Oh no, something went wrong. Please check your network connection and try again.

Crafting a Winning Design Portfolio: Essential Ingredients by Nerida Hansen

June 25, 2023 - Tag: How to Create a Design Portfolio

Creating a portfolio that truly stands out requires careful consideration of what the buyer is looking for. Understanding the preferences and requirements of the buyer is the key to crafting a portfolio that captures their attention. When I receive portfolios, the ones that impress me the most are the ones that clearly grasp what I am seeking as a buyer. For emerging artists, setting long-term goals is essential. Reflect on these tips and absorb them into your portfolio creation process. Consider setting multiple goals and targets to ensure your portfolio is cohesive and purposeful. Let’s take a look at the different ingredients that go into making a pitch perfect portfolio.

Brand Value

Several elements contribute to the success of a portfolio and are vital for your growth as a surface designer. Whether you are a brand, a studio, or an independent artist, it is essential to establish a unique and special identity. Even if you are just starting out, you can begin building your brand from the beginning by focusing on your colors, style, and authenticity. Think about how you want to be perceived as an artist. Consider where you want to go as an artist and define your style. Identify your strengths and develop a compelling story that sets you apart. While showcasing previous successes can enhance your portfolio, if you haven't achieved significant milestones yet, make your brand feel strong by emphasizing your potential and the value you bring to clients and collaborations. Be sure to include any client work or collaborations you have undertaken to demonstrate your capabilities. By paying attention to these aspects, you can create a portfolio that reflects your brand's identity, showcases your unique style, and positions you for success as a surface designer.


Design of Eloise Short

What is your X-Factor?

What sets you apart as an artist? Is it your unique coloring, your artistry, or your distinct aesthetics? Discovering the factor that makes you a significant artist in your own right is crucial.


One key element that distinguishes you is authenticity. Are you solely inspired by others, or do you have a personal artistic space where you can draw inspiration from? As buyers, we seek to understand if your artwork comes from an authentic place. It is important for surface artists to engage in artistic practice rather than merely producing prints and patterns based on market trends. This approach will aid in the development of your artistic style and allow your authenticity to shine through.


When you are creating or presenting designs, how does this artwork connect to the customer of a product? I want to know when people see my fabrics, that they can create an emotional connection. What is it about your art, how can you compose your art that will create that connection? Sometimes it’s about going back to your ideal client and creating artwork that fits that person. Who is your client and how can you create that connection to the buyer? People might find an emotional connection of your art through different ways, such as theme, colour combinations, does it tell a story. Find what works for you and explore that in your art.


Design of Ruth Nijsten


What is your method of artwork? Is there something else you could do that is different from what everyone else is doing? This comes back to the authenticity, brand value and x-factor. Sometimes it’s special to get a piece of art that looks like it’s come from another place. Experiment with different techniques and see what resonates with you and if it fits in with your branding and style.


Composition is an easy way designers can change up the look and feel of artwork. I don’t want to see flat designs across a whole portfolio. Have a mixture of large scale and small scale design, can you bring depth to the foreground or background of the print. Can you use transparency? Experiment and practice.


SO IMPORTANT. At shows I have seen buyers knock back the most divine prints because they are not in colour trends they are looking for. Trends are important, but colour doesn’t have to be about trends. One of the mistakes a lot of surface designers make is that they don’t learn enough about colour and don’t experiment. This is important to show buyers you have an understanding of trends and where the market is heading.


Design of Sunny Altman


What are themes that are important to you? Can you offer themes that a buyer might not have thought of, apply a colour trend to this theme and you’ve got something different they can offer to the marketplace.

Complexity of Design

Are you always producing simple designs or always complex? Try and offer variety while staying true to your style.

Art in Context

Is this for home furnishings or fashion? It needs to be in situ and in scale. It needs to be in context for the buyers you are pitching to, e.g.: don’t put small scale motifs for home furnishings, don’t include large scale designs when you are trying to sell babywear or stationery.

pinterest image