Is making a design portfolio actually tough or is it just me?

Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

I’m an architect turned UX Designer and have been working in the field of UX for nearly 2 years now. My journey started right after my graduation and I was lucky enough to land a dream job without any prior experience or knowledge. In all this while, I managed to pick up a few things about the domain and completed a little over 25 projects (UX mostly) for a web platform. All the projects I’m referring to here are live for anyone to see and use. But if you ask me for my portfolio, I don’t have one.

It’s not that I don’t understand the value of having a portfolio or have never made one, I just find making one tougher than working on an actual project. Even during my college days, I just wasted so much time just thinking about it rather than making it (here I’m talking in terms of years, not days). But when it came to making a portfolio for my master's admission, I made something in 7 days (Although at that point, pandemic happened and the submission deadline shifted giving me more time to fine-tune it. You can find it here) Thus, in self-introspection, I can confirm it’s not due to a lack of skills or time.

For quite a long, I used to believe it’s a combination of procrastination and sheer lack of enthusiasm. However, at the current stage, I think it’s mostly due to the high expectations I’ve laid on it wanting it to be nothing less than perfect. This idea of perfection is the biggest hurdle between designers and good design. Add the desire to attain perfection with procrastination and you get a total failure.

By this point, you’d know that I need help. But before you suggest me anything, I must tell you that I have tried a lot of advice I found on the internet. I tried tricking myself into treat upon finishing the task, saving up space in my calendar, writing a post-it note and sticking it on my wall. I even tried giving myself an ultimatum but the lazy inner me would always find an excuse.

I have even been to stages where I questioned myself if I actually understand how a portfolio is made. Basically, how do you explain your work? Do you go in a college professor mode talking about each aspect of your work as if you are imparting knowledge or simply narrate your experiences while working on a project? While narrating do you emphasise your part of the story or just write a monologue on the process and the product? How much honesty is good while writing a case study? If you didn’t make a decision that later turned out to be a bad one, do you own it or escape it at cost of presenting yourself as the arrogant Mr. Right? There are loads of such questions which were my excuse to not get started.

In all of this, what I really need is a deadline and little hand-holding (yeah, I’m that shameless). I understand making a portfolio is a never-ending process but it has to begin and reach somewhere. I need a deadline which I cannot shift, maybe something that is imposed by an external agency. I just want someone to drop me a mail saying they need my portfolio in 10 days or less for a vacancy in some fortune 500 company at a decent pay range. Maybe that’ll make me work (or maybe it won’t, we can never know without trying). If you have any better ideas, please share that or maybe use some other method. Just please trick me into getting things done 🙏

Edit: I did manage to find someone to keep me accountable and make my portfolio 🎉✨. You can find it at https://vaigu.xyz

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Vaibhav Gupta

Vaibhav Gupta

Designer & storyteller. I write whatever I’ve learnt so far about design, development and other things I care about. https://linkedin.com/in/vaigu