The Do’s and Don’ts of Creating an Art Portfolio

A portfolio showcases your best work and is typically requested when applying to a program or job. These are reviewed very carefully by the receiver and is the key to getting accepted. That is why it is extremely important for you to thoughtfully plan your portfolio. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts when putting together your portfolio:

The Do’s

  • Research the requirements. The schools and jobs that you apply to will have different sets of requirements. Be sure that you look into this so your portfolio will include everything requested.
  • Make it personal. Your work should show the different sides to you. Not only does it make it easier for you to be passionate about it, but it gives the viewer a way to relate to your experiences.
  • Be creative. Be unique. Think outside the box. The person(s) reviewing your portfolio have seen the same types of pieces more than they’d like to admit. Give them something new to look at and appreciate.
  • Have a sketchbook. I don’t know an artist who doesn’t have one. These are your mobile art pieces where you can add to them at any moment and place. They usually include gesture sketches, doodles, and thoughts. Again, this gives the viewer some insight into your world.
  • Trying different mediums, techniques, and styles. The reviewer wants to see your take on utilizing these different areas. It means that you are versatile and it also forces you to try things that are out of your comfort zone.
  • Have a digital copy of your portfolio. This is a nice additional touch because you can send copies of your portfolio digitally. Note that this is probably in addition to sending your actual portfolio.
  • Practice discussing your artwork. Whether it’s in front of someone or your mirror, talk about your pieces. What inspired you? What techniques did you use? Why did you choose that particular medium? How do you feel about the finished work?
  • Include labels and descriptions of your pieces. This makes it easier for the viewer to understand what they are looking at and assessing.
  • Have your portfolio reviewed. Have your current teacher, other artists, museum curator, or other professionals to look over your portfolio and give you feedback. Ask them specific questions like “What could I improve on?”, “Is there something I should do differently?”, or “Should I add other pieces?”.

The Don’ts

  • Fan art, anime, or fantasy subjects. This is because these subjects are confusing to the viewer. Generally, these are copied images off of photographs or other artwork. The person reviewing your portfolio wants not only original artwork, but original ideas.
  • Copying other artists or photos. This is a big no-no. It’s plagiarism and it shows that you have trouble generating your own ideas for pieces.
  • Objects that are “floating”. This means that there isn’t a background, surface, and shadows included in the piece. Everything in life has these and it needs to be included in your work.
  • Using the same subject continuously. For example: When your pieces include your dog repeatedly. They want to see various subjects.
  • Including all of your art pieces. You should be very specific with which pieces you include in your portfolio and that they meet the requirements requested.

The ultimate goal with your portfolio is to prove your skills and creativity. Think of your typical pieces and try something different with it. Let your personality show through. Two other key points to remember is to be original and organized. This can be a stressful process, so keep a checklist, breathe, and try to have fun with it.

Leave a Reply