8 Secrets on Creating Successful Print Base Graphic Design Portfolio

When I start designing my own portfolio, I was sitting in front of my laptop, staring blank and I ask myself…


∙ What size is the perfect size for my portfolio?
∙ Which format should I go for?
∙ Which project should I include?
∙ Should I just throw in everything?
∙ Should I include my college project?
∙ Should I include tons of description?


Too many question and I can’t make decision…


I thought it’s easy, just slap everything in a file and call it a portfolio. But when it comes to me to take action, I am stuck.


If that is your situation, I hope these tips I learned from my experience will answer your question. Lets take a look at the first thing you need to know when designing your portfolio.

Portfolio File

I recommend you to go for a simple portfolio file. Use a normal A3 file like this one here where you can get in any stationary shop.


If you have any extra budget, I would recommend you to get a portfolio file like this one below.



Image from Klo Portfolio


I don’t recommend you to go for a funky portfolio where you can flip your portfolio here and there like a maze.


I tried that once and I find myself having trouble to put it back together at the end of interview. You don’t want this awkward moment happen in an interview. A fresh graduate trying too hard to be creative and that’s me.


Remember this, artwork and portfolio is two different thing. Portfolio is a set of pieces of creative artwork that you have done.


When you go to an interview, you want to show how good your artwork is. So you don’t need a fancy portfolio with lots of unnecessary graphic element disturbing your interviewer from focusing your artwork.


Keep your portfolio as simple as possible.


You artwork need space to breath…


So give your artwork as much space as possible to breath especially when it comes to portfolio layout. I’ve create a guide on the picture below showing you how much space I use on my A3 size portfolio.



Download this portfolio template


This is just my preferred method, add as much space as you like as long as your designer eye feel comfortable with it.


Space not only make your artwork looks good, but also let your interviewer focus on your artwork. These are a few example of my artwork in my portfolio.







A4 Size or A3 Size?

A4 size portfolio is too small in my opinion. I suggest you to go for an A3 size portfolio. It cost a bit more to print all your artwork in A3, but it’s going to look a lot better than A4 size portfolio.


Some people will go as large as A2 size which I think it’s too big and it’s going to cost you a bomb.


So stick with A3 size.

Cover and First page

If you are using a black A3 file like me where you can’t do anything with the cover, include your name and a personal logo (if you have one) on the first page. If you don’t have any personal logo, just put “(your name), follow by (portfolio)”  or just a simple “portfolio” will do. This apply on your cover page too.


If you decide to add some graphic element to compliment your personal branding, go for it. Just don’t over do.


Put a headline, followed by a short one or two paragraph description. Keep it short because most of the time they don’t read your 200 words description and they prefer you to explain to them what this project is about.


This is when you need some preparation on what you are going to say in each project.

Include 5 to 7 of Your Best Artwork

How many artwork should I include in my portfolio you might be thinking. I would say don’t throw every project you have done in college or side project into your portfolio. Your portfolio is going to be as thick as an Oxford dictionary.


Take your time and limit your portfolio. 5 to 7 of your best project is enough. Show quality not the quantity. Watch this 5 minutes video where D&AD president offer advice to designer on getting hired.


Should You Include College Work?

If you have any professional work, I would recommend you to include professional work if it looks better than your college work. Because you are in the business now, people want to see how you apply your idea in real business. Besides, it makes your portfolio look more professional.


Just remember, only include your BEST artwork even If you only have 4 artwork to show. But If you have only 1 best artwork, try your best to squeeze 3 or 4 more personal or professional project.


And one more thing, your portfolio should wow them from first page to your last page.


If you are still struggling, remember, keep it simple.


Good luck in your interview! If you are having hard time with interview, I suggest you to invest in this course Job Seeker’s Guide To Nailing Every Interview

 A Helping Hand From Me

Hey, if you are…

  • student struggling to get your project approved by your lecturer,
  • don’t know what to wear to your first interview,
  • you just need someone to evaluate your portfolio before it get printed out
  • or don’t know what to charge for a logo when you first started out,

do let me know in this email contact@sureewoong.com if you need someone to talk to.


I will give you a 1 on 1 advice through email. I am hoping my experience as a graphic designer can help you out and our conversation will be private. Don’t be a stranger, email me anytime.


Related Course : Job Seeker’s Guide To Nailing Every Interview

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