SOPH Return

Sophomores! It’s almost time to submit your portfolios. Are you in need of some tips on the design of your portfolio? Have you been wanting to see examples of portfolios? Want to hear some encouraging words from upperclassmen who’ve made it through portfolio? Meet SOPH Return. A space where past sophomores return the favor by sharing and reflecting on their portfolios. Here, you can view past sophomore portfolios, learn from the feedback they received, and rest knowing that you’ve got this, we’ve been in your shoes, and we are here for you!

Sarah Valuet (she/they)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Sign up to be paired with a mentor! It made the world of a difference for me. I would have been so lost without the guidance of my mentor, and I also made a new design friend to keep in touch with (: It can be scary to reach out for help, but everyone believes in you and wants the best for you!!

Kaitlyn Casey (she/her)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Seek out as much advice and critique as you can get. I really don’t think my portfolio would’ve been as successful as it was without all of the help I received. Also, DO NOT leave all of the process until the end, it really takes so much more time than you think it will and it’s a very important piece. It’s feels scary but ya’ll are gonna do great!

Noah Brown (she/they)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Plan your time out early on with checkpoints for each project. Try your hardest to leave the last few weeks open for last minute changes and allow ample time to complete the portfolio design. Most importantly, don’t work in a bubble!! Working on my portfolio outside of class alongside my sweet friends made a world of a difference in improving my morale, keeping me motivated and accountable, and having someone around to make the whole experience a lot less scary. It’s also so helpful to be able to quickly turn to someone to get quick feedback on specific things in the moment. Believe in yourself, work hard, and make cool things!! You’ve got this <3

Lea Thompson (she/her)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Start early and have back up projects! Creating a dedicated folder where all your potential projects can live will make things so much easier to find. Ask a lot of different people for feedback, teachers, your mentor, alumni, fellow classmates, etc. and use your intuition to piece together the critiques you think will help push your projects to where you want them to be. Save your files often and save a copy too! Also DO NOT MAKE YOUR PORTFOLIO IN ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR PLEASE LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES!! It will make your file so huge and may induce a cry session (or three). Much easier to make a template in InDesign . Use the parent pages. Love the parent pages. They are your friend <3.

Ash Kukuzke (she/her)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

If you’re a transfer student, and you feel nervous about how your work stacks up to those who are continuing in the PSU program, meet with a PSUGD faculty member and go over your portfolio with them! It’s way less intimidating than you think.

Tabor Cote (he/him)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Hi Sophomore,
DO NOT WAIT till the last minute to finish your portfolio, try to get it done like a day or two in advance. That way you’re not struggling to make sure your file size is too big or other problems hours before it’s due. I also found that creating the design of the overall portfolio early on and then just dropping your projects in as you finish them, helps to make sure the work is spread out over time. Also, spell check the hell out of your portfolio, and have friends, or family look and read through it to make sure it sounds alright and catch any spelling errors that Indesign did not catch. But overall I know this experience can be super stressful, so at the end of the day showcase things you had a ton of fun creating or that you’re proud of. Your gonna do great, you got this, and feel free to message me on Instagram or email if you want a second opinion on something too!

Angela Nguyen (she/her)

Angela Nguyen Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Hi Sophomore,
It’s that time of year huh. It’s okay to be nervous – use that energy to push your projects forward! Be inspired to take fun risks! Experiment! Showcase different design skills and interests! Make something you are proud of, no matter what the outcome will be! (Take breaks ofc) Prepare ahead of time so you don’t rush or feel as stressed!
Submit on time! And chill.

Stacey Horton (she/her)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Don’t take your process work for granted!! Keep track of all of your research, sketches, iterations, and explorations throughout the project and include ALL of that in your portfolio. The more thorough you are, the higher you are going to score in that category and the higher you are going to score overall. My highest rating was in my process and it definitely helped raise my final score.

Casey Litchfield (he/him)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

The biggest piece of advice I have is to always ask for feedback, and learn new perspectives from your peers when receiving critiques and feedback. Every-time I felt closer to finishing a project, I would ask my professors, my fellow students, and my friends their thoughts on my project. Hearing what they had to say really let me know how my project was coming across, and how it was holding up visually. This helped me to push my projects even more, and really fine tune all aspects of the project. Also make sure to step away from your projects and take some time for yourself! Those little breaks really help to keep your mind and body fresh and focused. Keep working hard, and creating great designs! Im rooting for you all!

Rachel Sherwood (she/her)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Don’t stress it and try to have fun! Just make time for it early and it will get done.

Edwin Paquette (he/they)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Portfolio review can be extremely isolating, and I was consumed by stress and self-doubt my entire sophomore year. If you’re feeling this way, the second best thing you can do is reach out to your professors, mentors, classmates, family, and friends, no matter where you’re at with the portfolio. The first best thing you can do is remember that “your work is not you, and you are not your work.” Drill it into your head, and say it out loud if you need to. The portfolio review is a demonstration to show your professors that you’ve learned the skills they’ve taught you. It, ultimately, has nothing to do with you, and your potential as a designer definitely doesn’t cap in your second or third year of school. Be proud of the beautiful things you make, and accept critique as a tool to help you move forward. I truly believe you can do this!

Kate Coningford (they/she)

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

When you’re first designing your deck, set up parent pages! You’ll save yourself so much time later when you have to change the position of an element across multiple pages. Also, don’t lay out your deck in Illustrator (I didn’t do this but I saw at least one sophomore did last year). InDesign is your friend <3

Chloe Findtner

Chloe Findtner Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

While you complete your sophomore-level studio courses, especially during Winter and Spring terms, tackle those projects as if they’re going into your portfolio upon completion. It’s always a great idea to revise your projects, but do your future self a favor by doing GREAT work the first time around! I spent a lot of time adding things to old projects that I wish I would’ve incorporated from the beginning. Also, to my fellow illustrators out there: you’ll have tons of time post-portfolio to explore illustration, so don’t neglect your typography skills! 😉

Kelsey Stewart

Kelsey Stewart Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Lean on friends, peers, mentors, and advisors! I was nervous to meet with professors and people I didn’t know, but it was super helpful to get new perspectives on my projects. Take lots of notes during these feedback moments! Also, don’t freak out if your files got lost over the years. I found out three of my projects had corrupted files, but it gave me a chance to start fresh on some projects and work on ones I hadn’t considered before. It turned out fine, mainly because I stayed calm and pushed forward. Good luck, you’ve totally got this!!

Bailey Granquist

Bailey Granquist Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

A lot of people might tell you the portfolio review is actually pretty easy. What they SHOULD be saying is, if you put in the time and effort, you can totally pass! My #1 piece of advice is to ask faculty members what they look for when they review a portfolio. It’ll help you narrow your focus on the things that are the most important. Take risks! Give it some “you” flavor! And if you don’t pass on the first try, don’t sweat it. It’s still possible to graduate in 4 years without overworking yourself, I promise!

Paris Fox

Paris Fox Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

One thing that really got me down during portfolio (and is still something I’m working on) was comparing my work to my peers! The more time away I’ve had from portfolio the easier this has gotten, but just remember that you’re doing good work and everyone is capable of doing good design. I was also terrible when it came to breaks and I’ve realized that time away from design majorly re energizes and motivates me to make things I end up feeling really proud of. If you can set aside a day or two per week or even just at a certain point every evening when you don’t even open your laptop, the space you give yourself to relax or do something fun will ultimately help your creative output in the long run 🙂

Claire Miller

Claire Miller Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Get comfortable with asking for help! Especially early in the process, getting feedback on your projects is a great booster for bettering your work. If you sign up for a mentor – REACH OUT TO THEM! Also, try not to devalue your portfolio after you’re finished. Looking at it may bring back stressful memories, but being proud of all the work you put into it is better in the long run!

Katie Storment

Katie Storment Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

As of today, the SPR might be one of your largest accomplishments in your design career. The fact that you are participating, and have also crossed the finish line in completing your portfolio—you deserve to treat yourself and give yourself a pat on the back. Everyone who has already gone through the review knows how stressful and sometimes anxiety-inducing the portfolio review can be, yet most all who have participated have always come out as a stronger designer.

Coming from someone who didn’t pass the review my first time, my biggest advice and encouragement is that whatever the outcome, stay true to yourself and know that your journey might be delayed but that doesn’t mean it’s over. As long as you focus on the opportunities that you have currently and continue to explore your own path, you will get through to the end. So be proud of yourself for what you have done now and look at how far you have come. Best of luck! — Katie

Abigail Wallhauser

Abigail Wallhauser Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

The further I move away from the sophomore review, the less critical I am of my portfolio. One thing I found helpful was creating a system early on in the process. Having a type palette and structure for pacing made designing the portfolio less overwhelming. I felt a lot of pressure to make it more stylized, but I think having rules helped alleviate that (partially). Looking back, I would have stressed less about trying to make it look a certain way that didn’t feel necessarily ‘me’.

Macy Eiesland

Macy Eiesland Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

The best advice I have for Sophomore Portfolio is to give that extra 10% in your classes when you’re doing the projects. Seek out extra feedback, push that concept a little harder, or make an additional deliverable. This extra push will save you from having to tweak so much later. And it’s good advice moving onward in the program too because you will always be updating your portfolio. I do not consider myself a skilled photographer but I was and still am really interested in art direction and that was the main way I pushed my portfolio. For a couple of my projects, I created a scene where my design piece could potentially live in the real world. And those projects that I pushed the extra 10% are the ones that I still have in my portfolio today. Part of the grade of the portfolio is how concept-driven are your projects so take those risks! Push those wild ideas! Be yourself, and make something that you will want to hang on to or maybe even send out! You got this!

Mckinsey Carroll

Mckinsey Carroll Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

This is coming from a procrastinator with low confidence: The main thing is to just know that you’re SO capable of this. The whole process feels scary when it doesn’t have to be. It’s stressful at times, but nothing you can’t handle. Take advantage of the amazing PSUGD community: Ask for help with anything. Zoom/talk with your peers. I am literally personally here for you! Take it one day at a time. Just start your file! Do not beat yourself up anywhere along the way- remember that school is ultimately for YOUR OWN growth! Don’t forget to keep some perspective and enjoy life. You are meant to be here- just do your best!

Gage Murrey

Gage Murrey Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Hey y’all! My advice for portfolio review is to start early. There are going to be some long days where you edit projects, change your layouts, question your type pairings, etc. etc. For me I started formatting my portfolio before I edited my projects and I think that is the way to go. Nothing is going to be perfect in your eyes. You’ll notice all the fine details that look wrong to you and thats okay. Try to not get hung up on all of that because what really counts is your ideas and amount of risks you’re willing to take. Just start early and give it your all. It’s worth it I PROMISE!!! We’re all rooting for you! 🙂

Nia Musiba

Nia Musiba Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Hey Sophomores, my biggest advice is to trust in yourself. You’ve totally got this! It’s going to be stressful for a bit and you’re going to work pretty hard and then you will look back on it and say, “wow, I had nothing to be so worried about!” And on top of it, you will have this awesome, well-composed body of all of your amazing work, which is pretty cool! My other piece of advice is to start on your actual deck a little earlier than you maybe think you need to. Personally, it took me a little longer than I thought it would to get my deck to a spot where I was happy with it. And my third piece of advice is to reach out to people! Between upperclassmen in the program, professors, and classmates, we’ve all got your back and we’re totally rooting for you and ready to help, so use us! Anyways, that’s all I have for you, good luck and I believe in you!


Camryn Perry

Camryn Perry Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?

Having a mentor that I trusted and got along with was really what got me through portfolio. Since it was the beginning of the pandemic and there was a lot of worry and uncertainty going around, having someone there that I could not only talk to about my portfolio but just about the stresses of life in general was invaluable! Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions and to reach out to others to look over your portfolio besides your mentor, because the more eyes on it the better. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of receiving feedback!

Noel Anderson

Noel Anderson Portfolio Deck

What is your nugget of wisdom for sophomores?
Give yourself enough time to work on the process and written sample! I did not and it didn’t turn out how I wanted. (new paragraph) Also, don’t sweat the small stuff too much. The reviewers are looking at your overall ability level and presentation. Maybe one of your images is fuzzy and you run out of time to fix it, that’s ok! And lastly, the number doesn’t matter. As soon as you’re in upper division classes, everything changes and no one cares about the number. Good luck!

More portfolios are on the way! Check in weekly for more updates.

One important thing to keep in mind: these portfolios from here on out are all from before the digital age of portfolio review. The requirements for the review have changed since they were made—most were set up as spreads, for instance, and not single pages as was intended. It’s important to review the 2021 Sophomore Portfolio Review guidelines and info session deck for portfolio dimensions and format.

Makayla Lovrak

Makayla Lovrak Portfolio

In regards to the design of your portfolio (the type palette, the page layout, how you sized or edited photos, content density and flow, etc.), what would you have done differently?

Looking back at the way I designed my portfolio, I’m generally still very happy with it. It perfectly served its purpose by being simply, understated, and letting my work shine brightest. However, I wish I would have played with white space a little differently. All elements felt really static and I think I could have used page layout skills I have now to make it more experimental. That could mean feeling a little more comfortable with laying things out more asymmetrically. Also, I really wish I would have put my folios at the bottom not the top like I did. It makes the bottom feel pretty bare. I would have moved them to the bottom completely, or kept them at the top and added additional footers signifying my name or something.


Gianna Zanzi

Gianna Zanzi Portfolio

Are there important aspects or skills in design you know of now that would have been helpful while going through the review that you overlooked?
Never underestimate the power of good photos and editing! When it came time to photograph my projects, I knew that I had wanted to stage them a bit with props (flowers in vases, shoeboxes to make things different heights, etc.), and had reserved the W+K light box in 290 for about 5 hours on a Friday night. I used my phone to take the pictures, and spent a fair bit of time photographing each one of my projects in different angles and different positions so that I knew that I had some options for when I had to arrange them in my portfolio. Something that I had underestimated, though, was how long it would take to edit each photo. Schedule a couple of days to do this at least, because you might have to do a couple of passes on the photo to make sure that all of the photos of a single project have the same color grading, and that each folded edge has been cleaned up to look nice and seamless. When looking back at this process, I think that it was the photo editing that made my portfolio feel a little more professional, and not just like another school project, which made it worthwhile! Good luck, Sophomores! You’ve got this!!


Mia Dorsey

Mia Dorsey Portfolio

In regards to the design of your portfolio (the type palette, the page layout, how you sized or edited photos, content density and flow, etc.), what would you have done differently?
I probably would have just omitted the funky stuff I was trying to do with the numbering. Looking back at my portfolio, its honestly a little bit distracting. I do like how I had some images take up the entirety of the the pages. People were looking at this to see my work and the large images helped accomplish that!


Kami Gould

Kami Gould Portfolio

What are some specific points of feedback you received on your portfolio? Optional: How would you resolve any negative feedback?
I received feedback that I often took the safe route and employed a lot of similar solutions for different projects. After portfolio, I’ve felt a lot freer to experiment and get weird since failure now is less of a huge thing. I think this feedback really resolved itself, as I felt like playing it safe for portfolio was better than taking a risk and missing the mark, but now that I’m on the other side I have a lot more opportunity for experimentation.