The portfolio is a selection of work with which you show what you can do. How it looks depends on the work that you do and the purpose for which you put together the portfolio. For example, you may be using it for admissions, acquisition and job applications.
A portfolio may contain various elements. In the case of creative artists, it will in any case include examples of (artistic) work, an artist statement and a biography. A larger portfolio may also contain a CV, a description of skills with reflection thereon, evidence of skills, diplomas, certificates, lists of marks/transcripts, references from former employers or clients and a description of career goals.
In the case of the visual arts, a portfolio is usually a digital or physical folder with photos, prints, drawings and paintings. Filmmakers, dancers, actors and musicians often add a showreel. If your portfolio is requested, make sure that you know which elements you need to add.
Selection of work
When putting together a portfolio, you make a selection of:
- your best work;
- your most recent work (from the past two years, for example);
- original and unique work with a clear personal signature;
- in the case of visual work; work with a wide range of materials used, for example two-dimensional work (drawings, paintings, prints, collages), spatial work (photos thereof), photos, films, etc.
It is important that you show sufficient work: about 20 pieces or more. You can show the work/thought process using notes, sketches and/or dummies. Think about whether it’s useful to show unfinished work too.
Form: paper or digital
A digital portfolio is easy to send digitally or publish online. In addition, a tangible portfolio may be useful during discussions/interviews. In the case of graphic designers and illustrators, it is of particular added value if the original can be shown when showing books and in the case of risograph or silk-screen prints. The choice of paper may be important to the story, for example; something which does not come across clearly in a digital portfolio.
The digital portfolio is usually a website, but can also be an interactive PDF or an email with links. Social media platforms can (also) function as an extension of your portfolio website. Choose what suits you and your work: everything that is online is easy to share, but if it’s not possible to update it, it doesn’t look so professional.
With your own website or blog, you are visible anytime and anywhere. You do not only use a website to tell who you are and what you do, but also to publish (parts of) your work. In this way, the visitor immediately has an impression of your qualities or specialism, and your website functions as a portfolio. Ensure there are clear categories, so your potential clients can specifically refer to particular work. If you or your work can be seen regularly, add a calendar. If you also have products to sell, you could also consider making (or having someone make) a webshop.
You use social media in the first instance to enter into a relationship with your fans, clients or visitors. In addition, clear business accounts also have a portfolio function. If you do lots of different types of work or projects, you may also consider creating multiple accounts. In that way, you make the work, the project or the collaboration the focus and not yourself.