My first year architecture professor instilled (among many other things), always work like you’re going to present at any time. And always take the time to curate that work at a later date. By creating a portfolio, you help organize your thoughts and give perspective to the work. Just visualize a bunch of kids huddled around an apple IIgs at 2am trying to use photoshop to add text to an image, then debating creative printing techniques off a laser printer. That’s how it starts, and ever since, I’ve always tried to take the time to curate what I do. Sometimes that’s a pretty depressing thing. Sometimes it looks like a whole lot of flat screens and uninspired cubical sitting.
I’ve had the same portfolio format for several years now, constantly tweaked and changed, but essentially a known quantity. But then you find something exciting you’d forgotten about and that brings it back. Portfolios are fickle things. When less is more, it’s hard to find that perfect screen when you need 10 to tell the complete story. But maybe the listener doesn’t want the entire story, just the highlights. Giving focus/balance to your own work is so extremely hard, but essential. I still enjoy trying to get that organization on paper as well. Where my online portfolio can sprawl in though and without predefined boundaries, paper creates the need for more focus and a set of constrains that comes with a printed page. Old school, yes, I know.
And in the end, portfolios are not for job interviews or showing to friends, but for yourself. As a point of pride, a mark of accomplishment, and sometimes a necessary closure to a job or series of projects.