15 Essential Steps to Assembling the Perfect Illustration Portfolio
Establishing Yourself Online and What to Include
Step 1: Hello World
Create a blog or website on WordPress or other web hosting site.
Use your own name for your blog or brand domain name if it is available.
Step 2: Become Legit
Purchase your domain name! Now you are legit DOT COM.
Step 3: Creating Your Website: Visual Branding Choices
- Create a logo
- Develop the overall visual branding of your site
- Use easy to read typefaces and simple color choices that visually complement your illustration style.
- Consider drawing a self-portrait for your internet avatars and your “About Me” section.
- Consider user experience and basic web design best practices during this part. Your site should be mobile-friendly and your contact information should be easily available.
Step 4: Hook it up (Optional but recommended)
Create new accounts on various social media platforms for just your illustration. I recommend starting with Instagram and Pinterest. Once you have the accounts established, connect them to your site.
Consider researching how to use email marketing to attract leads to new projects.
Step 5: Assemble and Publish Your Portfolio
Choose your best work and publish it to your site. You can create separate posts or pages for each project, depending on how in-depth you need to go.
Potential clients and art directors will most likely view your work online. However, If you are seeing a client in person, bring a physical copy of your portfolio with you.
What to include in your portfolio
Be consistent. Art directors stake their reputations on the ability of the artist to deliver great work. In order to set their mind at ease, your portfolio needs to prove your ability to do consistently great work.
Show only one style at a time. Using many different styles in your portfolio will create questions. Art directors and clients want to know what to expect from you. If you use a lot of different styles and modes of expression, pick the one that you think suits the project at hand the best.
Show consistency within characters. Draw characters from multiple angles, with varied expressions, engaged in a variety of activities and in different locations.
If you are a children’s book illustrator, draw children!
When drawing characters, do not have them looking directly at the viewer. This is breaking the “fourth wall” – akin to your favorite TV actor looking directly at the camera.
Show a variety of ages, races, and genders.
Show animals, but only if they are part of an illustration project. No stand-alone fine art pieces.
Remove any image from your portfolio that is not an illustration.
Draw different objects. Draw lamps, cars, furniture, cell phones, etc
Show that you can express different moods for different times of the day. A fall evening, a winter morning, a summer night, sunny days, overcast days, etc.
Show interior drawings (living rooms, kitchens, offices)
Show exterior drawings (grass, forests, mountains, fields, cities).
Show that you can illustrate different time periods (the 1950s, 15th century, etc.) Make sure the dress, architecture, and technology are appropriate for the time.
The images in your portfolio should look like professional assignments. To accomplish this, do a self-driven project where you provide your own illustrations for stories or articles that have already been illustrated by someone else. Traditional tales or nursery rhymes can be an easy starting point for experimentation.
10 strong images are way better than 10 strong images and 10 not-so-strong images. Only show your best work. You don’t want to be remembered for your weakest piece.
Provide black and white as well as color illustrations. If it’s not there, an art director will assume you can’t do it. If you can work using black and white as well as color, show it!
Those are the essentials steps to assembling the perfect portfolio!
Art directors, illustrators, dear readers, if I left anything out please let me know in the comments!
For new illustrators, I highly recommend subscribing to children’s book author Will Terry’s YouTube Channel. His videos are incredibly helpful and a lot of this information was mined from his video for “How To Set Up Your Illustration Portfolio”!
FOR MORE IN-DEPTH INFO ON WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR PORTFOLIO, CHECK OUT THESE OTHER HELPFUL ARTICLES AND SOURCES:
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