What Makes a Good Portfolio? August 2, 2011Posted by SCAD Fashion Department in : Professional Portfolios , trackback
Check out this interview with SCAD MFA graduate Mengjie Di on what makes a strong portfolio….Writen by: Erin Johnson, Fashion 720 Writer
In the fashion industry, a designer’s portfolio is the prime opportunity to display your work. If a designer’s resume is the ticket to getting an interview with an employer, the portfolio serves as the tangible proof of talent. It shows what you’ve done and reinforces the abilities outlined in your resume. While there is no formula for putting together a professional, entry-level portfolio, there are a set of basic skills and knowledge that come with creating one. First, an important distinction must be made between the two different types of portfolios.
Design Portfolios & Skills
Technical design, which highlights the intricacy and expertise behind a designer’s work. Creative design, which focuses more on what inspires the designer’s artistic process. Mengjie Di, an accomplished designer who has interned with both Maggie Norris Couture and Calvin Klein, highlights this distinction by explaining the difference between her two portfolios. “Personally, my online portfolio has two separate themes. One is for my own aesthetic which can express me as a creative person. I would identify it as more personal and artistic. Another is for job searching purposes that would allow the potential employer to understand what I can do as a fashion designer. This would include a full collection with technical flats, mood board, fabric board, etc.” Creative design is usually illustrated more with photo collages and theme-enhancing materials, figure illustrations, and some flat sketches, while technical design is better displayed through the use of clean, detailed flat sketches that show the expertise needed for an often complicated garment to be constructed.
Whether for creative or for technical purposes, however, the construction of any fashion portfolio is made easier with a certain skill set. With today’s growing technology and the subsequent development of online portfolios, a mastery of certain software is becoming more important. As Mengjie says, “for surviving in this cut-throat industry, you have to know Photoshop/Illustrator,” and familiarity with WebPDM (a web-based program that allows designers to interact transparently through a web browser) is also helpful. Additionally, concentrating on your portfolio’s neatness, size—it must be manageable, not too large to present in an interview—and focusing on the profile of a specific employer are all important. As Mengjie explains, “you cannot use the portfolio which you showed to Calvin Klein to apply at Nike.”
How can I get better?
Finally, and perhaps most notably, a fashion portfolio is a work in progress. As we wrapped-up our interview with Mengjie, she points out, “There is no trick or way to improve your skill in a few days. Practice as much as you can. Carry a small sketch book in your bag, keep a drawing journal. Find some great illustrations that you really like, print them out, trace it or imitate it. Try your best to do exactly the same. Only use this method to practice, don`t use that template just to memorize it. Personally, I prefer life drawing. Since I’m a quite visual person, I have to see how the body moves and the real proportions. Also, make time to join a drawing club. I found it`s quite fun when you see how other people draw to compare to yourself. This learning process not only gives you opportunity to meet other talented people, but also it`s a competition. Under that competitive pressure, you always want to be the best.”
As a designer’s collection expands and skills improve—Di suggests reading books like Portfolio Presentation for Fashion Designers (3rd Edition)