Every architect faces the intimidating task of putting together a portfolio, at least once in their lifetime. The fact, that it is the portfolio that is seen before the architect, by a potential employer, makes a portfolio somewhat like a first impression and we all know how to important it is, to get that right.
The root cause of the confusion in making a portfolio, I believe is linked to the confusion of the meaning of the phrase, architecture portfolio. An architecture portfolio is not just an agglomeration of the subtotal of the work produced by an architect. An architecture portfolio can be considered as a representation of the very person of the architect in his/ her physical absence. Every architect is different, so are their portfolios, though there is one basic formula for bringing together a portfolio. Let us take a look at this process in detail, step by step.
STEP 1: FINALISE CONTENT
Content is core to any narration and that includes a portfolio. No matter how good the visuals are, if your content is not good enough, any good architectural firm will dismiss your portfolio straightaway. On the other hand, they may appoint you, but only as a renderer or draftsman. Thus, making it very important to screen your work, i.e. to look at one’s own work with a critical eye and only select the very best. The content put into a portfolio varies, and so does the selection process. Let us take a look at the various content and content selection processes that go into making an architecture portfolio.
- MACRO SELECTION/ PROJECT SELECTION
The first level of screening involves segregation of the best projects from the aggregate set. It is important to first zero down on the projects that will be a part of the portfolio. A compact portfolio with a few good projects, showcasing a variety of styles, often trumps a portfolio with many random mediocre projects. What also catches the eye of the employer is different types of architectural projects, e.g. mixed use or sustainable architecture etc. It helps convey one's multidimensional interest in architecture and its various facets.
Image credit: Flickr/Vib Architecture
- MICRO SELECTION/ INTRA PROJECT SELECTION
Once the macro selection is complete, the next step for the architect is to do a micro screening. Micro screening helps an architect decide upon the drawings and diagrams of a particular project, that he wants to include in the portfolio. The micro screening is somewhat more tedious than the macro screening. It is through this selection, one chooses the skill set he wants to emphasize upon and showcase. Again as in the micro selection process, variety is super important. The selection should be such that all skills, such as renders, working drawings, conceptualization and more should be highlighted.
Image credit: Flickr/FHKE
- THE CURRICULUM VITAE
Most architects make the C.V as a part of the portfolio itself. It usually forms the second page of the portfolio, and hence is of utmost importance. It introduces the employer to your work and gives them a sneak preview of your portfolio’s narrative. The content of the C.V. makes for another topic altogether, but one must keep in mind that the format of the C.V. must be in sync with the rest of the portfolio. Also, a crisp and compact C.V, with variety and extracurriculars always shines through better, than a long and vague C.V.
Image credit: Flickr/mmakgoub
- THE EXTRACURRICULAR ADDITIVES
Every employer seeks a multi-dimensional employee. Architecture firms are no different. Portfolios with extracurricular additions, such as photography, sketching or writing are always preferred over boring and purely work-centric portfolios. It also helps give the employer an in, into your multi-faceted personality and skill set.
Image credit: Flickr/Matt Swaim
STEP 2: FIX A FORMAT
The second step towards making a portfolio is formatting. A well-formatted document also showcases your organizational skills to the employer. The first step towards formatting a portfolio is to decide a paper size. Most architects use an A3 paper size for their portfolios but one can always customize it based on the requirement. Once the page size is decided, it is advisable to divide the page into a uniform square grid. This imaginary grid helps one alloted uniform margin space, title space and much more. It helps form the base for the next step, Graphics. It is essential to maintain a consistent format throughout the portfolio.
Image credit: Flickr/Filipe Varela
STEP3: DEVELOP GRAPHICS
An architect could have the best of projects and content in his portfolio, but if they are not organized and displayed effectively, the dismissal of the portfolio is inevitable. Like formatting, it is essential to have uniform graphics throughout the portfolio. Graphics include elements such as font size, font style, image quality and the total arrangement of drawings and text on paper. Mostly Softwares like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are used for developing formats, graphics, and layout. Clean cut layouts with minimal clutter and strong clear visual representation are often the characteristics of a winner portfolio.
STEP 4: COMPLETE VISUALIZATION, COMPILE, AND PRINT
The last and final step towards putting together a portfolio is a compilation. A compilation is a process in which last minute details such as sheet order, page number, and last minute additions are looked at. It is as crucial as the making of a portfolio. Architects often use softwares like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation to compile the final sheets of their portfolio. The compilation shows one the final product and also helps completely visualize it. It helps one look at the narrative as a whole before mailing it out for that dream job. People often email pdf of their portfolios to potential employers. Though one can also upload their portfolios at sites such as Behance and Issuu and send links to their profile to potential employers.
image credit: Slideshare/Finis Ray
Architecture portfolios can be terribly intimidating, but once you start with the process, things eventually start falling into place. One should not be afraid to put a unique twist to their portfolio, as long as it is comprehensive and lobbies dialogue in your favor. Portfolios are all about personalization and employers look forward to distinct portfolios. As important it is to learn other skills in the field of architecture, it is equally important to learn this one particular skill, i.e. to make an architecture portfolio.
Article Category Architecture
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