Whether you’re submitting your designs to a huge firm in New York, or a design contest, you can never spend too much time perfecting your graphic design portfolio. As a tool, the portfolio is the physical representation of a first impression, and can either help you land new projects, or steer clients away from you. To ensure you get as many gigs as you can stomach, use the following tips to improve your graphic design portfolio.



1.  Presentation: Whether you’re creating a digital portfolio or a physical stash of artifacts, you’ll want to be sure your pieces are covered in the best packaging possible. If you’re using print media, be sure to find a portfolio case that fits your pieces and creates a good first impression. This means you can’t use the beat-up piece of junk your parents have had in the basement since the Reagen administration. Spring for an expensive case, and you’ll never look back. Likewise, if you’re portfolio is on the cloud, be sure the design they’re carried in is as good as the artwork themselves.

2.  Start Strong: When selecting pieces for your portfolio, you’ll want to start off your collected works with a bang. Don’t save your best work for the middle: Jam that whopper of an art piece straight into the front, that way your prospective clients get an immediate feel for your style and potential.

3.  End With The Fat Lady: Likewise, be sure to end the portfolio just as strong as you started. Ending with a real winner leaves just as good of a first impression as the premier piece in your dossier. If you’re going to add filler, be sure it’s in the middle, where expectations aren’t necessarily being made. That being said—

4.  Keep Out The Filler: Try not to include a piece just to have it in the works. Only use designs that you think best display your abilities as an artist, and your competence as a designer. Also, try to think about the audience your portfolio will be presented to. What pieces will please the most? Which ones will get no response, or even a negative response, no matter how good the graphics are? Don’t be afraid to make a statement with your collection. You’ve only got one shot: Make it the one that counts.