How to Create a Professional Artist Portfolio

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Would you like to know the secrets to creating a professional artist portfolio? Did you know that a professional artist portfolio can lead to more art sales and a growing career?

I get emails and questions all the time from students asking about their portfolios:

"How many artworks should I have in my portfolio?"

"Should I include sketches and studies?"

"Should I focus on characters, or environments, or creatures, or have all of them?"

So, let's go over five tips that you can use to create a stunning portfolio that will attract new artwork gigs or even get you hired at a film or game studio. It may even get you a gig designing a book cover for a bestseller on Amazon.

  1. Showcase only your best work

Now this is where a lot of artists go wrong. They create a painting, sketch or work in progress, and instantly put it up in their main portfolio.

Here is some advice I learned many years ago: The most inferior of your works sets the standard of your entire portfolio.

If a client landing on your portfolio is looking through your paintings and finds some not-so-great sketch, they will think, "Hmm, maybe this artist isn’t for me after all. I don’t want to risk getting something like that for my project."

  1. Show the work you want to be doing, not just the work that you've done

You might want to have a varied portfolio because you do a lot of different things, but make sure that what you show and what clients see first and most of is what you want to show and continue working with.

Likewise, if you upload a bunch of logos, but actually want to work more with character artworks, those logos won’t really help all that much to land you character art gigs! I’m sure you catch my drift.

Maybe you created some portrait studies or still life paintings that you're really proud of, but these won't help you get hired as an environment artist.

  1. Have some variety

As much as you don't want to post every piece of art you create, you also want to show some variety in the work you do post.

  1. Less is more!

You may believe that putting up everything you create will make you more attractive and hirable, but it proves to be the opposite.

So, if you like environment artwork overall, don’t only show big castles, but include some sci-fi if you enjoy that as well and you’re good at it. This will show clients that you are flexible and versatile as an artist.

As you get better and better, you want to keep your portfolio small.

Remember: portfolios are works in progress in and of themselves! Keep updating your portfolio. Remove what you have "outgrown" and what you don’t feel represents your quality and skill level anymore.

If a client sees 6 or 7 of your best works, and really likes what they see, they are much more likely to hire you than if they see 20 subpar works in progress or lower quality artworks.

  1. Copy other artists

I say this all the time when it comes to learning to paint and sketch, but this also applies to how professional artists present themselves.

Find 3-5 great artists that you really admire and check out their portfolios on Artstation or on their personal websites.

Notice not only the quality of the work, but the quantity, how things are organized and presented, how accessible the work is, etc.

With these tips in mind, take a look at your professional artist portfolio (or if you don't have one, maybe now is the time to make one!) and think about how you might be able to improve it a bit.

And if you want more tips like these, check out my art marketing eBooks.

Here's what you'll learn inside these bestselling eBooks:

The How to Sell Art Online: The Complete Guide is a step-by-step system that covers selling art online. It will help you create the professional artist website you need today to promote your work in this highly competitive world. It was written specifically for artists who have lost their way in the online art marketing maze and wondered what do I do next to create profits and growth.

Professional artist profolio
How to Sell Artist Online: The Complete Guide was written specifically for artists who have lost their way in the online art marketing maze and wondered what do I do next to create profits and growth.

Secrets to Selling Art covers everything you need to know to get your art in brick-and-mortar art galleries, concept art studios and the big gaming studios, especially in the major art markets like New York. Los Angeles, London and Paris.

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