A long explanation on portfolio board preparation

A long explanation on portfolio board preparation

Oh man, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Last week my sister came to town from Michigan, one of the best weeks I’ve had since moving to Maryland. We got to enjoy a few days of nice ‘weathas’ (one gorgeous day out in Frederick… adorable downtown!). Luckily for me, each day she was here I received emails/calls from people interested in potentially hiring me (I think she should probably move in, cuz apparently she’s my lucky charm). So after bidding my sister adieu, I busted a move to get my portfolio boards put together for the three interviews I had this week. And now, because I know you’re all sooo interested, I’m going to share a bit about that awesome process and minor tips that could make a big difference.


  • Get your supplies early, highly recommend DickBlick.com.
  • While waiting for your supplies, put together your files, run a few tests to make sure they’re high res enough.
  • Make sure you know where you want to go to print your files, Kinko’s has its pluses and minuses. You get what you pay for, I say. But sometimes, Kinko’s is all you got.
  • Measure your border/mark your edges with a nice draft pencil so you know where your paper will go after you spray. Find an open space to spray mount. If you do it inside, open a window or 3.
  • Practice talking about your work!


Portfolio Board Supplies
Feel free to make fun of me, that's not my Super77 adhesive, it's fixative for charcoal and pencils, definitely doesn't work the same. 😉

I knew I was going to need some black boards from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, what I didn’t expect was to find a short supply of those boards and all banged up to boot. So, I hit up one of my favorite online art suppliers, DickBlick, got a large supply of precut boards, a nice acrylic brayer to smooth out any bubbles in my paper, and a “well worth the price” draft matic pencil. I already had the Super77 spray adhesive (which I highly recommend), so once I got my supplies I could get to stepping!


My previous set of boards were of my college work, so I really needed to step it up with the presentation of my boards this time. I wanted to put together images (in Photoshop) for each board so it told a story and showed how the styling/branding of each particular item was carried out in all of the sister pieces. I foolishly thought because I already had my online portfolio done, it’d be a cinch to whip this together. Not so much. I highly recommend saving a few copies (one for web, one for print) when you’re first creating your portfolio (online or print) so you don’t have to basically go back and repeat the steps you took before. A tip I hope to remember the next time I go through this process.


At my previous job I was able to do a few personal prints in-house (I paid of course!), so when it came time to print my board files, I reluctantly made my way back to Kinko’s (which gives me horrible flashbacks of staying up all night in college at the 24 hr Kinko’s to get my work done cuz I thought taking that many credits to graduate early was a GOOD idea). Ahem, anyway… Kinko’s in Catonsville was super helpful, produced some decent prints, not great, but I’ll take what I can get.


Cutting and Mounting BoardsI already listed the items above for what you need for this, just add on a few extra Xacto knife blades, a cutting board, and a nice ruler with a cork backing so it doesn’t slide and you’re golden! This may seem tedious, but I like to measure out an even border around the edge of my boards and mark the corners (I think I did 2 inches so I could print at 11×17 (final size 11×16) and mount on precut 15×20 boards. I also haven’t figured out the best way to spray mount, especially when I live in an apartment. I went on my balcony and put down plastic bags I’ve been meaning to recycle after each spray so I didn’t get the front of my work sticky.


Final PortfolioI have a tendency to over explain things that I found important while working on the project, but a client/prospective employer really isn’t going to care about what the conference was, who attended, where it was. They have to listen to you talk about 11 more pieces, yourself, and then of course a handful of other people trying to get the position. So I recommend practicing talking about your work like you’re sitting there with the person you’re trying to sell your work to. It’s important to sound like you know what you’re talking about in a polished way. Even after practicing a few times and having a couple interviews under my belt, I still need to work on my presentation of my new pieces. Practice makes perfect (or somewhat close, I suppose)!

I know that was a long post, but hopefully someone out there found it helpful. Good luck!

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