Creating an Art portfolio for college entrance or for a job is an important step for any emerging artist. It is important for artists to create a well crafted portfolio of artwork in order to effectively communicate the potential of the student or possible future employee. Portfolios these days can come in a variety of forms. Some publishers and firms will still accept tear sheets (or a single page printed with several small illustrations) of artwork. Others require the artist to leave the portfolio for review. These types of paper portfolios have become a portfolio work in itself. Be creative with how you present your portfolio to a potential employer-within reason. You want to stand out from the other creative professionals that may be vying for the job. Consider creating a “leave behind” that you can leave with the potential employer. This will help them remember you. It could be a postcard or tear sheet, or something more creative. You are after a creative job, so be creative and original.
Portfolios don’t have to be on paper. In fact many artists are making digital portfolios. I help my students build portfolios for college and all of them are digital. It is very easy to snap some pictures of artwork with a high quality digital camera. Be sure that you use natural light. You should then edit the images on the computer using a program like Adobe Photoshop. Crop the images cleanly and then adjust the brightness and contrast to match what the artwork looks like in reality. You may take a digital portfolio a step further by creating an interactive portfolio in Adobe Flash. (Find out to Make a Portfolio in Flash with Free Flash Lessons.) This allows the viewer to interact with your artwork and gives you another opportunity to be creative and stand out from the rest. Burn your work to a CD.
Websites are a great way to showcase your artwork. You can create your own or hire someone to make one for you. Many free hosting packages are available out there. There are also programs that feature templates that you can use to create your own website. Keep your website portfolio professional. Avoid putting personal pictures and the like on your website. Be aware of download times, so that your portfolio is easily accessible to everyone.
Many students ask me about the order of the artwork inside of a portfolio. My answer is to lay all of your artwork out on a table. Narrow your work down to 10-12 of your very best, most outstanding artwork. If there are any works that you are not totally sure of, leave them out. Evaluate your artwork. Your best work, in my opinion, should be the first work in your portfolio. A first impression is important in your portfolio. Your second-best artwork should be the last work in your portfolio. End your portfolio with a bang.
Remember that your portfolio is a reflection of who you are as an artist. It should be clean, creative, and well organized. It should highlight your artwork clearly and send a positive message about you to that potential employer or that college evaluator.