Examples of cardboard things & products you can make

This is a list of examples of cardboard ‘things’ and products that I have made and co-designed for retail.

This list of product ideas may be useful if you are looking for ways to create your own cardboard products or STEM/products for your business, home project, or school homework.

Cardboard is a great material to use. It is versatile and generally affordable.

If you are looking for Freelance Cardboard Designer to help you create your product, the links below will take you to my skills and services website where you can read a bit more about my skills and services.

examples of cardboard things - card game net

Skills & Services (external website)

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Examples of cardboard products & things

For this project, I was involved in the creation and the look and feel of the product. I themed the product around space “the final frontier” to try and make it exciting to the target demographic.

You can read more about the stages and the process of this product – how to make a low-cost STEM product. Which goes into deeper detail on ‘how’ to make the product in steps.

examples of cardboard things - VR cardboard
examples of cardboard things - flat next of a product design!

VR Cardboard 2 – “Virtual Goggles”

An alternative VR Cardboard model with a different theme and styling. The die-line was supplied by a factory and I filled the template with the artwork.

I was involved in the concept for the narrative behind the artwork – eg the polygon world, which was inspired by a lot of the walking sims and Smartphone apps available on the market at the time.

Virtual Goggles made from cardboard
Flat next of cardboard product

Most of the artwork was created in Adobe Illustrator – Vector illustration – with some additional tweaks and accents added in Photoshop later on.

“Other things you can create with cardboard! “

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Games

These are not ‘pure’ cardboard products… but most of the contents are either playing card material or regular cardboard. The top and bottom lid is made from card, that has mounted or wrapped in high-quality finish paper.

The colour manual which sits inside the box is made from silk coated flyer paper.

examples of cardboard things - make a game!
playing cards example

So.

With regards to what you can make out of cardboard, card or even paper, a card game or board game may be a viable option.

Although based on my commercial experience in designing a couple of party games, the manufacturing cost for a board game can be relatively low.

On the other hand, creating a game can be a very time-hungry process, though very rewarding if your game is successful.

I have written more about this product here, how to make a party game that you can sell.

Mock ups for a game idea
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Cardboard Smartphone Photo Booth

Officially known as the Memory Capture. The aim of this product was to create a “build your own” product made purely from fluted cardboard.

When creating this product, a lot of trial and error was involved with getting this to a working prototype.

examples of cardboard things - Phone Booth
actual cardboard product
Concept for cardboard product
Early concept for a cardboard product

We created various mock-ups from miniatures to life-size models to see whether it could be put together easily and support a smartphone without it collapsing.

It is wise to create mock-up and prototypes before spending the money and going into a production run.

The artwork was created to represent a retro SRL camera with aim of the product appealing to more senior analogue camera user.

Photoshop was used when creating the textures and photo reference to illustrate the retro polaroids!

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Cardboard puppet show for your Smartphone

This product was almost 100% cardboard, aside from the plastic sticks that were supplied in order to move the puppets around.

The Mobile Theatre turns your Smartphone – combined with the kit – into a 2D puppet show, which you can record and share.

The kit comes with an assortment of backdrops, characters, and 2-dimensional props to spark the imagination.

examples of cardboard things - puppet show for smartphones
Puppet show
examples of cardboard things - flat net
Packaging example
Packaging 2
Packaging example for product – cardboard

This product was created with “what can you make for under £1 principle”. The product was created to inspire children to use their creativity. The kits comes with all of the bits and pieces (apart from the phone) to get started.

Enough t keep people occupied for hours.

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Examples of cardboard things (products) | Summary

Thank you taking the time to look at my list of cardboard ‘things’ and STEM products.

Hopefully, this may have given you some ideas on what you can make using cardboard. If you would like me to help with your creating your cardboard product or to design the artwork to sit inside a mesh or die-line I would be more than happy to do so.

You can view more on my cardboard product design services here.

You may also find some of the following product development articles useful.

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Product Articles

Digital Products & Experiences

And lastly, I would like to leave on this quote, what was said about Satzuma LTD, where I had the opportunity to create some of the products show on this page.

“ Truly, when it comes to small business, if there’s a skill, there’s a way.”

Guy Kawaski – One of ‘the’ former Apple Evangilsts.

examples of cardboard things (products) –

All products are Copyright Satzuma Limited

Why are Graphic Designers so arrogant?

An interesting question came up when looking for things to write about, “why are graphic designers so arrogant?

Wow, I was surprised at this oddly common question to come up when doing my research.

How to answer this is tricky, but I do have my theories based on experience and general attitudes I have come across. As a short answer, I believe that question has come about as a mixture of client perceptions and expectations, designers taking pride in what they (we) do.

why are graphic designers so arrogant
why are graphic designers so arrogant….

The “yes sir” designer, the ones that take orders and maybe earlier on in the career. And the more experienced designer, offer advice and consultation when it’s not wanted or expected.

Some might call this unsolicited advice.

As a designer, you need to discern what is expected of you from either of these two main expectations.

Why Graphic Designers are so arrogant.

Good Graphic Designers, by and large, want to make a mark and a good impression. This could be why a passionate designer may also come across as being arrogant and being full of self-worth.

But, I actually think that the majority of the people asking this question are those that are not used to working with designers. Design, as such isn’t really a commodity that is easy to weigh and measure as you can sugar and grain.

At least, that is my main belief. And still, if asked will try to itemise my services for ease of my clients and new business.

What is listed above is my main view.

But…

Is there more to this perception – egotistical design?

As a collective generalisation based Google Search, are Graphic Designers arrogant? Are we pompous? Or is it the case that companies and businesses think our job is easy and expect less from us? OR they are just uncertain as to the different types of designers out there?

Hmm…

Are you reader, the believer that all Graphic Designers or full of it?

Is it the iMacs? Or the glasses? The style – ah… style do you believe we put style over the substance? Perhaps some of us do. But good design shouldn’t be just about style.

why are graphic designers so arrogant - search

Here are some other theories as to why graphic designers are seen to be arrogant and egotistical.

Possibly…

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Your Types of Designer & Non-Designer

Graphic Design has become more commonplace and a much more accessible profession, with somebody that knows somebody who is a designer. There dog, a neighbour, a nephew, etc etc.

This is both a positive and negative influence on this creative industry.

With the over-saturation of Graphic Designers on the market or at least individuals claiming to be, this has lead to the reasons as to why graphic designers are being paid so little. There is an overabundance design supply to design demand.

You can easily find a Graphic Designer anywhere!

Whether they are good or experienced designers is another question. The point being is there are many – too many! Claiming to be Graphic Designers.

You can find some Graphic Designers who are very skilled and talented that didn’t study go to college but these individuals are much rarer. ( as a note, a degree or higher education isn’t a right of passage to good design! )

But, by and large – when recruiting for internships in the past I could tell the “designers” from people just trying their luck.

These people just trying their luck types contribute to over-subscription to an already busy industry.

Some “just trying their luck types designers” were hoping to get another job of any kind. If the ‘have-go-designer’ had a portfolio at all, it would have been a bonus.

When you put the ‘have go designer’ next to seasoned professional or graduate or someone that takes the profession seriously, you may get quite a contrast in personality, experience confidence, and skill.

This is 1 reason I can think of as to “why are graphic designers so arrogant”, or at least alleged to be.

Not all Graphic Designers are the same, your ” have-go-designer, your IT come/design professional, the print house designer, the consultant, the art director, the junior, the middleweight, the senior, director!

We are many!

List of thoughts, opinions and possible alternative answers as to why are graphic designers so arrogant.

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Group 1 – neighbours cousin dog used Photoshop for a weekend

Anybody can wake up one morning and decide to call themselves a Graphic Designer.

If they can download a trial version of Photoshop or get their hands on a ‘special’ copy, they can decide they are Graphic Designers without proof or qualifications,
Unlike other industries, you do not need to prove you can design. Your life will not depend on it if you go with a rogue designer and your house is unlikely to fall down from a bad selection of typefaces.

Anyone can decide to call themselves a Designer, the bar of entry is low… and this can have an impact on the perception of the industry.

The neighbours cousins dog and your ‘have-a-go-designers” can parade that they can toss together a business card for £5.

There is no policing the ‘have a go designer’.

This in turn can have a negative impact on the designers that have studied and toiled and try to make design better day by day. These designers, the ones that take pride and love in what they do as opposed to your ‘have a go’ designers may be the ones that are sadly getting the bad wrap.

The designer, the casual non-designer designer that is just walking around with the title of the designer can be deemed an imposter by the professionals.

These types of have-a-go-designer may work at the printers, church, school, is a relative and friendly, and have self-depreciation – but you know! They have used photoshop for 2 days! So that makes that person a Designer.

No…

It just means they know a bit about Photoshop., knowing Photoshop doesn’t make them Designer.

There is a difference between somebody just taking orders and doing it in Photoshop to a creative designer looking to come up with solutions.

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Price difference between the pro, graduate and have a go designer

“You are charging how much for a business card?”

– client, from the distant past…

Often, it’s not just a business card, you might need to spend hours drawing the artwork, sending proofs back and forward, and perhaps, on certain occasions – actually creating a brand at the same time. And in this instance, it was a lot more than just throwing a card together.

That £5 may reflect much more than you think.

  • £5 is less than minimum wage in the UK, if somebody is offering a card design service how can they afford to create it and live? Is This a hobbyist? Template service etc, etc.
  • If their rate is so cheap are they inexperienced?
  • For £5 is this just a bolt-on service to their main work? Eg design isn’t really their thing. They just added it on to make an extra £5.

There is difference in what you (a client) may expect from a Designer.

– One being – “just chuck it together”
– The other being : ” help me out, I want my business to grow!”

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I’m going to use the £5 designer as a scale and measuring stick. Or we can call the them the “£5-have-a-go” again if you prefer.

When you go with the said £5 designer, there is a chance that you are using a less experienced level of Graphic Designer too. Experienced designers tend to have had more practice in what they are doing and…

As they have got older ask for more – not less.

A 40 year designer with years of commercial experience and industry knowledge isn’t arrogant for asking for fair wage based upon their service and value to your business.

The chances are, the £5 designer may have aspirations to become that 40-year-old designer one day too. And then ask for a higher rate.

But what I am really trying to get to the bottom of here is this.

There is a VERY big difference between a designer of 2 minutes and the one 1000’s hours.

And I do not feel that an experienced designer with years of commercial experience should be deemed as arrogant.

If a marketing professional, a solicitor, or a nurse had plenty of experience and climbed up the career ladder would you judge them for asking for a fair wage that reflects their skills?

The big question to ask as to why you think Graphic Designers are so arrogant could be more that you may not see the value on their skill or perhaps … you don’t actually want the design work. OR maybe they are arrogant have much higher skills compared to thier actual skill…

You may be just going through the motions and hate all this design stuff and what it represents?

I have written below a list of other potential reasons why designers may be perceived as arrogant, based on opinion and experience, and paraphrased ‘things’ I have heard colleagues and clients say.

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1 ) Why are graphic designers so arrogant… snobbery

Graphic Designers may be seen as arrogant due to what some may as regard as snobbish tastes. We scoff at Comic Sans, come out in blisters at the site of the laminating machine and make scoffing remarks on bad menu design when the majority of the world couldn’t care less.

Mr not comic Sans
comic sans monster!

But as Graphic Designers, we have been trained for what we do – or at least many of us have. We are charging for service that needs to go a bit beyond the norm. Comic sans, having its place on the rare occasion wouldn’t belong on a funeral parlour or an insurance brokers website.

The visual language needs to be correct for the subject matter. And when we wade in and say ‘no’ because comic sans does not reflect the brand of marketing message of the topic.

You may be baffled as to why. It’s not just about making things pretty and feeling that your personal tastes have been insulted.

Commercial design for business should never just be about your personal tastes… be it the designers or clients. It is about making the visuals work for the task at hand and suiting the target demographic.

Design as a service has a job and a role to fulfill.

Putting things in nice places, patterns, typefaces, branding, just part of it.

Snobby designers!

Stupid… arrogant designers! I’m going to laminate YOU!

why are graphic designers so arrogant - laminated graphic designer
I’m going to laminate YOU!
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2 ) Designers may be seen as ‘trendy’

Graphic design is often about trends, being modern, being cool, and being in-tune with the current market. It’s harder and more tiring than it sounds.

Trends in web and trends in design are 2 very different stances on the word “trend”.

“Trend” is a word that is used a lot, and as designers we need to try our best to stay on board with what that actually is, depending on the context in which it is said.

Not all design is about “trend”s. But it is often important to a brief. This also translates to activities, fashion cultural habits etc, any many designers being cool and new.

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3 ) Perceived as cool (Pretentious designers)

Amazing what you come across when looking through forums and talking to the general public etc.

Well…

This may fit with the view of “why are graphic designers so arrogant.

Whats is the definition of cool, according to the dictionary,

“cool is slang for the acceptance, a badge of approval from your peers, colleagues, and the general public.”

Being cool, or to say something is cool and is the mark of approval.

It is true, depending on the industry that designers want something to be more than just ‘meh’. They want their work to be seen as cool or the best that it can be and get for an all-important cool badge.

I can see why arrogance and cool can go together and can also then see the link to cool – arrogance and – graphic design. Generally young, modern, and cool – trendy.

Now that we have established why design is seen as “cool” (apparently)

Arrogance by definition means this.

having or showing an exaggerated opinion of one’s own importance, merit, ability, etc; conceited; overbearingly proud and arrogant teacher; an arrogant assumption.“

puh…

Maybe some us do put too much importance on the aesthetics of a menu, typeface, advert – maybe it makes us look a bit pretentious too. Or it could be designer that things they are too cool, and their skills aren’t inline with other peoples opinions.

(just so you know, I do not believe I am the best designer since sliced bread, sliced bread is impressive!)

I don’t know…

I have found on a few occasions based on the opinion that is a restaurant is ‘too showy’, it’s possibly not as tasty as some of the places that are a bit less stylish. If I go to a restaurant myself, I can forgive a bad typeface. I’m not paying for a good menu to look at. I want to eat what is on the menu.

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4 ) You actually wish you could do the Graphic Design

I have actually come across this on a few occasions.

If the client has a creative eye combined with thinking they are stylish, I have found that his can be a subtle of not so subtle catalyst for them believing that they can do your job!

I know, it is a right of passage! Bought nice shoes – can do Graphic Design obviously.

If you think that design is easy or at least drawing on a computer is easy then you’d be mistaken. Doing is one thing (kudos for trying) and doing it well is another. And sometimes, I happy to admit that even designers might fall short on challenging brief.

Business owner! Or secret wannabe designer. The true annoyance can come when you are not really looking for designer…

As a client you are looking for someone to do your artwork for you. – You don’t want a thinker, you want a hand.

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5 ) Designers can act like they know more about your business than you do

This is a bit of a poke at myself and the industry although I’m happy to take a step back and admit that I don’t know anything about property, law or many other industries.

I will assume it to be a case of the client knowing what sells.

In response to why are graphic designers may be deemed arrogant, I can’t help but wonder if you, as the designer feel, as if you know about the target demographic than your client does?

Steering your client towards making the best design decisions that are in their business interest is one thing. ‘Pretending’ that you know more about their business and their audience is another.

Fellow designers, if you are reading this. You probably do not know more about your client’s business than the client and if you do it is not your place to correct them. You may think you are right, you may think you are helping them, but the chances are this will backfire – and you should also value the opinion of your client here.

Even if it cramps your style!

Your duty is to offer Graphic Design as a service for the client unless they ask for business advice too.

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6 ) Design Hipsters

A playful bit of fun. Chances are, people call me a bit of hipster when I’m not in the room. Or at least I have not heard them!

But down to the Design Hipster thing.

Those pesky design hipsters, they are everywhere.

Especially in East London, riding a penny-farthing without wearing socks – growing copious amounts of heavily groomed facial hair, eating in cereal cafes etc etc.

The hipster style (sorry way of life!) , is a trend. Remember how I mentioned trendy earlier?

There is perhaps a subtle youthful arrogance to hipsters. Trendy, unique, cool… creative etc. I’m cooler than next person and more creative because I have a beard etc.

The irony of the ‘unique’ hipster, is that there many hipsters… making them much less unique from one another. ( did you know you can do hipster quizzes?)

There are a lot of design industries in East London, and there a lot of hipsters in east London. Especially compared to the rest of the country. So it is no surprise to have designers that are hipsters. Design Hipsters.

Design hipsters may very well ‘deem themselves’ the lords and ladies of cool and all things trendy. They will never say it, they’ll just exude it.

We are young, cool and hip, wear lumberjack shirts, tattoos, beards, glasses with no lenses, we go to gimmicky places to eat, etc etc.

For you are a comic sans heathen! Hipsters are cool and there is a large chunk of the design industry that I may regard as cool and quite hipster.

But now… with design hipsters do you think that they are arrogant and cool because they are young and full of new ideas and you are the lords or beige and don’t like avocados?

Maybe! ( yeah… you’re jealous! ;-D )

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7 ) Do people think Graphic Design is a “fluff” job!?

Over the years I have had various things said to me and behaviours that allude to some individuals that just don’t take design seriously for business. And you know, people are welcome to own their own opinions and I have come to accept it.

I will say my bit, but I will not try to burn myself out proving that design is both applicable and useful in business for many situations. I can think this, and say this with quiet confidence.

Clients will believe what they will believe. I have better things to do than converting their opinions.

But, still for those that think we are a waste of time. There is no changing some of their closed views. They will think of us arrogant for having some self-belief in our profession. They will most likely hold this view before they have even met us.

Some businesspeople outside of design believe what we do, to be unimportant – we just make things pretty. And if you are a designer, you and I both know that more often than not many fields such as website design, UI, product design, creative direction, etc.

There is much more to it.

Yes, the look of something is important with Graphic Design. But it isn’t the only part.

Just to quickly brainstorm a few key points with my profession:

Sell a product, make it look appealing to the target buyer user, branding, the user experience, is it easy to use, is it easy to read, does it make people feel a certain way, is it exciting, does it make you pick things up and want to buy it, does it illustrate, can it inform, does the design tie in with the bigger picture?

And then, how stylish is it.

Those are just a handful of thoughts and processes I use for projects. I do see the value in design for business and how it can actually help to make money, Not just from a design standpoint but from an entrepreneurial standpoint too.

Now, not every designer is the same, and perhaps some have inflated ego’s, and this how this question has come to be – why are graphics designers so arrogant.

But for some, you will never change the view and behaviour. Be it the ego of a designer or the contempt and ignorance of a client who lacks all respect for design. Just keep moving forward.

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Why graphic design is important for business

why are graphic designers so arrogant - importance of design

Graphic Design can help sell a product service or be an integral part of a product itself.

I have written a post here covering STEM product design for example – a direct tie in with the value of Design and business.

Graphic Design is by no means, the be-all and end-all to a business or a product’s success. And I am more than happy to stand by this both being involved in the creative design process and as part of product development for retail.

Sorry all, but Graphic Design alone is not the golden egg for business success and neither is many of roles as a singular.

The success often comes from multiple channels and talents and elbow grease from many parties, with the Graphic Design being one, not the only.

Design is important for many businesses as it provides a vessel for selling service, pushing a brand, and showing the user what the product is all about.

Design is important… but not the only important thing for business.

*One thing I would like to mention, and though Graphic Design is important for many businesses, you don’t want to put the cart before the horse.

  • Don’t use design negatively.
  • Don’t use design to sell a half-baked or weak product idea.

If you are using design be it for a website, social media, or print, make sure you have a real product that, if you were to take all of the gloss and excitement away from it (eg packaging) it would still be a great product in years to come.

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Why are graphic designers so arrogant | final answer to a perhaps daft question

To answer why are graphic designers so arrogant in one attempt is difficult, as this predominantly a question based around somebody’s opinion and each situation is unique.

Initially, I would have put this question in the camp of coming from angry clients who were letting off some steam by doing a search in Google, but then I started to wonder whether this is an industry-wide opinion – judging by the fact it came up in auto-suggest – maybe!

why are graphic designers so arrogant - auto search

Think that most of this opinion comes from differing points of view and general misunderstanding. A client may have some undeclared expectations of what and how they want a designer to behave and the Designer, depending on the level they are, maybe miss-aligned with their clients’ or employers’ expectations.

An eager Graphic Designer may also be caught between the narrow gap of offering a service and offering their experience at the same time –

“Consult me… but do as you are told.”

in other words rock and a hard place. There isn’t an easy way through this apart from early communications and trying to gauge how your clients and co-workers all gel as a team.

In addition to all that has been said – to sadly reinforce an unwelcome and inconvenient stereotype, I have come across this thread that lists some design arrogance, predominately between UX and Graphic Designers or Reddit.

Which if you would like to see other opinions feel free to do so.

The following statements could also be potential factors for designers being perceived as having an ego.

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– Many designers strive for perfect design, sometimes to the detriment of a deadline. Occasionally, ‘boshing’ it together is all that is needed for the brief when it is of lower value to the business objective. This may come off a strange stubbornness where ‘design’ takes total precedence and important above all else – thus the arrogance badge.

– Designers will more often than not try to treat their profession as an art. When more often than not it should be seen as they are offering a service to your / the business above all else. In other words, we can become very emotionally involved a good project.

They can’t let it go. A proud and stubborn designer just can’t let a cool idea go and who could blame them! Designers should strive to make the next best thing for design! But this in turn can lead to a difference of opinion and project wrestling match.

Some businesses/professions / individuals and fellow colleagues don’t ‘really’ believe in the value of design. They see you as the creator of fluff and as a low-skilled pretender. And when that lack of respect for you and the profession becomes evident, this can lead to a wrestling match again. Graphic Designers will probably defend their role and profession, perhaps in passive-aggressive ways – pomp, superiority, when a client makes them (us) feel of low worth. – insecure.

– Cool kids with glasses. As much as I find it a bit shallow, as a professional designer, I try to keep my fingers on the pulse with the latest looks in retail and business. In school, you’d been called a “trendy’ and this can also add to that images of being smug and egotistical.

– Push their design evangelism. If the designer is so passionate – so obsessed with the value of design, have read too much Steve jobs, they may be uncompromising in their vision and too new from college. They may be yet to learn when to compromise in areas of their design for the good of the business.

It a nutshell, there isn’t one easy and single answer to ‘arrogance’ in the field. As designers are people and people are different from each other. You will always come across pomp and superiority whether it is the business owner vs designer, designer vs developer and so on.

A question to consider is ‘why there isn’t more unity in trying to meet a common goal in business?’ Most of the reasons listed above cover this but wouldn’t it be ideal if we’re all truly on the same page.

There could be 100’s of other smaller reasons as to why you believe Graphic Designers are so arrogant or if you have been called an arrogant designer. It could be just a case of attitude, ignorance or even inexperience!

“why graphic designers are so arrogant”

What do I feel about my Designers!?

Think us designers are alright if I don’t say so myself!

I only consider our arrogance and man-buns from time to time. In-between projects and perhaps brewing a tea! I’ve personally not come across too much of it with regards to arrogance. The only thing I might say is ‘Sales’ have regarded design as support (joking, I think) when the design was an integral part of the whole process. Otherwise, they would have been selling much less interesting products.

Us cool designers, flexing our design muscles, power curling avocados 😀

Thank you for reading! I hope this post has answered a few thoughts and queries with both humour and sincere attempt at answering a tricky question.

External links | Design attitudes and tutorials

Thank you for reading – “why graphic designers are so arrogant”… honestly?

how to make a STEM product to sell

How to make a STEM product to sell: I wanted to share this knowledge on how myself and my past colleagues went about designing and creating STEM products that were sold in retail stores across the UK and Europe and other countries across the world.

When considering how to make a STEM product to sell there are many factors to consider before you open up a CAD or design program.

You need to consider your audience, the budget, how to keep the cost down, and whether the product is actually good enough.

Those are the basic steps.

In order to make a STEM product to sell, you will also need to observe the competition, look at similar products, identify a demand, and the manufacture a product. You will also at this stage look at how to make a product as cost-effective as possible.

how to design a STEM product to sell

This post covers how to design cost-effective models, develop a product, and then prepare it for sale “make it retail-ready” if you are looking at ways to potentially monetise your idea for the future. Or “How to develop a product for under a £1

The items shared in this post are actual products that were designed by myself whilst working at gadget and gifting company that sold 10,000s of units across the globe.

Most of this post is written from a design perspective but the all-important money stages have not been skimmed over.

Many of the products listed on this page are geared towards, science, tech, and learning all of which will help you when you to want to design your product.

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How to make a STEM product to sell | preparation

In short, we created products that would both satisfy demand and be affordable in a retail environment.

In order to keep things affordable, having production costs low was never far from our minds.

We took into account the materials needed to be cheap and time was very precious, and we also wanted to avoid too much trail an error where possible.

STEM-packaging

The example here is called the “3D hologram”. After many hours trawling the internet, watching gadget videos and looking for cool products for smartphones we arrived at this.

A packaged 3D Hologram for your smartphone.

So the first stage is to check and research to see what the competition is doing and whether there is a demand for the product.

After this step, what can you can do differently and how could we carve a product out in a busy retail environment.

How did we know if it would sell?

In a few of words … we didn’t.

But we tried to do as much early research as possible to increase the possibilities that this product would stand a good chance, but there was no guarantee.

As mentioned before. Do your homework to test the waters. Try to make it more than a hunch!

If your product falls flat, even the How to develop a product for under a £1 motto won’t count for anything if there isn’t a want or demand.

When I was brainstorming with the team and sharing ideas on how to make a STEM product, we arrived at the conclusion that creating the 3D hologram would be a great item to go with.

It was educational, it was tech and the network of ready retailers was there.

We put hours and hours into the research stage.

Don’t rush the research stage and do not cut corners or “trim the fat”

These are some of the factors we used to grill the idea and see if it was a viable STEM / or learning product we could sell:-

  • STEM and learning products was a growing market
  • Many customers were asking for “learning” and build your own type of products
  • Researching various websites gave us statistics and the assurance that the product was likely to sell.

We didn’t want to leave to much to chance. But, even with all the research and careful consideration…

There is no guarantee that the product ‘would’ sell.

But doing so on all products if you are wanting to make money from your idea should be thoroughly researched.

Do your homework!

( for the record, this product did sell! Phew..! )

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how to make a STEM product to sell

Grill your product idea | next step

  • Get an idea, love it a little bit, season it with joy, and a healthy dose of optimism. Then start taking it into reality.
  • Research to see if it is an existing product on the market, or whether there is a demand for your idea. If there isn’t a demand, eg there is nothing similar to your idea that doesn’t have an audience – don’t make it. (sorry you are not Steve jobs) end of the first mean hurdle.
  • See if people may want it. Scour the internet, see if there are communities, websites, shops, and products to see if there is a modern audience on the lookout for your offering.
  • Listen to what the retailers are saying and try to meet their demands as they will have good insight into what is a popular product. If you ignore them, the failure of your product increases.
  • Does it fit in with the rest of the products that you are trying to sell? If you are an established brand there will be certain expectations of you.

I call this a ‘grilling stage’ for a product or an idea.

This logical and critical approach to your idea is important, don’t scrimp on it.

Research your product!

These scrutinising stages of your product are arguably one of the most important and shouldn’t be passed over. That lack of critical thinking for your product may backfire later in their form of the general public writing bad reviews or nobody buying your product.

In order to make your product a success, you will need to make sure it will stand up to the competition. Create a viable product that can be sold.

In other words.

Really think about what you are going to create and whether people will buy it.

It is better to come to this conclusion sooner rather than later. Coming to the realisation you can’t sell your product 9 months after creating it will be bad for your business and you will most likely have to pay to store products you can’t sell.

That is the end of the big critical thinking stage of how to make a STEM product to sell. Leave nothing to chance, research the market, and always check cost prices of manufacture.

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How to create your product for under a £1

Now that you have stress-tested your ideas, you need to consider ways to manufacture your product for as cheap as is necessary without forgoing the quality of your product, and I can’t stress this enough…

How to develop a product for under a £

The quality of your product matters, be this high-end STEM or learning product or an entry-level gadget.

People care about what they are spending, even if it is only £5.

Make it the best it can be for however much you can afford, and if it falls short of being anywhere near the best it can be, wait. Or perhaps consider doing a Kickstarter.

In the past, and on current projects, I take practical steps in order to make a minimum viable product that I feel is worthy of being to be sold. I take pride in what I do, and so should you!

When creating a product, you should always be considerate of the consumer’s wallet, keep your product affordable if you want to move high volumes.

But in order to consider how much your customer can spend, you need to consider how you can keep the production costs lower.

More of this is mentioned below.

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Product Development Opinion

This is a personal opinion but none the less one I would advise you should take heed of as a business of 2020+.

Don’t make rubbish! Don’t make a product that offers very little to consumers, makes the world a worse place, or is generally complete landfill!

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A product that fails after a couple of uses is a product that is arguably a waste of resources, a bad experience for the customer, harmful to the brand, and terrible for the environment.

Be considerate of what you are making, both at the start, middle, and end of the product’s life.

No amount of clever packaging or marketing should disguise a bad product, even if it was developed for under £1!

I like to believe the products shown here were fun and beneficial and that the customers and their children may enjoy them – perhaps even learned something from them.

The next stage of this article offers the steps and details of creating your product to sell or “how to make a STEM product to sell”

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Checklist on how to make a STEM product to sell

1) Identify whether your product has an active market. Check that you have channels or retail spaces where you can sell the product. Such as a high-street retailer or online store.

2) Develop your idea, rough-out drawings – try to come up with something that is different but also easy to understand to the lay person. This will make it easier to market and sell your product with packaging or online.

3) After you have established the core product and drafted up a few different concepts, look for ways in which ‘features’ can be reduced. In order to reduce the cost and make your product lower in production costs, you now need to trim the fat. (create a minimum viable product)

4 ) Reduce expensive materials and unnecessary parts. Consider what the product actually needs and what will be of benefit the user. Does it really need gold foiling and spot UV on the packaging? If not then you should consider removing it.

5) Consider your materials: you can reduce the cost of your product by considering what materials you are using. Can you use something cheaper to save costs but still offer a complete item? Different plastics, reduce the size. Look at the compounds that make your product. Or consider using a card?

6 ) Get a prototype built. I would highly recommend creating a mock-up of your product. DO not gamble £1000’s on a product just because you want to save a few £100. Going with the ‘just ship it’ to retailers can seriously backfire and I have seen it happen! Your brand, reputation, and business will be on the line if you do and you fail this gamble. I would advise strongly – to get a prototype.

7 ) Reduce costs on the packaging. There are a few ways to reduce costs for a product and one area is certainly packaging! In the vein of how to develop a product for under a £1 so you can get a bigger margin, you can still create ‘well designed’ but cost-effective packaging.

how to make a STEM product to sell

The list above gives you an answer and guide on how to develop a product for under a £1, and how to make a STEM product to sell for your product line.

Do your research and study the market. And look at ways or reducing material costs.

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Reducing costs on product materials

In order to follow the guidelines and create a product for under a £1 or a dollar. You will need to look for ways to lower the production cost without harming the quality, one of the surest ways of doing this looking at the materials.

In other words, creating a product that is as awesome as it can be … and stripping it right back to what is needed.

And maintaining some of the ‘awesomeness’ of the product. ( Awesome is overused, but that is the level you should be aiming for!)

These are some real questions I have asked myself In the past when working on a product.

Questions to ask when reducing the cost of your product

  • Does it need foil and spot UV on the packaging? Maybe remove it.
  • Can I reduce the thickness of the cardboard on the box? A good idea if it doesn’t compromise the structure of the box or product.
  • Can you reduce the size?
  • If possible, can you take any surplus of fluff features of the product?

In the example shown of the VR cardboard, which was created as an introductory gadget into virtual reality and as a learning/exploring product was created with the mindset of keeping the production cost low.

Below is a breakdown of the contents list for the VR cardboard, outlining the core components.

STEM Product Example (reduce cost)

STEM product cutting list: items that were considered in order to lower the cost of the product.

  • 1 Silk coated card sleeve. This needed to be good enough to show the punchy colour and sell the product! Nothing else! I took the opportunity to use the area on the cover and turned it into a space theme.
  • 1 fluted VR Cardboard (the product). The body of the product is made from white-coated fluted cardboard. Cheap enough to make and structurally strong enough to support the product on its own.
  • Velcro adhesive – in order to close the front guard and to secure the smartphone in place ( and assemble the product) velcro was attached to various flaps and arms.

    * The plastic poly wrap – This may not be compulsory but some retailers may require this to sell in their store. The poly wrap can be good for securing the product and showing that the product is factory new and untampered with.
How to develop a product for under a £1 - diagram / illustration

The ‘real’ cost of developing a STEM product to sell – from scratch!

In order to create a product that you actually sell and make a profit from, you need to make sure that production and running costs are kept low.

But there is much more to creating a product just the cost of materials and production.

Other expenses need to be considered such are the time, creation, design, planning, human effort, storage, packaging the physical size of the product to name a few.

If you do not keep the production cost low in early stages, this may have a knock effect when it comes to selling your product in retail or online, if it sells at all if it is too expensive for it’s perceived value.

In order to help you keep track of the money, reference the illustration below.

What is often overlooked, is that actual creation cost for ‘entire process’ and the buying of a single unit.

In all of these products in this post, salaries were involved, logistics, where to store your product marketing for the sales team to promote the product.

The list below shows a more candid look at the entirety to creating a product, something you should consider when trying to create your product whether for £1, $1, or £5.

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Process cost for entire product creation

How to develop a product for under a ‘£1’ the whole process to selling your STEM product.

Scenario 1 – Actual single unit cost and stages:

  • Research and analysis
  • Hours spent designing and developing the product
  • Paying for a prototype or developing a prototype in-house
  • Making mistakes, the design journey, getting a complete idea.
  • Revising and polishing the design
  • Testing the product
  • Getting the card artwork ready for print and manufacture
  • The packaging for the product
  • Writing any manuals and conformity if needed
  • Creating marketing collateral for the product to help it sell
  • Taking product photo’s to promote it
  • Designing a webpage/website
  • Creating an email marketing campaign ( you can read tips here on designing an e-mail campaign)

These are part of the reality of creating a product if this is your first attempt.

From a pure design perspective, (myself being a designer) many of the stages above would generally be missed out. But being in involved in the whole process from concept to completion, I feel this is something you should know now.

The number of hours it takes to create the product. The testing of the product, the development. Marketing – There is a lot of work with many hands involved.

It would vain of me to say that the sole monetary success of a product hinges around the design alone. Don’t get me wrong, and I bound to say this. But design is still important for many products.

How to develop a product for under a £1 - how to make a STEM product to sell

If this has helped you to take stock and evaluate whether you want to make a STEM product to sell, I hope it has so far given you some positive advice.

Before going onto the next section and showing you some of the STEM and learning gadgets I have created, I wanted to share some pointers to summerise.

  • Do your homework and see if the market would like your product offering.
  • Create a mock-up (even a low tech one)
  • Keep the cost of the materials down to prevent this inflating the RRP too much or reducing your profit.
  • Consider all processes
  • And consider who will be involved.
  • Prepare to invest

This is especially applicable if you are a small team and not just an individual making a product. An individual going about setting up their own product or doing this as a hobby won’t need to worry about staff on logistics etc.

At least not for the immediate future.

Whether you are a team or one day you would like to be part of, or have your own team. These points are an important thing to consider when you wanting to know how to design a STEM product to sell and how to develop a product for under £1.

In other words, how to create a low-cost minimum viable STEM product.

You may find some of the following articles also useful for developing a product.

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STEM & Tech product examples

Below are STEM, Science, and general learning products that I have designed and co-designed using the steps, principles, and methods as mentioned throughout this post.

The mindset of “How to develop a product for under a £1” was used when creating these.

VR Cardboard “Virtual Goggles” – Smartphone Virtual Reality

This product tapped into a growing tech trend. A simple concept that turns your smartphone into a budget VR headset for under £5 for RRP.

With this pack, you had to assemble your VR cardboard from scratch! It was added as a learning and tech product.

VR Cardboard

And you may be pleased to know that cardboard engineering wasn’t as complicated as you might think.

The die cut was sourced from a factory and the artwork was illustrated by myself. The great thing about this product was you didn’t need to spend time to create the product from scratch!

So saved on time.

Learning + tech. So time was saved on the trial and error of creating prototypes as the dieline was supplied.

The product is made only from cardboard too! As the name would give away.

VR Cardboard Frontier

Following on in the same vein, this product was another low-cost tech product. Only that this one was pre-assembled and it retailed for £5 RRP.

This budget VR headset is another entry into smartphone VR. The blank diecut and sleeve were supplied from by a Chinese factory on request and I created the vector artwork and space theme in Adobe Illustrator.

I played with the idea of “frontier” with VR being the next stage of exploration.

VR Cardboard
VR Cardboard

For children, it was created to inspire a sense of awe and fun whilst learning when using the headset. And if they chose to, simply play a game.

It was created to appeal to children and be sold in places such as the science museum. You can read more about my vector drawing service on the design.

Freelance vector illustration & design.

3D Hologram – Mostly made from Cardboard and PET

At one stage, this product went on to sell in museums, learning centres and general retailers across the globe and I was pleased to find out that this was a success. (Thanks all!)

With this product, I was involved in the design and research spending many hours on how to make holograms and numerous Youtube video’s on how to construct them.

Hologram in action | STEM

Have you heard of Peppers Ghost? If you are curious to know about Pepper’s ghost I would advise have a read of it on Wikipedia.

STEM-packaging

As this topic is based around how to design a STEM product to sell and how to reduce the production costs of your product I wanted to mention a few key points about this product in particular.

Example of “How to develop a product for under a £1”

  • The actual product is made from clear PET which is folded flat inserted into the card sleeve packaging. The production cost for this was very low!
  • The packaging is simply a sleeve which contains 2 PET holograms and A4 information manual.
  • Retail packaging is small and flat so more units can be placed on a EURO hook
  • The main market for the product was STEM, learning, smartphone tech, and gadgets!

In terms of components, there were very few parts involved. The biggest challenge was developing the product to a standard that it could be sold in retail.

Build your own telescope

Now there are a few things you may notice with this product. It’s similar in nature to the hologram which is a STEM/learning product and that has a similar-sized box to the 3D hologram.

This project was a collaboration piece between myself, another designer and how could I miss… the far east team! (Thanks Ann) to bring the product to life.

STEM packaging 2

The nature of the product is that you can create your own product (build your own) by following the instructions. By the end of the process, you should have a Miniature Telescope

The product is used the same process as mentioned before, basically, try to keep the material and production cost low as possible.

To keep the STEM product cost as low as possible some of the following techniques and shortcuts were used.

  • An existing packaging dieline, (Hologram)
  • The flat pack get as many units on packaging
  • Card packaging
  • An instruction manual

Build your own boxing robot

For any budding engineers in the family, this product is a must – all the more if they like boxing.

My involvement in this STEM product was to create retail packaging.

Build your own Robot STEM

I strove to make the box as appealing as possible with the boxing ring added as an additional feature that would make this awesome product even more appealing.

The artwork was created in a mixture of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. The Photoshopping of the robot supplied by a colleague.

The factory-supplied the existing dielines so no extra time was required to figure out how to make the box work. If time is against you this can be a brilliant time and money-saving measure.

*Assuming that the box is actually any good.

Technically, this STEM product would have cost more than £1 to create.

but due to it being from the STEM selection and carrying many of the principles I wanted to convey in this post I wanted to include it.

These principles are listed below in helping you to lower the cost of making your product.

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Cost saving measure example

  • The product was sourced, requiring significantly less time and money to develop a complete product. Fewer growing pains!
  • An existing dieline was used for the packaging, another way at looking at how to develop a product for under £1 and keep the cost low. as no time would have been needed on the cardboard engineering and working out the sizes etc. A blank box was supplied, the artwork was created by myself.
  • We had looked at the market to see if there was a potential demand. Due to the nature of similar products, of the build your own. We felt this STEM product may have done well also.
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Although the actual single unit cost of this product would have exceeded the £1 or $1 dollar mark. The product was so quick and relevant to our market at the time we grabbed it with both hands and made it our own.

In terms of reducing cost, as so much was ready to use straight out of the pack so to speak, it would have saved weeks of time and money and reduced the burden on collective salaries.

This is the end of my samples for of STEM and learning products. These products are copyright Satzuma LTD.

If feel that this post has helped you on how to develop a product for under a £1 or if you are looking how to make a STEM product to sell ( or both) feel free to share on social media or on your blog!

Enjoy creating your STEM product!

If you would like help on creating your STEM product or creating the flat artwork to go onto the packaging, manual or box feel free to get in touch. Freelance product/packaging design.

how to create a product for under a £1 | quick summary answer

In order to create a product for under £1, you need to look at reducing the cost of production, materials and also just as every bit as important, time.

Time can very costly for a business and looking for cost-saving measures is always important such as looking for some existing solutions which can be tailored or ways you can reduce trial and error.

Looking at uses low-cost materials such as cardboard and paper instead of plastics that require tooling will also reduce of making a product and help to keep below the £1 line.

Other tips for creating a STEM or low-cost product

External links

About STEM

– Teaching products

Designs Bytes | how to make a STEM product to sell and How to develop a product for under a £1. All products are Copyright Satzuma LTD ( Cheers all back at Satzuma HQ!)

30 tips for creating a graphic design portfolio

Getting noticed can be difficult in the design field. Whether you are a freelancer, junior or somebody that is looking at changing their career. This post is a list of 30 portfolio ideas that will help you with your design journey. – tips graphic design portfolio

tips graphic design portfolio

This will (hopefully) offer some ideas to create an interview ready graphic design portfolio.

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”

– Milton Glaser

How to create a design portfolio that will get you noticed

I will answer a very quick question that I was asked recently before going into the detailed list of how to create your stand out portfolio.

Take note, you, the designer will need to put your best foot forward if you want to win that job. You need to show that you can do what is asked of you and that you can offer value to the next role.

What you did yesterday is nice – what you are going to do tomorrow will be what gets you the job.

1 ) Do you need a design portfolio?

In short, yes. This is the first tip. Without a design portfolio, there is no way of ‘showing’ what you can do. Without any examples of work, you are relying on an employer, agency or client to just take your word for it. I cannot emphasise this enough.

Yes, you need to show that you are a designer and you at least have some idea of what you can do. Don’t tell them – show them.

2) include your best, finished pieces

This is not as common as you might think. Graduates, in particular, tend to put too much process stages into their portfolio. Although this offers a good insight into how you work, too much can be counter-productive.

Many employers are in a hurry and want to see ‘results’.

And, I may burst a bubble here and go as far as to say that you may be working as a creative junior artwork / designer if this is your first role – even if the position is sold differently on the jobsboard.

Hopefully, this won’t be forever. But be prepared to see a lot of this when applying for work – especially in the early stages.

Many artworking roles are dressed as creative design work when in fact a manager or client may be telling you what to do, and… you may be pushing pixels around to begin with as a junior designer.

3 ) Show your technical proficiency

If you have managed to find a job that is more ‘art and design’ or ‘illustrative’ then great! But if you are looking for more mainstream graphic design roles you will need to show that you can create the artwork in current programs such as, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign.

I would no longer assume that all design graduates come out with these software skills as a standard – not after recruiting interns and junior graphic designers for creative positions.

4 ) Design notes & annotations in portfolio

Believe it or not, whether you are going to a meeting as freelancer, junior or senior designer. People will read your notes and they will want to understand more of what is going on in your project.

You may know what your project is about but others will not, it is often best to spell it out in short sentences. It doesn’t have to be an essay. Just a paragraph with some annotations saying what is going on in a few words.

5 ) Make it relevant and appealing

This is one of the most most important points in this list so make sure to pay attention. Make sure whatever is in your portfolio, it is as relevant to the job as possible if you want the position.

Employers will want to see what you have done and also what you will do for them should they hire you for the role.

For example, if you are going for a packaging role at gifting company, try to emulate that you can do packaging and that you have past experience in the relevant market.

6 ) Your portfolio says one thing, your CV says another

Saying that you have x y z is one thing. But if your portfolio tells a very different story to what comes out of your mouth or what is written on your CV it will be evident by the end of the meeting.

Don’t bluff too much as you will just waste your time and hiring managers’ time. And managers and directors really don’t have a lot of time to waste.

7 ) The portfolio is just woefully terrible

Subjective but…

I recall reading a CV and thinking to myself how epic a candidate was. I jumped over to their portfolio and they had just 2 pieces of lacking work in their portfolio. Part of it was scrappy little advert tucked up into a corner of the page promoting a grave-digging business, the other I cannot recall.

It was pretty evident that this individual was not a trained graphic designer and that some people in the industry may have been outraged by what was trying to be passed off as a portfolio. In a word – they were bluffing it and portfolio showed it.

Perhaps they wanted to change their career.

If you are looking at changing career then study design, or at the very least have a portfolio with work that shows you are capable.

Don’t tell hiring managers how good you are, show them!

Also, don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to be the best designer in the universe but you know… come on. I was hiring! My reputation is on the line.

So, make your portfolio as awesome as you can! Do your best, look at other designers and ask yourself some critical questions

8 ) Varied but relevant

The closer you can keep your portfolio to the job match, the better. If you have any relevant or applicable pieces that you believe can help land you the desired position – include them.

You what to show projects that are transferable to the position and present you in a good light.

9 ) Not enough work

It can be frustrating even as a senior designer to hear, “have you worked for anyone else?” or when I was a graduate “is that all?” from a recruiter. As a graduate, then chances are you may only have a few good pieces of work and a final major project that takes up a large portion of your portfolio.

Don’t be disheartened.

Create more work that will draw attention. Sounds easy, but the fact is, your portfolio shouldn’t stop once you leave university or college. If you can try to keep your work up to date and keep adding new and exciting pieces, this will carry you in good stead in the future.

tips graphic design portfolio - encouragement

tips graphic design portfolio

10 ) Personal projects

As long as they are good, polished and relevant, include a couple of these projects in your portfolio. It shows that you are continuously trying to develop and some of these projects are on occasions more interesting than your commercial projects.

11 ) ‘Discuss’ projects

With your printed portfolio, be ready to discuss not just what you did in the project, but for what purpose. For example, if your aim was to sell a product, mention this in notes and be prepared to elaborate if you are asked questions.

Keep the notes small and too the point but, try to write it in a way that will invite questions and open discussion.

12 ) Real-life examples

If you have created any real-life examples of your work be it packaging, stationery, retail displays take photos of these and add them to your portfolio too.

Aside from breaking up your portfolio and keeping it interesting, having real-life examples adds an authenticity to the project that a render of a flat image cannot replace.

tips graphic design portfolio - packaging example
tips graphic design portfolio - real life examples
More packaging this way

13 ) If you don’t have real examples

If you don’t have photos or real-life examples them create your own renders and visual mocks ups to show your work in action! And if you don’t have the ability to create visualisations, you could always consider using a website such as Graphic Burger for freebie mockups.

Websites, such as Graphic Burger have a ton of free mockup kits.

tips graphic design portfolio way of displaying your website design work
UI design

14 ) Have real products and samples for your meeting

Another thing to accompany your graphic design portfolio is to have physical samples of what you have made. So, for example, if you have created a piece of packaging and you are in possession of the box – take it with you to the meeting.

People like to touch things – we are tactile creatures.

You can always show some of the work in progress in your portfolio too and then pull out a “here is one I made earlier”.

15 ) A ‘bit’ of the design process

Showing some of how you work can offer a little extra insight into you as a designer, as mentioned before. For me, I will often keep completed visuals alongside some of the bare UI and snippets of code to show my roles, methods, and stages of a project.

It holds true for both print and digital design.

I have a link here visualising my creative journey

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Tips for a graphic design portfolio – a break

This is a small break in the list! 30 tips graphic design portfolio

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas on how to create an interview-ready portfolio. As a designer, your portfolio is important at any stage of your career, whether you are a graduate or a senior designer.

If you are a graphic design graduate, I have written a post that may help you out.

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16 ) Type of physical portfolio

It should be noted right here and now, that a nice display book for your portfolio is never a replacement for good work and eye-catching design. It is just tidy a professional vessel to show your best pieces.

Since University, I have used a tidy A3 mapac portfolio to display my work.

Your portfolio needs to look professional. Not stickers, No A level ring binders with cloudy sleeves… slick and professional.

tips graphic design portfolio A3 portfolio book.
A3 Mapac

My personal favourite that is affordable is the A3 design book or if you have some cash for the sleeves too, archival cases.

Don’t use the cheaper looking A2 ring binder portfolio that you probably went to a college interview with. You are design professional now and you need to look the part, I would also like to remind you that you are in competition with other designers – with slick portfolios.

17 ) Art vs Design

I’m going to say something controversial to some – art & design, in most commercial settings, are not the same…

So, by all means, feel free to include some of your ‘artwork’ if it is relevant to the job.

But most agencies, unless you are an illustrator, are looking for a Graphic Designer – not an artist, and there is a difference.

If you look too much like an artist as opposed to a design professional when you are going for a design business role this can work against you in a couple of ways:

  • Secretly, you want to be an artist and your portfolio shows this. Therefore do you have intentions to make this dream a reality? (leave the role in 5 minutes)
  • They are not hiring an artist (unless they are) they are looking for a graphic design professional for the position.
  • You will be frustrated as you probably won’t get to paint. (Who doesn’t love to paint!)

Make sure your skills and portfolio are in line with the job requirements. What you have in your portfolio will reveal more than you you realise.

tips graphic design portfolio

18 ) ‘Artwork’ in your graphic design portfolio

As lovely as some artwork can be, these more often than not offer an irrelevant distraction sadly. They may look beautiful, but unless relevant to a job or project it is best left out.

Or added to an alternative dedicated artwork portfolio.

If you have provided artwork for ad campaigns, an app or something similar, include it if you feel it offers something to the job. But only if, it offers something to role. Make your portfolio about the job and what you can offer to the job that will be applicable.

19 ) How much work should I include in my design portfolio?

This question has been around for years and for as long as I have been designing – and in truth. I would struggle to say how much is too little for your printed design portfolio.

– For my printed portfolio, I try to hover around 14 pieces without it getting boring.

– I would say no more than 20 pieces in your portfolio.

Too much ‘okay’ work can dilute the great work. Be ruthless with what you include. it is a delicate balance of best foot forward and not selling yourself short.

20 ) Stand out with your portfolio

The tips and ideas listed in this post are elements of a much bigger goal – what can you do to make your portfolio stand out and get you a job?

Recruiters, HR, businesses are busy and the chances are if you applied for a position at a company in a big city they will have received literally hundreds of applications. This is especially more likely if you are applying for work in the summer holidays.

How do I know this? Because I have been in the position of hiring for junior design roles.

So, this brings it back round to this point. What can you do to stand out in a roaring sea of busy inboxes?

Create real-world examples of how the project came out, If it is a piece packaging then try to mock up the packaging. There are websites online that allow you to put together mock-ups if you can’t do this yourself.

If you have designed a kiosk, stand signage – take ‘in situ’ pictures that makes a recruiter say “you actually made this”.

If it is digital design also, use web links to live websites.

If the website has changed and you only have a UI, create mock-ups of the design inside a computer screen or a Smartphone.

Assume that people will only spend around 60 seconds glancing at your portfolio. What can you do to hold their attention for longer? Also ‘show’ what something is as much as possible.

21 ) Make your design portfolio snappy

Did I mention that business owners are busy (or impatient)? Or both. I’m (and have been) guilty of this. I would advise making it so that your portfolio can be read easily and skimmed.

There may only be a couple of projects that actually catch the employers’ attention so make it easy for them to spot what they are looking for.

22 ) Compartmentalise and structure

Keep your portfolio in some sort of sensible order. Whether this is by project or by a medium such as print and then digital is down to you. Don’t jump between projects.

It will help any recruiter stay on track with what they are reading and makes it look like you can apply some order to your projects. Being an organized designer is a huge plus too.

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Do I need a ‘digital’ portfolio?

Yes, in a very short answer.

I have been asked “do I need a digital portfolio?” or specifically a PDF portfolio. 100% yes. You do need a digital portfolio saved as PDF. Get this sorted first as with the digital age, this will be your first port of call.

When I was recruiting for internships ( you can read tips here on getting a design internship) and hiring for a junior role, I would also need to see a PDF of work along with a CV. And shall offer a little inside sub-tip right here, right now.

After a time I stopped reading a design CV’s first?

Think that is an odd thing to add?

It would not be uncommon for me to read a great CV from top to bottom and say – “Wow this person sounds great! Let us hire them now.“

Then I would look a the portfolio… it ends there.

I can recall looking at some of these portfolios and asking myself whether they were even Graphic Designers, it made me feel genuine pity for Graphic designers trying to struggle through and find work in the industry when these ‘have a goes’ were trying their luck.

Secondly. I had wasted 5 minutes of my time reading a CV of somebody that clearly wasn’t a designer. From then on I took a portfolio first approach.

Make both your CV and portfolio as good as it can be. It will help you secure the opportunity you want.

And to answer again – yes you will need a graphic design portfolio / PDF version. It is very important. Which leads to the next point.

23 ) Create PDF version of your portfolio

Moving on from physical hard copy of your print portfolio. I will now offer some ideas and insights on creating digital versions of your portfolio with this being the first digital tip.

Create a digital PDF version of your portfolio so that it can fit inside a recruiter’s inbox.

Make it eye-catching and don’t make the recruiter or the person having to hire need to work for it.

Make it as easy for them as humanly possible.

If you are struggling to know which program to use to create a digital PDF portfolio you can use Indesign and Adobe Acrobat and save as or export from there

24 ) Keep the PDF small

Don’t send a MASSIVE portfolio to the recruiter’s inbox. This will either take too long to download or may even get caught in a firewall.

So with this I mind, and knowing that you should send a concise version of your PDF portfolio this will probably mean that you may have to trim the fat.

Cull the stuff that won’t help land you the job – next point!

25 ) Create A light version of your PDF portfolio

One of the obvious ways of shrinking your portfolio is by losing some of the pages which make it so bloated and heavy.

Lose projects and be brutal with what you want to include.

If needs be, strip it back to the bare essentials. And then decide what matters to you and what you should include. I can be worth doing this every year. We can call this maintenance.

26 ) Don’t bother sending links to download your WHOPPING great PDF

Please don’t.

Remember when I said ‘make it easy for them’ sending a link or a Wetransfer isn’t making it easier for the recruiter to see your work. Don’t make ‘them’ (people hiring) have to wait to download your 2 GB portfolio as this takes time and invites more problems for you.

I tend to strive to try and keep my PDF portfolio under 3 / 4 MB tops so that I can attach it and get it inside an inbox.

From a recruitment stand-point making me have to download a PDF from 100 plus applications makes it time-consuming and more difficult than it needs to be.

So, don’t make a hiring manager download anything. Don’t waste their time.

It will be met with an inner groan. You don’t want to make the person hiring burst a blood vessel!

tips graphic design portfolio - dont do this...
Don’t cause this | tips graphic design portfolio

27 ) Make it easy for the hiring manager

Make is simple. Don’t send dozens of links to various locations. Have all of the big content a single PDF or keep it all together as much as possible.

The more actions you ask the recruiter to make, the more likely they are to get bored or move on.

And you don’t want that. They are people behind the jobs, after all.

28 ) Links to online presence

In addition to your PDF portfolio, you should have some of your artwork online. And when I say online, I mean on platforms such as Behance, Creativepool, etc.

Putting additional work on websites such as Behance can be a great way of showing off additional work and sending follow-up links. The bits of the process you can’t fit into a portfolio, or the bit of a project that didn’t quite make the final cut.

As a freelancer, it is especially important for you to have your work visible online but that is another topic for another day.

29 ) Deciding on ‘not’ having an online graphic design presence

Mixed opinions on this.

If this was for a job for a classic print house then I could let it go – maybe. But in this day and age with so much information, projects and work being online I would have found it strange not to see any of your work online.

Even as a pure print designer. I would advise that you have your print work online also.

Here are a few reasons: It will most likely be the first thing people will look at when they want to see samples of your work – in particular as a freelancer.

Not having work online will age you – in a negative way (too much of a senior designer?). It may also be perceived that you may not have an interest in design trends etc.

I’m not mentioning that to be mean. Even a senior designer myself. I have found this to be an issue in the past.

30 ) Website Portfolio

You may not ‘need’ a dedicated online portfolio if you are just going to focus on print design. But, if you are gearing towards working in the digital fields then I would say yes – you should have some form of a website or at the very least an online presence as a bare minimum.

If you are thinking of creating a website I have written some tips here on how to start with some very affordable web creation options – keeping in mind, that the post mentioned is geared toward small business owners as opposed to how to create a killer graphic design portfolio.

A website allows you to sell yourself and sell yourself the way you want to.

Having online a Behance profile means that you are in a sea of designers and you have to structure portfolio according to their rules and format.

Don’t get me wrong, Behance is great. And I believe you should set up a profile today but not at the expense of a website – more true if you are a freelancer.

So… do you need a Website? Is it compulsory to have one?

No and no.

But having one may help you to stand out and possibly look more professional. You need to give yourself an edge.

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Summary | 30 tips for creating a graphic design portfolio

I hope these suggestions will help you in creating a graphic design portfolio that turns heads. If you also have tips for a graphic design portfolio feel free to share.

I have over 10 years of commercial experience in design – both digital design and print. I have also recruited quite a few graduate designers that I see falling at similar hurdles and I wanted to help you – as a graduate graphic designer (and maybe another professional designer) get to the design job you want.

For me, my issues were very different. My problem was lack of ideal clients and not really knowing what to do with my portfolio to get the right people to look – it was a long a painful journey and I imagine the road will always change, but if I can show a few worthwhile short cuts you might arrive at your career destinations a bit sooner. This is the end of the list | tips graphic design portfolio

Here are a couple of inspiring quotes:

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser

“No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artist.” – Salvador Dalí

Graduate tips | graphic design portfolio
Graduate design tips

If you are graduate looking for some design tips read this.

Additional Resources | tips for a graphic design portfolio

Getting a job in graphic design as a graduate – help me!

Ways to create a website for free … or very cheap

I want to make a party game

Photoshop – how to get the black you want in print!

The graphic design journey – my process

External Resources

Behance – create an online portfolio

Creative Pool – Look for jobs and create an online portfolio

Design Quotes

Thank you for reading, if you felt that this article was helpful please share. All the best with your portfolio. tips graphic design portfolio

Freelance Designer for the legal industry

In the past, I have been involved in various projects across different industries ranging from legal lifestyle, to gifting to charity. This post focuses on my freelance design work for the legal industry, picking out a handful of projects to show and discuss – my Freelance design for the legal industry.

Most of the projects were created at the time when ‘static’ websites were the norm and responsive design was but a twinkle in tech industries eye.

Freelance designer for legal industry UI
Frame UI for Legal website

Overview | Freelancing for Law & More

Law & More – or what I used to call LAM, was a legal lifestyle platform for all that was to do with the legal industry, be it: jobs, advice and entertainment. Working for Law & More gave me the chance to show how I could approach a brief, whether it was a UI project or an animation.

I was involved in creating micro-sites, animations, UI’s and then building the static HTML websites with the aim to drive traffic to the Law & More platform.

If you would like any advice on your website feel free to send an enquiry and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Questions welcome!

Below are the samples of my work.

Header Animation – Legal Industry

As part of the freelance project to create engaging visuals for my client – I created a set of animated headers that were blended into the UI offering a seamless, functional and a fun web experience.

When these headers were created it was at the time of the ‘static’ website era – when the humble desktop reigned supreme! Smartphones had come to the market but weren’t as mainstream as they are today.

( Many of us had flip phones – or used the classic dial pads on a Nokia, yes – I used to be able to touch text on my phone without looking.)

As this website followed the conventions of a static website, I only needed to concern myself with a single standardised format for browsers and desktops.

Animated header for a website

It would be difficult to replicate this website today, due to it being technically challenging to accomplish the same results on a responsive website. Although, whilst writing this paragraph, I have already thought of a couple of paths that may achieve a similar visual result across all browsers and devices – but that is purely hypothetical.

I found this design strangely refreshing when most websites now are fluid and in essence follow the exact same format of a full-width image that works both well on a smartphone and desktop browsers.

UI Design

With the static website UI’s, I had fun creating something unique that would entice users to engage with the brand. The UI needed to playful and push the users to the main website where they could either read articles, browse jobs or even bag a luxury holiday!

With the brief, I wanted to push boundaries as far as possible.

Thanks guys

Freelance designer for legal industry

Freelance designer for the legal industry

MPU’s

If you would like to see other UI projects you can see this collection of UI’s here.

MPU for older website 2009
MPU Design

In this instance – a Multi-Purpose Unit. Is space you could use to either display a banner, upload an animation or create an interactive piece navigation. In this case, I created an interactive carousel in Adobe Animate.

If this was to be made again now, it would be published as HTML5 or probably wouldn’t exist at all as this project was very much something of it’s time and was heavily dependant on flash.

You can look at some of my other projects that were created in flash (animate) such as this STEM/Elearning game or examples of what you can create in Animate.

Freelance designer for legal industry | summary

Thank you for reading this post. If you are in need of any freelance services and you are based in the legal industry feel free to get in touch for a quote.

“Proving himself to be an excellent problem solver delivering creative and innovative solutions to our web ideas which we have not always been able to provide a detailed spec for.”

– D Goodridge, Law & More

All visuals, designs, and ideas are copyright Law & More. Please do not share or use this content without prior permission.

Other useful links

UI design projects projects
Creating an E-learning game
Example of what you can create in Adobe Animate
My design process
Photoshop tips for removing noise

External Website Locations

Website design London
– Graphic UI Designer Yorkshire
Website Design Cornwall