Adding Style and Gusto to your Creative Portfolio

If you’re a graphic designer, illustrator, web developer, writer, photographer, or any other type of creative person, you’ve got serious skills under your belt — don’t discount that! Whether you’re straight out of school or a freelance veteran, many creatives face a similar struggle: curating the stunning portfolio which articulates both how passionate and how qualified you are for new clients and employers looking to hire.

In this guide, we’ll be sharing our wisdom as a full-service creative agency so that you, too, can build out the ideal portfolio to stick the landing on your next project or career opportunity. Let us show you how!

01. Show them what you got

First thing’s first, you need to ask yourself: “what am I amazing at?”

Perhaps you’re a graphic designer who has honed the art of kinetic typography or maybe you’re a writer who can spin the wittiest social media posts. Your portfolio should reflect the best of your abilities most relevant to the work you’re looking to do. The first step to designing your portfolio is to dig deep and truly understand what exactly you’re best at — there’s always one skill that outshines the others!

02. Only the best of the best

Now you’re sifting through your files — ALL your files — grabbing every single piece of work you can to mash into your portfolio because that’s just what you’re supposed to do… Right?

Let’s take a step back for a second. Ask yourself: “Is every single piece I’ve worked on worth showing?” If your answer is a definitive and certain “yes”, please submit your portfolio here. Likely, that’s not the case. Be sure to spend plenty of time selecting your best work as it relates to the work you’re aiming to get into.

Your portfolio is the best opportunity to show off your proudest endeavours as they relate to the work you’re looking to get. Remember to give a bit of context to each piece you include. Even a short description of a project objectives as well as your process and approach goes a long way!

03. For the right people in the right place

Your portfolio, ideally, is a tailored collection that articulates your greatest abilities and demonstrates your qualifications most relevant to the type of work you’re getting into. Now that you’ve identified your best abilities and handpicked your greatest work, it’s time to get it to the right people. Here’s what you need to ask yourself:

1. “Who do I want to see this?”
2. “How do I want them to see this?”

The first question will help you understand who exactly you will need to tailor your portfolio for. It’s important to note that the corporate Senior Hiring Director at Big Company Inc. looking to increase the ROI of email and direct marketing efforts will have differing perceptions and expectations from those of a mischievous new tattoo studio looking for “sh*tpost-style content for Insta, or whatever”. Make sure to set time to do a little research on where you’re sending your portfolio.Your portfolio should align with the recipient’s brand and core values — but don’t let that deter you from showing your creative side. Paper is easily lost; but a portfolio that appears as a sort of production is rarely forgotten.

The second question will help you decide the ideal medium to present your portfolio. Will it be an interactive website, a printed and bound book, a sleek and clean PDF attachment, or perhaps a more guerilla approach of covering your entire body in your works and making a screaming public display?

Once you’ve thought out your responses to these questions, you’ll have a solid idea of exactly how you will need to present your work to the right people.

04. Made with love, passion, and soul

While your portfolio should articulate how versatile you are in your craft, the display of your skills should never compromise your unique personality. It goes without saying that your skills and project work are invaluable, but above all is the indispensability of your passion and enthusiasm for what you do. Skills can be taught, but passion cannot.

Your portfolio should not only be a presentation of your abilities, but also a representation of your love for your craft in a way that reflects your excitement, curiosity, adaptability, and all-around awesomeness as a creative person. Never be afraid to show off your personality — it’s what makes you truly unique!

There you have it, the Cinnamon Toast Guide to: Adding Style and Gusto to your Creative Portfolio! Whether you’re trying to get into your first creative gig out of school, or looking to expand your client base as a seasoned freelancer, we know these tips will help you along the way of building yourself up as a presentably qualified creative!

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