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7 Smoking-Hot Tips for Your Illustration Portfolio

7 Smoking-Hot Tips for Your Illustration Portfolio

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You’re an artist looking for work and you’ve finally
come across a job you want to apply to?

Problem is – there’s this whole portfolio-thing going on and you don’t really know
how to approach it.

You went on Google, desperately trying to find some tips.

By cause of Google being awesome, it led you straight to this equally awesome post,
and here you are: reading our 7 smoking-hot tips for your illustration portfolio.

All of a sudden, the world looks so much bigger and brighter.


You can thank us later. Read the tips first.


Master the basics

1. Be aware of the impact.

How good or bad it is will be decisive on whether you’re in or out for the job.
So do not underestimate the power that your portfolio has.

2. Spend time on the preparation.

People can tell if your portfolio has been compiled in a rush – and this usually makes it worse, not better.
So start as soon as you can, let fellow artists have a look at it to notice inconveniences –
and you will be rewarded.

3. Be professional.

We shouldn’t have to explicitly state this, but we still do because there are so many people, who don’t seem to have the slightest idea whatsoever about how business communication – written or spoken – works.

So please – please, please, please:

  •  think first, speak later. Don’t suddenly forget everything about politeness
    your mother taught you.
  • don’t obliterate all knowledge of orthography, punctuation, and grammar either.
  • capitalise what must be capitalised; it’s actually not that much work, so it should be doable.

Oh, and you really should reread all of your emails before sending them.


After having mastered them successfully, we can talk about portfolios – for real – and…

Take those basics
to the next level

4. Create coherence.

Make the illustration portfolio in correspondence to the offer.

It’s great when you master several concepts, we don’t want to minimise that.
But if the portfolio contains lots of artwork that doesn’t relate to the offer you stumbled upon… well, that hardly does any good.

Applying for a job as a children’s book illustrator – include children’s books illustrations.

If you are to work as a logo designer – make sure to include your greatest logos,
not children’s books illustrations…

It’s as simple as that.

5. Make the portfolio look sexy.

Only show your best work. Nothing mediocre, nothing nice-ish – that’s not what recruiters are looking for. So spend both some time and money on that damn thing.

6. Consider these guidelines
by the great Chris Oatley.

For Digital Portfolios (Website, iPad, PDF etc.):

No haphazard collection of JPG or PSD files.
→ No pixelated, low-res images.
→ No huge PDFs (manageable file sizes only).

For Physical Portfolios:

No loose pages.
→ No original work. Nice, consistently-printed pages only.
→ Website address on every page.
→ Design it like a nice “Art Of” book.
→ Try to maintain a consistent design.
→ Leave space on the page to let the art “breathe.”
→ No spots, obviously. The portfolio should be clean and without any traces of your last meal.

7. Less is more.

This goes for both the amount of artwork you’re presenting and the number of pages.
We suggest that you stick to something between twenty and thirty.

When it comes to your work, make sure you don’t overwhelm those looking at your
illustration portfolio. So again,only chose your best pieces.


Everything done?


Then what could possibly go wrong?

Just remember, you’re not the only one out there and your competitors are tough, so no matter what you do, set yourself the highest possible standards in order to succeed.

Share your experiences with us and our readers,
we’d love to hear what you have to say about portfolios.

Speaking of sharing – we’re sure there are some poor unfortunate souls out there
for whom these tips could be of great value. And let’s be honest – they are smoking hot.

So go out and share them.

And also make sure you check out the rest of this amazing post by Chris Oatley to learn
more about what you absolutely shouldn’t do in your art portfolio.

Hope that helps. We’re quite positive it will (this would actually be the time to thank us).

See you around (with an awesome art portfolio, of course!),


Nitzy x

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