Last Updated: 25-07-2013


How you present your portfolio is such as huge part of applying for a job but I often see people making the same mistakes over and over again and dramatically reducing their chances of being hired. To help counter this I've documented ten tips which I believe will help lead to a better all-round portfolio.

1 // Give Yourself A Brand

The best way to look at your portfolio website is that it's an advertisement for the quality that you can bring to a company, so it makes sense to market yourself like a product / service and give yourself a brand / visual identity. What I mean by this is you should essentially use the same stylings on everything you do (Your website / Your images / Your posts on community websites), this way when people see your work or website they will know straight away that it belongs to you. Think about any company in the world and there will be some sort of visual identity attached. Having a consistent visual style will help you stand out from the crowd .

2 // Only Display A Small Selection of Your Work

One of the most common mistakes I see people making is having too many pieces of content within their portfolio. It's all about quality not quantity and you will always be judged by your weakest piece. Therefore my advice would be to decide how many pieces of work would be good for your portfolio and try not to go over this number. For my portfolio I've settled on two personal environments, three props and one section dedicated to my latest professional work. Everyone tends to improve with every new piece they create so even the most talented of artist will find that they have weaker pieces that can be culled in order to bring the overall quality of their portfolio up.

3 // Replace You're Weakest Pieces As Often As Possible

Continuing on from the point above, once you have decided on how many pieces of work is about right for your portfolio, every time you complete a new piece of work that is good enough to go on your website, you should use it to replace the weakest piece. The benefits of doing this are that your portfolio isn't getting watered down with content, and it will be constantly improving as you progress as an artist.

4 // Invest In A Domain

Buying domains and webspace is relatively cheap in this day and age so I recommend that everyone hosts their website under a proper domain name. Ideally it should be as short as possible and easy to spell. Your 'fullname'.com is normally a good choice as long as it's available and your name is fairly common. A good way to check if you've got a good domain is to tell someone your website address and see if they find it without asking how to spell it. One thing I'm not a big fan of is subdomain names such as 'artistname.randomwebsitename'.org for this exact reason. It's very long, not very memorable and quite easy to misspell.

5 // Make Sure Everything Remains Professional

Your website is essentially your own personal advert and how you present yourself is of the up most importance. Always make sure that you keep your website professional. Avoid doing any of the following:
  • - Using an unprofessional email such as You should create a new email specifically for work related matters such as applying for jobs.
  • - Using your website like a blog. Your portfolio should be about facts not opinions. Blogs can be great but they should always be external from your portfolio.
  • - Posting anything not work related such as pictures of cats

6 // Don't Create Tutorials That Cover What Others Have Already Created

If you want to include tutorials on your website try not to cover what has already been done a million times before. Doing another how to render a normal map in 3DS Max is likely to make you look quite amateur unless you've got something significant to add to the table.

7 // Include Contact Information On All Work Images

This is probably one of the most important points so it surprises me that there are so many people that don't do it. You should always put at least some contact information on your images (Name / Email Address / Website). The reason for this is that the person viewing them might not necessarily be viewing them on your website. The images may appear in a search engine or may have been saved locally to view offline.

8 // Stick With Basic HTML

It still blows my mind how many people create flash websites or display images in lightboxes despite being told it's a bad idea. Flash websites are bad because they take longer to load, they can be confusing to navigate and they can heavily distract from your work. Lightboxes are bad because it's often difficult to save your images locally or view your images at the highest resolution possible, two things that art directors like to do. Therefore it's best to stick with basic HTML and let your work do the talking. Potential employers will be viewing many portfolios and applicants, so they want to be able to view and navigate your portfolio as quickly and easily as possible. If your fancy flash portfolio takes 15 seconds to load and several seconds per image, most people will simply not bother looking.

9 // Keep You're Website Well Maintained

I often see artists work on a brand new portfolio website and it's great at first but then they just stop maintaining it and before long it's out of date. You should make a conscious effort to keep your website maintained. Keep checking it regularly to make sure there are no technical issues. Get in the habit of updating your website whenever you finish a new project. The benefits of doing this is that you'll always have an up to date portfolio so if an opportunity comes up or you are unlucky enough to find yourself out of a job you can act on it straight away.

10 // Avoid Click To Enlarge Images

A few years ago including smaller images on your website that you click to enlarge and open up in a separate page used to be very popular but I feel like technology has progressed enough for these to be no longer relevant. Internet speeds are faster and monitor resolutions are higher so it's far more beneficial to include multiple high resolution images from the same project on one page. It cuts down on the amount to navigation on your website and the user will be able to view your work much faster. It's worth noting that if you do have any super high res images (anything over about 1680px wide) I'd still stick with click to enlarge images.

All Artwork Copyright © Neil Gowland 2013 Except Where Indicated Otherwise. No Image On The Website May Be Reproduced Without Express Permission.