I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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On June 5th, I’m reviewing portfolios for AIGA SF Portfolio Day. While I love talking to students, I’m already dreading one thing: the “fancy” portfolio. By fancy, I mean a hardbound book with embossed lettering, ultra expensive paper, and precious unreadable typography. Or maybe it’ll be encased in a large metal box with tricky clasps and handles. Or better, it’s a wooden box with a special key to unlock it. Nauseating.

Your portfolio doesn’t need extra doodads, tassels, sequins. If your design work and writing is awful, it’s still awful no matter how much you dress it up. And since student work almost always is terrible, I’m much more interested in your enthusiasm, how well you think, and the quality of your writing.

Good portfolios are simple, unassuming, and relatively cheap to make. Even a humble wire-o bound portfolio works. Big images, lots of process work, readable type, and good writing is all you need.

So if you’re a student, don’t shell out $400 dollars to make a precious museum-piece portfolio. Instead pay down your student loans, or spend the money on an HTML/CSS class.

It’s old, but here’s my portfolio from ages ago.


  • Sheri

    gravatarMay 19, 2010
    10:33 am

    Wise words, Chanpory.

    You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. The quality of the work is more important; “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

  • Michelle

    gravatarMay 25, 2010
    9:02 am

    This is refreshing to hear, especially from someone who reviews portfolio’s. Thanks!

  • natalie.

    gravatarJun 1, 2010
    11:48 am

    this is so true. working in advertising, we see new portfolios come through all the time. the key is simplicity. people reviewing your portfolio are looking for great work and attention to detail – but not the detail in the embossed filigree on your binding.

  • Duncan

    gravatarAug 1, 2010
    12:00 am

    I’d love to know what the most outrageous portfolio you have seen is. The most outrageous one I’ve seen was in an A3 thin, brushed aluminium, hand-made portfolio case and the portfolio pages themselves were made up of layered acetate that built up the images and text.