It is that time of year again! After you review your year, (see last Post) you want to strut a new, confident foot out there into the industry! And just in time, there is the SCBWI NYC Mid Winter Conference…just waiting for you! (there is still some room…go!!!)
As an artist, the way you’ll present and introduce yourself anywhere is with your portfolios. The WEBSITE is your first and foremost portfolio. The one you’ll take to NYC or other regional conferences has to be complimentary to your website too, but may show a more concise YOU. I asked my daughter and partner in the agency, Christy Tugeau Ewers, to comment on some hints for this special physical portfolio. She will be at the Friday portfolio presentation on Feb. 10 evening looking at portfolios and meeting with our, and other artists, (editors and art directors as well!) as time allows. So it seems perfect for her to comment on what SHE will be looking for as an agent, and what is typical of the ‘event working’ by buyers. I’ve been to lots of conferences, several times as judge of the portfolios, and she’s got great practical points here. I want to mention that unfortunately, we viewers ‘pass over’ the majority of the portfolios! That’s true, if not good news for those presenting. Either the open page isn’t a style we’re looking for, it doesn’t catch our attention, or it is work too much like what we’ve seen a million times before. You want to jump out! So, other than the more typical hints of 12-15 interactive, story telling, good character pieces in a reasonable sized, clean looking ‘ book’ with a dummy attached if you have one, lets move to Christy’s comments and hints for YOU to JUMP OUT!
Hello! I’m chiming in here to ruminate on a point that is very important to remember when curating your portfolios. Perhaps I’ve been watching too many Disney movies with “Finding” in the title (Nemo, Dory, etc.) but I like to call it: FINDING YOU.
Many artists who send us their digital portfolios show all of their work. This seems like a good idea, right? We should see EVERYTHING you’ve done and are capable of doing, yes? NO! Stop right there! It’s completely counter-intuitive, but we (and art buyers alike) do not want to see everything you’ve ever done. We don’t want to see a portfolio that shows work that could have been done by four different artists either. We want to see YOU and your signature style. That should be the one you’d MOST like to create. (CAT added: and be paid for as well.)
In order to represent you to buyers, we need to know who you are, and what you do best. We need to be able to SELL that ‘you’ so that you are memorable to the art buyers who have jobs needing to be filled. (CAT added: You HAVE to be memorable ….they must remember your style to think of you for a book or product. Make it easy for them.) For instance, if you are a traditional watercolor artist and showing that style, but also have dense, color-block samples created digitally included, we’re going to be confused., and so will buyers. If this is your situation, ask yourself what you want to work in first. If you were to be hired to illustrate a children’s book, would you rather use the watercolor style or work digitally in the flatter style. You can too both….but the styles should both look consistently like YOU. (and include b/w if you do it. Remember You are introducing your artistic self with your portfolios.)
It is such fun for us to visit an artist’s website and see various ‘other than children’s’ tabs. This is a way to show off other styles (editorial, cut paper, etc.) and not confuse. We can see who you are, or want to be, for children’s work, but then dive further into that artist and person by looking at ‘other work’ on different page tabs – “digital” or “sketchbook” or “paper cut” etc. Only show work that you are proud of. Nothing weak. It IS OK to cross genres – so long as it’s in the same general illustration style. If your work reads ‘young’ as in ‘perfect for board books’, do not be afraid to try your hand at a middle-grade cover or two. This will surprise and delight people who would otherwise place you in the “0-3” category. Shows versatility! Be bold and take chances that way, but be sure to keep the overall look of your book consistently YOU. Your work in time will evolve, but for ‘first impressions’, get yourself in the door with the style you most want to be known for. FIND YOU, and then let us see what else you can do! Happy creating and curating! Christy
and Chris !…. check in here again for more helpful ideas and suggestions. Contact us with questions if you wish as well. It’s what we do……