Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Keeping Portfolios, Part 2

Last week I discussed the reason for keeping a portfolio and proper manners when looking through other people's portfolios, now let's get into the specifics of how to choose the portfolio that is right for you. Thank you for the wonderful feedback on last week's post! I am glad that I can share something valuable with everyone. Next week, I will go into how to fill your portfolios.

Picking a Portfolio
There are a couple features that I consider very important when it comes to choosing the right portfolio. Right now, next to my desk, I have at least 8 portfolios, each with a specific purpose. In my next post I will discuss the content of a portfolio, today we are just going to work on how to choose the right type of physical presentation for your work.

1. Size
What is the largest thing you will be showing in your portfolio? If it is a standard page size, then go for that size of portfolio. If all your projects are the size of a small card, then maybe you should consider a small portfolio. If you have one big project and a bunch of little ones, maybe you can scan or photograph the big one to fit in your portfolio.

You can get a large portfolio and display multiple images on the same page, but make sure that the portfolio has enough space for each object to have "breathing room" or else the pages will look cluttered. I have 3 different sizes of portfolios, each for very specific purposes. Small card projects go into the small portfolios, my regular illustrations go into letter-sized portfolios, and then I have a really big portfolio for my 11 x 17 artwork. I could fit all my card projects onto a couple pages in the large portfolio, but then it would be cluttered and confusing to the viewer (see point 3).

Make sure to get a portfolio with enough pages for your work, but not too many. If you have bulky things in your portfolio, then stick to fewer pages, and get multiple portfolios. If you are only adding flat sheets of paper, then lots of pages are fine. My biggest portfolio is for my Manga/comic art, and it has 36pages/72 views, but nothing in it is thicker than a sheet of paper. My other portfolios range from 24 to 48 pages/views.

2. Easy to add (and remove) projects
Pick a portfolio where it is easy to slide projects in and out. I use the Itoya Art Profolios. They have 12-48 pages, and open at the top of each page, so it is easy to slide work in and out. You can make your own portfolio using a 3-ring binder and page protectors. This will allow you more flexibility in number of pages, and if you have bulky projects in there, this might be the better route to go.

Don't glue projects into your portfolio!! Make sure anything you add can be easily removed. The purpose of a portfolio is to show progress. If you color something a second time, and you do it better, then show the better project. It is hard to do this if the first one has been permanently glued into a book with fixed pages. If it must be held in place, use a removable adhesive that won't stain or discolor your work.

3. Neutral Foundation
Up into the 1800's, art galleries used to cover every bit of available wall space with art. Way up to the ceiling, and down low. You could stare at a wall and see 30 pictures all clustered around. This was hard on the viewer, and any art that was not at eye-level could easily be missed. Then galleries started simplifying, putting only one or two images at eye level, allowing plenty of visual breathing room. Gallery walls are usually painted white, or another neutral color. This has been proven to more effectively show off the work.

In a similar manner, a portfolio should not be cluttered, and artwork should be on a neutral (white, black, or gray) background. Having two projects back to back without something between them can be cluttered and confusing, especially if they are of different sizes, or on different colors of paper. Most portfolios you purchase from an art store already come with neutral pages, but if you are creating your own, keep this in mind. Make sure the neutral base is thick enough to completely hide artwork on the reverse page.

Here is an actual page from one of my portfolios. This is the only page where I have multiple images on each page. Usually I only have one picture per page. The left side is not bad, the right side is untidy, cluttered, and disorganized. The torn edges are unprofessional, and the artwork isn't even attached to the page, so the art shifts around. It shows the viewer that I don't really care about this art. These are doodles that happened to come out well, but the cluttered presentation does not do them justice.

4. Durability
Make sure that your portfolio will stand the test of time. Archival, acid free, and durable. I show my work all the time, and some portfolios don't hold up as well as others.

My favorite brand are the Itoya Art Profolios. They have lots of different models for different needs. I used to get the nice ones with a clear pocket in the front, so I could have art on the cover, and it has a spot for art on the spine (bottom portfolio in the photo above). However, the edges didn't hold up after a few years, and the clear part of the cover gets scuffed and torn. Now I get the cloth-covered edges, as these wear better. For the average artist, the ones with a clear pocket are probably fine, and I miss the clear spine for labeling. But, with so many hands looking at my work, I am willing to sacrifice for the stronger edges.

You can always build a portfolio from a 3-ring binder and clear page protectors, just take into account the features I discussed today.

I hope this gives you some ideas for picking a portfolio. Later this week I will start showing new items for 2012, and next week I will finish the information on portfolios. Have a great week!


MalteseLizzieMcGee said...

thanks for this guide. Should be useful for me in the future

katemade designs said...

your description of the early days of galleries reminds me of Pinterest.

Great article thanks for the info.

Cindy Lou said...

These are great guidelines, Thanks for sharing your point of view on this subject. I know how I like to view things, and what hits my eyes as good, but wasn't sure I was always on the right track, now I do :)

Joan V said...

Thanks for the information.

Carole of Brum said...

Really useful info and guidance, thanks. Interesting to see your own portfolios too, thanks for sharing. CoB

hlm said...

Thanks so much for the detailed information on putting a portfolio together. This information is extremely useful not to mention very helpful!