What makes a good portfolio

What Makes A Good Portfolio

To get a place at a top Design School you will need a good Portfolio.

So what makes for a good PORTFOLIO?

Design cannot be taught. It’s inside you. We as educators help discover and develop your creative side. The first thing we look for in an interview is an eagerness, a strong desire to be in the creative arena. Just showing how much you really want to become a designer is more than impressive

Rather than initially wanting to see an amazing presentation of the work you have done we are very keen to find out just what is unique about you and what edgy difference you have to others. You are more than likely to not recognise this in yourself and often those around you, who are not totally conversant with the design world. But there is something unique in everyone and we want to find that.

So never be afraid to include work in your portfolio that you are not quite sure of.

Consider what the difference is of the work of a designer and the work of a doctor. By and large doctors are taught what to look for symptoms wise and what the cures are. Tried and tested remedies often researched by others.

Designers are asked on a daily basis to create new things. Why would you go to a designer if all you wanted was the same answer to a design problem that already exists?

So think of that in your portfolio and in your interview. If you have an idea or a piece of work you love but think others might find it too different don’t be frightened to show it. The world wants to see new ideas. 

You need to show your interviewer that you really care about your work and that you love your creativity. So make sure your portfolio is neat and tidy and your work well protected in folders or files. The design schools particularly like Sketch Books. 

Just what you show depends on you as long as it reveals your creative mind. A flower, book critique, photographs, a recipe, something you have stitched or knitted will work well with the usual items of paintings and sketches.

I once viewed a full portfolio set out as a long scroll. It was superb and revealed the student’s ability to think differently as well as enhance the presentation.

Designers are by and large lateral thinkers. We see and solve problems differently. Let that be recognised in your work. But again let me stress upon the fact that you also have to show you can control your lateral vision by vertical discipline.

Don’t worry if you are not a great artist just now. Everyone has the ability to draw, it just needs to be developed.

Mike Knowles

Mike Knowles

Professor Emeritus, Rishihood School of Creativity