What Projects to Include in Your Graphic Design Portfolio

As a designer, you know that your portfolio has to be superb. It is always going to be your portfolio which showcases your talent and shows prospective employers what you can do. Your portfolio represents who you are as a designer, how you interpret a client’s brief, and the direction you have taken. Your portfolio will show others what you are capable of.

It can feel daunting as a designer to work out what to put in your portfolio. This is true at any stage of your career. Even as a new designer, without a great many projects to choose from, it can still be difficult to work out the best ones to choose. Remember that your portfolio is about the work you want to be doing.

Physical portfolios

What to include in your graphic design portfolio

A physical portfolio shows the work you’ve done on paper, and can be tailored to suit the needs of each individual client.

Add about 20 different pieces of work, which you can add or subtract based on the needs of different companies and the positions you are applying to.

Show a wide range of work

What to include in your graphic design portfolio

Your online portfolio should include about 30 examples of your work, while a physical portfolio may contain 20 examples.

Show a range of options in different styles and techniques. You may want to include storyboard designs, examples of your process and final products.

Treat each image individually, highlighting your skills.

Show where you want to go

If you’re interested in website design, show examples of your work which would suit this path. If animation is your choice, provide examples of work you have already done.

If you’re into designing vectors for T-shirts, grab a T-shirt template and showcase your design well with it.

This enables you to show potential for the job you want. Leave out examples of work which would be irrelevant to future positions.

Give context

What to include in your graphic design portfolio

Illustrators and designers interpret everyday language, turning it into a design.

Show your process by giving a context to each of your portfolio items. Sharing your brief and how you accomplished this will provide a backstory to your work.

Show what inspires you

What to include in your graphic design portfolio

You don’t only have to include work for past clients in your portfolio. Feel free to add your own creative design or inspiration process. If you are an illustrator, adding your own designs will show your interests.

Adding your own creative projects will help to show what inspires you, and the direction you would like to take in the future.

Be dynamic

Once you have created your portfolio, allow it to change and morph organically as you continually add new projects and weed out older ones. Your portfolio should be as flexible as your growing, changing and emerging talents.

Bring it alive

What to include in your graphic design portfolio

By showing real-life case studies, you are able to give insight into your creative process. Ask clients to give recommendations and write up your interpretations and insights into the project. This will bring your working methods alive.

Look at it from a different perspective

Take a reflexive look at your portfolio by looking at it through different eyes. What would you think if you looked at your portfolio through the eyes of a future employer?

What would you see as your strengths or weaknesses? Think critically about the message you are presenting. Ensure that you present your best qualities.

Name your work

What to include in your graphic design portfolio

By labelling or providing names for your work, you assist clients with creating a language to engage.

If a client wants to speak to you about an item in your portfolio, providing a name or tag will assist with providing a way of initiating conversation or discussion.

Go for gold

What to include in your graphic design portfolio

Present only your best items in your portfolio. You want your clients to see where you shine. Only choose the work you are 100% happy with.

There is no need to show continuous progress, so if you feel your most recent work is strongest, only show this. Although it may be tempting to add as much as you can to your portfolio, always remember that less is more when it comes to top-notch quality.

Spark an interest

Don’t show your viewer everything, even if it is your best quality work. Leave them wanting more. This gives you the opportunity to arrive at an interview with new material to present, adding new dimensions to your work.

Keeping your portfolio versatile means adding only one or two examples of your work in a particular area or style. Once a client has expressed interest, you will be able to show a complete range of examples or products. Your initial goal is simply to spark interest in your client.

Tips for designing a graphic design portfolio

Modern technology and a wide range of ideas or inspiration mean that anybody can design a portfolio.

If you are interested in creating a portfolio which is both attractive and eye-catching, you’ll need more than technology, however. Graphic design principles will help you to bring your designs to life.

Go exploring

What to include in your graphic design portfolio

Look up inspiring designs and portfolios which appeal to you. Use these images to inspire you towards your own unique creation.


Designers rely on the quality of a portfolio to showcase your work. Allow clients to see the full scope of your abilities, highlighting your highest quality work and providing examples of your design process.

This will enable clients to explore what your interests are, how you interpret a brief, and how you might work together in the future.

About the Author!

Bogdan is a designer and editor at DesignYourWay. He’s reading design books the same way a hamster eats carrots, and talks all the time about trends, best practices and design principles.

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