When starting a portfolio, first decide what software to use. InDesign is what most students choose to use.
Create a Simple Layout
The presentation in the portfolio is incredibly important. Architects are in the business of designing and documenting design information. This is an employer’s first impression of a student’s ability to provide this service. Design, proportion, clarity, and spelling are important.
Sit down and really figure out what you want the look of your portfolio to be. It should tell a story about you. However you decide to set up your work, whether chronologically, your best work presented first, studio work followed by co-op work, is up to you, but keep it simple. Refrain from including every project you have ever worked on. Most firms would like to see fewer projects in greater depth.
When designing your layout, it is best to keep no more than three images on a page. A preferred layout incorporates a large image with one supporting image off to the side or below. You also need to devote no more than four pages to each project. You should be able to get across the basic ideas of each project with no more than one flip of the page. Make sure your images are easy to see and are not microscopic on the page.
Come up with a concept to organize your pages. Choose one specific color, header or tab that will be a key element in all pages to tie the design together. You should also focus on dwindling the images down to the core information for each project. Leave enough white space on a page for easy viewing and don’t crowd too many images on one page.
What To Include In Your Portfolio
For less experienced job candidates it is a good idea to highlight conceptual design work done in school coupled with good graphic design. It is always very good to have some job experience even if it’s only as a co-op student. If you have worked in an office, please include examples of drawings you have worked on (preferably a drawing you have taken from start to finish).
For more experienced candidates, employers like to see previous projects candidates have worked on and the drawings they were responsible for. It is important for employers to see if you understand what your role was in the firm.
Other things to include in your portfolio may be 3D renderings, hand drawings, sketches, line drawings, DD sets, CD sets, prototypes and physical models. You may also include examples of creative endeavors or how you thought “outside the box.”
Make it Easy to Assemble
Think about how you will bind the portfolio. In my experience, the best, simplest, most economic way to approach binding is using an on-line book-publishing site or a printing service. Plastic bindings are bulky and messy. Loose pamphlets get disorganized quickly. If you do decide to hand craft your portfolio make sure it comes across professionally and you are able to manipulate it easily in an interview.
Once you have created a basic format/layout and have organized your portfolio, you can simply add to it in the future.
Work Sample Pages
Work sample pages should not take the place of a portfolio. Work sample pages would be most likely attached to your credentials when submitting an application for a job. Most work sample pages contain various jpegs of renderings, models and buildings that you have worked on.
Consider the size and color when putting work sample pages or portfolios together. Anything over 5MB will be very large to send electronically. Not every employer will have the same color printer as you, so make sure it prints out clearly on different printers (preferably basic printers).
Work sample pages can also be left behind in an interview, so an employer can remember your work after they have interviewed all of the candidates. Make sure your name and contact information appears on every work sample page in case in gets separated from your resume.
Designing a website is not as complicated as you might think. There are many on-line templates and portfolio sites to help you get started.
Make sure that you are keeping with the same conventions in your website as you are with your portfolio and work samples. That means that you want to emulate the same layout and information that you use throughout all of these. In effect, you are starting to brand yourself. By branding yourself, you are presenting a holistic image that you want to convey to employers, peers, or even your parents. In doing so, consistency is key.