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I am a first year graphic design who is still relatively new to the field. I have no idea how to even start with a portfolio. Do I create a website? Is it something physical? Can it just be a Google Drive folder? I'm sorry if I sound dumb, I've tried Googling, but I don't really have a clear answer. What should I include in the portfolio, and what should I keep away from it? Thanks to all who read and answer.

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    That's a very broad question for this site, but in 2023 usually design portfolios are on the web as a website.
    – Luciano
    Apr 26, 2023 at 7:47
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    It might be helpful for you to Google the same question and read a few of the articles presented. If you are in school, this is typically a topic that's covered, at least minimally, at some point. (I don't know if "first year" refers to education.)
    – Scott
    Apr 26, 2023 at 10:52

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There's a reason you can't find a "clear answer"....

No one can tell you that A, B, C and D all should be part of your portfolio. Conversely, no one can tell you that A, B C, or D don't belong in your portfolio. No one here knows your work, your experience, your area of focus, etc. Every designer is different, with different skillsets and different career goals. Portfolios are just as unique as the designers themselves.

A graphic design portfolio is somewhat of a living, breathing, thing. It constantly changes as new, better, work is completed. The goal of a portfolio is to show how you solve visual problems. To show how well you understand color, the psychology of eye movement, balance, proximity, type usage, etc. All of these can be shown via any design project in most cases. The actual medium can be irrelevant to a degree.

Often it's wise to customize a portfolio as much as possible to reflect any proficiency in the area you want to work in. Meaning, if you are seeking a position related to print production, showing a bunch of web-related UI and content isn't exceptionally helpful to potential employers. Just as a bunch of print materials won't be helpful to an employer seeking a designer for web-based projects. Seeing how problems were solved is helpful, but seeing how problems were solved for relatable projects will be more helpful.

In addition, no one can tell you the "absolute best" format for a portfolio. The goal is to make the reader expend the smallest amount of effort to view anything. That can mean a well formatted PDF, or a web link. If you are seeking a portfolio for face-to-face job interviews, you will need a hard copy version of your portfolio (or an iPad/tablet you can leave with the employer for review). In today's era, a web-based portfolio is essentially a must have - whether that's your own domain and web site or something like Behance or Dribble is for you to determine.

Much of the logistics of a portfolio are in the hands of potential employers... if asked for a CV/Resumé and a link, then you need something web-based to provide the link. If asked for a PDF, you need the PDF. If asked to meet with you in person, you should be carrying something physical you can show and you may need to be willing to leave it with them for a week or two (It's returned to you later.) In some cases, it can be something like a thumb/flash drive that has been customized to show your work -- sort of a static, localized presentation on the drive. Many employers have no problem popping in a thumb drive to view things.

Admittedly, it's been a decade or more since I've sought direct employment, physical portfolios may entirely be a thing of the past. Most of what I see asks for a link or a PDF.


(Note: a Google Drive folder with a bunch of files to download is not a path I would take.)

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Definitely a website of some sort.

Be aware that a large portion of jobs today are remote, the hiring is remote, the interviewing is remote, etc. Even if you do end up in that unlikely situation of a face-to-face, in-person interview, they will still probably want to see your portfolio website, before the interview.

So, I think the most basic, quickest way is to create a Behance or Dribble account. See what other members are posting in their portfolios, and figure out what you need to show from your existing work.

Otherwise the question is kind of broad, generally a portfolio is something you will constantly adjust over time. You will start with something, you will end up with something else, and then you'll get some other ideas, and so on.

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