30 Fresh and Inspirational Portfolios With A Twist

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It may be the economical slowdown, the climate change, or even a random boost of creativity, but the competition between graphic studios is huge right now. Today, more than ever, you really need to show something special on your website to be noticed. So we made a selection of 30 portfolios that describe a studio or a freelancer with a unique personality. Please notice that you certainly need more than a nice “look” to make the design stand out; in particular, usability and accessibility are issues that need to be carefully considered when creating your next portfolio design.

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You can learn more about beautiful and effective web design in our upcoming Smashing Book2 ($23.90 – available worldwide). Pre-order now3 and save 20% off the price!

Flash Based-Designs

Ola Interactive Agency4
A fun and straightforward website, with small videos running in the back to illustrate some of the company values, like creativity, speed and coolness! There’s a speaker on the left to kill the music.

Ola Interactive Agency5

Your Majesty6
Nice and clean website with more than one way to explore the portfolio, excellent branding, and a smooth dark color scheme.

YourMajesty7

EnjoyThis8
The minimal design and a sleek touch of Flash are the strong points of this one. Browsing trough the works seems so natural.

EnjoyThis9

Valerie Phillips10
This is huge. Literally!

Valerie Phillips11

Ben Thomas12
A simple and effective left aligned website, with a stylish motion effect that works great with the dynamic visuals in the portfolio.

BenThomas13

Studio Output14
This one is for the average portfolio what Vimeo is for YouTube: a minimal yet powerful alternative, an almost buttonless experience.

StudioOutput15

Lyndon Wade16
A classic dark styled background with a thumbnail menu and awesome transition effects are all you need for a killer portfolio. Oh, and some pictures from one of the top 15 photographers in America.

LyndonWade17

Cardon Design18
A simple and innovative way to show the portfolio, in a dictionary way. Great works also!

Cardon Design19

Kenjiro Harigai20
One of the most complex websites in our selection, it features a visual menu with a lens effect, a text menu with the names of the works, and some amazing motion effects.

KenjiroHarigai21

I Shot Him22
This one is all about the story: with just a few vintage illustrations and some creative lines they really deliver "a design novelty".

I Shot Him23

Unique browsing system

Websites that let you scan the portfolio trough original and fresh techniques.

Orange Label24
This is a one-page journey, a dive in the studio’s achievements, beginning with a strong graphic & profile, then some works and finally a feedback form.

Orange Label25

Counter Fill26
Exploring this portfolio is like falling from the roof of a tall building and stopping by a few times to look on the window. Click to see why.

Counter Fill27

X3 Studios28
The excellent use of AJAX makes browsing this website such a smooth experience that you get the feeling you never left the homepage. Which is true!

X3 Studios29

Lucas Hirata30
Very good use of thumbnails and light.

Lucas 31

Work at Play32
Maybe the most dynamic non-Flash website of the selection. Great uses of colors, transparency and AJAX.

Work At Play33

Zaum & Brown34
Finally a grid based portfolio with a fluid layout. Don’t know if Brown comes from the color of the background, but that certainly works well also.

Zaum & Brown35

Creative People36
The background is so important here! This amazing photo manipulation steals the show but introduce us properly in the studio atmosphere.

Craetive People37

Design by Slint38
This prolific studio from Singapore also has a grid-based fluid portfolio, where they show the works in a blog style way.

Slint39

Dave Hill40
The best proof that great photography doesn’t really need sophisticated design to stand out. Elegant and smooth.

DaveHill41

Any Which Way42
Nothing fancy seems to be happening here at the first sight, but this website has a great navigation system: a mirror-like menu that stands as a fantastic alternative for the way over-used "carousel".

Any Which Way43

Special elements

Portfolios that use at least one remarkable element (widget, color scheme, game) to create an immersive adventure.

Crispin Porter + Boguski44
Basically this website aggregates a YouTube video for a given campaign, the live news feed about it, Twitter bits, and blog pieces. It sure is the most social-ready portfolio of the selection.

Crispin Porter45

Great Works46
An excellent example of three colors website: sleek, smooth, and effective!

Great Works47

Home de Caramel48
Another fullscreener, Home de Caramel features a double menu, just a few words and huge images. Makes sense.

HomeDeCaramel49

Trust The KDU50
The vintage design and the sepia tone of the photos work extremely well together and make a great portfolio.

TheKdu51

Carsonified52
Strong colors and striking, simple illustrations make from the new Carsonified website an instant classic.

Carsonified53

Poccuo54
Very clean and dynamic website with a powerful Twitter integration and a nice simple way to show the creative work.

Poccuo55

BKWLD56
Clean design + Good navigation + Great works = Winner Portfolio

BKWLD57

Elliot Jay Stocks58
Another classic, the portfolio of Elliot teaches us the importance of a huge footer, actually as big as the body. Break the barriers, think big!

Elliot Jay Stocks59

Mojave Interactive60
Social media is very important business for Mojave, so they have compiled a few different channels in the homepage.

Mojave Interactive61

Merix Studio62
Full intreactivity map with clients and resources, amazing idea!

Studio of Merix63

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Catalin Zorzini is a design blogger with a social media background. You can read his daily writing at Inspired Magazine and connect with him on Twitter.

  1. 1

    WOW!! Some great stuff here – inspiring as always – keep up the good work SM!!

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  2. 2

    wow, very inspirational selection, thank you guys!! X3 & Ola are amazing!

    0
  3. 3

    im really tired of seeing the carsonified site everywhere… its ugly as hell.

    0
  4. 4

    How can you not list Eric Johanssons portfolio in such a list?

    1
  5. 5

    wow gr8 list thanks

    0
  6. 6

    hello, niece,

    0
  7. 7

    Brilliant! Thanks mate!

    0
  8. 8

    Guillaume Pelletier

    August 5, 2009 5:37 am

    I love the showcase!

    A rather scary observation I had to make was how frequently the Graublau Web typeface is being used in conjunction with the @font-face property. Although it is a very remarkable font (and well-suited for the purpose), I can see it become overused quite rapidly. Not that its usage is bad at all; I’m just sayin’.

    0
  9. 9

    Dave Hill Photography is what image based portfolio design is all about… don’t distract them with a lot of extra stuff… focus on the work…. very well done.

    Hands down, my favorite of the batch for Portfolio design. — R

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  10. 10

    The Smashing Magazine logo really needs a redesign…

    0
  11. 11

    Nice stuff. Being very print-minded, it’s great to see good taste and design that works well visually with print that can also be implemented in Web (i.e. good typography and images).

    0
  12. 12

    Smashing magazine logo looks awesome.I do not understand whay they need to redesing logo.This logo is unique and is great.

    0
  13. 13

    wow a lot of these sites flash navigations is breaking for me.. that doesn’t look good on these high end designers… unless it’s just that they don’t work in firefox lol

    -1
  14. 14

    some portfolio are really nice. I prefer those how use any flash.

    0
  15. 15

    Sean McCambridge

    August 5, 2009 8:19 am

    Some nice sites. Some very underwhelming sites. How do they get featured here? You guys make me wonder sometimes….

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  16. 16

    Wow, I enjoyed this list very much! Thanks for sharing :)

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  17. 17

    That Ben Thomas one I’m pretty sure I’ve seen on Flash Den… I don’t know if he just used the idea or bought it, because if that’s the case… Then that’s technically not his work.

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  18. 18

    I’ve liked a man with a squirrel

    0
  19. 19

    Great article! I like the collection!

    0
  20. 20

    what a nice list, really inspiring !

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  21. 21

    I clicked on this link hoping to see fresh and inspirational. Instead I get one cluttered mess after another, with three or four exceptions. When the author calls Your Majesty “nice and clean,” I can only think of Mr. Hand, asking “What are you—on DOPE?”

    0
  22. 22

    The Good is a company with a Flash-based site that is really unique.

    0
  23. 23

    Thanks for the mention!
    @workatplay

    0
  24. 24

    Jewen Soyterkijns

    August 5, 2009 2:46 pm

    Are you advertising on your own site?

    -1
  25. 25

    Unleashed - Portland Web Design

    August 5, 2009 3:47 pm

    Oh, that Orange Label site is killer.

    0
  26. 26

    Between Ola Interactive and Dave Hill I’m suffering from a serious inspirational overload – stunning work. Hats off to all!!

    0
  27. 27

    Another great one is Red Interactive Agency

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  28. 28

    Stefan (August 5th, 2009, 4:45 am)

    How can you not list Link [ericj.se] in such a list?
    ======================

    Because that website sucks and its annoying.

    0
  29. 29

    ohh! this’s my first post on SM
    finally i found a great site with usefull inspiration link

    0
  30. 30

    The link to Any Which Way is broken. Points to ‘work.html’, should point to ‘work.php’ instead.
    Nice collection, Smashing!

    0
  31. 31

    i like orange label…

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  32. 32

    Orange Label reminds me of “The Simpsons”.

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  33. 33

    Some of these were very impressive, some of these were horrible in terms of usability and some of them as another reader commented were very underwhelming. My own site isn’t the flashiest but I did focus a lot on usability, clean validating XHTML and CSS. I think that you have to start with that and making a site “Child Proof” and then move on.

    I also have learned that since I”m impatient I like to be able to do as much on the first page of a site as I can without dealing with clutter and confusion. In terms of portfolio sites for graphic designers I think a person should be able to look at the first page and do the following:

    Find out who you are, what you do, and what your skills are, have a way to contact you, be able to download a copy of your portfolio or CV, view samples of your work.

    Anyway, maybe some of you can look at my website and tell me what you think I should do, or if you feel like it is spot on.

    New York Graphic Designer Roberto Blake

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  34. 34

    The “design by Slint” portfolio is a wordpress theme available at :

    http://suprb.com

    the theme is called grid-a-liscious

    thanks :)

    1
  35. 35

    Hey Roberto, your portfolio site seems ok, it does just what you say a portfolio should do.
    I like the blog page, I am reading the retouching article now.
    I really admire the creative ways that you have found to use a clouds texture in many of your designs.

    regards,
    Smithy

    0
  36. 36

    Yet another brilliant post by Smashing Magazine! – Thank you.

    0
  37. 37

    Awesome. I think 2010 will be ripe with creative start-ups, especially here in Seattle and San Francisco. So many creative people are laid off right now and the urge to create is just too strong!

    0
  38. 38

    Thanks Smithy! I try to incorporate the Air Elemental into a lot of my design work as a choice in personal style, as I’m an “Air” sign, I also like to incorporate lighting effects partly because of the influence of painter Thomas Kinkade whose tag line was “painting with light”.

    I have another retouching tutorial around the corner, that will probably be done this weekend so stay tuned. Thanks for taking a look at my portfolio site, glad you found it useful!

    0
  39. 39

    The article has a typo. It says, “Design by Slint” when it’s Design by “Silnt”. Just hoping the author sees and fixes it.

    0
  40. 40

    Nice portfolio selection. I’m not really a fan of gratuitous animation, though, like on the anywhichway site. If I’m browsing a portfolio, I just want to see the work, without anything fancy or distracting inbetween. It doesn’t seem necessary…. (not even going to comment on their logo. OK I have to. What an ugly, ugly typeface.)

    0
  41. 41

    Just a grammatical nitpick: there is no such thing as an “economical slowdown”. “Economical” refers to being frugal or saving money. “Economic” refers to the economy or financial system in general and is the correct word here.

    0
  42. 42

    Some great sites, a lot of inspiration. Thank you.

    0
  43. 43

    I like the Merix Studio site, but it seems quite similar to this one: http://www.zeppenfeld.com/

    0
  44. 44

    very nice..

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  45. 45

    love them :) really very inspirational.

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  46. 46

    that is an EXCELLENT and fresh group of portfolios – most I haven’t seen before – as always great work!

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  47. 47

    This was an inspirational article. I liked the effect on the Zaum & Brown site so much I created an open source sample Slide Grid. I also wrote an article with instructions about creating your own sliding resizable grid.

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  48. 48

    First thing I saw when I looked at “I Shot Him” and the galley was a copy of my favourite vinyl cover, a record by “The flying machine”. (Here’s a bad picture of the cover; http://vinylrecordsstore.freemyrecords.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/the-flying-machine004.JPG )
    How hard can it be to just draw up a design of your own?

    0
  49. 49

    Interesting… yet I was reminded time and again of the “dancing baloney” GIF inserts of the past. And pre-loading would help prevent some of the slow loads that took me back to the days of yore and dial up connections.

    Perhaps some designers are too young to remember the “good old days” of the early Internet. Hopefully that won’t become the “new, hip” model for today’s designers. The old saw applies: “just because you can do it…”

    0
  50. 50

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    1
  51. 51

    gr8 list :)

    1
  52. 52

    pretty good showcase…Some of them are doing really well and some are not up to the marks. Anyway hatts off to these guys :)

    1
  53. 53

    Nice collections thanks

    1
  54. 54

    Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that “The content of your post is awesome” Great work.

    1

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