First impressions count. That’s why a learning how to make an art portfolio is one of the most important tools you have in your possession as an artist. If you want to sell your art, exhibit your art or build your career as an artist, then you will need to develop a strong portfolio. Your portfolio should be like your smiling face, your business card and your best suit all-in-one. It should leave the impression that you’re a serious professional artist, who can be depended upon to not only create beautiful art, but also to be a good business person. Here are the secrets of creating a successful art portfolio:
1. Use this as an opportunity to blow them away
Gallery owners are busy people. They will often receive hundreds of applications per week from artists who want to exhibit. So make sure your artist portfolio stands out from the crowd by demonstrating your raw talent throughout. Blank covers are boring - so use your artistic craft to jazz it up. Does it have to be shaped like a rectangle (ie like all the other portfolios)? Could there be some 3d elements to your art portfolio? However you decide to “jazz up your portfolio”, be consistent with your personal brand and true to yourself.
2. Include your best work, and your best work only!
An art portfolio is meant to be a snapshot of your work. Use this as a summary of your best work, and your best work only. Choose five or six of your favourite pieces and include high resolution images of them. For each one, write a short (maybe 100 - 200 words) explanation of the piece which should give context to this piece within your artist career. Try to avoid including every piece you’ve ever done, and if you’re struggling to choose which pieces to include in your art portfolio, then ask a trusted friend to choose.
3. Focus on the details
A picture may paint a thousand words, but a wrongly spelled word can also paint a thousand words - most of those words will be “no”. You do need to concern yourself with the details and make sure that your punctuation and grammar are consistently correct throughout your portfolio. Again, ask a friend to help with this - when you’ve read a text a hundred times it becomes more difficult to see the mistakes. Other details to consider include underlining or making bold your titles, also your text size and colour should be consistent and finally, ensure your images are of high quality.
4. Good artists are always thinking about their portfolio
I would not suggest that you create your art with your portfolio in mind, but whenever you’re working, you should constantly be thinking about your portfolio. Imagine the excitement you feel about a piece when you’ve just finished it - this is the excitement you’ll be trying to get down into words if you include it in your portfolio. And when you’re not working on something which can be added to your portfolio, try concentrating on different ways to share your portfolio - can you make it digital so that you can email it? Can you create a QR code on a business card?
5. Know your audience
When you’re considering contacting a gallery, do your research first. Not every art gallery is right for every artist. Try to find out what exhibitions they’ve had in recent years, and tailor your portfolio to match it. If the gallery tends to display more modern or abstract work, then make sure this is well-represented in your portfolio, but don’t forget to demonstrate your wider talent. And don’t forget, every gallery has their own procedures for applying to exhibit - make sure that you follow the protocol.
In essence, your artist’s portfolio should be viewed as a piece of art in itself. Take the time to put effort and love into your portfolio and your application to galleries - and you will see the results!