How to Create an Artist’s Portfolio

Create an Artist's Portfolio

There are various scenarios where, as an artist, you could need to have a portfolio of your work at close hand. Perhaps you are applying to art school, or you want to show a collector or gallery representative why they should choose your particular work for putting on display.

However, you might not have realized just how many dos and don’ts apply to the process of compiling pieces of art for a portfolio. Here are some tips you should particularly heed…

Be very selective with what you include

What’s the most important rule of creating a great art portfolio? According to an Artists Network article, it’s “to use as few images as possible to show the best work you can do.”

If you’ve never prepared an art portfolio before, you could too easily make the mistake of putting all of your work into it. However, a smaller portfolio will help you to more quickly convey your style as an artist.

The California College of the Arts website advises against adding more pieces to a portfolio if this would drag down its overall quality.

Prioritize showing what you do best

Yes, you could be a very versatile artist capable of producing still lifes, portraits and more besides. However, most artists’ work adheres to a niche – that is, a specific style or area of expertise. When someone checks out your portfolio, this relatively narrow focus is what they will expect to see.

Research your competitors’ portfolios

How can you be certain that your portfolio sufficiently measures up if you fail to compare it to portfolios of artists – or at least the kinds of artists – who will be competing with you?

If you are aware of particular artists whose work is similar to yours, then look up those artists online to see if, on their respective websites, they have portfolios of theilir own on display. You want your own portfolio to be at least as good as these ones.

Decide whether to make an online or offline portfolio

It’s easy to think that, in the modern age, an online portfolio is surely the way to go. While you should have a website that would be a natural home for your portfolio, you can still create an online portfolio without a website; Lifehacker has a great guide for creating a free art portfolio via Instagram.

However, the ubiquity of online portfolios these days means that, ironically, you can actually stand out by producing a professionally printed portfolio.

Reassess your portfolio at least once yearly

Doing so would enable you to see whether your art portfolio reflects where you currently are with your artistic practice. You would be underselling yourself if you continued to use a portfolio where, in quality, the work falls noticeably short of your recent artistic output.

Reviewing your portfolio yearly – such as at the start of a new year or during your birthday week – would also let you judge whether its contents are still in line with the discerning tastes of prestigious collectors like Charles Saatchi.


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