Preparing a Portfolio

An art portfolio is a visual presentation of your work. It should give a brief, comprehensive visual overview of your artwork, indicating the depth and breadth of your experience and technical abilities, as well as showing a level of consistency and focus in terms of conceptual development. You should plan to spend a good deal of time, carefully designing your portfolio.

1. Selection

Be selective about the artwork you choose to include. Your first task is to select a cohesive group that represents the best of your work. Do not choose any work for which you have to apologize.

2. Variety

Your portfolio should represent the work you’ve done in a variety of media and techniques. Choose work that represents your best technical abilities.

3. Consistency

Try to put together a body of work that is cohesive in concept, quality, and technique.

4. Number of works

Ideally your portfolio should include between 14 and 20 artworks, however, do not sacrifice quality for quantity. A smaller portfolio of your strongest work will be better received than a larger portfolio of mediocre work.

5. Organization

Try to organize your work in the manner most easily understood. For example, you might organize your work in the chronological order in which it was created, or you might organize the work according to the various media presented.

6. Presentation

It is important that you present your portfolio in a form that is easy to either carry or mail. In the case of live interviews, you may include either the actual artworks or slides, or a combination of both. Actual artworks should be easily accessible and two-dimensional work (such as drawing, painting on paper, collage, photography, prints, and computer-generated images) should be neatly matted. Drawings should be fixed and you may use glassine as separator sheets. You should carry your two-dimensional artwork in a portfolio folder, and smaller sculptural pieces should be packed properly and carried in appropriate containers.

7. Photographs and slides:

You should prepare photographs or slides of any oversized two-dimensional and sculptural pieces. You should include details of the larger pieces, and different angles of the three-dimensional work. All photographs and slides should be labeled with the artist’s name, title, year the piece was created, size, media, and an arrow indicating the correct orientation of the artwork. You should place photographs and slides in plastic viewing sleeves.

8. Electronic files

If electronic files are being submitted, they must be saved in the JPEG format on CD or sent via email. Label the disk with your name and the file format. You should also label individual images with title, year, size and media. For images sent electronically, include a text file with any information that doesn’t fit in the file name.

9. Interview

Be prepared to answer any questions about the artwork in your portfolio including questions about time frames, technique, fabrication, and content. If you mail a CD or slide portfolio to be reviewed, you may prepare either an artist statement or an accompanying sheet describing the slides.