We are nearing the end of the Spring semester and this usually means that senior level students are frantically preparing their work for their final portfolios. This is such an important aspect for the upcoming job search. This is the first semester in about 10 years that I have not taught Graphic Design Practice. This class is our program’s capstone class. It incorporates the senior show as well as building a final portfolio. The portfolio is obviously very important because it is the traditional method a student or recent graduate uses to show a prospective employer that he or she is capable of working in the industry and more specifically that they can become a productive and capable designer, adding that creative spark that the prospective employer is looking for. The work is the most important aspect of the portfolio but as designers we all are looking for the perfect case to enhance and tie the work together for that fantastic presentation.
When I was actively working, my portfolio was always a problem. What pieces to show, how many, how to organize them for the optimum impact? Those questions never go away even if you have been in the business, as I have previously stated, since dirt was a rock. Cases and styles of presentation, on the other hand, change drastically. When I was actively working the primary case was the standard black leather zipper case. The work was mounted on black boards and the edges were meticulously taped with black photo tape to cover the white center of the mat board. Now, there is a huge selection of cases, made out of a variety of materials including brushed aluminum, anodized aluminum, perforated aluminum, plexiglass and acrylic of all colors and finishes, exotic woods like bamboo, teak, walnut, cherry, maple, industrial materials like hardboard, masonite and pegboard.They come in a multitude of styles and sizes. They come personalized by laser engraving, frost etched, cut vinyl, silk screen, enamel, engraved plates, CNC routed and even water jet cutting. Basically, the only limitation is your imagination and MONEY! That last limitation might be a deal breaker for most students but I have found that the prices are coming down. Once these portfolios were considered custom but now companies like Pina Zangara, Case Logic, Shrapnel and Klo are producing cases at a reasonable price. Although still expensive most sizes and materials can be purchased on-line for less than $100. The really expensive part seems to be the personalization. Most of the companies charge about 150.00 for simple laser engraving. I recently built a custom case for myself out of aluminum and cherry. I had my logo laser engraved at a local sign shop for $20.00. So, if your brave and don’t mind a little research on the local market, you can save quite a bit.