When most designers want to make a splash with their portfolio, they go big. U.K.-based freelance designer Michael Lester decided to go small. To promote his work, Lester sent potential employers the world’s smallest portfolio: a stamp-sized booklet about as big as your thumbnail, filled with Lester’s tiniest work.
The World’s Tiniest Portfolio came out of a brief from the agency Jelly London, as part of the D&AD New Blood festival held earlier this month. “They set the challenge for recent graduates and students to get people talking about their work,” Lester says. “Before trying to make buzz I thought hard about what it was I actually wanted people to talk about. I realized I wanted to showcase my ideas over style, and had the idea of seeing how small I could get my portfolio while still showing the concepts of each visual.”
To create his tiny portfolio, Lester looked over all of his existing work and redesigned the strongest ideas so that they were still effective on a Thumbelina scale. ” It was actually a really good process to test my existing work and see which pieces were the strongest,” he says. “It also meant trawling through scraps of paper on my desk, in my notebooks, anywhere I could have jotted down an idea that could work this small.” For example, a campaign for promoting electric cars throughout Europe could be reduced to a clever icon, winking at the flag for the E.U.; the silhouette of a woman becomes a keyhole for a visual motif explaining female empowerment.
After identifying the work he wanted to include, Lester printed out five copies of the World’s Tiniest Portfolio on his home printer to give it a nice ink-bleeding texture when magnified. He then trimmed the pages, folded them, and stitched the binding by hand, before finishing it off with a tiny strip of bookbinder’s tape. Lester shared the World’s Tiniest Portfolio with a few select London-based agencies, including Jelly London (which gave the World’s Tiniest Portfolio a Gold Award).
A natural introvert, Lester says that the World’s Tiniest Portfolio has made a bigger splash than he could have possibly imagined. After creating a great deal of buzz on Bēhance and design blogs, the World’s Tiniest Portfolio has generated a healthy number of freelance opportunities, and even a few permanent position offers. Not bad for a portfolio so small a sneeze could carry it off a design recruiter’s desk.