Be all you can be: Making your portfolio work for you

By on December 17, 2014

By Rachel Comeau, OCT, BFA, BEd.

Your portfolio is the ultimate tool for selling yourself as an artist. Your medium discipline does not matter. You could be a visual artist (including photographers), musician, actor, filmmaker, singer, dancer, actor, etc, and your portfolio is your ultimate marketing tool. Truth be told, it is even better than a business card!

You may already have a portfolio in some stage of completion. It probably includes your curriculum vitae (CV), some samples of  your work, and an artist statement. This is a good start. If you are like me, you probably think there is some untapped potential in your portfolio. It currently feels like a picture book that you have to guide people through. But your portfolio can be so much more. It can be a tool that others can look through without you. It can sell you and your wares without your presence.

What is a portfolio? Portfolio – from Italian portafoglio; cognate with the French portefeuille (‘folder, wallet’), from the Latin verb portare (‘to carry’) and folium (‘sheet’). -Wikipedia. A portfolio is a collection of documentation (evidence) of what you have learned through living your unique life. It is a celebration of you, what you have done, can do, and who you are. Your portfolio is the tool you use to demonstrate your learning and experience.

The process of creating a portfolio is almost as important as the portfolio itself. One usually creates a portfolio for one or a combination of the following reasons: educational (to gain credit for life experience); career (to demonstrate experience and accomplishments to change or further one’s career); and self-discovery (to help you see where you have been and where you could go). In the process, you will learn about yourself, discover a journey you never knew you were on, and gain more confidence in yourself and your journey.

When I showed my portfolio to Susan Holland, the curator of the John M. Parrott Gallery, she had this to say: “Wow, this portfolio is really thorough. If everyone who submitted an application for a show had one of these, I would really get a sense of who the artist was. It would make the exhibition schedule much more cohesive and interesting.”

As a result, Art for Everyone! and the John M. Parrott Gallery have teamed to offer a Portfolio for Artists class in the New Year. Portfolio for Artists is an eight-week class. Its holistic approach will lead you through the process of creating your unique portfolio, whether it be for your career, self-discovery, or to further your education. In this class, you will learn about yourself, your learning and experience, how to take all that information and package it into a strong art portfolio, and how to make this tool work for you!

Portfolios have long been the ultimate marketing tool for artists, regardless of their discipline. In order to be competitive in the art world, it is important to have a portfolio that informs you and the art world about what you being to the table; that celebrates your unique skills and abilities. Your portfolio will help you be all you can be!

Thanks to the Quinte Arts Council Umbrella Volume 24, Number 4 Page 12.


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