Why Should I Make a Portfolio?
Wait, what exactly is a portfolio? There seems to be a context…or is there? Let’s define it, and perhaps there is metaphoric value and context in each one of these “traditional definition” examples below..
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:
Definition of “portfolio”:
1: a hinged cover or flexible case for carrying loose papers, pictures, or pamphlets
2: from the use of such a case to carry documents of state: the office and functions of a minister of state or member of a cabinet
3: the securities held by an investor: the commercial paper held by a financial house (such as a bank)
4: a set of pictures (such as drawings or photographs) usually bound in book form or loose in a folder
5: a selection of a student’s work (such as papers and tests) compiled over a period of time and used for assessing performance or progress
Hold up, whoa! I can already feel your inner physiological triggers sending a bright red waving flag to your ego saying: “but making a portfolio is sooooo much work!”.
LET, AND ALLOW FOR THIS HAPPEN!
It is perfectly normal and alright to let your “old-portfolio-definition-self” bleed out. Exercise that energy. Let’s release it. Ill wait….Take a breath, and let’s remind ourselves that things need to be replaced and upgraded. Nothing is static. We learn, we grow, we expand and we can’t allow past experiences to drive the bus on new opportunities and new ways of seeing, experiencing and re-defining things.
The word “portfolio” is not a bad word. If anything, like anything else, it’s a default term that officially requires your interaction, research, resonance and re-defining within context to who you are and who you are becoming in the process! With that said, let’s think about what the next step is in creating your new portfolio.
Let us understand the “why” part. Why do I need a portfolio? What is the purpose?
Here is a short list (feel free to add more to your updated definition)
1. To showcase a body of your work. This is obvious, but curating and organizing things with intention becomes very specific. It activates a higher level of awareness and attention to the process / project. You will learn how to get selective, and this takes practice.
2. To show off your strengths, creativity, skills, effectiveness, efficiency, enthusiasm and passion! Of course, this energy translates directly through the work included in the portfolio. This will be what you believe is your best work at the time, but there is context. Keep reading.. (PS – it’s OK to have more than one portfolio to help showcase various bodies of works and projects.) For example, I’m an applied artist, a digital artist, animation-maker, graphic-designer and a professor of art and design. Some of the works in my portfolio can overlap in theory but I keep a lot of the works separate to subject, but enjoy showcasing them together on my website. That’s right, my website is my portfolio. In fact, I have created a few, the links are below to help.
3. Display your process and evolution. Duration is your friend! Nothing shows off progress better than time. A metric of growth shows itself through time. When I look back at the design work I was doing 10 years ago in comparison to today I see an incredible difference in skill, technique, taste and where my thinking and focus was at the time. I also find a lot of ideas that can be pushed and expanded upon with more with my “awareness-of-growth eyes.” I write a lot about my work and share my process. I believe that this helps me reflect and explain myself better.
4. Stand out and show your style and authenticity – There is only one “you” that you can be. Yes, we certainly learn and are greatly inspired and influenced by others, but at the end of the day we must learn how to be our authentic selves. We must learn how to translate that through our mediums of choice. How will you do this? The short answer is through consistent experimentation and practice. Over time you will create your inner curator, and that part of yourself will begin putting pieces together in groups and compartments. The process will build and flow. This aspect is a journey and it too is anything from static. I take great interest in making changes, learning new things and applying them to the foundations that I continue to build.
OK, all easier said than done… or is it you ask?
I hope that this post will inspire you to begin! Be patient with yourself. The goal is not to create a portfolio in one hour, and there is no such thing as “perfection”. or the perfect portfolio. Let’s produce a result and discuss that result. Be generous with yourself in the process.
I admit it. I love to experiment, test, tweak, deconstruct, remix and repeat processes. I treat the creation process of such a task, creating a new portfolio, the same way that I approach making art. Suspend your judgement! Allow yourself to “make something that may really suck” as a first iteration. This is crucial to developing a contrast of your own. Again, you need to produce a result in order to make an assessment about the result. Until you do this, your contrast is someone else’s stuff / thing that has inspired or affected you.
I would like for you to consider both of these portfolio building and displaying options below. Im a huge fan of both the Academic Commons and the OpenLab platforms. (If you are reading this and are not a part of CUNY somehow, then you can easily follow along individually as both the commons and the OpenLab are powered by WordPress.) Using your own self-hosted WordPress based website and account via ReclaimHosting.com – I have created a sample and template / example using both the Academic Commons, OpenLab and my own self-hosted projects that go into the process. I consider all of these links below to be portfolios. Perhaps you have a preference over one or the other? I hope that these links below will help you get started.
Lets check out a few examples:
1. A portfolio website “How-to” example using the CUNY Academic Commons: https://profryanseslow.commons.gc.cuny.edu/
2. A portfolio website “How-to” example using the OpenLab: https://openlab.bmcc.cuny.edu/portfolio-ryan-seslow/
3. My personal website- this is my own domain and my own self-hosted website (WordPress) – https://ryanseslow.com
4. This is also my own domain and a self-hosted website to showcase a body of work (WordPress) – https://Situationalfiction.com
6. Looking for more examples? Contact me, lets chat!
Feel free to leave your questions and feedback in the comments section below! Lets add to this post together!
Or contact me at – email@example.com