Since I started to learn Photoshop at the beginning of high school, and after making some actual graphic designs (ugly ones, as expected), I’ve always dreamt about building my place to share those designs. Later on, when I was doing freelance work, my portfolio become essential to get new project contracts.

The beginning

Inspired by other designers that showcase their work on the web, I started to learn more about this subject and I created my first-ever design for that. Until then and probably a while after, my focus was only on doing graphic stuff, which I loved to do! So in 2006, the very first iteration was a rectangular shape with a green header, some textured pattern applied on it, and just a few texts. The space inside was needed so I can slice that part and use it as a background for my content. It was a technique that probably was often used at that time for converting design to HTML.

Back then I was using Synapse as a nickname.

By that time I’d used the username Synapse, which was inspired by a movie with hackers that I saw in the same period. That’s why some of my projects from the start of my career are signed with Synapse Design. Awkward. :-S

For this design, and also for most of my old projects, I still have the source files in PSD format. It’s nice to see how my visual skills evolved, how I started, and where I am now. That makes me feel grateful.

Moving Forward

In 2006 I was still in high school, so I had o lot of free time, and I spent most of it doing design and learning new techniques that can use to build those designs. Even though I never had the chance to upload the website on a server and make it public, there was still continuous work to iterate on the portfolio design.

I was a huge fan of those brushes.

There was an abundance of using Photoshop brushes, and I spent many hours looking for them also typefaces, patterns, or any material that was helping with building my designs. Of course, everything was made just with visual guidelines, there were no grids or layouts used, just a common sense of how elements need to be aligned.

Another green iteration of my portfolio.

First published version

I don’t remember exactly how I managed to get a domain and a host, but in 2007 I published my first portfolio website, which was probably one of the latest of many versions that I had made. Starting with this one, I was also focusing more on branding, and in this version, my first logo attempt is included.

Goodbye green, welcome blue!

Of course, there are so many mistakes made in those designs in terms of navigation, spacing, hierarchy, etc. But at that moment none of those were important to me, I just wanted to do design. There was no pressure from clients or other constraints. I was the client, the designer, and the developer.

Pivoting between two hobbies

My next published version of the portfolio came in 2009. At that moment design was still a hobby for me, never thought that I could make a career out of this. I discovered music creation and my free time was now spent on designing and doing beats in FL Studio. I still loved to create digital stuff, and I was always looking for new techniques to make my portfolio dynamic and more appealing.

Screenshot of the actual HTML page.

It’s funny to see in the version that I had problems with writing content and that there is a strange combination between English and Romanian language. I remember that I found a nice way to switch between themes and the background and some colors were changing. Another great feature was the slideshow where I presented some dummy content.

Following versions

2010 was the year when I got my first client, a local furniture manufacturer, and I’ve realised that I can make some money from doing design, so my focus was quickly switched to this field again.

I was a fan of the skeuomorphism.

I was becoming better and better at HTML/CSS and I was able to implement the design in a pixel-perfect manner. The following versions were attempts to implement more complex design trends, like scroll to section or parallax.

I tried a click to scroll version for a while.

For some time, I was choosing to stay with a simple and clear version, that would help my potential clients discover what are my services and see some of my work. I was presenting myself as a digital agency, although I was the only one working, probably because I started to dream about having an agency.

From 2010 until 2012 this one served me well.

Switching domains

Things started to get better in my career working as a freelancer and in 2012 I let go of the idea of having a design agency and bought the domain. With this new domain, of course, I needed a new portfolio website, but also a new logo.

New domain, new logo, and new portfolio.

Even though I was busier than ever doing freelance work and also dealing with student life, I still managed to work on versions of the portfolio, and I remember having constantly new ideas that I tried and implemented.

Those are some of the designs used between 2012 and 2014.

Every time I published a new version of my portfolio, I was thinking that there are still improvements that can be done, and I was never happy with how the portfolio was looking. In 2014 I published a version that was going to stay until 2018 when I stopped renewing my domain and canceled hosting services.

This one was my favourite version of the portfolio.

This version contained many visual and interactive elements like turning on the light or having the analog clock that actually worked. There were many hover effects on the website elements, and if you wanted to look at a particular design, a laptop was opened as a modal.

Footer with things that I’ve had at that time.

Current version

In the middle of 2021, I started to build a new version of my portfolio and by the end of the year, it was released. This time focusing more on explaining the design process and less on the visual design. Most of my portfolio items were replaced with work from the past 2 years.

I also had a Japanese-inspired theme on the current version. I am a huge fan of their culture so I thought that it will be a nice thing to try, but quickly new ideas came in and the theme was changed again.

Japanese-inspired theme with an illustration I made.

Within the current version, I had the idea of going back to my old logo but adapting it to match the current visual look and feel. I really like the end result and I even added a nice Lottie animation while hovering on it.

Final thoughts

For me, having a portfolio is an important artifact that will always follow me in my career. It helps me manage and present projects, demonstrating my skills and experience. It also motivates me to stay focused and prevents me from procrastinating.