After you graduate from a graphic design program or school, your next goal of landing a full-time job or promoting yourself as a design freelancer can be difficult. A representation of your experience digitally is the first step for establishing your presence in the design industry. Physical resumes and hardcopy work samples are archaic, and employers need visuals before agreeing to accept any design services. As you enter into the graphic design job market, create an online portfolio, blog and/or website that displays your best work.
Finding Your Niche
Secure your identity and brand in the graphic design community by finding your niche. Determine your areas of expertise, and then promote your skill set by showcasing your work samples on a high-quality digital space. Whether you’re searching for a full-time position with a company or trying to garner freelance projects, establish an online portfolio that clarifies what your talents are and how your niche-specific product can enhance a business. Graphic design website Mishes.com identifies various types of graphic designers.
Hone your skills, narrow your scope and define yourself as a professional creative in any of the following fields:
- Editorial: Specialist in InDesign, typography and the organization of aesthetic elements for publications
- Mobile: Specialist in Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML, CSS, Web standards and usability
- Photography Illustration: Specialist in composition, lighting, color, texture and style
- 3D Animation: Specialist in the duality of creativity and technicality; understanding of Maya, After Effects, 3d Max and Adobe Flash, according to Mishes.com
- Corporative: Specialist in creating design products based on client needs and corporate strategies; e,g, company manuals, logos and digital products
Perfecting & Promoting Your Digital Portfolio
SmashingMagazine.com recommends that designers include a logo and tagline on a website as an introduction to the brand, talent and vision. Create a concise and snappy tagline that effectively summarizes what you can offer. Make sure that visitors can quickly and easily access live versions of your previous work as superior-quality images. Integrate a slideshow that encompasses a diverse range of your favorite projects. As long as your portfolio page is visually clean and organized, feel free to add a short description and testimonials for your projects. Include other sections such as recent work that showcases your latest projects or a blog that chronicles non-work, personal design pursuits.
SmashingMagazine.com also provides the following design portfolio pitfalls to watch out for:
- Visual chaos or obfuscation: Let good content speak for itself and display it prominently; less is more
- Cluttered information: Avoid jam-packing your website with too much information; it’s a deterrent
- Fanciness: Keep the layout of your portfolio and navigation simple; your job is to entice employers quickly and easily
Determine the goals of your online portfolio, such as “for hire” or “networking.” Build your portfolio around your goal, minimally decorate it with aspects of your personality and then market it. Brand your resume with a hyperlink to your website and leverage social networking sites, such as Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Give people the opportunity to share your projects by attaching social media buttons to individual designs. Lastly, provide contact information that’s easy to find. Whether you’re displaying Twitter and Facebook buttons or providing your telephone and email, contact info should be visible, especially since the goal of your portfolio is to communicate and connect.
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Debbie Cox, the author of this article, is a voice teacher, graphic designer and proud mom, Debbie loves sharing tips on exercising your voice with opera fanatics.
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