We’ve been in a mini-series about crafting a portfolio that will help draw in the types of clients want. For an effective portfolio, it’s important to take a few projects that you enjoyed working on and create a case study around them. The case study should highlight the problem you solved and how you went about solving that particular problem and then showing and explain the results. An essential part of that case study is to have some imagery.

Not only should you have images that show the type of work you produced but also have imagery that demonstrates the state of the client before you begin any work as well as imagery that shows what happened after the customer worked with you.

The logic of what we’re going for is simple people can look and compare and contrast the starting state versus the final state and that comparison will allow them to at least visually see that you produce amazing work and can take something and improve upon it.

We are used to makeovers

Have you ever watched a show which featured fashion makeovers? They take someone whose style of fashion is bland, and they give them a makeover. They may cut their hair, give them new clothes or put different makeup on them. The end of the whole goal is for you to see them transformed in comparison to how they used to look. This is a very useful tactic.

I remember the show called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and they would cut out houses or sometimes demolish houses and then build them again from the ground up. At the end of the process, they would surprise the family by showing them their newly constructed renovated home and they always make a comparison from how the house used to look to how the house looks now. One reason that show was wildly successful is not only did they show you the before and after pictures but you got to see the process of how they went about building the home.

That’s the same tactic you want to take when crafting your case studies. You want people to see the beginning and final stages, but you also want to walk them through the process of how you got there.

Don’t miss out

If you’re not readily using before and after imagery in your portfolio you’re missing out on a big opportunity because not everyone can make the mental connection of the work that you did. In the area of web design, I’ve had to try to explain and justify my prices. Adding prices, I charge, and when I don’t display the process, it’s not enough for someone to get my True Value. Not only did I make a nice-looking website but when you see what I started with there’s that much more appreciation for my expertise.

Adjust the position of comparing before and after works in any industry. If you’re an editor, use a word processor that allows you to track changes. Take a screenshot to show not only did I produce new content through writing but provide a glimpse intoall of the changes that I made in the screenshot that displays track changes. This will show you did more than edit a few sentences and paragraphs.

Terence and Tinlun

An example of someone who does a great job of showing the before-and-after is Terence Tang of Tinlun Studio. Terence is a hand letterer who uses calligraphy to give a unique look and style to his work.

Often Terence will start with an entirely blank canvas, and he will record himself during the creative process. He often redoes the same design until he can get to a comfortable point. He takes photos to show that sometimes he has redrawn a piece over 15 times.

From there Terence then scans his work and begins the process of converting it to a digital artwork. During this process once again he will refine the digital design. Finally, we’ll get to the point to where he’s happy with the digital vector, and he can now put it on multiple mediums where that he takes the art piece and makes a sticker, t-shirt, hat, button, or wall prints and other types of art.
When viewing Terence’s entire process, you get a newfound appreciation for his work. So much value can be observed, and you know he’s a professional, not someone who fumbled around and found a font on the internet. He is someone who manually created everything and got to a final product that is unique for his specific customer base.

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