10 inspiring graphic design portfolios & how to create your own

Stephanie Corrigan
As a freelance graphic designer, your portfolio is one of your most important business assets. In fact, it's often the determining factor in a client's hiring process. A strong portfolio showcases not only your design ability, but also your thought process, versatility, and ability to cooperate with clients and collaborators.

Crafting an effective graphic design portfolio requires a great deal of care and intention if you want your work to get noticed. Unfortunately, it's not enough to simply throw up a few screenshots of your projects on a page; without context, your work will be judged purely subjectively.

In this post, we'll discuss the different elements your graphic design portfolio needs in order to stand out and establish your expertise. We'll then take a look at 10 stunning portfolio websites to use as creative fuel. And finally, we'll break down a simple 5-step process to creating your own effective graphic design portfolio.

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Elements of a strong graphic design portfolio

The following three elements can make all the difference in transforming your portfolio from good to great.

Simple layout

Especially if you have a lot of projects to showcase, simplicity is key in laying out your portfolio page. Make sure your portfolio is easy to navigate and create clear separation between different projects in order to avoid causing confusion. White space is your friend here. A simple image grid is a great option for your graphic design portfolio, but feel free to get a little creative with the layout if you want to show off your web design chops.

Descriptive case studies

If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this: case studies are essential. Create a separate page for each project in your portfolio. For each project, write up a description that covers the following points:

  • Who the project is for
  • Your role and whether you collaborated with anyone else
  • Project goals and objectives
  • A breakdown of your process (optional: include sketches and early iterations to help illustrate your thought process)
  • Project results and client feedback

The main focus of your case studies should of course be the visuals you created for the project. Show off as much detail as you can with large graphics, photographs, and mockups.

Not many freelance graphic designers take the time to write case studies for their portfolio. Doing so will give you a leg up in the competition, in addition to positioning you as a pro.

High-quality images and mockups

This goes without saying, but image quality is critical for your graphic design portfolio. Create a set of mockups to show off your work in different contexts and applications. You can either create your own or download premade mockup templates from sites like Mockupworld to save time.

Top 10 graphic design portfolio examples

In no particular order, let's dive into ten of the most impressive graphic design portfolios we've seen to date. Each of these portfolios does an excellent job of showcasing the designer's expertise, technical abilities, creativity, and thought process.

1. Ayaka Ito

Ayaka Ito's portfolio website
Ayaka Ito's portfolio website

Ayaka Ito creates brand identities, editorial design, typefaces, and illustrations. Her homepage showcases a large selection of her beautiful work, which you can quickly browse through to get a sense of her style and capabilities. Clicking through to a project, you're taken to a detailed case study page, which includes an overview, large visuals, and several paragraphs of text that explain the rationale and context behind her design choices.

2. Simon Daufresne

Simon Daufresne's portfolio website
Clean and functional

Simon Daufresne's portfolio website offers a unique interactive experience with scroll and hover effects. Each project page includes a brief description of the project, Simon's role(s), and plenty of large visuals and mockups.

3. Kati Forner

Kati Forner's portfolio website
Sleek, modern and playful

Kati Forner is a full-service creative studio with a sleek, modern and playful graphic design portfolio. The homepage features oversized type, large images, and subtle animations. Each project page includes a detailed case study with full-width mockups and just the right amount of text to provide context and insight into the design process.

4. Ramon Gilabert

Ramon Gilabert's portfolio website
A minimalist portfolio

Ramon Gilabert is a product designer with a clean and minimalist graphic design portfolio. The portfolio is simple and curated, featuring only four projects. However, each project page includes an in-depth case study that describes the project goals, problems, plan, and results. Overall, this website is a great example of how to hone in on the details that matter most when showcasing your work.

5. Leta Sobierajski

Leta Sobierajski's portfolio website
Lively and colorful

Leta Sobierajski combines various creative tools and techniques to create truly unique visuals. Her portfolio is bold, colorful, and engaging, and her style protrudes through every element on the page.

6. Look Look Studio

Look Look Studio
A neat layout with beautiful type

Look Look Studio is a design studio with a simple yet very effective graphic design portfolio website. Above the fold, we see an introduction to the studio in large type. Scrolling down, we browse through a neat, 2-column grid of portfolio work. Each project page features a project overview and plenty of visuals that provide a comprehensive glimpse into the studio's work and process.

7. Adam Ho

Adam Ho's portfolio website
This portfolio breaks all the rules and it just works

Adam Ho is a graphic designer whose portfolio website breaks the rules of layout and typography in a visually appealing way that piques your curiosity. Scrolling down, you're introduced to a number of different projects he's worked on with impressive clients. For each project, he has compiled a detailed case study that breaks down his process and design rationale.

8. Zhenya Rynzhuk

Zhenya Rynzhuk's portfolio website
As edgy as it gets and it works great

Want to really take your graphic design portfolio to the next level? Take a cue from Zhenya Rynzhuk, who offers an impressive showreel on her website that provides a quick yet thorough overview of her work and talents. In addition, Zhenya also shares detailed case studies, in case you want to learn more about what went into each project.

9. Fedor Shkliarau

Fedor Shkliarau's portfolio website
Whitespace and more whitespace

Fedor Shkliarau is a freelance product designer with a clean, simple, and intuitive portfolio website. His website utilizes lots of white space, which draws attention to the large headings and images. Fedor's case studies are interactive and easy to navigate. Overall, this website hits all the marks of an effective portfolio.

10. Taylor Dunham Design

Taylor Dunham's portfolio website
Copywriting at its finest

Taylor Dunham is a designer who emphasizes the power of design as a tool to solve problems. Positioning herself as a problem solver, as opposed to a pixel pusher, is a great way to establish the value of her expertise as soon as you land on her website. Taylor's case studies are thorough, descriptive, and include client testimonials for social proof.

How to create a graphic design portfolio website

1. Create a website

While platforms like Dribbble and Behance are great avenues to share your work and get noticed, it's recommended that you create your own portfolio website as well. You can use a platform like WordPress, Squarespace, or Webflow to build your website. Or you may prefer to hire a web designer or developer. When starting out, it's a good idea to err on the side of simplicity when designing your portfolio website; the primary focus should be on your portfolio pieces, and too many competing elements could be distracting.

Check out our Webflow Masterclass if you're interested in learning how to create beautiful custom websites without coding.

2. Introduce yourself

Your graphic design portfolio might be visually mind-blowing, but that alone won't sell your services. Clients need to know a little bit about the person they're going to hire. So introduce yourself, share a bit about your background and experience, and don't forget to include a high-quality headshot to put a face to the name. Share links to any social media channels that you're using to promote your business.

3. Create case studies for your best work

Almost all of the example graphic design portfolios shared above include detailed case studies. These are especially important if you're newer to design and don't have a million projects to show off in your portfolio. Put your best foot forward and share only the best examples of your work. Quality over quantity. Creating thoughtful and detailed case studies can be a lot of work, but don't skip this step!

4. Share personal projects

Creating personal (or conceptual) projects is a great way to flex your creative muscles and attract more of the types of projects you actually want to work on. In your portfolio, treat these projects just as you would an actual paid project. In other words, write up a case study to explain your process and include plenty of supporting visuals to showcase the depth of your work.

5. Provide client testimonials

Social proof goes a long way in the freelance world. Testimonials help you look more trustworthy to a potential client who has never met you before. Even if your portfolio looks fantastic, a client may prefer to work with someone who has more testimonials that speak to the experience of working with him. If you're brand new to freelancing and haven't worked with any clients, consider doing a little bit of unpaid or discounted work in exchange for a testimonial. A strong testimonial pays long-term dividends.

If you're looking for a laptop for graphic design to build your portfolio on, check out this article.

Ready to take your freelance graphic design career to the next level?

All of the graphic designers featured in this post are insanely talented and working with amazing clients. And while their portfolios are inspiring to look at, it's important to remember that they each have many years of experience under their belt. Who knows how long it took for them to get their freelance career to where it is today?

While we can't offer a magic pill to create overnight success, we can help you fast-track your freelance career through our course The 6-Figure Freelancer. This comprehensive course teaches everything you need to know about building a sustainable freelance business that allows you to work when and where you want, on your own terms.

Click here to learn more about what's covered in the course, and find out if it's a good fit for you.

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