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Home Forums Other Can I use agency work in my personal portfolio?

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    I sort of fell into the position of go-to web designer for a small media company about a year ago. I’m basically on retainer for 30-40hrs/week with 50/50 office home split. My skills were pretty green at first, but I’ve stayed busy enough to build them to the point of being able to offer my services freelance. I have 6 (7th in process) full site builds that I can say I was responsible for every pixel and every character of code, as well as being the main contact for the client during the entire process. I’m basically a one-man show that operates under the umbrella of this media company (1099 worker), but they generate all of the business and spoon feed me the jobs. In between full builds I take care of their in-house and account maintenance needs.

    What are the rules/etiquette when it comes to using work done while on retainer at a company in my personal portfolio for eventually getting my own web jobs. I did not give it much thought when first starting that I might need to cover some minor legal bases when I was creating these works (i.e. signed ownership agreements). Do I legally have to get permission from them? Can I just specifically mention which work was done under contract at “so and so company” on my personal site? Do I have any right to use my work (which 100% of it is) for my own personal gain, even if I agreed to let them be flown under this company’s flag? I’m basically trying to avoid the discussion with my employer if possible, but would like to not bring any legal issues into the mix.

    If any of you have previous experience with an issue like this, please let me know!


    It varies from company to company. I use some work I do for the agency I work for in my portfolio but I asked my boss casually about it and he was completely fine about it, he just said if a client saw their work on my site and was unhappy then I’d have to take it down, but no issues so far. I do state beneath each piece though if it was done for the agency, and link to their site. The agency I work for though is particulary laid back and I can understand not everyone being that willing to allow it, for example the place I worked at before this made me sign a contract saying I wouldn’t do any freelance work on the side while I was working there, something to do with distracting me from working on their projects. I think you have a couple of options, do it without telling them but risk upsetting them if they find out, or just be up front with them and ask, if you’ve done good work for them and you have a good relationship then I’m sure they’ll be understanding of the fact that you’d like to use the work to build your portfolio.


    If you are working as an employee for a company, the work is the company’s not yours. You hold zero rights as an individual.

    If you are freelancing, it all depends on what your contract states.

    I also work as an employee for a web development company. Any work that is done solely by me I simply ask if I can put it in my portfolio. When I do so, I also make a note beside the piece that it was completed while working for Company-X.


    Also, you mentioned that you’re trying to avoid the conversation with your employer – this is a terrible idea. What if they aren’t okay with it and find your portfolio? Not a good situation.


    You MUST talk to your employer. For the company I work for, some sites I’m allowed to put in my portfolio, others I can’t.


    Yeah I agree. If I were in the situation, I would ask my employer if it is ok to display websites I have created at the company onto my personal portfolio while also mentioning that I worked for “Company-X” when I created it. Only problem would be is to ask for written permission incase problems arise at a future date, you would still be able to show them. It could also bring up red flags.

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