Portfolio Basics

Portfolios are often used by artists to display a record of their art career to potential buyers and art galleries. They can either be displayed online or as a physical document. If using a physical/print portfolio, be sure to organize it in a portfolio book, presentation case or binder. It should look professional. Use only two to three different fonts and stick to dark colored font to make it easy to read and photocopy (if necessary.) You should be able to explain what's in it, so review it before an interview. This will also help you prepare for the interview. Bring it to the interview and offer to leave a copy or email the electronic version for review.

TYPES

Academic Portfolios

  • Common in education, these portfolios combine reflective assessments in academics, research, service and leadership to support your accomplishments.

Demo Reels/Show Reels

  • Common in animation, film, TV and video games, this is a collection of your best work presented in audio or video format.
  • Vimeo.com

Print Portfolios

  • Common in advertising, fine arts, illustration, photography and graphic design, this is a physical presentation of your best work. Typically artists choose to have digital portfolios, but print portfolios are helpful for career fairs and interviews.
  • Magcloud.com

Web Portfolios

  • A best practice for all majors to show off their skills and talents and essential for those in the creative industries. Web portfolios showcase your work and skills online for employers, clients or classes.
  • CarbonMade.com
  • Behance.net
  • Coroflot.com
  • KROP.com

GETTING STARTED

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of portfolio is best for me?
  • What type of media should I include?
  • Who is my audience? What do I want them to know about me?
  • What is my message? What unique skills and experiences have I had? How can I show them?
  • What type of tool/site will I use?

WHAT TO INCLUDE

Artist Statement

  • Your artist statement is a short summary that informs others about you as an artist. Describe what you hope to do, show or say with your art and what interests you in doing so. Your statement should help others appreciate your art and your standing as an artist.
  • Keep it short - about 100-300 words - and never more than one page. Use words anyone can understand. Use present tense. Stay away from overly used phrases like, "my work is intuitive," "my work is about the macro and the micro," "my work is about the organic and the synthetic," "my work is a personal journey," "my work is about my experiences," "I pour my soul into each piece," or "I've been drawing since I was three years old."
  • To get started, brainstorm general words and phrases that describe you and your work. It might also be a good idea to get help from someone (Career Services, a friend, the Center for Teaching and Learning, a professor, etc.)

Biography

  • Think of a biography as the story of your résumé. It allows you to show your personality, sum up who you are and what you have to offer and elaborate on the highlights of your career. Include personal details, such as where you were born, where you grew up, where you live now, your education, training and apprenticeships, etc.
  • You may include a photo, if desired.
  • Biographies are usually written in the third person, but can be written in the first person.

Résumé

  • The résumé or curriculum vitae in your portfolio doesn't have to be tailored - include everything! However, focus on the related experiences.

Samples (writing, images, animations, web pages, sound files, concept papers)

  • Don't include everything you have ever done, instead show only your best work. Your samples should provide evidence of your skills, knowledge, experience and uniqueness.
  • Clearly label and describe the samples with the title, year, medium, dimensions (height x width x depth) or duration and a brief description. For 3-D art, take photos and fix them using Photoshop (or similar software). The larger the images, the better. Organize by styles or types (drawings, oil paintings, etc.) or groups/themes.

Press Releases, Newspaper clippings

  • Include any article that mentions you, even if it is only a sentence.
  • Clip the title bar from the first page (the publication's name and date of issue). Combine this with the full next of the article.
  • Credit the article and the author.

Anything relevant that doesn't fit on your résumé

  • Transcripts, course descriptions, special projects, learning agreements, evaluations, programs and flyers from events, letters of recommendation, awards

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