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How to Take Your Art Career to the Next Level…

How to Take Your Art Career to the Next Level… post image

Just what is a Portfolio Review and how can an artist benefit from taking part in this type of event?  A Portfolio Review will provide an artist with a professional evaluation of one’s art, a critique of how the art is being presented to others and can provide the artist with ideas on how they can effectively market their art.

Much like art competitions, a Portfolio Review is an additional way in which an artist can have their art portfolio evaluated and measured against other artists.  A Portfolio Review can help an artist take their art to the next level in terms of their overall presentation, sequencing and marketing.  In addition, this event should provide the artist with ideas on how they can sell more of their art.

There are other benefits for an artist to participate in a Portfolio Review and we will explore and detail those additional benefits in this article as well.  Overall, a Portfolio Review will provide the artist with a high level of professional criticism of the artist’s presentation of their work.  It should be noted that a Portfolio Review is not the type of forum for an artist to ask the reviewers for any advice on techniques to help improve their artwork.

The organization conducting the Portfolio Review should have an event brochure that will state the professionals who will be attending and reviewing the art.  The review will have art galleries owners/directors, curators, along with other art professionals there to review and evaluate the art portfolios.  The artist should do some research prior to the event in order to determine which reviewer(s) can best help and evaluate their art portfolio, based on their experience.

Reviewers can also help guide the artist in terms of marketing their art work to the appropriate target markets.  The reviewers are professionals with many years’ experience in the art business and they have the knowledge and experience which can help to accelerate the artist’s advancement in their art niche.  The reviewers have industry wide contacts, along with an insider’s point-of-view. Overall, they can help lead the artist in the right direction, in terms of career advancement and development.

As an aside to this discussion, the artist should have their art ready to be reviewed in a coherent and comprehensive portfolio.  This means that the artist should have their work ready to be presented as a “body of work”.  A body of work is an effective way showcasing the artist’s artwork, laid out in a distinctive style, such as a single subject or through a single media.  We provided some ideas how to effectively go about this subject in 2 articles that we posted on our website about having a distinctive body of work to show – Do You Have a Body of Work to Show? – Part I and Do You Have a Body of Work to Show? – Part II.

Here are some ideas for an artist to consider prior to deciding to partake in or prior to attending a Portfolio Review;

1.   What does the artist want to accomplish with Portfolio Review.

The artist should write down, consider and evaluate their goals for attending a Portfolio Review.  Is the artist there for help in presenting or refining their actual physical portfolio?  Is the artist attending in order to get help marketing their art or gaining gallery representation?  Is the artist intending to be there to make industry contacts?  Is the artist going because they need help getting their art published?  The artist should be precise with their intent and just what they would like to accomplish when they participate in a Portfolio Review.  

If the Portfolio Review’s brochure or promotional pieces do not specify or match what the artist would like to accomplish, then the artist should contact the event organizer and discuss their desired goals for attending and in order to determine if this fits with the organizer’s stated benefits for holding this event.  The event organizers should be able to guide the artist with this question.

2.   Artist should have portfolio up-to-date with their best art.

As stated above, the artist should try to have a “body of work” to present and show at the Portfolio Review (Actually this true for showing their artwork to anyone).  If the artist is attending this event in order to get help with the quality, sequencing or theme of their portfolio, they should then bring what they have (or how they have been presenting their work) to the review.  However, there should be no more than 20 pieces to show a reviewer.  The artist should not apologize or make excuses for their art to the reviewer.  Instead, the artist should let the reviewer evaluate and advise the artist on how they can improve the presentation of their art.

3.   Artist should have both printed & digital presentations.

The artist should be prepared to accommodate the viewing preferences of the reviewer as they may like to see the artist’s work in a printed portfolio presentation (usually gallery people) as well as in a digital format. If the artist is showing actual paintings or prints, they should not be too large, bulky and difficult for the reviewer to handle.  Overall, the artist should make it easy for the reviewer to do their job.

4.   Artist should have a list of questions prepared.

The artist’s time in the actual Portfolio Review session will go very quickly and in order to take full advantage of the review, the artist should have a list of prepared questions written down, in order to ask the various reviewers for their help and for their opinions.  Also, the artist should have a note pad and pencil/pen in which to take notes about the information that they will be receiving. 

5.   Artist should be prepared for constructive criticism.

Any artist who attends a Portfolio Review should be prepared to receive constructive criticism about their art portfolio. Any advice or comments from the reviewer should be taken as such, that is that it is “constructive”.  The artist should not become defensive and argue with the reviewer. If the artist is thin skinned and not be able to handle any criticism of their work, it may be wise for them to consider not to attending a Portfolio Review.

Portfolio Reviewers possess a wealth of art industry knowledge and this is an excellent venue for an artist to learn from them.  If an artist is serious about their art and they desire to take their art career to the next level, then they should seriously consider participating in a local or regional Portfolio Review, as this type of event can help their art career immensely.  

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