8 Tips for Making a Killer Art Portfolio

By Nicole Tinkham

8 Tips for Making a Killer Art Portfolio


The one way to stand out as an artist (to get that job, to have your work displayed in a gallery, to sell your artwork, etc.) is to have a killer art portfolio. Lucky for you, we’re going to feature 8 tips to do just that in this post.

An art portfolio is a collection of an artist’s best work, usually showcasing five to six pieces (but can include more) that acts as an artist’s resume. Just throwing together your favorite pieces is not going to cut it. You need to have a game plan, you need to sell yourself, pay attention to detail, create a portfolio theme, think about the organization of the showcased artwork, and much more. Here are just a few ways to make your professional art portfolio memorable and unique.

1. Start Early

Whether you’re creating art for career purposes or just for self enjoyment, it’s a good idea to have a portfolio and you should start thinking about a plan ASAP. Have a plan in mind (type of work featured, medium choices, style, etc.) but don’t let it control future projects. Starting a portfolio early will give you a chance to correct any mistakes before others see the portfolio and will allow more time to craft the portfolio and make it truly something special. Don’t think too much about what will “fit” in your portfolio, just create. You can pick and choose which pieces will make the cut later on.

2. Make it YOU

When putting together your portfolio, your main goal is to stand out. You’re going to want to leave a lasting impression and not blend in with the crowd, so be yourself! Find your artist style and shape your portfolio around that.

3. Sell Yourself

This is your chance to wow employers, gallery owners, and fellow artists. A portfolio is the place to showcase all your hard work and the last thing you want to do is sell yourself short. Choose your top five or six pieces to feature. These are your absolute best pieces and you should feel 100% confident with your selection.

Not only do you want to put your best work forward, you also need to spend time getting your work out there (or else what’s the point?). Get involved in local art organizations and groups and make sure to keep an eye out for networking opportunities. You may also want to think about setting up a website with your information and artwork.

4. Be Organized

Now that you have your best work chosen for your portfolio, think about how the pieces will be arranged. It’s a good idea to group pieces by style, for example, landscapes would be grouped together and portraits may be in another group. You want to show a variety of work but you also want to have the different styles separated. Also, label each piece with the dimensions, medium, and price (if necessary) to clear up any simple questions the viewer may have.

5. Get a Second Opinion

You wouldn’t send in a resume without having someone proofread it first and the same should go with your art portfolio. It doesn’t hurt to have a second pair of eyes take a look at your work. Just remember that at the end of the day, it’s up to you which changes to make.

6. Pay Attention to Detail

You put so much work into creating pieces for your portfolio and choosing which ones to include that you may overlook some important details. Put as much thought into design, layout, and grammar as you would with the actual artwork. Here’s where having a little help goes a long way.

7. Be Creative

When it comes to art portfolios, presentation is everything so put thought into the design and layout. You can incorporate your logo and business card into your theme for a complete look. It’s also a great idea to think about a leave-behind. These can be mini books, a CD, DVD, flash drive, or link to a portfolio website.

8. Stay Positive

As an artist, you’re probably used to critique, but it’s still discouraging to have your portfolio rejected. Don’t take it too personally though. Your artist style may not have been a good fit for a particular gallery. This doesn’t mean you should change your style; it just means you should keep your head up and keep trying!

If you want to create a portfolio that will get a great response, simply put the time and effort into it. Choose only your best artwork, go over the details thoroughly, and make sure your artistic style shines through. Another thing you must consider is how you’ll put the portfolio together. Keeton’s offers a wide range of portfolio books (and additional pages) in a variety of sizes to help you show off your best artwork. Stop in or give us a call (941-747-2995) with any questions regarding the portfolio books available or additional tips.

Did we mention all the important aspects of creating an art portfolio? If you would like to add a tip to the list, leave a comment below!

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