Artist portfolios are generally used by artists to display a record of their art career to potential buyers, and art galleries.
Completing a portfolio can have benefits for the artist too!
Documenting progression of artworks will help the artist clearly see where they have been in their career, and may directly affect the direction of future artworks.
Your presentation portfolio should make it very clear that you are worthy of being represented by the gallery. Galleries have to know that you are in it for the long haul, and what better way to show them than by having your art career displayed eloquently in an art portfolio book or case.
Tip: Once you have your presentation portfolio created, you may want to consider mirroring the layout on your online artist website, by designing a unique portfolio template.
How to Design a Portfolio and Portfolio Management
- Photograph your art
In preparing your art for the portfolio, artists should ensure they have the best quality photographs possible. Get a good digital camera such as a Canon SLR, or hire a professional photographer to photograph your artworks.
This can be expensive, but if you do not already have photographs of art for prints, you can take care of this business simultaneously.
Here are some articles for reference:
Photographing Art – My Camera Settings
Best Image File Types for Photographing Art
- Fix them using photo editing software, such as Photoshop.
Photoshop can be very useful for making your artwork appear like it should. If your artwork image requires cropping, simply use the cropping tool. If contrast or tone need to be adjusted, Photoshop includes easy to use tools for each. Even dust, scratches, and damaged areas can be removed by using either the clone or the healing brush tools.
A basic but detailed Photoshop tutorial for optimizing your images can be found here:
How to Fix Images in Photoshop – Part 1
Fixing Images using Photoshop – Part 2
- Find an artist portfolio book or presentation case.
What you should look for here is something that is high quality. You may search for them at local art supply and photography stores.
Blick Art Supplies also carry them at Portfolios Presentation Cases.
You may also find used portfolio cases on Ebay, especially if you do not have the funds for a new one. Assuming you decide to go that route, try to search for listings that have images of both the inside and outside, to ensure nothing is damaged or scratched.
- Tips for the Layout of Your Art Presentation Portfolio
- Show only your very best artworks, and do not display too many. Provided that you have a wide variety of art in different styles and mediums, you may want to consider having different portfolios for each.
- The larger the images the better. The photographs of your artwork should be the primary focus of your pages. The title and description can be included alongside. Tip: You may use name cards similar to ones seen in an art gallery.
- Organize your images by:
Styles or Types of artworks
Eg. Artists who create both drawings, and oil paintings, should have these organized into different sections.
Groups of art
Eg. If you have a body of artworks centered around a specific theme, these can be grouped together.
- Artist Statement
Your artist statement should be prepared and ready to include along with the presentation portfolio before applying for the gallery. Hopefully, the portfolio has a folder where this, and other items may be included.
Tip: In case you decide to do an introductory page, the artist statement can be included here.
- Biography and Resume
A artist biography is different from a statement. The art bio showcases your main successes as an artist, whereas the statement explains to others what your art is about.
- Post cards, press releases, newspaper clippings, awards, etc.
These are the evidence that you are an active artist, and will continue to be. Try to include as much of this as you can!
Here are a couple of closing tips for presentation art portfolios:
Make full use of your portfolio and continually add to it!
Get someone who is qualified to critique your portfolio before even showing it to the gallery.