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The present age of design continues to be increasingly competitive. As a designer, you need to meet or raise the bar continuously to keep visitors intrigued and fascinated enough to check out your portfolio. However, not every designer has a ready-made portfolio. This is especially true with freelancers, first-time designers or fresh graduates.

So how do you get a job if practically all clients demand that you must have experience? This is always a catch-22 moment not just in the design world but in all industries. The answer is to make your own portfolio. The portfolio not just exhibits the exceptional talents up for hire, it’s also there to impress doubters and entice visitors. If you have an empty portfolio and worried that you won’t get any work because of it, here are 15 project ideas to get you started.

fill up your portfolio

Create a Card

It can be a birthday, anniversary, graduation or any kind of card. Play around with lettering, colors and layout design to create a card that is either generic (ex. general birthday greeting) or specific (ex. birthday card for your mom or a friend).

Design Your Family Crest

Create a custom crest to symbolize the history of your family. It can be something with your surname’s origin, any religious beliefs or particular incident in the history of your forefathers or just a playful crest that your family can be pleased with. It can be anything you wish as long as it displays your skills. Feature some imagery, symbolism or intricate illustration and custom lettering.

Design a Cookbook Cover

This can be especially fun if you love cooking or baking. You can incorporate two passions and show your versatility and skills through the design. But even if you’re not adept in cooking, a cookbook design is a clever way to showcase your skills in designing and editing. Get creative without overcrowding the layout. Use a focal point and let it flourish with custom lettering.

Create a Variety of Stamp Designs

Designing stamps allows you to use any design skills you have. From researching a theme to illustrating the topic and editing the subject, your talents will be effectively used. Think of a theme that is unique and fascinating. You can start with a subject that you’re passionate about and then progress on to themes that are out of your comfort zone. You may start with a single stamp design and then eventually create a set.

Create a Clothing Label

You can either design a label for a fictional clothing brand or redesign a label for an already established brand. Either way, create a design that incorporates the brand’s mission or slogan. Play with lettering based on the brand design and use it as a yardstick for your creation. Have fun with it.

Redesign a Sign-up Form

Choose a sign-up form from a well-known website and tweak it to make it more appealing. Or make it more contemporary. Use subtlety as sign-up forms often need to be clear-cut. While you’re at it, create custom icons that will tie up the redesigned sign-up form to the overall look of the website.

Create a Wrapping Paper Pattern

This is a cool and exciting idea since you can do whatever pattern you fancy. The sky is the limit. You can create seasonal, generic, or specific wrapping patterns. You can choose any color, illustration or imagery you like. This is one of those projects where you can let loose but still demonstrate your designing skills.

Restyle Familiar Websites

If you have the knack for web design, restyle or redesign well-known sites. Start with one familiar website and then create a newer, fresher and maybe simplified version of the existing site. Custom-made icons, badges and headings. You can create custom lettering akin to the one used by the website or you can use the existing lettering but tweaking the design a bit so they have a familiar but still updated look.

Design an e-Magazine Cover

This is an idea where you can use your Adobe skills to the fullest. You can design a cover from a well-known e-magazine or make one for a pretend net magazine. Use images online. Play with colors and shades to highlight the featured article.

Create a New Poster for Your Favorite Movie or TV Show

You can do this as many times as you want. Choose a movie and/or TV show that you love and then make an awesome poster out of it. You can be as bold or as simple as you like. You can choose images of the characters or completely remove them from the design. You can interpret the movie or show through the poster.

Design a Stationary Set

Create a stationary set for a popular brand or company. Design a logo, business card and letterhead. Make sure that everything is cohesive and reflects the services and values of the business.

Design Wedding Invites

Custom-made wedding invites, or any party invites for that matter, are fun to make. You can create loud and eye-catching invites or go the more traditional route and stick with classic designs. You can focus on the motif of the event or follow the prenup concept. Customize lettering, monogram or even style crest.

Design a Children’s Book Cover

Be inspired and redesign covers of fairytales or any children’s book. Present well-known characters in a different light. Or use custom illustration and lettering to make the book cover stand out.

Design Typographic Quotes

This is possibly the most well-used idea in building a portfolio. Choose a quote or song lyrics that resonate with you and put a design spin to it. Practice your lettering and layout skills with it. Mix up lettering styles, add illustrations, and isolate words. Come up with a layout that is distinctively yours.

Design a Website

The best way to showcase your design talent is to create and design your own website. Design it in a way that reflects your work ethics, your vision and your skills.

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Posted by Igor Ovsyannykov

I'm a digital nomad and entrepreneur bouncing around South East Asia. When I'm not working here, I'm out taking photos. Follow me on Instagram: @igorovsyannykov

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