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Freshman Foundations Portfolio/Sophomore Graphic Design II Portfolio

In earlier posts I have talked about Senior level or professional portfolios. I Primarily addressed the case or binding and its importance in the overall portfolio. In future posts I will revisit the Senior portfolio and talk about content and new trends but today I want to talk about Freshman and Sophomore portfolios. These portfolios are slightly different from the Senior portfolio and have a different purpose. With the development of any portfolio there are some things that are always true and consistent. The content should always be your very BEST work. There is an old adage that states “you are only as good as the worst piece in your portfolio.” This literally means that if you have twelve great pieces in your portfolio and one bad piece, that one bad piece will be the one that is remembered. In the selection process be critical and honest in your assessment. Get outside input from other people you respect like teachers and other Design faculty. Re-do, fix or repair any problems or imperfections and remove any work that is not an example of your best effort. As you have probably learned in Design classes, craft is critical. All work and presentation must be flawless. These things should always be considered no matter what kind of portfolio you are preparing. There are some things that can change depending on the type of portfolio you are preparing. First, like most Design projects, consider your audience and purpose. In the case of a Freshman or Sophomore portfolio, your audience will be the Design faculty. The purpose is a one time event to evaluate your skill level. Because it is a one time event that has a limited life span, there is no need for an expensive, custom case or binder. It does have to be suitable and durable. A simple, inexpensive zipper case that is big enough to comfortably hold your work is usually sufficient. Check the straps/handles to make sure they will hold and not pull out under the weight of your work. The presentation of the work is the next major decision. There are a lot of decisions on presentation like, what size, mounted or unmounted, what kind of boards, what color or texture? Personally, I think all of these things need to be considered and chosen to create a consistent “package” that reflects your personal design sense. For me, a consistent board size is critical. I hate seeing a mix of board sizes from tiny to huge boards. I would rather pick the largest board size I need and make all the boards that size. If the maximum board size is 18″x24″ then I would keep all my boards that size and use multiple images of the same work to fill the larger board. Try and keep the board layouts consistent with a grid and consistent margins. If the work is an original drawing or illustration I would recommend flapping with a cover weight paper for protection. Search my blog for “Flap” for a “how to” video on flapping. For digitally printed work or photographs I would recommend not flapping those. The flaps just make the viewer have to work harder to see the work and since the need to protect the work is minimal, it just seems unnecessary. Written descriptions are important but they are secondary to the work itself, so, keep them small, understated and probably on the back so they don’t compete with the work. On the titles, descriptions, rationale and any required written component like an essay, the English, grammar and spelling must be perfect but the content should be creative and exciting. Try to make the written components as interesting and creative as the visual work.

Here are some examples of successful portfolios:

 

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