How to Make an Interior Design Portfolio
All creative types should have a portfolio of their work to present to potential clients. Think about it, journalists have stringbooks, photographers have digital image compilations and graphic designers have samples that showcase their talents. Find out how the most successful interior designers put their best foot forward by creating professional portfolios.
The first word in making an interior design portfolio is efficiency. Your portfolio should be concise, yet contain all the pertinent information and imagery necessary to make an unforgettable first impression.
Many interior design clients are similar to an HR department flipping through resumes to find the ideal employee. They are looking for an attractive and easily digestible summary -- one that hits the high points and leaves them begging for more. So, how do you accomplish that Herculean feat?
You Can Do It! Here's How:
It is a relatively easy task, provided you are organized and have all of the essential information on hand. Start by compiling images from projects you deem your best work. Include documents and certifications that highlight your abilities and accomplishments. And don’t forget to throw in a client recommendation or two. Remember, you are selling your creativity, range of expertise, specific skills and services.
Follow these steps to make an interior design portfolio to give you the upper hand -- whether you are applying to schools, looking for a position in a design firm or as a business owner bidding on projects.
1. Introduce yourself. Whether you are a high profile interior designer or someone coming up in the ranks, include a brief introductory piece that covers your education, qualifications, experience and overall design philosophy. Highlight and expand on your skills and areas of expertise -- for example, CAD drafting and rendering, commercial space planning, construction management and universal design are skills a client wants to know about.
2. Be a show off. Here is your chance to present your work and demonstrate your versatility. Pick at least five of your best projects, representing a variety of styles and capabilities. These can consist of school assignments (if you are a recent graduate) paid projects or pro bono work. This section should include a breakdown each project in its entirety.
State the project location, including start and completion dates. Then describe the client’s directive. Explain the reasoning and inspiration used to arrive at your approved design concept. Take your potential client through each project from start to finish, using “before” photos, floor plans, sketches, sample board images and completed designs to illustrate the progression of your creative and work processes. Include photos to illustrate each stage of your project. Make sure this section follows each project in chronological order.
3. Select a portfolio format. You will most likely be in a presentation setting with prospective interior design clients, so each project step and its associated images should be of the highest quality.
Your options include wire-bound or binder presentations, foam core mounted pages, a digital version to view from your notebook or tablet computer or a file to send electronically or a CD as a leave behind.
Consider creating both printed and digital portfolio versions to accommodate various client scenarios. Like a good Scout, you must always be prepared!
If you opt for a printed portfolio, choose an understated, yet attractive portfolio case. Pick a size that will accommodate your presentation boards. Remember, your portfolio is a tool to convey the essence of your work, not your personality, so keep the portfolio case and presentation format classic and simple.
4. Don’t overlook the obvious. Include a business card with your portfolio. That way, potential clients will have your contact information without having to ask. Your card should include a logo, name, physical address, phone numbers, email address and website URL.
Also, include copies of your resume and a list of references. You may not need them, but it is better to be prepared than blindsided. If you have the budget, consider a tri-fold brochure highlighting your work and experience in lieu of a resume to leave behind.
5. Keep things up-to-date. As with updating a resume, it is easier to keep your interior design portfolio current by updating it as you complete projects, rather than waiting until your next client presentation. Purge outdated projects as you add new ones. Your portfolio will always be ready for potential clients to view.
Now you're ready to present your talents as an interior designer to the world!
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