What should you put in your portfolio?

Do you think of your portfolio as a marketing piece or a catalogue or perhaps it’s your archive?  You should be thinking marketing.  Your portfolio is the proof of your creative talent – whether it’s case studies or designs or images or film clips or objects.

Your portfolio should tell the story of who you are and what you care about and how you think and where your taste is and what you have achieved that you are proud of.

That may well be a different story from “here’s what I have done over the past year.”  So do be thinking of your portfolio as your own marketing piece and not just a collection of examples.  Curate your work as you would a gallery show.  Help the viewer to understand you – lead them through it if necessary with titles and explanations so your case will be clear.

The temptation to include all your latest work is huge – but is each piece telling the story you want to tell?  Framing yourself may well include something you did (gasp) 5 years ago.  It may be that much of the work you are doing today isn’t the work you want to be doing. 

So think about it.  If you include work that you don’t want to be doing – you might find yourself being hired to do that dreary work again.  If you only put old pieces in then the viewer will wonder what happened.  If you have great interesting pieces spread over time that should feel good.  Maybe you want to include freebies or personal projects to indicate your current enthusiasm and show that you are thinking and evolving.

Think of it as a unified piece of communication and not as separate items – and remember the response you want it to elicit: “You are just what we need.  How soon can you start?”