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Thread: When should I start making a portfolio?

  1. #1
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    When should I start making a portfolio?

    My problem is as follows: I'm thinking about making a portfolio but I'm also wondering if I should just get more paintings/drawings done first. I think that if I first make a portfolio with some good pieces and some unfinished pieces or ones that could be better, I could just start updating those after I've assembled some kind of a portfolio.

    But then I think maybe I should just practise more and do more studies and then maybe after that I should try to update some old drawings or do more finished pieces.

    But then I get nothing done, because everything I do feels like I'm avoiding the other. If I'm making a sketch, I should really be finalising a piece for my portfolio. If I'm finalising a piece for my portfolio, I should probably already have some portfolio where I could put that piece into. If I'm working on a portfolio, I should probably be making more drawings I definitely want to put in my portfolio. If I'm doing this, I'm avoiding doing that, so I get nothing done.

    I don't know, what's your take on this? Is it more useful to make any portfolio first, and then update it, or just keep pumping out more drawings... and then make a portfolio? Either just feels like procrastination to me at the moment, so I'm hoping you could help.
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  3. #2
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    A portfolio should have your best pieces in them that are relevant to the
    fields that you are applying for. Do not put unfinished pieces or old
    flawed work in there. Some employers literally get hundreds of portfolios
    sent to them a day, they are only interested in people who can provide
    workable and profitable solutions in a competitive industry.
    You don't need to cram your portfolio to the brim. As mentioned, know
    your target audience and put in a select group of works in that will stand
    out on their own, rather than having the employer search for pieces of
    interest and possibly just pass the portfolio over entirely.

    I suggest you put a portfolio together and submit it to the portfolio
    review section of the forums here. That should give you a good idea
    of where you are at and what you need to work on to make it a successful
    representation of why you should be hired.
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  5. #3
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    Thanks for your answer. However, I was not planning to submit the portfolio with the unfinished pieces anywhere. I was thinking of making it somewhat of a work-in-progress portfolio, that I would eventually update into a finished portfolio that I might represent to someone.

    I thought that maybe it would help me to keep track of my things so that I could take a look at the things I still need to do before my portfolio is finished.

    But yeah, I guess at this point I still have trouble knowing what my target audience is. I have lots of drawings, some that I like, but they have such different subject matters and different styles that I don't know how many I could put into one portfolio. I've been thinking of making pieces specifically for a certain type of portfolio, to fill in the gaps.

    I don't know, I'm just interested in so many things. I'm interested in illustration, in making book covers and in character design. I'm interested in making moody, dark pieces with powerful characters and I'm interested in making light happy scenes with cute characters. I make some pieces with pencils, others with watercolors, some with also gouache and some I've made with Photoshop and some with Painter.

    It just feels like each time I've made something good in one style, I've already gotten bored of it and moved onto something new. And then when I look back, I won't find enough of the same sort of thing to put into a portfolio. Just a lot of different styles.
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  6. #4
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    i'd say tuesday.
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  8. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cro-magnon View Post
    i'd say tuesday.
    Never on a Sunday.
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  9. #6
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    I take it that the answer is: "Whenever."

    Well, except for Sunday.
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  11. #7
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    Yes, any time is a good time. Even if you're not submitting it anywhere yet, you might find it a good exercise to make a hand-picked selection of your work, to train your own critical judgment.
    Which works to pick for a specific-themed portfolio? Which ones to pick for a general, "allround" portfolio? When to include or leave out sketches? In what order to show the images? How many of them? "Which ones are truly my strongest?" etc. etc.
    As you find better and more critical answers and rearrange and update your portfolio over time, it'll certainly improve.
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  12. #8
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    Thanks for your reply!

    I've decided I'm going to find the work I really want to put in my portfolio. I already have this image in my head of what it should look like. So I'm going to find the ones I think should be there, I'm going to arrange it the way I want, and then I'm going to take notes on what should be improved. Be it about the pieces themselves or the content of the portfolio. Maybe I'll write down what I still have to add.

    But first I'm going to do my last exercises and study for my exams before summer. I just realised my deadlines are getting close, so I wrote down a schedule for myself, and realised I don't really have that much extra time. So I placed working on my portfolio until after the exams, and with my new plan I'm confident I'm going to get it started.

    I don't know if it's the right plan, but it's better than aimlessly stressing out about all the things I have to do. And if it gets me started, then hey! That's all I need!
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  13. #9
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    Well, what exactly is your portfolio for? Game design? Character design? Graphic design? Gallery work? If you do several different things, tailor your portfolio to whomever you submit it to. If you want a website, then you could categorize your work (like, landscapes in one section, life drawings in another). As far as picking your best work, keep it around 10 - 15 pieces. Too much and you could easily dilute the quality of your portfolio. That being said, I always like looking at sketches, so maybe keep a separate folder for unfinished works?

    If you have a mix of serious and lighthearted things, then again, check out the work that gets hired, and tailor it to that.
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    If you have plenty of time to do this then yes. Making portfolio just for yourself helps. Then you can throw new things in and throw bad things away. Watch out though beacause the more you're obsessed about portfolio and jobs, the more you get tense. The more you get tense, the less creative you get beacause creativity is about being relaxed and playful.
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  16. #11
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    You don't really need a portfolio until you're trying to gain something with your art. The portfolio is your way of quickly showing your best work. If you're just doing art for personal reasons, I don't see why you really need one. If you want to get paid work then you need one to show what you can do.
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  18. #12
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    Well, my goal is to eventually get paid. Well, I've already sold a few paintings and drawings, but just to acquaintances for cheap. Currently I'm studying landscape architecture, but I always really wanted to do illustration, and also have considered studying graphic design. I would love character design, but I'm not sure about the job opportunities, at least in my country.

    I'm thinking I should have at least some sort of portfolio prepared before seeking out possible job opportunities, and I thought, maybe making a portfolio firstwould help me to see what types of jobs I should look for... Otherwise I don't really know where to start looking for illustration work. I contacted one small card-making company once, and they asked to see more of my work, but instead of sending them anything, I made some more work and then procrastinated forever on sending them, and now I'm not sure if I should anymore. If I'd just had a portfolio ready back then... I don't know.
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  19. #13
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    If you can't do ten pieces every six months you aren't ready to look for work. You can't show a portfolio that is two years old of non professional work. Art Directors expect to see new stuff every 6 months and no longer than a year to show you are actually making quality art at a pace that shows you are serious. That means two portfolios a year with no overlap or repeats.

    If you are working professionally then its different and a few paid professional works can stay in your portfolio for a year or more. Even then you want to show you're active and have new work.
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