Portfolios are the key to any artist's success. Your portfolio demonstrates your skill and experience; therefore, its content should showcase your talent, preferences, passions, and abilities. A good portfolio is your way of explaining yourself to potential employers. If you're unsure how to get yours started, we can give you a few tips on how to prepare or freshen up yours to ensure your portfolio gets boosted to the max.
Below, we've got 8 great tips for you to get started with, along with comments from a 3D asset designer on how 3D artists, in particular, can improve their portfolio game.
1. Expect to be judged by your weakest work
When you're putting together your portfolio, it's important to remember that employers will judge you by your weakest work. Ensure that you need to make sure that every piece in your portfolio is of the best quality possible. If you have any weak links, make sure to replace them with more substantial pieces.
Of course, it's possible to get hired for a job from word-of-mouth and personal recommendations, but your portfolio should be ready just in case it is requested. It would be a shame to have half a foot in the door, only to get turned away at the last second.
If you're uncertain about any piece in your portfolio, cut it. It's much better to have a clear, defined body of work than to have a sprawling mess that lacks focus.
2. Define your artistic 'voice'
We know that any artist who hopes to find footing in the commercial realm will need to examine the work of other artists, studios, and so on. However, it is important not to imitate the type of work that you discover. Being influenced is one thing; copying another artist's work is quite another.
Be sure that your portfolio reflects your voice – the stylings, methodology, and other aspects that make you an artist should be clear and present within the work you present. It should demonstrate your skills and experience, and it can be a great way to show off your talent and preferences. Make sure that your portfolio showcases your uniqueness and that it is easy to comprehend what your work is about. Doing so helps potential employers understand what you are capable of, and it can help you stand out from the competition.
3. Tailor your portfolio to the employer
When you apply for a job, it's essential to tailor your portfolio to the employer. Therefore, you should choose the work you include based on the company you're targeting. You should also ensure that your portfolio is up-to-date and showcases your latest skills and achievements.
To tailor your portfolio, you need to research the company. Find out what they're looking for and ensure that your work matches their requirements. You should also think about the format of your portfolio. Some employers prefer a physical copy, while others prefer to see it online.
Animation studies may want to see your hand-drawn sketches, while 3D studios may prefer to only see the fully rendered output. Doing so demonstrates your ability with Adobe products or Blender much better than any written claim in your CV will do. Be sure you show the correct type of artwork to the right people to boost your chances of securing the role you're after.
4. Trim the fat
When constructing your portfolio, it is vital to trim the fat. Only show your best and most relevant work. Focus on your strongest skills and make a great impression on potential employers.
If you're an experienced 3D artist, showing off your best work is easy. Your 2D and 3D artwork in your portfolio should be of professional quality and caliber, for starters. Don't include anything you wouldn't show to a potential employer and expect them to be impressed.
Secondly, the type of assets you choose to show also say a lot about you as an artist. If you love hard-surface modeling, then make sure that's what your portfolio is full of. Employers prefer to see artists who focus their energy on specific asset classes rather than those who can do anything and everything halfway decently. If you choose to be more of an all-rounder, demonstrate that in your portfolio instead.
5. Experience beats qualifications
Your experience will always be more important than your credentials. Employers want to know you have the skills and knowledge required for the job. That's not to say that your qualifications aren't necessary - they often are - but most employers are only going to be as interested in your academic achievements if they think you have the experience to back them up. So, make sure that you focus on highlighting your experience in your portfolio rather than your qualifications.
Reach out to your art community via forums or blogs for feedback on your portfolio. Where do they think you could tighten up? What could be cut? What should you showcase further? Use this opportunity to refine your portfolio before presenting it to the employer. Remember, first impressions count, and you need employers to be impressed as soon as they glance at your work.
6. Show personal projects as well as professional ones.
Your portfolio should show a range of projects, from personal to professional ones. Doing so demonstrates that you're a well-rounded artist capable of taking on various projects. It also shows that you're passionate about art and that you're willing to put in the effort to create great work, no matter what the project is.
Don't put personal projects on hold if you're hunting for work. Keep developing your work and showing off new pieces. You may not succeed right away, but persistence will pay off. Stay in touch with recruiters and studios, as the timing of your previous applications.
7. Keep your portfolio simple
Recruiters will be checking out a range of portfolios from many artists. Keep yours simple. If you are submitting a digital portfolio, which is generally the norm now, avoid using complicated platforms or your website if it is not effortlessly navigable or slow. If they want to check out how good an artist you are, they do not care how slick the website is or how smooth the transactions are, but they will care about quickly accessing and studying the images or video.
You can create free accounts on dedicated art platforms. Consider ones that allow you to embed video links for animation portfolios or accept specific file formats appropriate to the industry you wish to enter.
The option to include your CV for download is also a bonus, as this allows you to provide a single link to the employer. They can use this link to access everything they need to know about you.
8. Consider how you will present your portfolio at an interview
Thankfully the days of lugging huge portfolios of work into an office are long over. Artists are now often expected to present their work in digital format. The above is true for animation artists, 3D modelers, and other such creatives.
Before your interview, fully download your portfolio onto your devices. Tablet devices, such as iPads, are particularly well suited, thanks to their ease of handling. Phones are too small for presentation purposes and will not impress.
Don't assume that you will have internet access in the location you'll be interviewing. Internal security might make Wi-Fi unavailable for you, or the specific sites you are using, such as Dropbox, may be blocked by their filters.