Timmy is a very special designer. He works on many fantastic projects and sometimes he even wins awards (but he’s very humble about that, he assures you). Timmy would describe his design style as “incredible,” and also “the most unique.” Please contact Timmy for your next design project!
So goes the typical portfolio bio. At some point, we started writing our own portfolios in third person like we’re being announced at some awards reception. I can’t pretend my own portfolio bio isn’t written that way. But lately, given how many portfolios I see on a daily basis thanks to Semplice, I’ve started wondering why. Aside from personal pronoun preference, is there a reason most of us write our bios as if someone else wrote them for us? Is one way better than the other? Does it matter at all?
I believe there are a couple reasons why we started writing in third person. For one, it’s a little easier to praise ourselves from this distance and it removes an edge of desperation from our tone. “Carol is an award-winning designer” sounds a little less boastful than “I’m an award-winning designer.” Third person allows us to step back from the equation and pretend we’re objectively stating the facts, rather than bragging.
I also suspect we believe third person sounds a bit more professional and impressive. It implies that someone else wrote the bio for us (whether or not that's true) — because when do we ever speak in that tense about ourselves in real life?
But the biggest reason this is a common approach, and maybe the most valid, is because third person makes it easy for someone to copy and paste our bio for their publication, press release or event. When someone asks for my bio one thing or another, I know I can just point them to the page one my website and be done with it. And that's why I've kept it that way.
"Third person removes the human warmth from a bio, making it feel less personal and more robotic."
But sometimes when I read bios like this, written as if they're talking about some other person they know, I can’t help but feel a little weird. Third person removes the human warmth from a bio, making it feel less personal and more robotic. At least in the context of a portfolio, it comes across like we’re trying too hard. Sometimes it even feels cliche.
While creating my portfolio, I try to remember the person who’s viewing it. They’re one human, not a skeptical judge panel or crowd at an awards dinner. So perhaps we write one bio for our portfolio and provide another in a press kit, if someone needs it. Maybe it doesn’t matter very much at all.
Whatever you do, I do recommend hiring a copywriter or asking a skilled friend to write your bio. It’s always awkward to write it yourself, and having a friend write it with your guidance will most likely make it feel more natural.
If you're working on your portfolio right now, check out these tips for writing case studies, avoiding common portfolio mistakes, crafting the perfect About page and more. I hope it helps!
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the founder of DESK, nice to meet you!