Making it easy to hire you.

Lately I’ve been checking out portfolios with my editors, and there’s a few pointers that need to get passed around to artists looking for work. Your goal is to show me your most beautiful art, help me find the relevant pieces that let me know you can draw the things I need for my book, and let me contact you so I can hire you. (Or at least try to.)

SO FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY:
1.) Your contact info should be easily located from any page. If you’re worried about spam, make it an image. No one does business through commenting on your blog or any other page. And your contact info should be an email address that works.

2.) Do better than a blog through blogger.com. Or a tumblr. Get your own domain & hosting, one that won’t go out when tumblr is overloaded. Spend a little money on your career- if you can’t spend $50 for a domain & hosting for a year, find a job with a regular paycheck first. As part of your site, a networked blogging platform is okay. But don’t let it be the whole thing or the main way that your are updating your portfolio- it’s not a good way to curate your best work.

2a.) Nothing looks less professional than a deviantart page. If you’re out of college, it’s time to strike out on your own.

2b.) What should you use? Whatever you can update frequently & easily.

3.) Please consider that while the average person might have plenty of time to look through your portfolio, editors and art directors will not. They are literally working on 60 projects at the same time, and no, I do NOT mean “figuratively”. For you, this means that you may have up to one minute to show off your best work. So, for starters, slow loading pages are the enemy, and so are obfuscating layouts. Unless you’re trying to get gigs doing motion graphics, they’re unnecessary on your website, as is any introduction that takes longer than half a second to load & look at.

4.) I need to see what you can draw, by which I mean, I need to see a variety of people, places, and things, and I need to see people acting within places and interacting with tangible things. And it’s extremely helpful if they’re not all the same type of thing. So I want to see people of different ages and genders and races, in modern clothing, or period clothing, or space suits and fantasy attire, in coffee houses and kitchens, in their cars, in elevators, walking to school, spelunking, at the movies, shopping in grocery stores or bodegas, in crowds on a street in NYC, at the gates of Mordor, and on Mars. The more detailed your environment, the better, and the more explaining you can do with your drawing and without words, the more likely you are to get hired.

5.) Keep your portfolio up to date! Everyone gets better as time progresses, and your best, most up to date work belongs up front and center. Try to plan a few hours into every 3 months to post some major art updates to your site.

6.) While it’s nice to have a bunch of pieces in your portfolio, the best dozen better be up front. It should be your newest, best work- what you’re likely to turn in on a project tomorrow. And only the stuff you’re the most proud of. If you want to show off older work (or that you’ve been hired by specific clients), make a different section for it. Another dozen images that you’re proud of are great if I have time to check out your back catalogue, but the best stuff goes first!

7.) Captions should only be necessary to explain where the work in your portfolio ran or what it was produced for. Paragraphs will be skimmed at best.

8.) Blogging is not a substitute for having portfolio. Detailed process posts are great for me to read as an artist, but completely unnecessary to me as someone trying to decide if I want to hire you.

9.) Keep in mind what kind of work you want to do & how your portfolio is geared to get you that work. If you’re looking to do comics, I’d better see finished comics pages. If you only want to do giant robots fighting space pandas, draw just that, but if you’re also up for drawing whatever paying project is up for grabs, diversify. Get some emotional scenes of people talking, and a subdued, calm discussion between friends.

If any of this seems repetitive, it’s because even old pros overlook little things. So update! From a range of subject matter! With contact info!

Any one with more advice, please pipe up in the comments!