We're not dismissing the importance of web design when we talk of portfolio templates. Far from it. Many of the following suggestions have been created by independent studios or designers, with every sale directly benefiting them. It's just that when you're starting, you might not have the budget to employ an expert right away. So until that day comes, these themes offer the perfect stop-gap solution.
From good old WordPress and Squarespace to Wix and Ghost, these recommended designs have been marked up for their clean layouts, strong design and overall flexibility – as in, you can tweak these themes to your heart's content and end up with something that, well, doesn't look like an off-the-shelf site.
1. Beirut for Ghost by Aspire Themes
Whether you're a photographer, graphic designer or illustrator, Beirut by Aspire Themes isn't the cheapest of the bunch. At $149, it's pretty steep compared to other templates. But boy, is it beautiful. We love the typography, the work page layouts, and, most of all, we adore the ability to add our own branding to the design.
There's a little technical knowledge required to get up and running, but the helpful documentation will talk you through it, step by step. You'll need a code editor to make this happen. But you'll be so glad you went to the trouble.
2. Kester by Squarespace
We think Squarespace's Kester is a great shout for artists and illustrators everywhere, as it showcases the work front and centre with the option to add a shop and a blog, too. It means you can attract clients and sell products, all in one hit – without compromising on design. Created by Michigan-based hand-lettering artist Ida Kester Fey, the theme is a popular choice for a reason. And it's yours for as little as £10 per month if you opt for the ‘personal' package on an annual subscription. It's ideal if you have no experience in coding, too.
3. Palette for WordPress by First Sight
A great option for photographers and creative studios is this theme by First Sight Design called Palette. Its clean design features professional photography and video galleries, and we love how you can choose between ‘multipurpose', ‘studio', or ‘personal' to get started. The ‘multipurpose' template has all the page types and functionality any photographer might need, including gorgeous layouts, photo proofing, password-protected galleries, and the functionality to share source files through the website.
The ‘studio' option, meanwhile, better suits a studio and has everything you might expect from a professional agency website. For ‘personal', you've got the choice of a more minimalist site with the focus being on the portfolio gallery and a limited number of pages for easy setup and maintenance. It's all yours for $69.
Wix continues to surprise and delight with its ever-expanding portfolio of themes. We like this particular template for graphic designers. Clean and sophisticated, its layout gives the content enough room to breathe, and the default typography is modern, fresh and very “now”. This is a design that also makes your work the star of the show with interactive features leading visitors to your projects and huge site-wide images and videos. We're especially impressed with the theme's profile page, which outlines who you are, your expertise and your skills.
5. Louis by Fouroom for WebFlow
Louis is a UI kit for WebFlow that gives you three different homepage options, three different about pages, three portfolio layouts, three types of blog design and three stunning contact pages. This template was also created with global swatches, so you can change the whole colour theme with just a couple of clicks.
6. Bryson by Elated Themes for WordPress
Probably our favourite pick of the magnificent seven, Bryson by Elated Themes is an absolute stunner of a portfolio theme for WordPress. There are tons of layouts to choose from, icons and elements galore, and everything is fully responsive and functional. Opt for a Pinterest-style homepage or something that resembles a professional agency's website. Choose the ‘design studio' theme or add the portfolio perfect for illustrators. It's really up to you. You can even add a shop and blog, which have their own range of designs and options. Priced at $75, it's available via Envato Market now.
7. Oshine by Brand Exponents for WordPress
Last but not least is this hugely flexible WordPress theme by Brand Exponents called Oshine, which has 33,000 customers around the world. But no one would know you'd downloaded the same as everyone else. The design offers infinite layout possibilities and gives you complete control over fonts and colours so that you truly can make something of your own. That's whether you'd prefer a freelancer design or you're someone who doesn't have much visual content to display…like a professional writer. Anything is certainly possible. Oshine is yours for $69.