Do you have an art portfolio? If you do have a portfolio, when was the last time that you reviewed, replaced and updated its contents? If you do not have an art portfolio, you really need to create and maintain a portfolio for a myriad of reasons.
Every serious artist should have an art portfolio in order to be able to present their work to potential art galleries, any possible art schools and finally to show any art buyers or art collectors. Some people may want to view an art portfolio in digital form and others would like to be able to review it in printed form. Either way, that is why it is wise to have an art portfolio prepared and ready both formats.
Artist portfolios whether digital (website or mobile) or printed, should be similar (with a few additions for a website) and in the end, they should actually mirror each other. At any time when there is any new art to be shown or there are any significant changes to an artist’s career, circumstances and events, both portfolios should be updated simultaneously.
Here is a review of what an effective art portfolio should consist of;
1. The Best Possible Representation of Your Art – The most important section of your portfolio will be the images of your art. Those images of your art (whether you want to admit it to yourself or not) are in competition with every other artist who is also presenting their artwork. If the images of your art are of poor quality and do not represent your original art, you should not be presenting it to anyone until it represents at least 95% of your original art!
This means that the images should be focused, all lines are square, no frames, no glass, no flash highlights and that the art is color corrected with the proper contrast, midtones and color saturation. Only the artist can know what a true representation is of that original art.
If you do not have the expertise or do not care how to learn how to do this, then have a professional accomplish this for you. DO NOT use a point and shoot camera or an iPhone to record and recreate your art! There are several excellent free photo editing programs that can be downloaded, learned and utilized to this end. You do not need to buy a PhotoShop program to accomplish this.
2. Show Only Your Best Art – Present only your best finished art. What you are trying to demonstrate to an art gallery, a school or to another art professional is that you have a certain level of proficiency, that you have a consistent “Body of Work” and that you are a serious artist.
I suggest that you try to show this “Body of Work” in no more than 20 images of your art. Do not overload the viewer with too many artworks. If they like a certain style, media, series, or theme of your work, and you have more to show, this can always be offered at a later date or at another time to be seen.
Always try to group your work together in terms of styles, themes and media. Get someone who knows art, who can be also be objective and honest (with you) to help you cull through your art in order to be placed and presented in your portfolios.
3. Representational Artist Statement – Present what I like to call a “Representational” artist statement. In plain language and in concise terms (without a lot of flowery words and hyperbole) tell the reader why you create the art that you do and what is the reason or your motivation for creating your art. Your artist statement should be simple enough for someone who is not in the art field to read and understand your artist statement.
4. CV/Bio/Education – Create a brief outline, which highlights your biographical information and your education (whether it is art related or not). The accompanied dates should be in descending order, most recent first to the furthest dates.
5. Exhibitions and Shows – List all of your exhibitions and shows in descending order (see #4 above). Some artists list their solo and group shows separately, but this is not necessary. Also, if already scheduled, have any future shows listed as well.
6. Press Releases and Collateral Materials – Any press releases, event catalogues, event postcards and awards should be included or detailed in this section. For websites, have these materials scanned and uploaded for the viewers to see.
7. Other Materials – If you have a printed newsletter, extra copies can also be included or if it is a website, a blog and any related or important links should be a part of the online portfolio presentation.
8. Contact Information – Besides the presentation of your art, the artist contact information is also one of the most important elements that you can have either in a printed portfolio or for a website. Of all of the mistakes that I continually see, it is a lack of contact information for the artist. At least, ALWAYS have a mailing address, telephone number and email address. I also suggest any alternative means of contact such as Skype, IM, texts and social media being included as well.
I am not sure why, but I see a lot of hard copy portfolios and many online presentations that have none, minimal or hidden means of contacting the artist!
Any art portfolio, art presentation or art website should have a goal that will lead and get the reader to take further action or to get them to ask for further information. Try to think of an artist’s portfolio as a complete presentation (in the artist’s absence) of the artist and their art either in printed or digital form. The art portfolio should answer at least 85% of someone’s questions about the artist and their art and the other 15% would come directly from the artist to the person making the inquiry.
Artists should always have their art portfolio in a clean, orderly and up-to-date condition. The art portfolio should be ready for anyone to view, at any time and hopefully to help the reader to take further action, which will, at some point, lead to sale of the presented art.