Header Work

Juana Martinez-Neal

How to Put a Children’s Illustrator Portfolio Together

Spring is finally here and that can only mean Conference Season has started!

With that in mind, I thought I would write a Blog Post Series about The Craft of Portfolio Making.

Today we will focus on the making of the Physical Portfolio. We will be talking materials and how to best present your work for a Portfolio Show or a face-to-face Meeting. When we are done (post purchases and put-togethers) you will be walking around town with a new portfolio under your arm. Let’s get started!

1. Portfolios.

There are several options of what to use to display your artwork. You can make one from scratch or you can purchase something made and customize it a little. I personally prefer the latter. With that in mind, I will list some of the Portfolio options I have seen used that I think looked wonderful. Please click on images for enlarged views.

 

{ Pina Zangaro } This company makes portfolios that are beautiful. With a large variety of cover options, you will definitely find one that fits your personality. For an extra fee, you can laser etch or color print your logo on the cover. If you opt for that, congrats! They look fantastic! Most of the portfolios come in 8.5″x11″. Some are also available in 11″x14″. Their screwpost design allows for easy adding and subtracting of pages. Refillable. Price: $60 and up. Images courtesy of Molly Idle.

Molly Idle's Pina Zangaro Portfolio

Molly Idle’s Pina Zangaro Portfolio

 

{ Kolo } These are my personal favorites. With 12 cloth cover options, you are bound to find one that fits your brand. Black leather cover also available. Screwpost design for easy adding and subtracting of pages. Available in 8.5″x11″ and 11″x14″. Each album comes with 10 cloth-hinged sheets. Extra sets of 10 sheets are sold separately. Sheets can be off white or black. Refillable. Price: $30 and up.

Juana Martinez-Neal's Kolo Portfolio

Juana Martinez-Neal’s Kolo Portfolio

 

{ Blurb } An uncommon but really nice looking option. It demands a bit more time and some design skills but if you have both, you will end up with a GREAT looking portfolio. Only Con: when it is time to replace an image, you will have to print a new book. Price: $30 and up. Images courtesy of Santiago Uceda.

[lightbox href=”http://juanamartinezneal.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/port_santiagouceda.jpg” desc=”A Blurb Portfolio: Santiago Uceda’s ICON Portfolio”][frame]

Santiago Uceda's Blurb Portfolio

Santiago Uceda’s Blurb Portfolio

You also have all the other portfolios that are easily available at any art store. Most of the time, these are not refillable which leaves you with too many or too little pages. Another dislike, the plastic sleeves. They reflect light at times which makes the art hard to see. Sleeves also get scratched and wrinkled easily.

2. Image Selection.

Select 10 to 12 pieces. Those pieces will introduce your work to Art Directors and Editors. How do we best tackle that? Here is how to accomplish it in 5 easy steps:

{ Step 1 } Create a folder on your desktop and save .jpg files of what you consider to be your strongest work.
{ Step 2 } Come back the next day and make your selection smaller. If you are like me, it is clear we have picked too many. 15 to 20 will do.
{ Step 3 } * Grab your calendar and call the cavalry! Find a date that works for your core group of children’s illustrators and write it down in your calendar. You are getting together and debating the selections.
{ Step 4 } * Make high resolution prints on high quality paper of your best 15-20 pieces. One image per sheet. Print them as large as you will show them in your portfolio. Good reproductions are key to represent the work well.
{ Step 5 } * Make it to the meeting. Show your reproductions to your friends. Together you will select your 10 to 12 best pieces. Once done, continue celebrating. You are out of the house and with friends. Take advantage of it!

* These may be challenging if you live far from civilization. What to do instead? Meet via Skype, Facetime or Google Hangout. Don’t like stepping in front of a camera? Create a Dropbox folder, move your selection of images there and share it with your online critique group. Don’t want to have your work up in the cloud? You can always email your selection to your closest illustrator friends. They can reply with their votes.

Next Tuesday, I will share the images and thought process while I was putting together my 2011 and 2012 portfolios in my post: “Mentee Portfolio vs. Grand Prize Winner Portfolio”. Make sure to come back for that.

Juana's Kolo Portfolio

Image Selection for the 2012 Portfolio Showcase

 

3. Mounting the Work.

Mounting your work can be as easy as putting your images in a plastic sleeve or mounting your reproductions to a page. If you choose to use a { Kolo } album, you will have to cut and mount your pieces on the sheets.

On May 28th, I will share the details and secrets of how to do that in my post: “The Craft of Portfolio Artwork Mounting”. The post will include a Giveaway. What would you get? A brand new { Kolo } Newport album. Come back and enter!

In the meantime, here are some images from May 28th’s post.

Mounting the work for the 2012 Portfolio Showcase

Mounting the work for the 2012 Portfolio Showcase

Mounting the Work for the 2012 Portfolio Showcase

Mounting the Work for the 2012 Portfolio Showcase

4. Flow and Continuity.

This is something Molly taught me: You must think of your portfolio as a book. Pay close attention to the order in which you have placed your pieces. One page should lead you to the other. If you feel one illustration stops the flow, move it somewhere else or take it out completely.

Once you are satisfied with the flow and continuity of the illustrations, put it away. Look at it with fresh eyes a couple of days later. If you are happy with it then, Congratulations! You have done it! You have put a fantastic portfolio together!

Now you can carry it around town, bring it to the Portfolio Showcase or proudly take it to your face-to-face meeting.

5. Examples.

Before I leave, I want to share pictures and details of some great portfolios. Please make sure to visit the illustrators’ websites. I have included the portfolios of:

Click on images for enlarged view. See image captions for credits.

Santiago Uceda's Blurb Portfolio

Santiago Uceda’s Blurb Portfolio

Santiago Uceda's Blurb Portfolio

Santiago Uceda’s Blurb Portfolio

Santiago Uceda's Blurb Portfolio

Santiago Uceda’s Blurb Portfolio

Debbie Ohi's Handmade Portfolio by Beckett Gladney

Debbie Ohi’s Handmade Portfolio by Beckett Gladney

Debbie Ohi's Handmade Portfolio by Beckett Gladney

Debbie Ohi’s Handmade Portfolio by Beckett Gladney

Greg Pizzoli's Pina Zangaro Portfolio

Greg Pizzoli’s Pina Zangaro Portfolio

Greg Pizzoli's Pina Zangaro Portfolio

Greg Pizzoli’s Pina Zangaro Portfolio

Brian Won's Blurb Portfolio

Brian Won’s Blurb Portfolio

Brian Won's Blurb Portfolio

Brian Won’s Blurb Portfolio

Laura Jacobsen's Custom Portfolio

Laura Jacobsen’s Custom Portfolio

Juana Martinez-Neal's Kolo Portfolio

Juana Martinez-Neal’s Kolo Portfolio

Juana Martinez-Neal's Kolo Portfolio

Juana Martinez-Neal’s Kolo Portfolio

Juana Martinez-Neal's Kolo Portfolio

Juana Martinez-Neal’s Kolo Portfolio

 

6. Other Posts.

Two Portfolio Winning Children’s Illustrators have also blogged about Portfolio Making. Here are the links to their posts. I would say read them and decide for yourself what YOU want to make of your portfolio:

Thought of any more portfolio brands to add? Have any portfolio tips? Have links to add to the list of Other Posts? Leave a comment. Please, do come back and let me know if this post helps you this Conference Season.

From here, all my good vibes to you! Until next Tuesday for the new post in this Portfolio Making Series :)

Children's Portfolio Series and Giveaway

 

> Stay updated: email | rss | facebook

Children's book author and illustrator, mami of three, wife, sun aficionado, amateur singer and Margarita lover born in Lima, Peru and living in sunny AZ.

Comments

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    Awesome information! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    Thats awesome, great information, I always wondered and thought about putting something together.

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    Great post Juana!

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    A wonderful resource, Juana! You’re right on the money, as I’m gearing up for SCBWI LA again, and am trying to approach my portfolio with eyes wide open. The timing of this series is great! Fab tips. :)

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    This is the absolute perfect post for me! I have been to the summer conference twice and each time I learn a little more about making a better portfolio. I have been looking for those cloth-hinge pages! Thank you for sharing the site to get them from. I will definitely be ordering them for my portfolio this year! Thanks to you, we will all have professional looking portfolios!! :D

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    This is fantastic and really got me thinking! Thank you and can’t wait until your next post!

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    Thanks for putting all this together – great for me, just starting out!

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    Laura

    What an amazing resource! I’m new to this as well and appreciate such user friendly suggestions.

  • May 14, 2013
    reply

    Thank you, Juana! Very inspiring portfolios. I used to teach portfolio classes, but attitudes, supplies and requirements change over time, so I’m looking forward to a super refresher course!

  • May 15, 2013
    reply

    Juana, thank you for this instructional post. Couldn’t make it to SCBWI this year…hopeful for next year, which will be my first. I love your site and illustrations. Glad to meet you. I have also subscribed so I don’t miss anything. Blessings, Laura

  • May 15, 2013
    reply

    Juana,

    This post is fantastic! I’d love to share it with my readers as a guest post at onceuponasketch.com. Let me know! And again, wonderful information!

    -Wilson W, Jr.

  • May 15, 2013
    reply

    Thanks so much for this great post, Juana, and for including my portfolio pics.

    To others: If you like my handmade portfolio cover, I know that Beckett Gladney takes custom orders on her Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/artbeco — She has a wide range of gorgeous fabrics, and I highly recommend her work.

  • May 15, 2013
    reply

    Thank you for those links for portfolio displays!! This is so helpful!

  • May 15, 2013
    reply

    This was so informative and helpful. Thank you.

  • May 21, 2013
    reply

    Bonnie Adamson

    Thank you, Juana,

    Just in time for me–I’ve been researching, but had not found Kolo–thanks for the information, tips and great examples. Looking forward to the rest of the posts!

  • May 23, 2013
    reply

    Thank you, Juana! I’ve been looking for a new portfolio and this information was very helpful.

  • May 24, 2013
    reply

    Ana maria

    Thank you for this absolutely amazing information, i was trying to do my portfolio of my illustrations..and you are giving me an amazing, neat and very colorful ideas..thank you thank you!!.

  • June 18, 2013
    reply

    This is the most helpful post I have EVER read on this subject. I am self taught, but somehow managing to get work- so I need all of the info I can get! I LOVE it :)

  • June 20, 2013
    reply

    This is really interesting and helpful. I was wondering if you could give more details about the actual prints you show in your portfolio… do you make them on your home printer? (If so, can you be specific about dpi, paper types /finishes /weights, RGB vCMYK etc). Or are they color laser copies? Or even (cost-prohibitive!) Giclee Prints??

    And I have also always wondered how to deal with the problem of having very wide pieces, and then very “tall” pieces… Is it OK to make the viewer have to keep turning the portfolio around to look at things, if you see what I mean…

    Great series of posts… and wonderful blog, too!

  • September 2, 2013
    reply

    Very nice.

  • October 13, 2013
    reply

    thanks so much for so generously sharing this with the rest of us. I’m shooting for the feb. 2014 sbwi conference this year and hope to create a portfolio for review. I will definitely draw from your insights here.

    thanks so much!

    Linda

  • October 17, 2013
    reply

    Kim Jolly

    Hi Juana!
    Would you NOT recommend placing images on the front and back of portfolio pages?

  • January 15, 2014
    reply

    Thank you for this great resource! I’m attending my first conference in NY and your information and links were immensely helpful. Off to create my portfolio now! :)

  • March 12, 2014
    reply

    Hi Juana,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful post! I am working on putting together my first portfolio for my first SCBWI conference and loved the beautiful blurb books you showcased. I have heard/read that an illustrator should put their name/website on each page but I haven’t been seeing it on the examples. I wonder if you could give some insights on this? I’ve also heard that it is good to have loose sheets of each page for people to take? Thank you so much for this incredible post. It has been a huge source of information and inspiration!

  • February 1, 2016
    reply

    Bethany Ann

    Hey, I’m currently updating my portfolio but I’m not sure what’s acceptable to put in it, does my work have to be COMPLETELY original or am I allowed to include (my own) illustrations from well-known books, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea etc? I can’t find an answer anywhere! Please help.

      • February 2, 2016
        reply

        Bethany Ann

        Thank you so much!

  • April 11, 2016
    reply

    Matthew

    Hi Juana. I stumbled upon your blog a few months back and I’d like to say thank you. Your illustrator portfolio posts have been a tremendous help as I have been putting my recent work together for upcoming conferences. Also, your work is beautiful and inspiring. I can see why you won the SCBWI portfolio showcase!

    I do have a technical question if you don’t mind. I prefer an 8.5 x 11 (horizontal) size portoflio and I am trying to figure out how to show a wider spread without shrinking it down to fit one page. Do you find it’s acceptable for the spread to go across two pages? My portfolio is a screw post, so the binding won’t show, but there will be a break in the spread due to the sleeves. Any advice would be great. Thank you!

      • April 12, 2016
        reply

        Matthew

        Hi Juana! Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I appreciate you sharing your opinion and expertise. It makes total sense. You’ve confirmed my concern with regards to the page break distracting from the artwork. I will stick to one side going forward. Also, thank you again for your informative posts about putting together a portfolio. I really searched far and wide for any information on this topic a few months back. I found a few small articles here and there, but none that were as specific and detailed as your posts. Take care! Matthew

Post a Reply to Jennifer Montgomery cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Juana Martinez-Neal Logo

me@juanamartinezneal.com
480-626-8929, 310-489-4560

6501 E Greenway Pkwy
#103-303
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel
stefanie(at)fullcircleliterary.com
858-824-9269 ext. 2
Full Circle Literary