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Graphic Design Portfolio Presentations

Using Graphic Design Portfolios to Land an Assignment


You've assembled all your best projects into a nice-looking leather case. Where you were weak in real-world projects you've filled in with some great made up examples that show you know your stuff. Now what? Now you have to present that great graphic design portfolio you've created to potential clients or employers and explain your work.

When to Present a Graphic Design Portfolio

There is no single best time to present your desktop publishing or graphic design portfolio. You'll probably find during the course of an interview that its presentation naturally fits into the conversation. The client may come right out and say "Show me what you can do." At some point while discussing the type of work they want done it will be the perfect time to show them similar work you've done in the past or ways you've solved problems similar to one they've mentioned.

When discussing the specific samples in your graphic design portfolio, always listen to the client for clues as to what they want to know about the piece. Focus on how a particular piece solved a problem or filled a specific need. Some interviewers may want to know more about the mechanics of how a piece was created. Others may be more interested in how you came up with the idea.

"Make sure you know what typeface you're using and why. I have a friend who was very interested in the interviewee's choice of a typeface. He asked the person; 'Why did you choose this particular typeface?' The interviewee responded: "It was the only one I had on my computer." Steve Fleshman, Founder/Creative Partner DR2

Don't push your graphic design portfolio on the interviewer. Not all clients want to see work you've done for someone else. They are more interested in hearing about you and your ideas for their business. Don't feel obligated to show every page in your graphic design portfolio.

"There will be times where the employer doesn't want to see your portfolio. Please don't take this personally. It could be that you have already WOWed them with your interview and further proof is not necessary." Brian Mairs, former About.com Guide to Job Searching - Canada

Sometimes you must present your graphic design portfolio without an in-person interview. Some clients or employers may ask for your sample work before scheduling an interview. With Web portfolios, anyone can view your work at anytime. In these cases, it may be appropriate to include explanatory notes outlining key points about each sample. Don't write a thesis on the piece but do include a few brief statements about why you chose a particular style or the reaction the piece was designed to evoke or specific requirements of the client that the design met.

Your Assignment
Do some role-playing. Get a friend or family member to play the role of the prospective client or employer and let you present your portfolio in connection with conducting a mock interview. Try out different scenerios for presenting your portfolio and discussing its contents and your work. If you want, just role-play only the portfolio presentation portion of a meeting to help gain confidence with discussing the different projects, turning the pages, and quickly finding examples based on questions from the client.

Doing Desktop Publishing & Graphic Design
Training, Education, Jobs:Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Jobs: How to Find an Entry-Level Design Job or Internship
Business: How to Start a Freelance Desktop Publishing or Graphic Design Business
Pick Your Path to Desktop Publishing
Get Started:Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
Choose Software:Desktop Publishing and Design Software
Tips & Tutorials:How to Do Desktop Publishing
Make Something: Things to Make for the Holidays
Use Templates: Templates for Print and Web Publishing

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