Now that we’ve talked about WHY you might need and want a ‘portfolio,’ let’s examine WHAT a portfolio actually is! And begin to talk about WHAT goes into/onto it. An online website portfolio is an absolute MUST in today’s markets = showcase of your best marketable work. Not a blog (though that’s good too) or Pinterest (also good) or a collection of artists grouped together (though that too is helpful) or your AGENT’S SITE (also MOST helpful.) You need a site of your own. There are free ones and many that only cost $20 or so a month, and you can control what’s on them easily and directly. Talk to artist friends about their experiences with website companies. Buyers want to see that you are professional enough to know you must have a WEBSITE today….that’s linked to all the other places you might have work. Even your agent will want to link to your site so clients can get to know you and your work better. A note…. clean and simple and big enough to see easily. Don’t make us work too hard! Editors and ADs and Agents are often over worked with little time for the FUN job of looking at samples of talented artists! MAKE us want to turn the page!
A physical portfolio today is really only used for visits with clients when you travel to NYC for instance. You’ll need one if you plan to showcase work at an SCBWI conference type event also. In both cases a nice simple 11×14 leather or plastic carry ‘book’ is a lovely size…not too big to be annoying as you push ‘slush piles’ off some editors desk, or hog the entire display area at a show, but big enough to nicely show copies (only) of samples in an actual ‘picture book’ size. You can also attach an actual dummy to this size easily for shows. (No oversized or boxed ‘student’ types.) For mailing or ‘drop offs,‘ (when you can’t get IN to see an editor or AD but they do take ‘books’ overnight) an inexpensive 9×12 black plastic clear sheeted display book works very well. (lots in Office Depot and Staples etc) They come in 6 or 12 pages….no bigger is needed to house the 10-15 GREAT sample copies you’ll put in them. Loss happens and you don’t want your expensive real-leather-with-logo imprint to be lost! Keep it simple and clean looking….no ‘boxed’ painted or with cute ‘hang offs’. That’s annoying and distracting! You only have ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION. Make it be a professional, neat, business savvy impression. REMEMBER….the ART does the talking. Not you so much; not clever ‘books’ or envelopes (tho’ fun for a thank you later!); not “more and bigger is better”!
Now you have your online and in-person portfolios…. WHAT do you put on/in them!?
This will take several CAT NIP sessions to chat about. I want to start now by asking you to think about one of my favorite phrases: PORTFOLIO PORTENT. “pro-tent” = “something that foreshadows a coming event.” Like a wordless picture book, your portfolios will talk to the buyers. The sample pages foreshadow what they can expect from you should they hire you to illustrate a project. THINK ABOUT THAT!
And it better be foreshadowing/saying the RIGHT things! Think about that till the next ‘WHAT- b.’ part of our CAT NIP series!
(foreshadowing!= ‘content’ for your portfolio’s samples pages)