Portfolio: Number of Pieces?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Krebstar, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. Krebstar macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    As I'm gearing up to redo my entire portfolio, I had to ask myself this question. I'm preparing it for a shot at a dream internship, so I expect many late nights in the following two weeks.

    In my first two years at school, our final portfolio we had to complete had to have fifteen pieces. This was due to us doing fifteen special projects, therefore our professor wanted us to include all of them. As a youngster, this made me think that was the norm. That was until I went to several meet and greet type events, put on by the local AIGA chapter, and met several area designers. One told me the best portfolio, or "book" he had ever been presented contained four pieces, yet he has seen fantastic ones with ten or a bit more as well.

    So, I'm not really asking what is the right amount, but what have all of you done? For the internship I'm going for, I really only see myself bringing in about six pieces or so. I would much rather be confident in them all, then throw in some just to bring the number up.

    Anyone have any advice on this? Thoughts in general? How many pieces has yours contained on average?
  2. macworkerbee macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2008
    Well, I'm sure that everyone in the field has there own opinion about what the "magic" number of pieces would be. For me, I graduated in August 08, I have about 10-12 pieces in my book with about 3 that have been real world professional projects and the rest are my BEST school work.

    I would say that in your case, where you have only been in school for two years, 6-8 of your best pieces that show your technical skill and problem solving capabilities will help you out the most.

    Don't forget to practice how you want to present the work verbally. Also, buy a nice book and figure out the best order to show it in.

    Hope that helps and good luck!
  3. radiantm3 macrumors 65816


    Oct 16, 2005
    San Jose, CA
    It's quality over quantity. Make sure every piece is strong. Don't add anything for the sake of satisfying a count. Variety is also key. Choose pieces that show a range of creative ability and thought. You could have 15 great pieces of work, but if they all look pretty much the same, it's more of a waste of time. Whether it's 5 or 15, make sure each one is strong enough to show off and show a good range of your abilities.
  4. Krebstar thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    I've always felt quality over quantity, the thread title really should of been something different.

    I think it's more of me still feeling weird about having so few pieces, yet it definitely can still work. Thank you both for the thoughts, they have helped as I'm going to be thinking about this and dealing with it for a bit.
  5. nyutnyut macrumors member

    May 22, 2008
    try to research the company you are interviewing for and include the pieces that are applicable to the work and clients they cater to.

    i have a large amount of pieces i can show, but i usually only show 7-10, depending on these factors.

    since you are new and starting off, it's more important to show strong pieces and be able to talk about them. especially your concepting, that lead to the final piece. i can't stress this enough. so many designers can make something pretty, but it's how and why, that is most imporant.
  6. fourcolourblack macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2008
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    good thread

    i've just started a new design job (4 months ago) but have been working since graduating in 2004. i must say my attitude towards the size/number of pieces has changed as i've downscaled everything.

    what landed me this job (that i'm at right now but writing on here) was an A4 portfolio with 20pp (10 sleeves)

    this might have actually been more pieces of work (sometimes two spreads to a page) but i was confident it was all killer no filler. it is a fixed binder too meaning i couldn't take out empty pages which looks awful as they'll think you don't have much work or something.

    quality is better than quantity but if someone tried to show me 4 pieces of work they'd better be some nice work!

    on a side note i just redid the company portfolio and scaled this down to A4. they had a huge volume of work they wanted to show but i made it 40pp (20 sleeves).

    i'd have a different take on finishing strong. start strong cause i've sene people loose interest half way through and close the book and ask questions instead. you can hardly reopen it to show them what you though they should see then.
  7. Krebstar thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    Well, as of now it looks like I will have around six pieces, which sounds just right to me. Due to the fact that I can talk about each one quite a bit, and talk about the process involved in each one. I can't imagine myself having someone sit and flip through 10-15 pieces of work, but thats just me.

    As for finishing strong, I agree with something I heard; start and finish strong. It's key to have a strong piece last, because it's often that piece will be sitting there open as they continue to talk to you about other things.
  8. fourcolourblack macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2008
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    you're right

    in essence, just do what works for you best. it depends what kind of designs we're talking about for a start. mine is all editorial/illustration. no product or anything in there so not much need to talk about the process.

    what you said about the final piece is true but they could just as easily close the book. nice to think they'd leave it open but it might just not happen.

    hope it all goes well though
  9. Krebstar thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    I've also realized another one of my "problems" is that most things I have done are boring class work out of a book. However, everything I plan on showing has been done in free time and one even a logo for a company. So, given that most of my work has been in class, I don't have lots to show now that I'm actually proud of. But, thats what everyone goes through in being a student, so nothing to fret about.
  10. fourcolourblack macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2008
    Edinburgh, Scotland

    i was once there. all the work in the portfolio wasn't for any client or publication. hey people realise when you are a student. the best you can do is to do good work and forget about the fact its not for anyone.

    its probably one of the only times you won't have to compromise your work to suit a client. take advantage of that is you can.

    i just lent by old portfolio out to my girlfriend last week so she could use it for an interview. it was pretty weird taking all these old pieces of work out but interesting at the same time
  11. bluetooth macrumors 6502a


    May 1, 2007
    I agree with the consensus - quality over quantity. I would say 10 tops and 8 is probably a good number to aim for.

    I also agree strongly with the point on presenting your creative capabilities by varying your work (ie. various medias with various creative approaches). In saying that, it is also important to recognize and cater to your potential employers client base (which has also been mentioned in this thread).

    If you are going for a web design position, a portfolio of t-shirt designs and print ads are not going to cut it (that goes without saying). It is however, not a bad idea to have one or two strong examples of unique medias outside the mainstream to help display your creative width and talent - but the core of the portfolio should be focused on the potential employers dominant media.

    Good Luck!
  12. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    I would have to say that is very good advise, quality over quantity.

    In my current CV I have 5 good works for what I have done for Blue Chip clients, I understand that you're still a student but a few really high quality pieces that really shows variety, strengths and ability will get you further than 20 mediocre fillers.

    Talent, skills and quality is always recognised.
  13. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    less is more...

    Kreb, as a magazine art director for over 25 years, and one who has seen quite a few portfolios over that time, I agree that less is definitely more. Don't strive for an arbitrary number, as if the magic number was 15, as if you would not pass muster if you only 14 (or 8). Instead focus on quality, and pieces that show your sense of style, approach and range of talent. Wean out any weaker pieces that show how much you could suck at your worst (it sounds flip, but people look for the weak points just as much as the high ones, in fact some focus more on weaker elements as it sets a lower bar and establishes a theoretical range of what to expect). Be ruthless and dispassionate, after all this selection will say something about you, and your skills of judgement.

    Interning is the single most greatest opportunity you will have to launch and advance your career. However REALLY good interns are scarce, which is good... so take advantage of this chance and realize what you can get from it. Also realize that a lot of places take horrible advantage of their interns, as if it is slave labor (it is, so get over it, lol)... but also realize that many places hire their interns on (I have hired or placed countless of mine).

    Lastly, I too started my career as an intern. I had secured a nice internship with a well known national magazine, however they were absolute jacka@#e@#'s. I don't mind grunt work, or mindless duties if needed... however they went on (and on) about how much I would learn while filing, copying and fetching their coffee (just by being in their rarified air). Yikes...I got pissed off and made a list of the 10 places I would want to be if I could dream. Esquire was my number 2 choice (Warhol's Interview was first), and oddly I got through to the AD right away, and had an interview the next day. So, always look for choices & options, as you NEVER know, sometimes being in the right spot is key. Also don't be afraid to dream big, you can always just be told "no", and you move on... but you can't be told "yes" if you don't ask.

    Good luck on your journey...
  14. macworkerbee macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2008
    Hi Krebstar, just wondering how the interview went and if you got the position or not?

    Hope we helped you out.
  15. Krebstar thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    Hasn't happened yet, hoping it will soon. They're not officially accepting applicants quite yet, but the professional designer who gave me the heads up on it has already talked to me about them, hooray for connections. They originally said July, but now July 15th, so I've still got some time until they want people to contact them about it.

    I've been having some late nights working on things, and the advice in here has helped so far. If there is more, please share.
  16. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    FOUR? Personally if anyone came to an interview with only 4 I would have ask where the rest was. There isn't any magic number, but most interviews I've been on/called last 45 minutes or so and you need enough pieces in there to show you have a good range of abilities. Discuss what the objectives were and how you solved them. Don't spent too much time on each piece. If the interviewer is not asking questions, most likely they aren't interested in what you're showing/saying to them -- so either try to save yourself or move on to the next.

    Start by having one of your friends interview you. Introduce yourself -- 5 minutes, talk about each piece 2 minutes ± (unless asked questions then double that) and see how it goes. Be prepared to answer ANYTHING about each piece and why you did everything.

    Personally I wouldn't go into an interview with less than a dozen. Group some pieces like logos and don't show too much "thought process". IMO that only shows you are fresh out of school.

    Good luck!!
  17. Krebstar thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2008
    Well, I went in with five pieces, and got the job, and the interview lasted over an hour. Saying no less than a dozen sounds ridiculous to me, because then you're shooting for a number, which I wanted to stay away from.

    As for grouping logos together on one page, that is something I will never do, as I've been told by numerous designers who own their own firm it's too cluttered, far too tacky, and very amateur.

    What do you mean don't show too much "thought process"? I would imagine showing thought process is one of the best things you can do.
  18. macworkerbee macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2008

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