By Tobias van Schneider Published November 12, 2019
The infamous portfolio bio. A source of angst for designers, the inspiration for satire, the cause of inexplicable decisions like calling ourselves “empathy lovers” and “pixel princes.” Plenty of articles provide pointers, but few show us what a good bio looks like in practice.
We’ve said before that your About page is the most important page on your portfolio. A potential client or employer might browse dozens of portfolios with excellent work that fits their brief. It’s your About page that separates your site from the rest. This is where we learn what you offer that nobody else can – whether that’s a specific viewpoint, experience, skill or attitude.
Browse our Semplice Showcase or Carbonmade talentpool and you will see a range of About statements, from simple and straightforward bios to lengthy life stories. Everyone has a different approach depending on their work, their voice and their style. So let’s examine some of our favorite portfolio bios from our Semplice family, and you can decide which approach best fits your website.
First: It should be obvious these bios belong to others and are here for inspiration only. It won’t do you much good to rip off another designer’s About statement. Rather, pay attention to the type of language they use, the length, style and specific word choices. This will help you write a unique bio that works best for you.
The philosophical approach
Mackey Saturday takes a noteworthy approach for both his bio and his case studies. He leads with his philosophy for his work, identity design. Take a look at the one-sentence intro on his homepage:
"Designs timeless visual identities for evolving brands."
Now go to his About page and read his full-length bio (it’s only two paragraphs) beginning with this:
"The most innovative solution to a complex problem is often the simplest one. But as anyone who’s devoted their time to big ideas knows, simple and easy are two very different things. Nowhere is this more true than when designing visual identities."
Notice Saturday doesn’t start outright with information about himself. He could have said, “I’m a NYC-based identity designer with a decade of experience designing logos for brands like Instagram, Oculus and Silk.” Instead, he leads with a strong statement about his work philosophy. He’s not posturing or waxing poetic, but rather revealing his experience and unique perspective in simple terms. It’s refreshing.
Her entire homepage is her About statement, and it’s a bold one. After a brief standard intro (where she’s based, where she works, what she specializes in – all good keywords to include in her intro) she shares little quirks about herself, some of which relate to work and others that don’t. Upon reading her page, we get a sense of Rachello's personality: her taste, personality and professional skills. We can immediately envision what it’s like to work with her.
Nuno Leites opts for a similar approach on his About page. His bio, in which he cracks a joke about his headshot and uses varying typefaces, is decidedly casual. If you have a sense of humor, don't be afraid to show it on your About page. Your case studies should show you are serious about your work. Your About page, then, should show a glimpse of who you are beyond it.
The polished professional
Many designers like to take the third-person approach with their portfolio bio, which is a perfectly acceptable solution. For one, this allows you to take a step back and write about your accomplishments without feeling like you’re bragging about them. It also allows others to easily copy and paste your bio for use in press, if that’s what you’re after.
“Glenn's clients have included Toyota, Google, Lexus, Ford, Huawei and Foxtel, with his work earning a reputation for its beautiful and considered aesthetic, collecting awards both locally and internationally.”
As he works under the moniker, KOZV, third-person is a fitting solution that positions him more as an established studio than an independent designer.
Keep in mind, there is no one “right” way to build a portfolio. This is why we don’t offer templates with Semplice and Carbonmade, but rather allow you to customize your site based on your ideas. So while each of these bio approaches works, do what feels right for you, your voice and your work. The portfolios that stand out are those that don’t sound like robotic, templated resumes with tired phrases everyone uses. This is your website, not LinkedIn. So whatever you do, make your bio yours.
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the founder of DESK, nice to meet you!