A portfolio is the evidence of your talent and shows off your ability to create. Having a great portfolio to go alongside your resume is a very professional way to show potential employers, galleries, and juried shows that you are extremely organized. It will also be a representation of what you have to offer and your abilities. Having a portfolio, including online portfolios, means that you have a ready-to-go visual for anyone who may need to see what you are capable of. Without an impressive portfolio people including potential employers may not take you and your talents seriously. It is important to include your resume, cover letter, personal statement, and most importantly your artwork. Although all serious visual artists should include these in their portfolios, you can certainly set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd by adding your own unique touch to how you develop and construct your final product. These guidelines can provide a pathway  to create an extremely strong, yet unique to you, collection.


Think About It

Think about your portfolio early and often. This will help you locate and fix mistakes within it early on in the process and will also give you adequate time for attention to detail and the quest for perfection. This will help you create a much stronger final product. Also an early preparation can help you with determining how you wish to present your work and what steps you need to take depending on the medium that you work in and your other portfolio plans.

Choose Your Best Work

When creating a portfolio, for any purpose, never be afraid to set your standards too high. It is completely up to you what goes into your portfolio, whether you choose your favorite pieces, or you target your portfolio pieces to the place you are applying to. Employers, galleries, and juried shows will want the best of the best so make sure that your work shows them that you are the best person for whatever they need. Unlike portfolios for college admission, most employers, galleries and juried art shows don’t care to see your growth as an artist, they are just concerned about how good you are in the present. To show off your skills properly in a traditional paper portfolio you should place your best pieces first. You can then decide the order of the remaining pieces by thinking about how it will showcase your talents and message. When creating an online portfolio there is a chance that it will contain all or most of your work, so again make sure that it is organized and presented in an order that will showcase your skills. The creation and submission of a portfolio is not a rough draft so make your submission count!

Pay Attention to Image Quality

Although sending originals or prints of originals is an amazing route to take when creating a portfolio, the internet and the creation of portfolio websites has created a new world for submitting your artwork to employers, galleries and juried art shows. When creating a portfolio that has printed or electronically viewed images it is important to understand that bad images equal bad looking artwork. If images look blurry or pixelated this will give off an unprofessional vibe because it shows that you did not take the time or effort to get higher quality images of your work. For inspiration and techniques about how to take better images of your artwork check out our article: How To Get Great Images Of Your Artwork.

Make it Speak to a Range of Audiences

When submitting a portfolio to a company, gallery or show, there will be many different eyes on your artwork. Whether it’s the owner of a gallery, a high up official who will be the deciding factor if you get hired, or a collector looking to purchase work, each person will be looking for different features within your portfolio that will make you marketable. It is also important to take into consideration what type of employer or gallery you are submitting your portfolio to. If you are applying to be a comic book artist your portfolio certainly should not be filled with landscape paintings. Tailor what you include to what you are seeking. By paying attention to the requirements set by the company, organization, gallery or show. that you are applying to, you should have no issue when it comes to having all the bases covered for whomever will be looking at your collection of work.

By creating a portfolio that is uniquely you without overreaching your bounds you can express your message much easier. It is much more efficient to impress an audience through images rather than a name on a paper, so creating something unique will speak even louder than something that is just plain. However remember not to go too crazy over the little things because this can lead you astray, and can cause issues when it comes to a portfolio that may be too embellished. Overall just make the portfolio you but at the same time professional and easy to view.

Pack Your Work Nicely

If you are creating a traditional portfolio rather than a digitally created one it is important to pack your portfolio with the same care that you used when creating it. You can take a unique approach to collecting everything together as long as it is understandable and easily opened, viewed, and put away. You don’t want your portfolio to be as extravagant as a fancy wedding invitation, this basically means that you do not need a huge glittery star to hold together your folder or portfolio box. You want something elegant and unique to you, yet professional. Sometimes simple is better than going over the top when it comes to keeping your work together.


You can include your portfolio in your Artist Press kit, which will include your Artist Statement, Bio, Resume, and any new clips or articles you have been featured in.


Your portfolio is your first impression and speaks on your behalf to say who you are and what you are capable of. While remaining unique yet professional you will show employers, galleries and juried shows, that you are serious as well as passionate about what you do. It is important to keep your portfolio, and if you have one, your portfolio website updated. This will show that you are on top of things and are serious about creating.