two.


If you most desire to design websites, don’t have half your portfolio
dedicated to print pieces. Make sure the images
you select highlight your sales goals.
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