Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Glendale Illustrators Schmoozin

“Portfolio Night”

Was Thursday July 16th. We shared our portfolios. We did critiques and got feedback from our fellow illustrators. Discussion included what makes a good portfolio.

Choosing your portfolio - Make sure your work is not slipping out of the plastic sleeves. Pick a tangible size, preferably 8.5 x 11 or close to is best for table top.
Select 12-15 pieces of your best work.

Keep your style in mind. Try to select the pieces that really identify you and the type of work you want to do.

If you do have a distinct and different style, display the pieces in a way that shows that. Put several in a row to help the reviewer see that you have this particular style. If you have two different styles you enjoy working with, again put several of the same style together so there won't be any question of what style they'll get if they choose to work with you.

Show a wide range of subject matter. Try to show a variety of children, adults, animals, different ethnic groups and interacting in different settings, with different moods.

Choose artwork that is dynamic. Wow your reviewer. They see hundreds of illustrations, so choose scenes that are unique in different ways. Interesting perspectives, dynamic composition,, unusual use of color, fantastic situations.

Choose artwork that tells a story. An interesting illustration can, without text, invite the reviewer to wonder... "what happens next?"

Show story progression. Include a picture book dummy (attached to portfolio, pencil/rough), if you have one. It shows how you would carry characters throughout a book. And/or try to select 3 illustrations from one story to show movement of characters through a story.

Always get reproductions, never use original work... It may get lost and then you will be very sad. It is also easier to handle and won't get damaged. This way you can choose the size you reproduce the work at and make your portfolio have a certain flow and rhythm.

Avoid accessory or 3D items. Anything that can not fit into a sleeve, most likely doesn't belong there. If you feel you must then take photos of them and include the pictures. Toys, t-shirts etc. are not what reviewers are looking for. Do have Business Cards, Sample Sheets or Postcard Promos to share with your name and contact info clearly on them.

Get some input. Show your portfolio to friends and family. Have a critique with other illustrators. Get opinions you can trust and get some feedback.

Present the very best of your unique style. Don't try to imitate anyone else's style or what may seem to be the illustration style du jour.

Be encouraged. Take any comments or constructive criticism as valuable input. You now have some info to help you shape your portfolio in a professional way.

Look for inspiration. Spend some time in a bookstore or library looking at children's books or magazines. While not following anyone else's style, look for illustrations that are dynamic and exciting and decide what elements have made them so. Look as how action takes place in a picture book, or how a subject is illustrated in an unusual way. Take some classes or workshops (figure drawing, painting) - something that will help you focus on your artwork differently.

Add to what you have. Work on building your portfolio by making a book dummy or illustrate a classic tale. Re-do an illustration you think you could improve on. In any new illustration project, work toward a goal of producing something more exciting than you have ever done before.
(text by Karen Stormer Brooks for SCBWI)

Meets at Once Upon a Time Bookshoppe, Third Thursdays of the month.
2207 Honolulu Ave, Montrose 91020
(between Zeke’s and Rocky Cola Cafe)
STORE NUMBER: (818) 248-9668
Jen Swain (818) 429-6906
(no meeting in Aug.)