If you’re looking for a professional career in graphic design, you’ll need a decent group of images that show a variety of your skills. A graphic design portfolio can be the only thing a client sees before choosing their graphic designer. Much like a resume, many job applications list a portfolio as a requirement. And although there are many graphic design portfolio examples, this is a great place to start for those without a professional degree.
This post is written with the assumption that you have a basic understanding of graphic design and it’s most common computer programs. Those who receive a 2-4 year degree in this field are often prepped with portfolio-ready graphics.
When I became pregnant with my first son I realized that I wanted to leave my high-stress job and find a way to work from home. Everything I cover in this post are ways I prepared myself to apply for work from jobs. As many of you may have noticed, there are many graphic design jobs available when looking for remote work. I sincerely hope this helps you to make your transition to work from home.
Looking for a casual side job or a full-time work from home job in graphic design? This post is for you!
- Common lingo you should know
- What to include in a graphic design portfolio.
- How to make fake projects look real!
- Tips on setting up a graphic design website.
- Creating your branding package.
- Classes & certifications
This may seem silly, but it’s important to know the general lingo that those in graphic design and similar fields (such as your future co-workers) will use. You don’t want to catch yourself in an interview and not be familiar with the basic terminology!
- Creatives: Graphic design deliverables (banners, logos, postcards, etc).
- Copy: Ad copy, or the text within a creative.
- Hierarchy: Typography hierarchy — the space and size variations between a heading, sub-heading and body text.
- Script: Fonts based on a hand-written design.
- Serif: Fonts with extra strokes, or curves at the end of each letter.
- Sans Serif: Fonts without the extra strokes, or curves at the end of each letter.
- Slab Serif: Fonts that are more geometric in design.
- Characters: Letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.
- Kerning: The space between characters.
- Leading: The vertical space between two lines of characters.
- Lorum Ipsum: Common placeholder text used as an “insert text here.”
- Opacity: Used to measure transparency. The higher the opacity, the more solid an object is.
- RGB: A color model — red, green and blue light. RBG is used for screen-only graphics.
- CMYK: Cyan, magenta, yellow, key (black) CMYK is used for print graphics.
- Logomark & Brandmark: A logomark is the image-only (no text) part of a logo. The brandmark is the text-only/font portion of a logo.
- Resolution: Image quality. The lower the resolution, the lower the image or graphic quality.
Creating a graphic design portfolio
Think about the job that you want and the creatives they would typically use. Use that to drive your designs. For this example, we’ll use a “local café” and create a story and project around it. Use these projects to showcase your design skills. For the sake of this example, let’s call this client: “Coffee House.” First, they’ll need a logo.
Start by creating multiple logos for your client. I created these quickly, but you’ll want to take your time and be creative here. This is a great way to show off your Adobe Illustrator skills! Document your process here: the colors you used, the fonts you chose — and why you chose them.
Select one logo that you will use throughout the rest of the project.
You may have seen work from home jobs asking for marketing experience. Many employers hire freelance graphic designers to create ads for their clients. You should include a few banner sets with different ad copy to show your versatility.
Depending on your project you may want to create:
- A grand opening poster
- Promotional offers
- Social media graphics
Graphic design portfolio examples
Make notes of the things you did for each creative. For example: “I drew that using…” “I used Illustrator to create…” “I scanned this into Photoshop and…”
Creating a graphic design portfolio website
Make yourself stand out with a legitimate website. I cannot stress this enough! When you are applying for remote jobs you’re not just competing with those in your area — you’re competing with the entire country. And sometimes, companies will hire from outside of your country as well, making it that much more difficult for you to stand out. And while creating a website may seem intimidating or expensive, it is way less than you think. Disclaimer: I am a HostGator affiliate and may receive a small commission when you use my links to save 60% on your plan.
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Included in your website
- Round-the-clock live support so you can work on your site anytime and get help if you need it.
- Free templates for your website so you can create a professional-looking site in just a few clicks.
- Video and written tutorials to answer your detailed questions.
- Domain and WHOIS privacy registration services.
- Shopping cart tools to help you start selling online.
- Unlimited email hosting so you can create professional email addresses for yourself and your employees or blog contributors.
- Spam filters, because who wants spam?
- Automatic site backups to protect your site files as your website evolves and grows.
Making the most of your website
Take advantage of your website and offer your services for small freelance projects. You can even incorporate e-commerce with your website and start selling your designs as posters, on mugs, on a t-shirt — the possibilities are endless!
I took certification courses to make myself stand out further for employment. Many of them offer certificate or completion numbers that you can then add to your resume!
- LinkedIn Learning is a new tool by LinkedIn to provide courses in various fields. If you sign up you can receive your first month free.
- HubSpot — one of my favorite tools now offers a short graphic design course, entirely for free.
- Udemy hosts a ton of online courses. Here is a list of some free graphic design courses they offer.
When finalizing your portfolio with your multiple projects, you’ll want to be picky with what to and not to include. Make sure ALL of your photos are high-resolution. Don’t overwhelm potential employers with half-completed drawings or “concepts.” After all, this is ultimately a tool to help you make money. I wish you the best of luck!