REPOST: John Luther, UMich A&D Career Development Coordinator: What is a Portfolio?

by Chelsea Hunersen

Some of you know that while in alpha, what you now know as Seelio, was named truApp, and that we posted lots of blog entries on our truApp blog. Some of those entries seemed so important we figured we’d post them again. This is one of them. Enjoy! Find the original entry here.


John Luther, Career Development Coordinator for U of M Art & Design asks;

What is a Portfolio?

Find out his thoughts on the matter – and even check out his Seelio*, a showcase of his work to share with Art & Design students.


As someone who works in Art & Design I hear the word “portfolio” bandied about by non-creative people a great deal and realize that their definition of portfolio is quite different from mine.   So here is what my trusty online dictionary says about the word:

portfolio |pôrtˈfōlēˌō|

noun ( pl. -os)

a large, thin, flat case for loose sheets of paper such as drawings or maps.

• a set of pieces of creative work collected by someone to display their skills, esp. to a potential employer.

• a varied set of photographs of a model or actor intended to be shown to a potential employer.

a range of investments held by a person or organization : better returns on its investment portfolio.

• a range of products or services offered by an organization, esp. when considered as a business asset: an unrivaled portfolio of quality brands.

the position and duties of a minister of state or a member of a cabinet : he took on the Foreign Affairs portfolio.


relating to, denoting, or engaged in an employment pattern that involves a succession of short-term contracts and part-time work, rather than the more traditional model of a long-term single job : portfolio careers allow women to balance work with family.

ORIGIN early 18th cent.: from Italian portafogli, from portare ‘carry’ foglio ‘sheet of paper’ (from Latin folium).


So who really needs a portfolio?  You do.  Whether you are an animator, a painter, a business major or an engineer you need the ability to “show” what you can do, not just “tell” what you can do.  We live in a phenomenally visual age and we can share our ideas, skills, designs, etc. as fast as the click of a mouse.  Artists and Designers have a leg up because we have been using portfolios for as long as, well for at least as long as the early 18th Century according to the definition above.  Now you can create a portfolio to represent who you are, what you can do, what you can contribute, etc.


Having a web portfolio is essential to students in the School of Art & Design, but so are the means to have that portfolio seen by potential employers.  There are a LOT of sites out there that help in this regard, but Seelio* provides something more unique.  In addition to straightforwardly having your work seen by potential employers who recruit on the site, you can also share work with others in the hopes of collaboration.  In the 21st century, collaborative work is rapidly becoming the norm and effective platforms for sharing work are essential.

So, whether you are a creative person who is used to having and presenting a portfolio, or you consider yourself to be not so creative, Seelio is a way to share your work, collaborate, and hone how you wish to present yourself to others.


*formerly referred to as truApp in original post