An artist’s portfolio can be one of the most important tools he has in his professional arsenal. Portfolios present an artist’s work, professionalism, history, and overall style. The portfolio you keep for yourself is different from the disposable portfolio you will send out to prospective commissioners. I say disposable only because you never know if it will be returned or kept after you send it back.
While not only serving as a history or resume, portfolios can be important for galleries and publishers who are looking for a certain style and creating a portfolio that is useful and business-like without being boring or flashy can be a real challenge. When creating your portfolio, you should spare no expense. An obviously cheaply made portfolio can turn away publishers and gallery owners before they even bother to look at your work. A cheap portfolio says, “unsuccessful artist.” Think of your portfolio as your three piece suit and create one that says power and success.
Depending on your medium, there are several ways to create a portfolio. If you are computer savvy, electronic portfolios are impressive, though not always practical. If you are going to create a presentation portfolio with bells, whistles and turnable gallery pages, be sure your target is able to access your work. Call ahead and see what computer abilities are available and what software is used so that you can be compatible.
While electronic portfolios are impressive, you will always need to have a hard copy portfolio to back it up. There are professional artists’ services that will make a portfolio for you, but they are quite expensive.
Your portfolio is going to need pictures of your work. These pictures should not be polaroids or computer-generated prints, but actual glossy prints. If you are not a good photographer, hire one to take pictures of your work for you, and have the pictures professionally processed. If you are on a limited budget, one way to save money is to provide clear laser copies of your work and offer glossy prints on demand. Be sure to include pictures of work that has been published or commissioned or sold and take note of the success of each work for inclusion in your portfolio.
Your bio and resume can either be placed in the front or back of the portfolio. Sometimes it is preferable to have your desired target look at your work before he sees your credits and accomplishments. This is something you will need to decide with your own personal preferences. The front of your portfolio should have your name, address and possibly a photograph of yourself, and the whole thing can be bound up in a photo album type booklet with plastic protecting each page. Include labels at the bottom of each picture with the date of your creation and any credits the work has earned. If the work has been sold or had its rights purchased, be sure to include this information so that your target will know it is not available.
Once you have completed your portfolio, you will want to begin sending it out. Always include a stamped post card for a reply and if you’d like your portfolio returned, be sure to include a large postage-paid envelope.
If you use the right kind of folder for binding, you can always update your portfolio with your latest works and customize them to suit the needs of your prospective commissioners.note