Graphic Design Tips

If the terms vector, layer and composite are foreign to you, you're not a graphic designer.  Still, graphic design is essential in the packaging and branding of your work.  Seek out the assistance of a graphic designer to make your portfolio more robust.To truly reap the benefits, you need to communicate what you want to your graphic designer.

Feel free to print these tips, cut out the section you need or copy/paste digitally. Just USE THEM!


What are you having done?
Know all of your elements before you begin the design.
(  ) Logo
(  ) Business Card
(  ) Letterhead
(  ) Print Book (Portfolio)
(  ) Resume Design / Revision
(  ) Website Design Critique / Advice
(  ) Photo / Headshot Retouching
(  ) Other:


These decisions will inform font choices, the overall feel of your design, and help customize the presentation of your work, which is key for an effective portfolio.
  • What colors / images represent you?
  • Does your work / identity feel modern or traditional?

It's important to know your demographic for a design that is consistent with industry standards.
  • Who are you sending your work to?  A corporate office?  An independent company?  An academic institution?


Fonts play an important part in your design. They have innumerable weights, variations and feels.  They are an essential part of your brand identity.
  • Which fonts are appropriate for your design?
  • Is your work modern, represented by fonts like Helvetica, traditional like Book Antiqua–or somewhere in between?  Check out royalty free font resources here.


Emails must be appropriate for professional use.
  • It may be time to reconsider playful emails (, emails that tell your age ( or anything of the like.  An email address is an opportunity, use it well.
  • Purchase your domain name and get a mailbox with it. or gives you that extra professional polish and free publicity for your site.


A session with your designer can go very quickly.  Before you know it, time is up.  Preparation can save time and money!
  • Come in the door with a concept for your design, as well as the necessary files.
  • Help ensure that you will receive a finalized product within the designated time frame.



What are you having done?

(  ) CD / Label Packaging        
(  ) Business Card
(  ) Other:
Have a concept!
  • What bands/musicians / artists inspire your music / voice work?
  • What does their CD packaging look like?
  • What kind of visual feel do they have?
These are great things to consider when you want to create material that reflects the kind of work you do and your approach to impressing potential clients / employers.
Artwork + Photos
  • If you have original artwork or photography with you, provide the images online or via portable storage (external hard drives, usb, etc).
  • Keep in mind that most images are 72 ppi (pixels per inch). If you bring in a low resolution image, it might become pixelated when enlarged on CD packaging and unusable for design purposes.


What are you having done?

(  ) Print Book (Portfolio)
(  ) Business Card
(  ) Other:
Get organized

Organize the images you wish to include in your portfolio into a separate folder.
If you are including Excel Spreadsheets follow these steps:
  1. Open Microsoft Excel
  2. Click File > Save As >
  3. Select "PDF" option

Streamline your work

A portfolio consists of your best work, not all of your work.  A potential employer, agent, buyer, whatever has a small window of time to view your work.  Don't clutter a portfolio and waste your design session with too many projects.

Know your content

Which projects are you going to use? Be as specific as possible, as this allows the designer to efficiently create a design for your book.


The text for your project should be in a single document with proofread unformatted, plain text. You can remove formatting from your text with Notepad or WordPad for Windows, or Text Edit for Mac.


What are you having done?

(  ) DVD Packaging / Label
(  ) One Sheet (Poster)
(  ) Business Card
(  ) Post Card
(  ) Other:
  • What films inspire your work?
  • Who are your favorite directors?  Love Wes Anderson? Spike Lee? Alfred Hitchcock? Stanley Kubrick? Note their sense of branding. They each have a distinct look.
  • Think about how you would like your work to visually stand out with images, artwork, and typography.
Images + Stills + Artwork

Stills are a great resource to use for DVD packaging. If you wish to utilize them make sure they are high res (at least >150 PPI).

Credits Info

Make sure to have information ready in a separate proofread, unformatted text file for your DVD Packaging, One Sheet, DVD Label, etc.


What are you having done?

(  ) Print Book (Portfolio)
(  ) Business Card
(  ) Post Card
(  ) Other:
  • If you have original photography with you, provide the images either online or via portable storage (external hard drives, usb, etc).
  • Keep in mind that most images are 72 PPI (pixels per inch).  If you bring in a low resolution image, it will become pixelated when enlarged on a headshot/resume, and be unusable for design/re-touching purposes. 
  • Have your proofread resume in an electronic document that can be pasted onto the new document being created.