04-04-2016 - Ten portfolio tips from Claire Parker (Executive Creative Director at Design Bridge).

The portfolio review can be one of the more stressful parts of your career. These tips from Claire Parker (Executive Creative Director at Design Bridge) will help you prepare and increase your changes in making a solid first impression.

Claire Parker: "One of the most valuable, and daunting, parts of a student's progression from education to working in industry are the interviews. Being at ease with yourself and confident in your work makes all the difference, with so many similar portfolios making a memorable impression is vital. At Design Bridge we always look to the individual, how they talk about the creative process, their insights and how that culminated in the solution. The ability to talk confidently and in an engaging way about yourself and your work is a much underestimated, part of our industry. We are visual story tellers, what we create connects with people in their hearts and minds, when you put so much of yourself into the work then present it in a way that does both the work and yourself justice. So be interesting, express your opinions and make it a memorable conversation. The fact that you're in the room at all means we liked your portfolio, you just need to show us who you are. Be yourself, because that's what will get you the job."


1. Choose your medium

Determine which presentation format is most suitable for your meeting. Digital, prints, mockups, printed samples? Your choice of medium depends on whom you are meeting with and what you really want to say about the piece of work.

2. Pick winners

Quality over quantity. Show a maximum of four to eight of your strongest case studies that best demonstrate your ideas and skills. Less is more!

3. Make it look sexy

Your portfolio needs to show off your work in the best possible way. Carefully consider layout and styling and remember to try not to over design it. This will only distract from what should really be the only focus point – your work.

4. Show the creative process

Show more than just the end result. Sketches, moodboards and first concepts can be used to illustrate your creative thinking and how you arrived at the solution.

5. Customize content

Make sure you show relevant work to your audience. A packaging design agency is usually not that interested to see only webdesign in a portfolio for instance.

6. Come prepared

Read up on your audience. Check the company's website and familiarize yourself with the names and titles of your contacts. When you present digitally make sure you're all powered up. If you prefer to present your work in a traditional portfolio folder make sure its clean and marked so that you open it the right way up.

7. Rehearse

Practice makes perfect. Think upfront about the key points you want to say about your work and what questions you can expect. If you build up your case study well then it will almost present itself so don't use too many words. Rehearse by presenting to friends or family. Just remember that a little nerves keeps you sharp!

8. Leave behinds

How do you stay top of mind with the people that you have just presented to? Leave a short overview of your portfolio behind. Preferably a one-pager or a digital copy. This also is another opportunity to show them your creativity so make it unique and memorable.

9. You are not God!

Not yet. Never tell them how great you are. You are fresh, but also with no commercial experience, and making claims you are 'the next big thing' makes the wrong impression. Be enthusiastic and eager, but humble and willing to learn.

10. Be yourself, be different and enjoy

Be different. So many portfolios are all the same. Make the work yours. It should reflect your own approach and style, not your tutors. Think about what you and your work can offer that is different from the crowd.

About Claire Parker

Claire Parker is Executive Creative Director at Design Bridge in Amsterdam, and has been a driving force behind the creative growth of the Amsterdam studio, seeing them develop lasting relationship with international brands as well as acquire a wealth of international award. Claire studied at the University of Central Lancashire before her career took her from London around the world, working in Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. While Design Director with Saatchi & Saatchi in Asia she was an integral part of making them Agency of the Year. Despite so many years away from the UK she's still considers herself 'a northern lass' at heart – as her accent testifies. Claire has received numerous international awards in recognition of her work throughout her career including Creative Circle, ADCN, Pentawards, New York Festivals and Benchmark. When she's not working you can find her... cycling around Amsterdam on her 'omafiets', or rummaging around flea markets for hidden treasures.

About Design Bridge

Design Bridge is an award-winning, international brand design agency that blends creative passion, strategic insight and a firm belief in the power of great ideas to create and develop enduring and memorable brand experiences. It is an independent company, founded in 1986, with offices in Amsterdam, London, Singapore and New York. The company offers integrated brand world solutions with expertise in Brand Strategy, Brand Packaging, Brand Identity, 3D Branding and Innovation, Sustainability and Naming. They are currently working in over 40 countries for brands such as AkzoNobel, Diageo, JACOBS DOUWE EGBERTS, Mondelez, Philips and TNT. They work with an international team of over 14 nationalities. The agency has won numerous international creative awards including Pentawards Agency of the Year, D&AD Most Awarded Design Agency of the Year 2015, Clio and Mobius.

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