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Tips & Tricks of Architecture Portfolio used by Successful Architects

September 16, 2021

What’s in this Blog?

  1. Your Portfolio = Your Winning Card
  2. Who are you Presenting your Portfolio to?
  3. Types of Architect Portfolios You Should Know About
  4. Must-Know Tips: Portfolio DOs
  5. Must-Know Tips: Portfolio DON’Ts
  6. Top Portfolio Tips for Students/Interns
  7. Top Portfolio Tips for Junior Architects
  8. Top Portfolio Tips for Mid-Level Architects
  9. Top Portfolio Tips for Senior Architects
  10. What Next for Architect’s Portfolios?

Tips & Tricks of Architecture Portfolio used by Successful Architects

Whether it is your first job or your 50th client pitch, you know that your portfolio is one of the most influential factors to make or break any deal. But, what should you maintain and what should you keep out of your portfolio? Should you have a physical or a digital portfolio, or both? Is it good to mention the software you used for each project? Will your portfolio be on a portfolio-hosting platform or on a website? How much description is too much? Such questions can pop up, no matter what stage of your architectural journey you are at. And, our handy architecture portfolio guide answers your questions.

Your Portfolio = Your Winning Card

A good architecture portfolio is like a successful elevator pitch. It helps prospective employers get interested in your work, within just a few seconds! This can improve your chances of nailing that job or business you are looking at.

Students/Interns: A portfolio is a must for architecture students and interns. It can showcase your academic work that can give prospective universities and employers an idea about the way you think, your exposure to the industry and your world views. The goal is to stand out among the crowd of applicants.

Why we like this portfolio by Larah Dler is that it is not too uptight but creatively eye-catching with striking graphics. It brings out her personality and interest in art, apart from architecture.

Inspiring student architect portfolio
Inspiring student architect portfolio
Inspiring student architect portfolio
Inspiring student architect portfolio
An outstandingly presented portfolio of Iraqian architect + artist, Larah Dler showing academic work on Behance

Junior Architects (1-3 years’ experience): Your portfolio can be a good mix of academic work and professional experience. Let it reflect the design sensibilities you have developed over the few years of professional work and how it will match with the new office’s style.

Junior architect portfolio
Architecture Portfolio by David Tonic – issuu

Mid-Level Architects (3-10 years’ experience): At your level, you are quite comfortable with the industry and understand its workings. The intent of your portfolio should be to showcase your niche, organise your best projects, highlight award winning work and have a distinct design sensibility and present your projects in a stand-out manner.

Senior Architects (> 10 years’ experience): You’ve been there and done that. And, your portfolio should reflect your vast and versatile experience. The aim should be to show how you have led projects of multiple scales, from pre-design through construction phases and display your mature thought process.

As a senior architect, principal architect or a co-founder, it also helps to have good personal branding. What we like about Conor Coghlan, Co-Founder of A05 Studio is that he is also a Design Vlogger where he portrays his DIY furniture videos and promotes his sustainable furniture brand. He has an interesting visual portfolio on his website and equally compelling videos on YouTube (with close to 25,000 subscribers)

Architect website portfolio of A05 Studio, Brooklyn, NY
Website portfolio of A05 Studio, Brooklyn, NY


Architect website portfolio of A05 Studio, Brooklyn, NY
Architect Conor Coghlan’s Vlog on YouTube

Who are you Presenting your Portfolio to?

You cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to your portfolio. To make a bigger impact, zero in on the audience you are developing the portfolio for. Understand why you’re creating a portfolio and for whom exactly. If it is to apply to a well-known architecture firm that specializes in small-scale commercial projects, it becomes important to customize your portfolio around that by putting your best work in a similar area first, followed by your other projects. Similarly, if you are applying for a Master’s program in Architecture, you might want to study what the requirements of the school are and focus more on the variety of academic work you have done, highlight your drawings, your technical knowledge and any research work done. Tailoring your portfolio to your prospective employer or clients’ requirements can increase your chances of success.

Also Read: How Architects Can Leverage Snaptrude to Make Winning Presentations

Types of Architect Portfolios You Should Know About

At any given time, architects usually maintain two broad types of portfolios. One, a snapshot of selected works to send with the resume to prospective employers. And, the other, a full portfolio to show during the interview. You can use any of the below mediums to showcase your portfolios after weighing the pros and cons.

Paper Portfolios:
Probably, the most natural thing to do when you are starting out in your architectural career or even a few years into it, is to spend months on creating a physical portfolio. Because, there is joy in seeing photo-realistic representations of your original drawings and models. Also, printed portfolios can be beautifully packaged.

“But, the best and the worst part about a portfolio is that it will always be ‘Work in Progress’.”

So, how often can you keep updating a physical portfolio? It becomes expensive to maintain, because you have to print it frequently to keep it up-to-date.

The pros then, do weigh in the favour of an online portfolio, which can be updated as often as you want. Universities have also been accepting online portfolios. And for architects who prefer showing a printed portfolio when they meet clients or prospective employers, a master online portfolio can be printed easily.

Pdf Portfolios:
A lot of architects prefer having an introductory portfolio as a five page pdf that highlights selected best projects, and can be shared along with the resume. A pdf portfolio makes perfect sense for when you want to keep it crisp and clear!

Architect portfolio - selected works
Architecture Portfolio – Marco Farina by Marco Farina – issuu showcases selected works

Portfolio Hosting Sites:
Issuu.com is extremely popular with architects to host their portfolios online. And, Behance is another platform that’s also preferred by many architects. These come with beautiful portfolio building capabilities and are a great option to create your online portfolio. Some architects prefer having a presence on both portals, Issuu and Behance to increase their chances of getting noticed. Behance also offers an option of adding multiple owners, so you can put up projects as individual uploads in your profile, and give credit where due.

Portfolio Website:
As you grow in your architectural journey and build your own brand, having your own website for hosting your architecture portfolio can help create a lasting impression and build more business. Having a website portfolio also means you can attract more traffic to your own brand and can get more leads. You can buy a domain and choose to get your website designed by a professional agency. Or you can use website building platforms like FolioHD, Portfoliobox.net, Krop, squarespace.com, format.com, cargo.site and Pixpa, which are recommended for senior architects.

Apps:
For iOs only, apps like Morpholio let you showcase your portfolio easily and also critique others’ work. A must-try if you work on an iPad.

Must-Know Tips: Portfolio DOs

Showcase your professional niche as well as your personality in your portfolio with a play of layout, design style and typography.

  • Let the cover image do the talking, to help you stand out.
  • Adding a visual summary of projects in the beginning is a great idea, so the viewer knows what to expect and can also jump to the part they are more interested in
  • Make the best image the hero. Don’t give equal importance to all the images in one project, else the viewer will not have an easy visual navigation.
  • Summary of projects in the Portfolio by Erik Hiroshi
  • Have a clear break between each project, so the viewer can process each project. Adding all projects one after another will be an overload of information.
  • Photograph your models and the built structures well (it pays to invest in a DSLR camera). Every little detail matters when you are representing yourself in the best way possible. Fabulous models can look terrible if not captured well.
  • Including process sketches adds a personalised touch and also reflects your thought process. At the same time, technological prowess also showcases your futuristic outlook. So, it’s best to have a mix of hand drawings for some projects and highlight technology/software used (like BIM software, Holo Lens) for multiple projects.

Must-Know Tips: Portfolio DON’Ts

  • Not too long and not too short. The idea is to compile the best of your work and put it in an easily readable way.
  • Don’t organize your portfolio from oldest project first to newest last.
  • Don’t repeat similar projects. Choose the best one.
  • Let the portfolio file size not exceed 10 MB.
  • Don’t add more than 100 words on a page. If there are more words, break them into paragraphs or spread them across pages. Try to cut back on words as much as possible.
  • Don’t go overboard with colour in your portfolio. If you are not sure, choose monochrome. Better classy than looking like a colour attack.
  • Don’t be inconsistent in your graphics and layout from page to page.
  • No more than two font types.

This compilation by ArchDaily gives you inspiration for the best architecture portfolio designs.

Top Portfolio Tips for Students/Interns:

  1. The emphasis of your portfolio should be on your ability to think. Have a lot of process models as universities/prospective employers don’t just want to see the final model but want to understand the process through which you came there.
  2. If you have any built work, start your portfolio with that.
  3. Show a variety of things you are good at.
  4. Research on Issuu and Behance to see how others have portrayed their portfolios.
  5. Hand sketches are interesting to look at.
  6. Include explorations to showcase your interests outside of your architecture work.
  7. Highlight your software skills (be it CAD, 3D modelling software or Building Information Modelling – BIM), graphic skills and technical understanding of architecture concepts
  8. If you have any research, published works and awards, highlight them prominently.
Architecture Student Portfolio - Joanna Arida
Joanna Arida Architecture Porfolio 2020 by Joanna Arida also has a section for her artworks, that adds more value to her portfolio

Top Portfolio Tips for Junior Architects

  1. It’s all about your skills as a young professional – the more you add, the better it is.
  2. Include credits for those who supported you in the project, highlighting your contribution clearly.
  3. Include descriptions about your perspective on the design process, rather than just factual notes.
  4. While you may not have many, still don’t include projects you are not proud of.
  5. Include at least one element that is made without the use of a computer.

What we like about Francisco Herrero’s portfolio is that even though it has a lot of information, it doesn’t feel like that because it is designed with clean lines and a lot of white space.

Junior Architect portfolio
FRANCISCO HERRERO – ARCHITECTURE PORTFOLIO by FRANCISCO HERRERO – issuu

Top Portfolio Tips for Mid-Level Architects

  1. Focus on displaying your best work, instead of all work.
  2. Hire a professional photographer.
  3. Showcasing work as per location can reflect how you understand different contexts across the globe.
  4. Showcase logical thinking and architectural knowledge.
  5. Highlight the latest technology used.
Portfolio of Architect Alessandro Fusi
Alessandro Fusi Architect – Portfolio 2017 by Alessandro Fusi – issuu

Top Portfolio Tips for Senior Architects

  1. Be a marketer.
  2. Let your website do the talking.
  3. Include happy client testimonials.
  4. Hire a professional photographer who understands your vision.
  5. Invest in personal branding.

What Next for Architect’s Portfolios?

The way architects have progressed from having only physical portfolios to only online versions, we look forward to seeing what the future holds in this space. Probably, design software tools doubling up as portfolio hosting sites? Let’s wait and watch! 🙂

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. Please write to smita@snaptrude.com for any dispute.

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