Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

GDS 293 Portfolio Seminar
Project 1: Self-Promotion Branding

Instructor: Paul Young


To develop a visual identity for yourself for self-promotion purposes. To create an image and style that is unique to you for the purpose of obtaining employment as a graphic designer.

Secondary objectives

To utilize Adobe Creative Suite as layout and production tools.


Design a visual branding system for yourself. Apply this system to the following elements (see example):

  • letterhead
  • business card
  • résumé
  • invoice
  • portfolio sample sheet
  • 9x12 envelope (with mailing label)
  • pocket folder (no imprint needed)
  • memo pad (optional)

Your project must communicate a creative concept and show an understanding of design principles (unity, emphasis, balance, color theory, etc.).

Per our syllabus, you may ONLY use the standard "core" fonts installed in D019 for your assignments unless you obtain prior approval from the instructor (see Parkland's Core Fonts Specimen Sheet). Please talk to your instructor if you need to use a non-standard font from the Adobe Font Folio collection.

Note: It is highly recommended that you register your domain name and sign-up for a hosting package as soon as possible so that you can include the URL on your promo materials.


1. Research for inspiration: Research existing business cards, especially for designers. Find examples of creative concepts and creative use of typography, paper, images, production techniques, etc in the Parkland Library (see resources). Scan (instructions) and publish your research on your personal Process Page for critique (be sure to caption each image and cite the source). Also collect actual printed business cards from local sources. Present your business card collection in class for discussion.

2. Production research: Research available paper stocks, envelopes and their costs (be sure to review these options: or your local office supply stores). Prepare a budget for yourself by getting estimates for printing costs from local vendors (Moo or Vista Print are good online sources). In order to get an accurate estimate, your printer will need to know the following: (1) quantity, (2) number of inks, (3) size, (4) paper stock. Alternatively, you may laser print some or all of your promotional pieces in D018.

3. Incubation: Absorb the information you have gathered and sleep on it. Allow your unconscious mind to make connections for you.

4. Prepare the copy: Using Google Docs or Microsoft Word, write a cover letter (address the letter to your number one employer of choice) and résumé (tip: list "freelance graphic designer" as the first item under "professional experience"). Submit unformatted paper proofs for review (I'm only interested in reading the content). Also see: Résumé and cover letter tips.

5. Develop the concept: In your sketchbook begin to conceptualize ideas for this project (see examples of sketches). Make at least 10 sketches of all possible directions you might take this project. Edit your concepts down to your best three ideas and redraw them on 8.5 x 11 white paper using a felt tip pen. Scan (scale/crop in Photoshop: no wider than 1000 pixels), increase the contrast (see tutorial) and publish your concepts on your personal Process Page for critique. Also print your sketches for your Process Book.

6. B&W logo proof: Based on the critique of the above, use the computer to execute at least two versions of your best idea (present at least one proof with an alternate font choice). Publish one multi-page low-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page for critique. Be prepared to talk about what design principles are utilized in your design. Also print high-quality proof(s) for your Process Book.

7. Color logo proof: Based on the critique of the above, revise your art (if needed), then start adding color. Publish your best three color schemes as one multi-page low-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page for critique. Also print high-quality color proof(s) for your Process Book.

8. Application Proofs: Based on the critique of the above, make adjustments as needed. Apply your final color logo to the required applications and publish one multi-page low-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page for critique. Also print high-quality color proof(s) for your Process Book.

9. Final critique: Based on the critique of the above, fine-tune your designs (if needed). Submit high-quality color proof(s) for final critique (see printing tips). Prepare a presentation to justify your design decisions. Also publish one multi-page high-res PDF (instructions) on your personal Process Page.

10. Grading: Prepare digital files for the printer (or print final proofs on the stock of your choice in D018) and submit one copy of your entire package (complete with pocket folder, 9x12 envelope, mailing label) to the instructor. Review your Process Page and make sure you have an accurate record of your process. Also submit one multi-page high-res PDF (instructions) via Cobra's dropbox. You will not receive full credit for this project if any of the above elements are missing.

11. Interviews: Prepare one copy of your entire self-promotion package as a leave-behind piece for every interview you go on (including the mock interviews scheduled for this semester).

12. Extra credit: Submit your project into the annual student show in a 9x12 envelope. Also prepare an archival quality JPEG (instructions) and submit your project using the online entry form at Your project may win a cash prize and be published in a showcase of student work on Parkland's website.

Last updated: 2/3/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young