5 Mistakes You Should Avoid When Designing Your Portfolio


While students and fresh graduates in most professions take pride in the grades they have earned and academic papers they have written, designers have a whole different story. Unless you are pursuing higher education, grades don’t really matter that much. Professionals are instead interested in seeing a visual outcome of your studio work in the four or five years you spent in university. In that timeframe, designing a decent portfolio is probably the most important step before embarking on the hunt for jobs or internships. LAN decided to compile a list of the most common mistakes landscape architects might commit while preparing their portfolio.

Designing Your Portfolio

5. Inconsistency Perhaps every project you have worked on will have a different font and layout. That should not, however, be the case for your portfolio.  Being inconsistent and having too many fonts and background colors is not only visually misleading, but also gives an impression that the designer is not reliable enough in shaping a unified project. For that reason, think of the portfolio to be designed as simply a new project. Harmonize your various works by creating a sample to be used throughout the entire booklet. Take the time, as well, to modify the fonts and layouts accordingly. Below: Watch how the portfolio, uses boundaries, font and intervals to create a sense of consistency throughout the portfolio 4. Lack of personal touch Surely the Internet has a lot of cool formats and samples to offer. Yet, anything you might download will lack the individual touch you need to showcase. There is nothing wrong with searching for successful portfolios and getting ideas and inspiration, but don’t make the mistake of copying another’s layout or using a sample without making any modifications. Where is the problem in that? First, employers probably have seen many of these sample portfolios, so they will definitely recognize an Internet sample. Second, you will be losing an opportunity to advance and learn. Below: While made for video the personal touch involved here is undeniable as the host puts on an almost theatrical display of their work, almost has a Disney Movie/Indiana Jones feel to it and while you might argue that it’s slightly over the top it will certainly grab the attention of anybody looking at. 3. Unprofessional individuality Expressing your personal style and standing out is one thing; bursting all your character and interests in there is another. An important piece of advice would be to learn to draw the line between what is acceptable professionally and what solely belongs in your diary or personal artistic works. Those are extreme examples, of course, but design firms and clients will probably not care much that you have a “thing” for glitter. Also, they will not be impressed with a themed “Tim Burton characters“ portfolio either.  I would appreciate that last one, by the way. But in the professional world? Not so much. Related Articles: 

2. Failure to kill or improve failing projects We all have our ups and downs. Even the most brilliant designers sometimes come up with projects that are an utter failure. However, it’s important to move on. With that being said, a common mistake students make is not being able to distinguish between the projects that are worth keeping and those that need to be killed. You are not expected to put all your projects in the portfolio anyway, so choose the best ones and work on improving the drawings. Why not add extra sketches, as well, to show your design process? Design projects are not a holy scripture — no matter how successful they are, there is always room for improvement. Remember that designing is a process and not an end result! Below: An excellent example of well selected design work, beautifully isolated and merged throughout the portfolio 1. Careless printing Do you recall your instructors warning about last-minute printing for your pinups? Same thing applies here. If you are preparing for a job interview or application, print as soon as possible in order to be able to modify any mistakes that might occur. Moreover, printing is really not the place to get lazy. Careless printing, such as using bad-quality paper, is not impressive. Also, give special attention to the paper size. Ensure that your portfolio is large enough so that your drawings are legible, but small enough to be practical to carry and skim through.

“designing a portfolio can be a pain”

It is true that designing a portfolio can be a pain, especially because the task is usually accomplished in between semester breaks and over summer vacations. But, if performed well, it is a pleasant experience and will elevate your potential for internships or jobs. We hope you learned a few tips that you can put into practice while designing your portfolio. If you have a portfolio that you would like to share, please send it to Recommended Reading:

Article by Dalia Zein Return to Homepage Featured image: Creative Commons “Portfolio: Book Cover Design”. Source by Floor. CC2.0

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