10 Tips for a Stunning Print Design Portfolio
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Showcase your best work
  2. Keep it concise and organized
  3. Tell a visual story
  4. Include personal branding
  5. Suggest a range of skills
  6. Use high-quality print materials
  7. Tailor the portfolio to your audience
  8. Include testimonials and reviews
  9. Stay current with design trends
  10. Always be ready to update

If you're a print designer, you understand the importance of a powerful portfolio. It's your visual resume, a demonstration of your design flair, and a testament to your skills. But, creating a portfolio that shines can be a daunting task. That's where this guide comes in! We'll walk you through the ins and outs of how to create a portfolio for print design, ensuring that, by the end, you'll be well-equipped to craft a portfolio that's as remarkable as the work it contains.

Showcase Your Best Work

First things first—let's talk about your work. It's simple: your portfolio should be a showcase of your best work. But what does "best" mean? It's not necessarily the project that took the longest or the one that won an award. Instead, it's the work that you're most proud of: the designs that challenged you, made you think differently, and ultimately, made you grow as a designer.

Here are some pointers on how to curate your finest work:

  • Choose Quality Over Quantity: Instead of flooding your portfolio with every project you've ever worked on, focus on select pieces that represent your skills and style. A handful of stellar designs can speak louder than a sea of average ones.
  • Display a Variety: Show that you’re not a one-trick pony. Include a mix of different projects—logos, posters, brochures, etc.—to demonstrate your versatility.
  • Include Context: Don’t just display the final product; provide a brief description for each piece. Explain the brief, your approach, the challenges you faced, and how you addressed them. This gives potential clients or employers insight into your thought process and problem-solving abilities.
  • Highlight Your Favorite Projects: If you loved working on a particular project, chances are, your passion will shine through in the final design. Don't hesitate to include these projects in your portfolio.

Remember, when learning how to create a portfolio for print design, your main goal is to impress and intrigue those viewing it. By showcasing your best work, you're putting your strongest foot forward and increasing your chances of catching the eye of potential clients or employers.

Keep it Concise and Organized

Now that you've selected your top designs, it's time to put everything together. But remember, a portfolio isn't just a random collection of work—it's a reflection of who you are as a designer. So, make it count! Keep it concise and organized.

How you ask?

  • Limit the Number of Pieces: While it's tempting to include every project you've ever completed, restraint is key. Stick to around 10-15 pieces in your portfolio. This provides enough content to showcase your skills without overwhelming the viewer.
  • Order Matters: Pay attention to the sequence of your work. Start and end with your strongest pieces. This creates a lasting impression and keeps the viewer interested throughout.
  • Clutter is a No-No: Keep your portfolio clean and easy to navigate. Remember, the main focus should be your work, not fancy graphics or backgrounds that can distract from it.
  • Group Similar Projects Together: This creates a visual flow and makes it easier for viewers to understand your range of skills. For example, you could have a section for logo designs, another for brochures, and so on.

When it comes to learning how to create a portfolio for print design, remember, organization is king. A well-structured portfolio not only looks professional but also makes it easier for viewers to appreciate your work.

Tell a Visual Story

The power of a successful print design portfolio lies in its ability to narrate a compelling visual story. Your portfolio should not merely be a gallery of beautiful designs—it should tell the story of you: your journey, your process, and your evolution as a designer.

  • Start with a Bang: Kick off your portfolio with a project that sets the tone for the rest of your work. This could be a design that won you an award or a project that challenged you in new ways.
  • Document Your Process: Showcase your drafts, sketches, or mood boards along with your final designs. This gives insight into your thought process and how you approach design challenges.
  • Contextualize: Briefly describe each project. Let viewers know the purpose of the design, the client (if any), the challenges faced, and how you overcame them. This breathes life into your designs and helps viewers appreciate your work beyond its aesthetics.
  • End with a Flourish: Close your portfolio with a project that showcases growth or a new skill you've acquired. This leaves viewers eager to see what you'll create next.

Remember, learning how to create a portfolio for print design is as much about storytelling as it is about showcasing great designs. A well-told visual narrative makes your portfolio memorable and helps you stand out in the crowded world of design.

Include Personal Branding

When pondering how to create a portfolio for print design, one aspect that often gets overlooked is personal branding. Your portfolio is not just a collection of your work—it's a reflection of who you are as a designer. Including elements of personal branding can make your portfolio unique and memorable.

  • Design a Logo: A logo is a quick, visual representation of your brand. It should be simple, memorable, and representative of your style. Place it prominently on your portfolio to create a strong first impression.
  • Develop a Color Palette: Choose a color scheme that represents your style or the mood you want to convey. Consistently use these colors throughout your portfolio to create a cohesive look and feel.
  • Create a Typography Scheme: Just like colors, fonts can communicate a lot about your style. Choose two or three fonts that work well together and use them consistently across your portfolio.
  • Write a Designer Statement: This is a brief paragraph that talks about your design philosophy, your inspirations, and what you aim to achieve with your work. It helps viewers connect with you on a more personal level.

Remember, your portfolio is an extension of your brand. Therefore, it should reflect not just your work, but also your personality, values, and style. So, as you explore how to create a portfolio for print design, don't forget to infuse it with elements of your personal brand.

Suggest a Range of Skills

When considering how to create a portfolio for print design, it's important to demonstrate a wide range of skills. Your portfolio should be a testament to your versatility as a designer. This doesn't mean cramming in every piece of work you've ever done—rather, it's about carefully selecting projects that highlight different aspects of your abilities.

  1. Print Design Skills: Of course, your portfolio should primarily showcase your expertise in print design. Include samples of different types of print materials you've designed, like brochures, business cards, posters, and packaging. Show that you understand the nuances of designing for print, such as color management, typography, and layout.
  2. Software Proficiency: Highlight your proficiency in industry-standard software like Adobe Creative Suite. Include works that showcase your skills in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and any other tools you're proficient in.
  3. Creativity and Innovation: Include projects that demonstrate your ability to think outside the box. Show how you've used innovative design solutions to solve complex problems or meet unique client needs.
  4. Understanding of Design Principles: Show that you have a solid grasp of fundamental design principles like balance, contrast, and hierarchy. Your portfolio pieces should reflect your ability to use these principles to create visually pleasing and effective designs.

By highlighting a broad range of skills in your portfolio, you'll show potential clients or employers that you're a versatile and well-rounded designer. This can greatly improve your chances of landing that dream job or securing a lucrative freelance project. So as you figure out how to create a portfolio for print design, keep in mind the value of showcasing your diverse skills.

Use High-Quality Print Materials

As a print designer, the quality of the physical materials you use speaks volumes about your attention to detail and your commitment to delivering the best possible final product. This is equally important when creating your portfolio for print design. The portfolio itself should be a testament to your understanding of paper quality, print finishes, and binding techniques.

  1. Paper Quality: Opt for high-quality paper that enhances the visual appeal of your work. Different types of paper have different textures and weights, which can significantly impact how your designs are perceived. Experiment with different paper options to find one that best showcases your work.
  2. Print Finishes: Consider using special print finishes like embossing, foil stamping, or spot UV to add a touch of luxury and depth to your portfolio. These finishes can make your designs pop and create a more engaging tactile experience for the viewer.
  3. Binding Techniques: The way your portfolio is bound can affect its usability and aesthetic appeal. Whether you choose spiral binding, saddle stitching, or perfect binding, make sure it complements your work and makes it easy for viewers to flip through your portfolio.

Investing in high-quality print materials can seem like a big upfront cost, but it's worth it in the long run. It's an investment in your personal brand and can significantly enhance the impression you make on potential clients or employers. So when you're thinking about how to create a portfolio for print design, keep in mind that the quality of your materials matters just as much as the quality of your work.

Tailor the Portfolio to Your Audience

One of the most important factors to consider when creating a portfolio for print design is who exactly will be viewing it. Tailoring your portfolio to meet the needs and expectations of your specific audience can help you communicate more effectively and make a stronger impression.

So, how do you tailor your portfolio to your audience? Here are a few strategies:

  1. Understand Their Needs: If you're applying for a job in the publishing sector, for example, highlight your book cover designs or your typesetting skills. If you're pitching to a client in the restaurant industry, showcase your menu designs or branding projects for food and beverage companies.
  2. Speak Their Language: Use terminology and jargon that your audience is familiar with. This can help demonstrate your understanding of their industry and make your portfolio more relatable.
  3. Address Their Pain Points: Show how your designs have solved problems or overcome challenges in the past. This can help your audience see the value you can provide.

In essence, tailoring your portfolio involves putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and thinking about what they want to see. It's about demonstrating that you understand their needs and can deliver solutions that meet these needs. So, as you consider how to create a portfolio for print design, remember to keep your audience in mind and tailor your content accordingly.

Include Testimonials and Reviews

Now that you understand the importance of tailoring your portfolio to your audience, let's move onto another powerful strategy—incorporating testimonials and reviews. This is a smart way to solidify your credibility and illustrate the impact of your work.

But how can you effectively include testimonials and reviews in a portfolio for print design? Here's a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Request Testimonials: Reach out to your past clients and ask for their feedback. Be sure to request their permission to use their comments in your portfolio. A word of caution: only include genuine testimonials. Fabricating reviews can backfire and harm your reputation.
  2. Choose Powerful Quotes: Not all testimonials are created equal. Select quotes that are specific, detailed, and highlight the value you provided. Did your design increase their sales? Improve their brand image? Select testimonials that tell a compelling story.
  3. Present Them Attractively: Don't just dump a bunch of text on a page. Design a layout for your testimonials that aligns with your personal branding. This can enhance the visual appeal of your portfolio and make the testimonials more impactful.

Remember, testimonials and reviews serve as social proof. They show prospective clients that others have trusted you with their print design needs and were happy with the results. So, as you figure out how to create a portfolio for print design, make sure to include a space for these powerful endorsements.

If you've been in the design game for a while, you know that trends can change quicker than a New York minute. But here's the thing: staying on top of these trends is an integral part of creating a stunning print design portfolio. Why? Because it shows potential clients that you keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.

Let's break it down with a simple analogy: Imagine your favorite band. You love their classic hits, but if they only played songs from 20 years ago, you'd start to question if they've lost touch. It's the same with design. Your portfolio should demonstrate that you're not only skilled but also up-to-date with the latest trends.

Here are a few ways you can ensure your portfolio reflects current design trends:

  1. Research: Regularly check out design blogs, magazines, and social media. These platforms often highlight emerging trends and can serve as a source of inspiration.
  2. Experiment: Don't be afraid to play around with new techniques. It's a great way to learn and to add variety to your portfolio.
  3. Revise: As trends evolve, so should your portfolio. If a piece no longer represents current design aesthetics, it might be time to replace it.

Remember, staying current isn't about mindlessly following every new fad. It's about understanding the evolving landscape of design and demonstrating your ability to adapt and innovate. So, as you're figuring out how to create a portfolio for print design, remember: being current is being relevant.

Always Be Ready to Update

Now, you've built an impressive portfolio showcasing your best work, personal branding, and a range of skills. You've used high-quality print materials, tailored it to your audience, and included glowing testimonials. You're even keeping up with the latest design trends. But the job doesn't end here. The secret ingredient to a stunning print design portfolio? Always be ready to update it.

Think of your portfolio as a living document, continually evolving and growing as you do. It's a visual representation of your journey, showcasing not only where you've been but where you're heading. So why wouldn't you want it to be as up-to-date as possible?

Here are a few practical tips on how to keep your portfolio fresh:

  1. Reflect on Your Growth: As you gain more experience and develop new skills, make sure your portfolio reflects this. Regularly add new projects that showcase your progress and versatility.
  2. Get Feedback: Don't shy away from critiques. Feedback from peers, mentors, or clients can provide valuable insights on where to improve.
  3. Stay Organized: Keep track of your projects. A well-organized archive makes it easier to update your portfolio when you need to.

Remember, updating your portfolio is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. It's about staying relevant and demonstrating that you are continually growing as a designer. So when thinking about how to create a portfolio for print design, remember not to just set it and forget it. Keep refining, keep updating, and your portfolio will continue to shine.

If you're looking to create a print design portfolio that stands out from the crowd, don't miss the workshop 'The Ultimate Role-Getting Portfolio Layout' by Jasmine MacPhee. This workshop will guide you through the process of creating a well-organized and visually appealing portfolio that showcases your best work and helps you land your dream role.