Creative portfolio of the artist

Any aspiring artist and illustrator will sooner or later face the need to create their own portfolio — a set of their artwork with a beautiful presentable design. You will need a portfolio for study, to get a creative profession, to work, or to find clients as a freelancer or self-employed. I have collected the best ideas — my own and other professionals who have already got art success — admission to the university and dream jobs, clients, cooperation with galleries, etc.

I first thought about creating a portfolio after I formulated the “Artist’s Statement”, and only a few years later I came close to the idea of what kind of portfolio I need and how to form it. It helped me that one day I took out all my work and took high-quality photographs with a digital camera in good resolution. When your work is digitized and is in one folder, it is much easier to create a portfolio.

The main question is: in what format will you create your portfolio? It will be a book, album, website, or video presentation. I would not consider my Instagram or Facebook as a full-fledged portfolio, because there are too many works and they are not systematized, there is no integrity and general idea, there is no completeness. DeviantArt or Behance, on the other hand, looks more professional.

Still, a portfolio is something finite (there are boundaries), and also a portfolio has a certain purpose (goal).

For each specific case — its own unique portfolio!

When I thought about what portfolio to make, what works to add there, I asked myself the following questions:

  • what kind of artist am I? what are my features?
  • what do I want to achieve with my portfolio?
  • what volume and format is traditional in this area?
  • what I want to emphasize, what to focus on?

Before proceeding directly to the contents of the portfolio, it is important to make an introduction: the biography of the author, which lists the facts – name / nickname, education, experience, exhibitions, awards, the most significant projects, etc. Keep your bio short – one paragraph of 50 words!

As I described in detail in the post about “The Artist’s Statement”, it is important to be able to explain your philosophy, ideas and views. This section can also be added to a portfolio to make it more soulful and show people that you are truly passionate about what you do.

Portfolio design

If the text — it is large. Separate chapters and topics. If printing, then on the best paper, hardcover and in color. If the portfolio is on the Internet, choose a layout for mobile devices and make the images large, because many people will look at pictures from a mobile phone.

Find out the requirements for a portfolio if you will be submitting it to a competition or to an educational institution. Observe all the requirements 100%, a lot depends on it. There are usually fewer formal requirements for job hiring and more creativity can be shown.

A good portfolio is one that you make yourself and very carefully, clearly organize the work and use high-quality materials. Be sure to research current art gallery catalogs and the best portfolios in your field to figure out best practicies.

To make a beautiful design, you can use websites and apps on your phone that help you create an attractive artbook – format and layout of elements from scratch, such as Canva, PicsArt, etc. Use ready-made templates, time-tested.

What works to include in the portfolio?

It is worth choosing the best works of different genres, and include in the portfolio not only the finished image, but also several pictures that show the path from the concept to the finished work (sketch, author’s reflection, creative research). Don’t include too many different works in your portfolio, even if they are very good ones. A portfolio must have an idea, and all works support it. Minimalism, texture and context.

Put the strongest works first, and the most controversial ones further down the list. The placement of the artwork should match the story you are telling. A person will look at your work, and he should have a whole picture. In a way, a portfolio is like a comic book, where you can add text, arrows, and other design elements.

At the end add your contacts: email and phone number for communication; links to social networks, website.

How many works to add to the portfolio?

Most professionals agree that 10-20 works on average is enough to present yourself and your skills. If you only insert the 3 best pictures, it will seem like a too small sample. When there are so many works in the album that you cannot see them all before lunchtime, then we can say about the author that he does not know how to choose the main thing and respect other people’s time.

If you really want to show more of your work, then you can make several different artbooks for different occasions and keep them in reserve. At the interview, they can come in handy if it turns out that some of your work is of particular interest or clarifying questions appear. And you will get a second additional portfolio. So when you enter an acting institute, you study a compulsory program, but there is always something else at the ready.

Common mistakes when creating a portfolio

  • too complicated navigation – there is no clear arrangement of elements;
  • too few or too many jobs (optimally 10-20);
  • there is no unique concept or idea, but just a set of pictures;
  • no purpose, no motivation and no story – why all this;
  • all works are in the same style, there is no variety;
  • works that you did not like working on (what if thay offer you a job to do just that?);
  • old works that are no longer relevant – you now draw differently than a couple of years ago.

It is very important not only to make an interesting collection of works, but also to show your uniqueness as an artist.

How to stand out from other portfolios?

  1. Develop a concept for your portfolio. As an artist, you create another art object, your art book. What point of view on what issue do you demonstrate? Art is a way of communication. What do you say to people who will be watching?
  2. Write a personal motivation letter or cover letter in which you address by name the person who will be studying your portfolio. Explain why you want to be part of the team, what are your goals and priorities. Write freely and respectfully, concisely and emotionally. Make it clear that this is very important for you, and you know how to express yourself not only in artistic creation, but also in writing.

If you want to make a cool portfolio, start now, because this is a very time-consuming process that often takes longer than you expect. A cool book about what is not taught in design schools will help in this matter.

Write a comment — what do you want to make a portfolio for?

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