How do you manage samples of physical design projects?

As a designer creates work, more and more “samples” start to stack up.

With digital projects maintaining a library of past projects is fairly easy. All it takes is a dedicated hard drive and a backup.

However, with physical projects the collection of samples can get rather large. I have begun contemplating burning a few piles of samples.

  • Do you keep physical samples? If so, how many samples of each project do you keep?

  • How long do you keep them? Do you keep all project samples or merely the ones you feel are “best”?

  • How do you store physical samples? Are you concerned about degradation over time? If so, how do you combat that?

  • I had considered a good photo shoot then maintaining the photos rather than the pieces. Is it imperative to have the actual physical piece so it can be held and felt?


At my old place of employment, we had two kinds of samples that we kept an inventory of:

  1. “Brag” samples. Portfolio type pieces to show to prospective clients.
  2. Production samples. Special runs, problem color files, long term run projects, etc.


For the “Brag” samples, we tried to strike a balance between current and wow pieces, in all categories. Just like any portfolio, if your best stuff is from ten years ago, that is an indication of stagnation. We tried to keep all of our samples to within the last year except in the case of spectacular and/or well known projects.

We didn’t keep more than a few of each piece, due to the large physical size of some of the projects.


Production samples were another deal. We had a giant rack of 3″ cardboard cores (about 200) that we kept samples in, as well as a rack for rigid stuff. The cores were manually marked with the job number and the last modified date, plus any other related info. The rigid examples had the same ‘slug’ decal as the rolls.

The Production samples were generally cleared out after 2 years unless marked as long term, high re/additional run potential project.

The key to both of these systems is it has to be a priority. It only takes a 1/2 an hour or so per month to keep under control, if someone is on it all the time. As soon as it gets neglected for 6 months or more, keeping up with it becomes a time consuming nightmare.

Source : Link , Question Author : Scott , Answer Author : TunaMaxx

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