As an art school we are often asked what students should include in an art portfolio and how it should be presented. There are many sites giving you tips on how to do this but here are 5 points to consider, based on the advice that we give to students who wish to apply.
Remember that the portfolio itself is a piece of art and you should feel good about it once it is finished. These tips can help to take away the worry of putting your portfolio together so that when it is finished it will be something which is another piece of work that you want to share.
1. SHOWCASE – IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU
Don’t forget that this is your chance to shine and present your best work. Your portfolio is being prepared for a specific outcome and the best way to achieve this is to show your abilities with the pieces chosen.
The portfolio should reflect you as an artist, your skills, different techniques you have mastered, your use of colour, shapes and textures and your creativity. Equally important is to keep in mind what you are trying to achieve with the portfolio and how your work could influence this. Make sure your best work stands out, especially if it is relevant to the brief. It is better to include fewer stronger pieces, than show too many pieces and weaken the impact.
If you have articles, publications or awards it can be helpful to show that your work has been recognized by others and will make the work feel more prestigious.
2. THE BRIEF – SHOW THAT YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT IS NEEDED
Make sure you know who will be reviewing your portfolio and what they are looking for. Check what the organization expects from your portfolio and this will help you to choose the best format for the presentation and organisation of the portfolio.
Understanding what is required will help you to present a portfolio which is appreciated and is not challenging to the viewer.
3. ORGANISED – SHOW THAT YOU CAN BE PROFESSIONAL
An organised portfolio of your artwork will help you to show each piece in a consistently strong way. A framework will help the presentation and convey a sense of order and connection between the images. The aim is to organise the portfolio to make it easier to appreciate and follow and understand the themes and ideas you want your viewer to review. The easier it is to follow, the more your portfolio will be appreciated and meet its objectives which are to show of your artistic strengths and level of professionalism.
Check other portfolios before starting and if one is suitable, use it as a template but make sure not to copy without adapting it to suit your needs and style.
Labelling images clearly and including a CV, biography and statement will help the viewer to understand what you are trying to do with each piece and your attitude to your work and future plans.
Updating your portfolio on a regular basis will keep your work relevant and up to date with
4. PRESENTATION – YOUR WORK WILL LOOK EVEN BETTER
As an artist you will be expected to present your portfolio in a way which complements and improves the work which is being highlighted. Your artwork should be improved by the presentation so it helps to think about a display which looks professional, organized, and simple to follow before starting the portfolio.
No need to go in depth on each piece, a good presentation will help to explain your work. The pieces that are more important to you will give you the opportunity to show your creativity and passion behind your work and should be presented in a way that shows their importance.
Choose how you want to group certain works, by medium, technique, theme, as this shows your different abilities, how you have developed and what you can achieve. Spacing out your portfolio with not too many pieces on one page will give each piece more impact and make sure all pieces are perfect. Free of smudges, fingerprints or defects that will nullify any advantage of a good presentation. If you have text in your portfolio, check the spelling and grammar. The images are important but can be undermined by errors which will reflect badly on the artist.
5. REVIEW – YOUR LAST CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT
Getting feedback once you have completed your portfolio will help to improve it and will give you a different perspective on your portfolio. Learn to take criticism in a positive way, remember you have asked for feedback, and act on whatever you think is relevant.
Ask for comments on the organization, themes, format, the pieces you have chosen and it would be better to ask someone who is not too close to you. In this way you are more likely to accept any constructive criticism without taking it too personally.
Making changes based on the opinions of others will change the look and feel of your portfolio so be careful not to act on all changes without considering how they affect the overall feel of your presentation.
Remember it is your work, your portfolio and your choice in the end.
Artwork by Amber, EPAC graduate 2019