Monday, April 4, 2011

Creating Your Professional Portfolio.

From '90 Ways to Market Your Children's Illustration Career' Kerrie Lent
1.      Create your professional portfolio.

The key word here is definitely ‘professional’.  Your portfolio is going to represent who you are, the quality of work you do and the subject matter and style in which you work.  Not only is the content of your portfolio very important but the way in which you display it is equally as important. 
Let’s talk about the content first.  Only display your best work!  Take your time and really go through your artwork carefully and listen to your instincts.  Don’t be tempted to include an image that you don’t feel 100% confident about. 
Consider the following points when selecting your portfolio images…
-         Which pieces feel like they represent you the very best? 
-         Which ones are perfectly executed? 
-         Which images do you know without a doubt should be included?
-         Do these images represent the type of work you’d like to be doing?
-         Is the quality of the reproduction professional?
Consider asking a colleague, teacher or instructor to review and critique your portfolio.  Ask them what they think and stay objective about their answers.

Your portfolio should always be about quality, not quantity.  While you are considering some of the points above be sure to limit the number of pieces in your portfolio.  For a physical portfolio the traditional number of images to include have been from 10-20 pieces.  Always be sure to start and finish with your strongest pieces.  For a digital or online portfolio you may wish to include more images but again be sure that you’re including strong pieces.  It’s quick and easy to upload images for an online portfolio so remember to take a minute to consider each piece carefully.  Continue the theme of professionalism and quality throughout your portfolio.  If you don’t have one, invest in a nice portfolio case.  Be sure each image is scanned, printed and displayed cleanly and professionally in your portfolio.  The way you present yourself and your work will reflect to a potential art buyer how you work as an illustrator and what they can (or cannot) expect from you.  For your online portfolio maintain the same eye to professionalism and quality.  Be sure your images maintain their integrity, considering the resolution and color likeness of your original images.  Ensure that they are displayed professionally online and appear as you expect them to.

The age old debate exists as to whether or not you should show diversity in style and ability in your portfolio or represent yourself with one specific style.  I think this is dependent on what your goals are, where you are in your career, what you feel comfortable with and who you’re marketing or showing your portfolio to.  Knowing what your goals are within the industry will help you to cater your portfolio to that specific part of the industry.  Listen to feedback and change or update your portfolio when appropriate.  If your portfolio is diverse, order it so that it flows nicely and makes sense, or connects through a common theme whether it be style, subject matter, medium etc.  Consider having more than one professional portfolio if you work within different industries.  In this instance you may be showcasing a couple of different styles to different art buyers, they will appreciate that you have a clear understanding of what you offer and to whom. 

In summary, the most important thing to consider when creating or updating your portfolio is to portray yourself professionally while displaying quality work.

All the best,

The next point I’ll be expanding on from '90 Ways to Market Your Children's Illustration Career' is – 2. Write up your biography, client list, bibliography, resume or c.v.

Copyright 2011 Kerrie Lent.  Please contact me for reproduction inquiries. 

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