How And Why You Should Curate Your Portfolio

How And Why You Should Curate Your Portfolio

To carefully curate a portfolio is to make a collection of your creative ideas shaped into beautiful pieces. And it is a haven for anyone looking for a potential hire.

For most people, the word curate conjures up images of a meticulously planned museum exhibit. However, this term is now used in various settings like fashion, news, photos, even food. Unfortunately, the one thing people typically forget to curate is their professional work output.

So, let’s change that and create a place to store the work that highlights your achievements. Here are some pointers on how and why you should curate your portfolio.

Craft The Presentation

Craft The Presentation

An average execution beautifully presented can take the project to a higher level. At the same time, a fantastic project presented poorly will lose a lot of its impact and value. Presentation and pacing are the key aspects when you create and curate a portfolio. It’s something so logical and simple. 

The themes and aesthetics you choose for your portfolio are your share alone, but just remember that less is more.

You should organize your work in a way that the audience can distinguish the start, the middle, and the end. The themes and aesthetics you choose for your portfolio are your share alone, but just remember that less is more. Let your work express itself and be the drawing card for the evening. 

Make your workpieces accessible and viewable in larger formats. Moreover, every aspect of your portfolio should harmonize and impact one another and should be in sync. Keep in mind that it should be straightforward, easy to use, and engaging rather than distracting, and design-laden.

All Killer And No Filler

All Killer And No Filler 

It will sound totally obvious, but your portfolio should only have work that you are really proud of. The most common mistake people commit is putting every single project they worked on (even the decade-old ones) on display. That leads to suffocating and tight-packing the whole space.

When we feel like our work isn’t strong enough, we tend to build it up using quantity instead of quality. The thing is, any professional can tell when you’re doing that, and you should avoid it. What you should do instead is highlight your best work, not all of it. 

Think of your portfolio like a highlight reel – you want to be selective.

People aren’t there to view your history channel. They are supposed to see the work which you’ve specially created out of a kaleidoscope of skills and expertise. Don’t show off work that you aren’t 100% proud of. It’s much better to see a portfolio with 3-4 really stellar projects than 10-15 that are so-so.

Include Project Details

Include Project Details

This might be surprising, but most people make the mistake of not showing any project details on their portfolio. Designers, for example, mostly show off tiny graphics of a logo or a website mockup and nothing else. For a potential client looking at that, sometimes it’s left unclear what exactly did you do for that project.

Instead of just sharing those tiny graphics, link to a project page where you share things like:

  • What the client was looking for
  • What you did for them
  • The tangible results your design has gotten for them
  • A testimonial

It may seem like a lot, but remember, people will only bother reading if they’re considering hiring you.

Follow The Rule Of Three

Follow The Rule Of Three

There’s something magical about the number three and we love seeing it in stories. We even structure stories themselves in threes: past, present and future; before, during and after; beginning, middle and end. Things just work better when they come in threes.

Here’s why: our brains process information by identifying patterns, and three is the smallest number to create a pattern. It’s the quickest way to delight your audience.

When you curate a portfolio, you should keep the rule of three in mind. The first image creates an expectation, the second establishes it, and the third one makes a pattern. You catch the attention of the viewer by creating a memorable thrill in their brain. 

Curate Your Portfolio According To Your Target Audience

Curate Your Portfolio According To Your Target Audience 

Young designers tend to show that they are versatile and able to tackle any project that comes along. Still, versatility is not necessarily you being able to work in any design field. Instead, it’s the ability to be resourceful and explore various creative approaches within one single area. Once you have studied, and gained experience in that field, move to the next one. Being a jack of all trades in design rarely implies doing amazingly good in all of them.

Being a jack of all trades in design rarely implies doing amazingly good in all of them.

When applying for a position, it’s essential to consider the requirements – not just of the company and their place in the market, but of the job title itself on a practical level. For example, a design studio looking to make a hire for the role of Creative Director will not be solely looking for artwork examples or production-specific skills such as kerning or tracking. So be sure to include relevant examples of your work for the role to which you are applying.

To secure a great job, your portfolio must be geared to the right audience. Spend some time thinking about your intended target and defining your ‘who’ dictates what goes in your portfolio.

Update it Regularly

Update it Regularly

So many people, especially designers, have issues with their portfolios simply because they aren’t updating them with new work regularly. They entirely neglect their portfolio when they have a full-time job and only update when they start job searching again. 

It seems obvious why it’s essential to keep your portfolio updated. But at the same time, it is easy to put it off when you have the security and comfort of a full-time job.

Here is why it’s worth spending the time to carefully curate your portfolio:

  • It shows you care about your work 

Let’s be honest, letting your portfolio fall by the wayside is the equivalent of dressing up for your interview and wearing sweatpants once you’ve secured the job.

  • You don’t know what opportunities you might be missing 

It may be a side project, a collaboration with another creative, a freelance gig that teaches you a new skill, or a new job entirely.

  • Reviewing and updating your work motivates you to get better 

If you’re pleased with the work you’ve been doing, it inspires you to keep at it and outdo yourself. On the other hand, if you realize a lot of your work doesn’t make you proud, you can reset and refocus.

  • A little thing called SEO 

Nobody fully understands the mysteries of Google’s algorithm, but search any term, and you will see Google gives you the most current yet established results it can find.

Make It Web-Ready And Mobile-Friendly

Make It Web-Ready And Mobile-Friendly

Your site should always be active and available across all browsers. More and more often, people access the web via their smartphones, laptops, tablets – anything with an internet connection and a screen, really – so your portfolio needs to look as good at their fingertips as it does on your desktop monitor. 

Consider brilliant, front-and-center high-res images for your laptop/desktop website layout and a portfolio layout that people can quickly and easily browse through on their mobile devices.

From start to finish, your portfolio should create an experience that is easy and natural. The more time someone spends trying to figure out how your site works and how to navigate it, the less time they’re spending looking at your work. 

To Sum Up

To Sum Up

For creatives, there’s nothing more important than your portfolio. A good portfolio helps you snag the clients you’re after and attracts the attention of professionals that can advance your career. It’s a constant that needs care throughout the duration of your career, and should be something you spend a good amount of time crafting.

Think of yourself as a curator or storyteller narrating your artistry. Don’t show off work that you aren’t 100% proud of. Build a book to attract the kinds of recruiters and clients you want to notice you. Own your aesthetic. Love your work like Kanye loves Kanye. And don’t forget to update it regularly. 


Biljana Martinić

Captain of Red Hair Pirates. Song Sommelier. Dragonologist. Talks to animals and they often talk back. Shyness that is criminally vulgar. Bounty hunter. And a nostalgia consultant.

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