Hello. This is Episode 7 of Freelance Illustration Friday, and the topic du jour is portfolio development. This was a bit tough to cover, because I've struggled with the concept of portfolio for a while. Below are some of the points I make in the vlog, and a few that didn't make the cut.
Why we all probably need a portfolio
Usually people judge your capabilities based on what you've already done. Unless they know you personally or have worked with you before, they're not likely too see you for your true potential - what you could do one day, if given the chance.
Art Directors, editors, most other people who hire you for a creative service want to know that you can do it. And in the case of our industry in particular seeing is believing. They don't want to take the risk if they aren't sure you can deliver. So, we need a portfolio to prove it!
Draw your dream job
The awesome thing about the point above is; making a portfolio can be a way of creating your dream job. Starting with a blank slate. If you love drawing animals, fill your portfolio with cuddly creatures. If you live for wellness, goodness and everything fresh, illustrate your favorite recipes. You get the picture, work on what you love now, because you can make it your speciality later.
Not quite everything goes
A portfolio isn't quite the same as a body of work. It should be carefully pruned and curated depending on what you're using it for. If you're taking it to an art director who's looking for a sophisticated style for a luxury something or other, remove your cute cat cartoons.
They always say that your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest work. Well... I don't know about that. But just gut check your work. If you're not 100% happy with it and you've got some doubts, leave it out. Less can definitely be more if the less is extraordinary.
Portfolios are not that serious
A portfolio isn't carved in stone. It constantly evolves with you. So there are no right answers. There are different seasons of your life, aesthetic, interests, and your portfolio should reflect all of that change. The best work leans into what you love. Make sure you're having fun with the process because if you're not, that's probably going to come through.
The most important thing
The most important piece of advice I can give you is this: Don't listen to me. Don't listen to your teachers. Don't listen to your parents, your colleagues or your boss. When it comes to developing a portfolio, just listen to yourself. It should be something you're proud of, you love, that you're excited to share and continue to build.
And that, my friends... is a place I'm still trying to get with mine EVERY, DAMN, DAY.