Graphic Design Is Hard

So in my quest to get my search for an architecture job restarted, one of the things I’m wanting to do is redesign my portfolio. However, this is proving to be harder than I expected.

My first portfolio was an interesting idea, but in practice left something to be desired. I thought that I would make it interesting, by using a non-typical form factor. I chose to go with a landscape, 5”x8” layout. This had the advantage of allowing me to do a full bleed (with colors all the way to the edge of the page), plus it was about the size of the Moleskine sketchbooks I was using at the time. It even mirrored the layout of my business cards; design synergy for the win! I then made my own covers with what I think was picture matboard, and bound it all together with rivets. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Portfolio sample page

A sample page. Sorry about the JPEG compression.

Not bad for a first try, if I do say so myself. But I’ve discovered a few issues with this approach. Deciding to do full bleed pages had the disadvantage of me having to cut down every page by hand from the Letter size it was printed on. The rivets turned out fairly irregular (they were only roofing nails and washers, after all). The resume in the back is now out of date. The layout I used took up a lot of page real estate, which when combined with the form factor, made space even tighter. And of course, it’s really hard to see any sort of detail with drawings that small.

But now, I’m not sure what to do. I definitely want to do something on Letter size, but where do I start in terms of design? Heck, even my business card is something I came across in an office store sample book, thought was interesting, and said “Hey, I can recolor that and print it on my own!” And merely scaling up the layout from the 5×8 version isn’t going to work. I’m at the point where I’m going to have to design it completely from scratch, and the sheer vastness of the possibilities before me is paralyzing.

Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe, since graphic design isn’t really my strong suit, I should just go with something simple. Keep it clean, don’t over-complicate things. Like my resume. A hint of color there, some light embellishment there. It also doesn’t help that it’s been a while since I’ve designed something, so my skills are a little rusty. Plus, with Facebook and Tumblr right there… well, you know how that goes.

I really would like to come up with something that I can use on all my collateral; business cards, portfolio, even website. I just need to come up with a core idea, a theme that I can implement again and again. One that’s not too pretentious, either.