Making an Impression: A Freelance Illustrator Prints His Portfolio Book

Nicholas Moegly is a freelance illustrator and lettering artist who calls Cincinnati, Ohio home. His love of hand-drawn illustrations and typography can be seen in every project he undertakes, whether it’s a band poster, a beer glass or his latest portfolio book made with Smartpress’ Perfect Bound Booklets.

Portfolio book

Making it Memorable

Moegly had always relied heavily on digital platforms to promote his work. Then about a year ago, he had a thought. “I asked myself, ‘Why not do something different?’” he said. “Everyone gets emails all the time. Maybe a small printed portfolio that you could hold in your hands would catch peoples’ attention, would stick out just enough to be remembered.”

Crafting a Vintage Vibe

“I laid everything out myself,” Moegly said. “It took a few months to figure out what projects I wanted to include and how I wanted to showcase the work. I’d go back and forth with questions like, ‘Do I write a lot of descriptive copy or do I do it like an art book and just show the work?’ Honestly, it was the most difficult thing about the whole project.”


He went onto explain, “Because it was going to so many different types of people, I was constantly weighing what to put in and what to leave out. Even some of my favorite pieces I had to view critically because it may not be what I thought a rep would want to see or what I thought a creative director at a magazine would be looking for. Then, of course, because it is in print, I had to make sure my picks would still look good a year from now and not feel outdated.”


Along with curating, writing and designing the custom book for online printing, Moegly also photographed all the work. “That’s probably another reason why it took months. I kind of played every role in this project,” he said.

Photography portfolio

Uncoated smooth 100# text pages paired with the vintage vibe of Moegly’s illustration work

Perfect binding

Matte coated 120# cover stock with a flat matte UV coating protected the cover from fingerprints

A Tactile Experience

“Luckily, when it came to picking stock for the portfolio, I was a bit more decisive,” Moegly said. Also lucky? All the booklet printing options that come standard with a premium online printer like Smartpress.


For his portfolio book, Moegly knew he wanted a substantial paper with some texture and a matte finish that would pair with the vintage vibe of his work. He chose a 120# coated matte cover stock paired with an uncoated smooth 100# text stock for the interior pages. A flat matte UV coating protected the sheets from fingerprinting.


Custom book printing

A plastic slipcover protected the portfolio during transit

Print your own portfolio

The screen-printed craft envelope was designed to look like vintage airmail

Special Delivery

“When the 6˝ x 9˝ portfolios arrived, I still had work to do,” Moegly said. “I decided to create a mailer for the piece, so I screen-printed a brown kraft envelope to look like an old airmail envelope and then hand-lettered the addresses.”

“When it was time for mailing,” Moegly said, “I tried to make it feel like they were unwrapping something special.” He wrapped each book in a plastic slipcover and added a handwritten note introducing himself and the portfolio book. “I wanted everything about the piece to feel handcrafted.”

Portfolio printing

Old School Cool

“For me, making it was an experience,” Moegly said. “I wanted it to be an experience for others when it came to opening it, too.”


And for many recipients, it was just that. “I had hoped they’d say something like, ‘I loved paging through it,’ ‘We don’t see a lot of books come through like this,’ or ‘It’s beautiful, I can’t believe you took the time to write a personal note!’ when they caught their first glimpse of the book,” Moegly said. “And they did.”


He continued, “Just as I suspected, holding something physical in your hands makes for a completely different experience than just seeing it digitally. There’s still something really great about seeing stuff in print. I guess I’m just old school enough to hope it stays that way.”


Make your own portfolio
Custom booklet

Print Details

Perfect Bound Book

120# Coated Matte White Cover, 100# Uncoated Smooth White Pages, Flat Matte U/V Coating on Cover, 6 x 9 Portrait

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