Build Your Best Portfolio

What do you need for great presentation to the jury, and to your customers?


Jewelry by Julie Shaw

Artist Julie Shaw’s portfolio grouping shows a professional presentation


The way you present your work makes a huge difference in how it is perceived, and the results you get. Here’s a checklist to create a portfolio that really works for you:

1. Show your best work. Sometimes artists include just about everything they have made in their portfolio, but this can actually hurt your presentation. If you have a small grouping of work in a medium that you no longer use, it may be better left out of your portfolio. Keep in mind that your work will be judged by the weakest piece you show. Take a critical look at your body of work (or get assistance from someone you respect) and pull out those pieces that don’t reflect your best efforts.

2. Present your art cohesively. Each piece in your portfolio should work together. If you create art in very different mediums, or very different styles, this can present a discordant portfolio that will confuse viewers and may make you look less serious as an artist. Elements should flow through your collections, which may have similar color palettes, be similar in theme, size or material. Ideally, your entire portfolio together should make greater impact than just one piece, and be recognizable as the work of one artist – you!

3. Use great photographs.  Honor your artwork by having the best possible photographs taken. Photos that are poorly lit, fuzzy or look “homemade” won’t cut it in a highly competitive world where getting juried into the best exhibitions and shows takes more than mediocre photography. Either use a professional photographer to shoot your work, or make the effort to learn how to take expert photos yourself.

4. Show multiple views of your work. Your customer needs to have enough images of your work to feel confident in making a purchase. Detail shots, multiple views, and “in situ” shots all enhance your presentation and help drive sales.

5. Include photos for marketing.  Jury shots are important; but they are not the only images of your work that are necessary. “Glamour shots” help show your work to its best advantage, whether in a room view or table setting, on a model or as a photograph that looks like it is ready to be published in a magazine. When you have these images, start reaching out to the press, to get those magazine shots in the right publications to share your work with your ideal audience.


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