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Can't shorten my portfolio

kaanaeae

As the title suggests, I'm struggling to keep my portfolio concise. Unfortunately, all my projects are quite extensive. As an example, the second project I intend to include is a major urban project consisting of four distinct structures: residential complex, cultural building, hotel+office, and a shopping mall. Each has its own floor plans and sections. I've considered scaling down plans or some elements, but that compromises clarity. Every suggestion to shorten my portfolio is highly valuable to me. I need to prepare it quickly for my master's degree application, but I feel like I'm losing my mind. Every suggestion to shorten my portfolio is highly valuable to me.

thank you!

 
Dec 18, 23 4:54 pm
Non Sequitur

learning to triage your school work is a valuable design exercise in itself.   Whatever length you have now, start but cutting it in half, then edit what’s left down. Not everything you did in undergrad is worth carrying forward if you can demonstrates good design chops. 

Dec 18, 23 4:57 pm  · 
8  · 
natematt

If you want real help, posting a link would be your best option.  

With that said. Is the length the problem, or is the content? To be blunt, your portfolio sounds really boring, a portfolio is not a set of construction documents. I’m skeptical that any portfolio with that many plans/sections for one project could be good. Feel free to prove me wrong.     

Dec 18, 23 6:24 pm  · 
5  ·  1
reallynotmyname

Don't overestimate the degree to which the reviewer is going to want to study each project in the portfolio.   Representation of your projects should be visually interesting rather than exhaustively complete.

If you are still in school or are a recent grad, maybe see if a few of your design teachers could turn the pages with you and help pick out the best things quickly.  Self-editing can be hard.

Dec 18, 23 6:59 pm  · 
6  · 

If this is an academic portfolio, you should not try to show every project you done in class or even at work. Less is more in some cases. Quality not quantity. The version they want is not your entire library of work. They want you to curate and pick out your best and most compelling and perhaps, visually interesting. Even your portfolios for jobs as well. Maybe a little more than the academic but not much more but more representative of your work experience. Think of it like a marketing brochure/presentation. Don't inundate with every little project. 

Showcase your best projects that showcase your message. If you're about sustainable design or seeking a job in sustainable design, maybe a portfolio that showcases or promotes that. Tailor the "message". The more crud you have to sift through, the more time-consuming it will be. It is a message you are communicating with the portfolio. What are you trying to say? Consider it together with your resume. It's the visual message that supplements your written message (the resume... or in your academic applications, your written message). We all know the general message with being hired or applying to a college program. We know you want the job or want to be admitted to the program. That's not the message you want to give. You want to give them the message of WHY they should hire you or admit you. What you are about. This should be tailored as appropriate to the particular employer and what they are looking for. If you seek work that is in line with your career goal or colleges with programs aligned with your values as a designer, then the written resume and portfolio should communicate why you would be a good fit for them. It's persuasive communication through not only in the words of the resume but also in the visual elements of the portfolio and how it conveys your design thinking process and message. If you want to do residential stuff, it isn't going to compel clients to hire you if all you have is designs for fish processing plants.

Dec 18, 23 8:21 pm  · 
2  · 

Portfolios should not be technical. It should be the stuff that makes for good marketing brochure or marketing portfolio to showcase to non-professionals. It should, however, convey some aspect of design thinking process but is not about showing you can do construction documents unless you really do want to be a draughtsman... CAD Monkey or BIMpanzee. The interviewer isn't going to want to go over reams of technical drawings and specifications. Show the presentation material of SD/DD phase, renderings, etc. The CDs can be stuff you have available if they WANT to see it. If academia, the will NOT want to see the construction documents. If for employment, then maybe the interviewers may ask about it but only if they ask for it. No need to force them to read it. Maybe a few scaled down and cleaned up version of the technical stuff where the plans and views have less of the technical text shown to clean up the visual clutter.

Dec 18, 23 8:28 pm  · 
2  · 
natematt

Based on the post, it is fair to assume this is a portfolio of all undergrad work. So there is not  going to be distinct SD/DD/CD work. Comparing schoolwork with real world work is strange. A fully baked school project will usually be closest in comparison to a small competition style pre-design concept package, IE fully baked concepts, renderings, and diagrammatic work. With presentation style “technical” drawings that look developed but upon closer scrutiny are not.

What you show in a pro4pro portfolio is dependent on what kind of job you are trying to get. If you have 10 years of experience and you’re trying to get a job as a PA, you’re probably going to want to show some nice technical work in your portfolio along with a bunch of nice images. My last portfolio had a bunch of CD level detail work in it because at that level people do want to see that without having to drop into a set. You just have to do it tastefully.  

Dec 19, 23 1:34 pm  · 
2  · 

Right. Good point. At that level of position, I would like seeing some example of that but like you said, tastefully. Don't inundate. If I want to see more, then, I would inquire to see more of your work and thus being ready, you would be, natematt. For most jobs, they would still not want to have entire CDs in it because we may be looking for some more. Technical work intermixed carefully with the nice images in a tasteful manner, yeah... I agree. The important thing is it shows your qualification and competency for the job position. If I hired a PA, I would expect some technical stuff but no one is going to want to sift through portfolios that are essentially a compilation of CDs for several projects. That is my main driving point to not overdo it with the technical stuff. Keeping it clean and tasteful and respectful of the time. CDs aren't designed to be put in as portfolios on the 8.5x11 to 11x17. They can get too cluttered when scaled down, especially those complex MEP stuff. As you said, being tasteful about it. It might be worth showing examples of acceptable level of technical details in a portfolio and where it is getting too much. It is a fuzzy line though. If there is an opportunity to educate, this would be the time for someone to do it to provide educational guidance on the portfolio stuff.

Dec 20, 23 3:50 am  · 
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nabrU

Arbitrary long tail conventions of 5 to 10mb design portfolio's to be submitted should stay in the realm of dial up modems IMO.    

Dec 20, 23 4:06 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Folio restrictions today should be even more strict since anyone can pump out dozens of shiny renderings with minimal effort. Nothing but mediocre blah blah blah.

Dec 20, 23 6:41 pm  · 
1  · 
3tk

Focus on what the job requires and trim content to fit: how does concept carry through in final design? renderings - show the more complex ones? technical drawing - need not show extensive set, just the more com  plex indicative of your skill set.

In reviewing portfolios most people want to look at a few sheets that "tell a story" and look at skill sets and knowledge evident in the more complex content [at least that's what I do]

Dec 20, 23 4:54 pm  · 
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nabrU

OP is applying for part II / Masters so perhaps real world is a different consideration.

Dec 20, 23 5:24 pm  · 
1  · 
reallynotmyname

Exactly, portfolios seeking different things like graduate program admission, undergraduate transfer credit, or employment in a firm, are going to need to be edited differently.

Dec 20, 23 7:09 pm  · 
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3tk

My bad - didn't catch that at the end of post.  

Similar thought process may help: what are they looking for and address that - they go through dozens of portfolios, so the first pass is to see overall quality of organization and quality of content, then digging into thought process of assembling the project spreads.  Do the big picture ideas come through and are the selection of images appropriate to convey the ideas and the overall skillset?

Dec 23, 23 12:45 pm  · 
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Yes you can. You got this.

Dec 20, 23 4:59 pm  · 
2  · 

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