As of late, I’ve been fielding a few questions from friends about portfolios (both printed and online), and thought a catch-all thread on SITE might do some good.
The print portfolio:
A few years ago, I needed to put together an artists’ portfolio, as I was applying for what turned out to be a terrible television show. Fortunately, I wasn’t selected, but the process of going through and making a 24-page summary of my artwork for the two years prior was actually really helpful. You can flip through it here.
What I learned from my portfolio:
The print portfolio, while useful for a short amount of time (less than a year), soon became outdated. After going through the different types of art that I make (installations, performance, re-appropriation, photo essay), picking and choosing my favorite pieces to showcase, I found that I had not only become more focused, but infinitely more productive. Case in point, 2011 was a fruitful year to say the least:
Wrangling all this new content into some semblance of a body of work allowed me to figure out my strengths and isolate my interests so I ended up working far more efficiently. I think that’s one of the biggest benefits of sorting a portfolio: you can clear the slate of all your past projects and start working towards new goals.
Print to digital:
As the glut of projects and work starting compounding, I found that trying to constantly update, edit, re-design, layout, proof and print was more or less a waste of time, so I switched my portfolio format into something digital. This was for several reasons: paper portfolios and resumes are somewhat wasteful, it’s easier to update something on a website and for the most part, and people are more likely to click through a portfolio website than to flip through a book of the same work. Last December, I started organizing and coding the online version of the old portfolio into something a lot more flexible:
I’ve included a screenshot of the homepage for your convenience, though the link to the site above is far more dynamic:
Yes, I guess it is the work of a lunatic. That said, my goal was to create a website that was a lot more exploratory than narrative, as my interests are varied and all-encompassing. I found a really lovely WordPress template, and was able to expand each of my projects into its own page, so that I can build on each as they grow.
The site is still under construction (as it almost always will be), but after building six or seven sites the year prior, it was nice to have a catch-all for all the content. I can now embed video and audio and links and such to give a more robust view of my work than simply something limited to a printed page.
How to make your own:
The above, of course, may not be the type of site for you, but the methods I used are fairly universal. Whether for a professional portfolio site or a creative one, print or online, there’s something to be said about using the following steps:
1. Identify your skills and make them categories
2. Identify your favorite work and group into projects
3. Organize your projects under the specific categories
4. Collect your supplemental materials under each project
5. Edit your supplemental materials to show the best stuff
6. Augment the projects with a simple text narrative
7. Have fun
I don’t think my methods are the only way, but I do like talking about portfolios, and find them fascinating.
Please feel free to discuss yours or shoot holes in mine at your leisure.