Graphic Design Portfolio PDF: How To Make

Graphic Design Portfolio PDF: How To Make

Graphic Design Portfolio PDF: How To Make

If you want to create a high-quality brochure-style piece showcasing your best graphic design work, create a single PDF. We use software programs from Adobe such as Photoshop, InDesign, Stock, and Acrobat Pro to create and export a design as a high-quality, high-resolution PDF that can be emailed to anyone you want to demonstrate your work to.

Select Work for Your Portfolio

As with any portfolio, the most important decision is which pieces to include. Consider these tips:

  • Focus on the types of projects you want to do: If you have a specific focus, such as book design, select the pieces that best represent it. If you’re early in your career and don’t have a focus (or don’t want one), choose a variety of pieces that you enjoyed working on.
  • Choose your best work: The goal isn’t to show everything you’ve ever done. Stick with a “less is more” philosophy, choosing a small selection of pieces that highlight a particular style, technique, or industry.
  • Be current: Design trends and technology change quickly, so use your most recent work as much as possible, as well as pieces that show you know the latest techniques.
  • Include personal projects: You don’t have to include only paid projects. Personal projects show that you have a passion for design. Further, if you’re just starting out, you may only have design school projects to showcase. Allow the work itself, rather than the client or publication name, to impress viewers.
  • Show the process: Show the creative stages you went through when creating each design. Doing so illustrates your depth of understanding and mastery of design techniques and concepts.

Your portfolio should include between 10 and 20 examples. Ten pieces are enough to show your abilities, and more than 20 can feel scattered and overwhelming.

Organize the Portfolio

For each piece you’ve chosen, consider adding the following information:

  • Client name
  • Industry
  • Project description
  • Your role in the project (such as a designer or art director)
  • Where the work appeared
  • Awards, publications, or recognition related to the project

Along with the project details, include some helpful information for viewers:

  • Cover letter
  • Bio
  • Mission statement
  • Other background information
  • Client or industry list
  • Services list
  • Contact information

Consider hiring or teaming up with a professional writer to prepare your content, as it will be the voice of your portfolio. If you need your pieces photographed, also consider a professional or utilize Adobe Stock Photos (how to sign up).

Sign Up for Adobe Stock Photos

Design the Portfolio

Treat the design process as you would during a client project. Come up with several concepts and tweak them until you’re happy with the result. Create a consistent layout and style throughout. Using the grid system may be helpful here. Remember that the PDF design is just as much a showcase of your talent as the work within it.

We recommend using Adobe InDesign, which is a great option for creating a multi-page layout. Think of the flow of content: start with a quick overview, and then go into project examples. Finish with additional text or contact information.

Download Adobe InDesign

Create the PDF

Once your design is complete, export it to PDF. Be sure to save the original file so you can add and edit projects later. One thing to think about here is file size, as you will be emailing this document often. Adjust the compression options in the software until you reach a happy medium between quality and file size. You should use Adobe Acrobat Pro to piece together several pages of design and to reduce the size of the final PDF.

Download Adobe Acrobat Pro

Distribute the PDF

You can email the PDF directly to prospective clients, or print or display it on a tablet at interviews.


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History

The term graphic design was coined by William Addison Dwiggins in 1922.[2] However, the origins of graphic design can be traced from the origins of human existence, from the caves of Lascaux, to Rome’s Trajan’s Column to the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, to the neon lights of GinzaTokyo. In “Babylon, artisans pressed cuneiform inscriptions into clay bricks or tablets which were used for construction. The bricks gave information such as the name of the reigning monarch, the builder, or some other dignitary”.[3] This was the first known road sign announcing the name of the governor of a state or mayor of the city. The Egyptians developed communication by hieroglyphics that used picture symbols dating as far back as 136 B.C. found on the Rosetta Stone. “The Rosetta stone, found by one of Napoleon’s engineers was an advertisement for the Egyptian ruler, Ptolemy as the “true Son of the Sun, the Father of the Moon, and the Keeper of the Happiness of Men”” [3] The Egyptians also invented papyrus, paper made from reeds found along the Nile, on which they transcribed advertisements more common among their people at the time. During the “Dark Ages“, from 500 AD to 1450 AD, monks created elaborate, illustrated manuscripts.

In both its lengthy history and in the relatively recent explosion of visual communication in the 20th and 21st centuries, the distinction between advertising, art, graphic design and fine art has disappeared. They share many elements, theories, principles, practices, languages and sometimes the same benefactor or client. In advertising, the ultimate objective is the sale of goods and services. In graphic design, “the essence is to give order to information, form to ideas, expression, and feeling to artifacts that document human experience.”[4]

Graphic design in the United States began with Benjamin Franklin who used his newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette, to master the art of publicity to promote his own books and to influence the masses. “Benjamin Franklin’s ingenuity gained in strength as did his cunning and in 1737 he had replaced his counterpart in Pennsylvania, Andrew Bradford as postmaster and printer after a competition he instituted and won. He showed his prowess by running an ad in his General Magazine and the Historical Chronicle of British Plantations in America (the precursor to the Saturday Evening Post) that stressed the benefits offered by a stove he invented, named the Pennsylvania Fireplace. His invention is still sold today and is known as the Franklin stove. “[5]

American advertising initially imitated British newspapers and magazines. Advertisements were printed in scrambled type and uneven lines that made it difficult to read. Franklin better organized this by adding 14-point type for the first line of the advertisement; although later shortened and centered it, making “headlines”. Franklin added illustrations, something that London printers had not attempted. Franklin was the first to utilize logos, which were early symbols that announced such services as opticians by displaying golden spectacles. Franklin taught advertisers that the use of detail was important in marketing their products. Some advertisements ran for 10-20 lines, including color, names, varieties, and sizes of the goods that were offered.[citation needed]

The advent of printing

During the Tang Dynasty (618–907) wood blocks were cut to print on textiles and later to reproduce Buddhist texts. A Buddhist scripture printed in 868 is the earliest known printed book. Beginning in the 11th century, longer scrolls and books were produced using movable type printing, making books widely available during the Song dynasty (960–1279).[6]

During the 17th-18th century movable type was used for handbills or trade cards which were printed from wood or copper engravings. These documents announced a business and its location. English painter William Hogarth used his skill in engraving was one of the first to design for business trade.

In Mainz Germany, in 1448, Johann Gutenberg introduced movable type using a new metal alloy for use in a printing press and opened a new era of commerce. This made graphics more readily available since mass printing dropped the price of printing material significantly. Previously, most advertising was word of mouth. In France and England, for example, criers announced products for sale just as ancient Romans had done.

The printing press made books more widely available. Aldus Manutius developed the book structure that became the foundation of western publication design. This era of graphic design is called Humanist or Old Style. Additionally, William Caxton, England’s first printer produced religious books, but had trouble selling them. He discovered the use of leftover pages and used them to announce the books and post them on church doors. This practice was termed “squis” or “pin up” posters, in approximately 1612, becoming the first form of print advertising in Europe. The term Siquis came from the Roman era when public notices were posted stating “if anybody…”, which in Latin is “si quis”. These printed announcements were followed by later public registers of wants called want ads and in some areas such as the first periodical in Paris advertising was termed “advices”. The “Advices” were what we know today as want ad media or advice columns.

In 1638 Harvard University received a printing press from England. More than 52 years passed before London bookseller Benjamin Harris received another printing press in Boston. Harris published a newspaper in serial form, Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick. It was four pages long and suppressed by the government after its first edition.

John Campbell is credited for the first newspaper, the Boston News-Letter, which appeared in 1704. The paper was known during the revolution as “Weeklies”. The name came from the 13 hours required for the ink to dry on each side of the paper. The solution was to first, print the ads and then to print the news on the other side the day before publication. The paper was four pages long having ads on at least 20%-30% of the total paper, (pages one and four) the hot news was located on the inside.[5] The initial use of the Boston News-Letter carried Campbell’s own solicitations for advertising from his readers. Campbell’s first paid advertisement was in his third edition, May 7 or 8th, 1704. Two of the first ads were for stolen anvils. The third was for real estate in Oyster Bay, owned by William Bradford, a pioneer printer in New York, and the first to sell something of value. Bradford published his first newspaper in 1725, New York’s first, the New-York Gazette. Bradford’s son preceded him in Philadelphia publishing the American Weekly Mercury, 1719. The Mercury and William Brooker’s Massachusetts Gazette, first published a day earlier.

Design industry

In late 19th-century Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, the first official publication of a printed design was released, marking the separation of graphic design from fine art.

In 1849, Henry Cole became one of the major forces in design education in Great Britain, informing the government of the importance of design in his Journal of Design and Manufactures. He organized the Great Exhibition as a celebration of modern industrial technology and Victorian design.

From 1891 to 1896, William Morris‘ Kelmscott Press published some of the most significant of the graphic design products of the Arts and Crafts movement, and made a lucrative business of creating and selling stylish books. Morris created a market for works of graphic design in their own right and a profession for this new type of art. The Kelmscott Press is characterized by an obsession with historical styles. This historicism was the first significant reaction to the state of nineteenth-century graphic design. Morris’ work, along with the rest of the Private Press movement, directly influenced Art Nouveau.[7]

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